Pro-Tips & Recipes For Mixing Off-White Paint Tones


Guest Author: Angelique Powers

As a scenic paint instructor, I love taking the fear out of our complicated craft and breaking it down into simple parts. The one thing that scares my students most, it seems, is mixing color. When it comes to the subtlety of mixing off-white, beige tone and even greys, the fear sets in faster and deeper because they know that a mistake often leads to a ton of wasted paint. Below are my favorite tips and tricks that I share with my students to help them build their skill, confidence, and speed at mixing colors – even the subtle tones and hues of an off-white.

All colors can be a bit tricky to mix, but off-whites beige’s and greys are often trickier because they’re about 75% white with 1-3 colors mixed in to make up the remaining 25%. Make one mistake adding in any one of those colors and you could ruin the whole batch – leaving you with several gallons of the wrong color. Knowing what colors to choose and how much to use are key. This why I always advise to…

Start Small

The fastest way to end up with too much paint is to go too dark too fast, because you’ll end up needing to add twice as much white paint back into the mix in order to lighten the hue back up again. That’s why I like to start with one cup of white paint and then slowly add in the mix of other colors. You’ll quickly find out which colors are working and which ones aren’t. Once you’ve got a small ratio that works, you can bump it up to a bigger mix

Pro Tip – Avoid Black: When zeroing in on the final off-white color, it can often be the right hue, just not the right shade. If a color is too bright, often the urge is to add black. In reality, using darker colors like Van Dyke Brown, Raw Umber or Paynes Grey are better choices. They have a magical quality to darken a hue without “graying out” the color the way black can.

When teaching color mixing, I like to have my students mix with Rosco Scenic Paints rather than house paint because the colors are pure, they stay bright and they don’t “fight each other” the way that premixed house paint colors often do.

Off-whites can be broken down the easiest by figuring out what the original color was before without the white to lighten it. Beiges are the trickiest because they are usually a mix of earth tones, usually ranging from Raw Sienna & Raw Umber to Burnt Umber & Burnt Sienna (and who knows what else!!), that are mixed into the white. This is why I think it’s important to…

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  • Ross Hopkins