8 Earth Tone Mixes to Inspire Your Next Project

Inspiration Tutorials

Earth tones have a life-giving vibe all their own; whether light or deep, they are complex and gorgeous with subtle undertones and mood-setting qualities.

Of course, you can buy tubes of Yellow Ochre, Burnt Umber and the like, but you can also extend your existing primary paints to create your unique variations on earth tone colors. In this tutorial, we use Grumbacher Finest Watercolors to show how easy it is to mix an earth tone palette. But these colors can also be used in oil paint or acrylic mixing as well. We also mix on a palette and then apply the color to the paper to make a swatch. When you mix the two colors directly on the paper (or canvas), you’ll get slightly different results that show more of the watercolors’ undertones, and the effects are equally beautiful.

The colors we use in the video for this tutorial are Alizarin Crimson, Cadmium Yellow Medium, Thalo Blue, and Ultramarine Blue. We use primaries to illustrate this technique because red, yellow, and blue do so much more than create secondary and tertiary colors! The first 4 mixes show how you can mix different ratios of the same 3 primaries to get a wide range of color.


• Deep Green
2 AC: 1 TB: 2 CYM

• Brown
4 AC: 1/2 TB: 2 CYM

• Charcoal
3 AC: 1 1/4 TB: 2 CYM

• Green Gold
1/4 AC: 1/4TB: 1 CYM

In the last 4 mixes, we change out the blues to give you an idea of what one small change can do for your color range. We also use a slightly different mixing technique by starting with a base color of warm brown and adding one part of a primary to change the color.


• Warm Brown (WB)
1 AC: 1 UB: 1 CYM

• Gold Yellow
1 WB: 1 CYM

• Greige
1 WB: 1 UB

• Red Earth
1 WB: 1 AC

Have concerns with the fugitive nature of Alizarin Crimson? Substitute with Permanent Alizarin. We use Grumbacher Watercolor Paper from the 8×8 pad and cut the sheet down to make 4 swatches. You can also create a swatch journal using the pads that feature In & Out Pages as an alternative.

Simply mixing color to create earth tones has a meditative feel. Are you inspired? Give it a try, and use the #grumbacherart on Instagram to show us your favorites! Or join us in a discussion on our Grumbacher Artist Club Facebook Group.

Earthtone Color Swatches
Earth tone swatches with Grumbacher watercolor tubes

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