Do you have a paint job that calls for the perfect hue of red? Whether you’re trying to touch up an old piece of furniture or expressing your creative side through a painting masterpiece, getting the exact shade of red can be difficult. If your color is too light, adding some black might dull it down to the ideal tone.
But what do you do if your red is already looking dangerously vampiric, and you want to make the paint darker without black? Fear not – I’ll show you how to make even the darkest shades roar with life…
Darkening Red Paint
There are different ways to make your red paint darker – perhaps the most common is by mixing it with another paint. But the trick is to find the right color that will help achieve the desired result without muddying or making the color unsuitable for your needs.
If you are looking to darken the red before you paint, what follows are some of the more common ways it can be achieved.
1- Mix with Darker Red
If you’re looking to darken a light red paint but still maintain its hue, consider mixing it with one of the darker shades from the same brand and type.
Burgundy, crimson, or maroon can all give your desired outcome without losing the original color entirely. This slight variation may be minor in comparison to other colors however, it is an effective way to enrich your chosen shade while staying true to its origin.
Keep in mind to mix the same type – like an acrylic base paint with other acrylics, and keep adding the darker shade until you reach the desired results.
To make sure you pick the perfect shade of red, ensure that your workspace is well-lit. Dim lighting may cause darker shades to appear similar and could lead to confusion when selecting the right hue.
Also, mix smaller amounts of paint first, so you learn the formula before mixing all the paint.
2- Add a Second Coat of the Same Red
This sounds too good to be accurate, but you can make a red-painted surface look even darker simply by adding an extra coat of the same paint.
However, using a darker shade once the first layer has dried properly is better to get maximum effect.
Try layering flat or matte red paint over the glossy finish to achieve a richer, darker color. This will reduce the amount of light reflected from the surface and produce a deeper hue than before.
3- Add Colors Like Black, Blue, Green, Gray, or Brown
Black will make any other color darker because it absorbs the most amount of light. But it is so strong in darkening the red (much like blood) that you need to be careful.
If you plan to add black, start with 1 part of black for every 30 parts of red, which will ensure you do not overdo the mixture from the start.
Black does tend to make all other colors duller, so you need to be careful when adding it to red. If you do go too far, you’ll need to start over since trying to make the red lighter after adding black is quite difficult to accomplish. You may wind up with a shade of red that is unexpected and perhaps even more desirable than what you first had in mind.
Turning the red into a slight shade of violet will create a deeper, richer texture. You can try using darker reds with lighter shades of blue or lighter shades of red with darker blues to get the desired result.
Start small by mixing one part, blue with red. Look at the results and then add another part of blue if desired. Try not to add too much blue because that will only turn the red into purple. Instead, keep it light when adding the blue, and if it does get too purple, try a lighter shade of blue instead.
Add Some Green
While many might think of using black to darken the red, green is a complementary color that works quite well. Adding black will undoubtedly darken the red, but often too much. Green, on the other hand, will keep the red shade vibrant while still adding darkness.
A small amount of green can go a long way toward making a reddish-brown shade that reaches the desired color level.
Start small by adding 1 part of the green to every ten parts of red. Once mixed, if it needs to be darker, then add two parts green for every ten parts red, and so forth. The darker the color, the more of an impact it will have on the red paint. That is why you should use complementary colors, as found on the color wheel.
Try Adding Grays
If blue or green is not getting the desired results, then you should move on to a neutral color, such as gray. This is because gray has enough black in it to darken the red, but not so much that it makes it dull or lifeless from the start.
Start by mixing 1 part gray for every 15 parts red. Even though the black is diluted in gray, it is still quite strong. Too much gray, and you will have muted much of the vibrancy of the red.
For a neutral look, try flat gray and mix that with the red in the recommended amounts until you get the desired result. Remember that you can use lighter shades of gray, which include more white, to avoid getting a muted result in the red.
Experiment with Brown
If you are seeking a rather muted, earthy shade of red, brown may be the answer. However, brown is a complex mix with red because it contains a wide range of colors. For example, if you use a light brown, the resulting mix with red may produce an orange color. So, it should be used with caution.
Mix brown with red in a 1:20 ratio. To achieve a vibrant scarlet tone, combine dark brown with your standard red. If you’re aiming for an iconic burgundy coloration instead, incorporate tiny amounts of black or yellow to reach the hue you desire.
How to Make the Blood-Colored Red Paint?
Want to fake a gruesome scene using paint? Need to decorate a costume for Halloween? Or just want to paint the accent wall in your room with something special? Whatever the case, creating spooky “fake blood” with paint is an easy and inexpensive way to add a realistic touch.
Here’s how it can be done with some common kitchen and art supplies…
Step 1. Mix one part of acrylic red paint with two parts of warmed-up corn syrup in a bowl. Red food coloring can also be used if you want to make the fake blood edible.
Step 2. Add a few drops of blue paint or food coloring to the bowl and mix it until you get the desired shade. To make the paint shiny, you can also add a few drops of vegetable or olive oil.
Step 3. Stir in a teaspoon or two of cocoa powder to give the paint a more realistic, darker hue. Alternatively, you can add several drops of black food coloring, black paint, or a bit of black ink for further depth. Mix well to combine all the ingredients until you get a smooth, thick consistency.
NOTE: Fake blood can cause staining on fabrics and other surfaces if not used cautiously. If you’re using blood-colored paint on furniture or drywall, make sure to test a small area first to check if it’s to your liking.
The bottom line
The color wheel isn’t just a way to show which hues complement one another – it’s an alchemist’s playground.
With some complementary colors and household items (like water, an eye dropper, and a stirring stick or a popsicle stick), you can easily make your custom tone of darker red paint.
So don’t be afraid to experiment and have fun with your art while creating a masterpiece you have in mind.
Jack Luis is a semi-retired painter who loved painting his clients’ ideas on their walls.
He had worked as a painter for over a decade serving customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, and Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.