What Color Do Black and Yellow Make When Mixed?

Black and yellow colored stripes

When most people see black and yellow together, they likely think of bumblebees or caution tape. There are a lot of things that use a pattern of black and yellow, and the two colors contrast each other drastically.

So, what would happen if you mixed yellow and black together? The result might surprise you in every color model.

What Color Do Black and Yellow Make in Paints?

When a color is mixed with black, it usually results in a darker version of that color. However, combining black and yellow is a little different because it makes olive green.

Normally, mixing yellow and blue is the most common way to get green. Yet, artists looking for a muted green may use black and yellow instead.

Why Do Black and Yellow Make Green Instead of Dark Yellow?

Olive green painted wall

Black paint usually makes colors darker. For example, black and red mixed together make dark red, and black and blue make dark blue. Yet, black and yellow result in a color closer to green than yellow. It’s common to think of dark yellow as an orange color, but olive green is a more accurate representation of dark yellow.

Also, black tends to have more blue in it than yellow and red. So, that blue makes the dark yellow look more green than orange. Using different types of black could change this, but almost all variants of yellow and black will give you some type of pale green.

Understanding the RYB Color Model

The RYB color model is what’s used for mixing paints and other physical art mediums. Many kids learn about it in art classes. It’s a form of subtractive color mixing, which means wavelengths are removed when colors are combined. In this color model, the primary colors are red, yellow, and blue.

Then, combinations of the primary colors can mix to create the secondary colors, which are purple, green, and orange. Mixing equal amounts of the three primary colors together usually makes brown. However, using deeper versions of those colors or using more blue can give you black instead.

Making Green Lighter or Darker

Different shades of green colors

Yellow and black will give you a very unique green color. If it’s not what you’re looking for, you can adjust the color by making it lighter or darker. Here are some easy ways to do so.

Mixing Tints

Tints refer to when a color is lightened after being mixed with white. White is easily overpowered by other colors, so you may need to add a lot of white to olive green to get a noticeable variant. Starting the mixture with more yellow than black can also make it lighter to begin with.

Mixing Shades

Shades are darker versions of a color that are created by adding black. Olive green is already a shade of yellow, but you can make it even darker by adding more black. A little black paint goes a long way, so only use it sparingly.

Olive Green Color Meaning

Olive green is a symbol of peace and harmony. Yet, it can share general meanings with green too. Overall, green represents safety, growth, and health.

Green is a color that revitalizes, balances, and encourages those who look at it. It has many positive meanings like generosity, hope, and luck. However, it can also have negative meanings, such as envy, materialism, and judgment. The exact meaning depends on the type of green and the context.

Can You Make Yellow and Black Paint?

Yellow paint on brush and surface

If you run out of black and yellow paint, it’s easiest to buy more. Yet, if you’re feeling creative, you might be able to make your own colors from scratch.

Yellow is a tricky color to make because it’s a primary color on both subtractive color models (RYB and CMYK). So, the color models don’t show how to create it unless you use an additive color model like RGB. In that case, you can combine red and green lights to make yellow.

You can create a type of yellow paint from scratch by adding a lot of white to orange. However, the result will be much paler than a traditional yellow. The only way to get true yellow paint is to buy some from the store.

There are a few ways to make black paint. The most common is to mix red, yellow, and blue together. This usually results in brown, but if you use deeper versions of the colors, such as ultramarine blue, crimson red, and yellow ochre, you’re more likely to get black. Using more blue than red and yellow will also give you black. Another method to try is mixing brown and blue together.

What Color Do Black and Yellow Make in Lights?

Unfortunately, you can’t mix black and yellow lights together because lights can’t be the color black. To mix lights, you need to look at the RGB color model, which has red, green, and blue as the primary colors. On that color model, there’s no way to create black because it’s a form of additive mixing. When you mix the three primary colors together, you get white.

Even though there’s a type of light called a “black light,” it doesn’t appear black. It emits ultraviolet rays, making the light shine a violet color. So, you can see the color black on objects, but you won’t ever see a light that color.

Why Can Lights Not Be Black?

Bright light on a black background

Black is associated with darkness. It’s the absence of color and detectable light, which is why it isn’t found on the visible spectrum. All the colors on the RGB color model can be made by layering red, green, and blue on top of each other at different brightnesses. However, the only way to create black is to completely turn down the brightness on all three, which is the equivalent of turning off the lights.

We might not be able to create a light that displays the color black when it shines, but we can still see items that are black. That’s because our eyes help us see colors, but our brains work with them to provide context. The visible light spectrum is made of the 7 colors of the rainbow, but we can see many colors beyond that. So, our brains help us understand colors like black, brown, or even magenta. Thus, we have no problem perceiving the color black, but since it’s the absence of detectable light, we can’t mix with it in RGB.

How Do Our Eyes Perceive Colors?

Our eyes are amazing body parts that allow us to perceive millions of colors. On the visible light spectrum, each color has a unique wavelength. For example, violet has short, frequent wavelengths. The wavelengths slowly get longer as it shifts from blue to green to yellow to orange to red. Red has the longest, most stretched-out wavelengths.

Those wavelengths determine which colors are absorbed into an object and which ones reflect off it. If you look at a yellow banana, all the colors will be absorbed into it except for the yellow wavelengths, which reflect off it. Thus, the colors that reflect off an item are the colors we perceive that thing as.

Inside our eyes, there are “photosensors” that help us perceive the colors. The cone cells function well in bright light, so they allow you to see colors during the day. Then, rod cells are similar, but they’re more sensitive. They help you see colors in dim lights. As mentioned earlier, the cells in our eyes work with our brain to further understand the context of colors. That context can help us determine different types of colors, such as shades, tints, or tones.

Does Black Exist on the CMYK Color Model?

CMYK printer cartridges with cyan, magenta, yellow, and black ink

CMYK is a color model that’s mostly used for printing. It’s the opposite of RGB because the primary colors are cyan, magenta, and yellow, which are the secondary colors in RGB. Then, the secondary colors in CMYK are red, green, and blue. Even though these two color models seem similar, black exists in CMYK.

If you mix the three CMYK primaries together, you’ll get black. When you buy cartridges of ink, you’ll notice that they come with cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. That’s because the “K” in CMYK stands for “key color,” which is black. RGB is the only color model that doesn’t have black.

So, you can mix black and yellow together in CMYK if needed. The result will be an olive green similar to what you get in RYB.

Designing with Black and Yellow

Using black and yellow together creates bold designs. Yellow and black contrast each other well since black is dark and bold, while yellow is light and vibrant. This combination is best used in advertisements and logos.

A black and yellow room design gives off a modern and creative feel. It works best if the yellow used is pale to ensure that the design isn’t too overwhelming. Adding some white to the yellow and black design can also tone it down.

If you don’t want your design to stand out too much, it might be better to use yellow or black on its own. Black is a neutral color that goes well with just about any color, but it works best if only used in small amounts. Yellow works well as a pastel version, and it goes well with colors like white, orange, green, brown, pink, or blue.

Interior design of living room in black and yellow colors

Black and Yellow is an Unusual Combination

Black and yellow are two very different colors. When combined, they don’t make the result you’d expect. Black usually darkens colors in paint, but instead, it creates a green that doesn’t seem yellow-like. Then, in lights, you can’t mix with black at all.

Luckily, not all color mixtures are this confusing. Mixing with a wide variety of colors is a great way to advance your design skills. So, try combining various colors in different mediums to see what you end up with.