What Color Do Blue and Yellow Make When Mixed?

Blue and yellow colored wood

The mixture between blue and yellow probably seems obvious, but it might not be what you’re expecting. The result of this color combination can vary greatly based on what medium you’re using.

Painting, printing, and lighting all use different color wheels, and for this mixture, they all have drastically different results. So, let’s take a closer look at each color wheel to decide what blue and yellow make in each scenario.

What Color Do Blue and Yellow Make in Painting?

Blue and yellow are both primary colors in painting. So, they mix together to create green, which is a secondary color. The most commonly known result of mixing blue and yellow is green because artists use the popular RYB color model when they paint.

The RYB Color Model

Color wheel and paint mixtures

The RYB color wheel is the one we all learn in our early art classes. It uses red, yellow, and blue as the primary colors. Two primary colors can be used to create secondary colors, and a primary color and a secondary color can be mixed together to make a tertiary color.

So, if you only have the three primary colors of paint, you can mix them to create all the colors of the rainbow. Yet, you’ll need some white and black to make the colors lighter or darker.

Why Is It Difficult to Mix Green Paint?

You might notice that mixing paints isn’t always as perfect as you were taught in elementary school. In some cases, mixing yellow and blue might give you a muddy-colored green.

If your green doesn’t turn out as expected, it’s likely because it’s difficult to find pure blue or pure yellow paint. Instead, you might find more specific hues like ultramarine blue or cadmium yellow. Some types of red, blue, and yellow have other colors mixed into them. In fact, a blue or yellow paint might even have a touch of red to alter the appearance.

When mixing blue, yellow, and red together, you get a shade of brown. So, if there’s a hint of red in your blue or yellow, your green might get a little murky. That’s why it’s easier to buy a tube of green that’s already mixed. However, attempting to mix a wide range of blues and yellows together can be a fun experiment to see what types of green you’ll get.

Mixing Tints and Shades of Green

Green gradient colors

There are many different types of green. Some are much lighter or brighter, while others are darker or duller. Here are some tips for how to find the perfect mixture of green.

Making Tints of Green

Tints are lighter versions of a color. So, adding white to green can make it lighter. Adding yellow can also lighten the mixture, making it warmer and brighter than a mixture with white. However, both white and yellow are very light colors, so you might need to mix in large amounts of them before seeing a significant change.

Making Shades of Green

Shades are the opposite of tints, which means they’re darker versions of green. Adding a touch of black can darken your color, but only use it sparingly. Too much black can easily overpower a color, so a little can go a long way. Adding more blue can also create a deeper green, but adding too much could make it look more turquoise.

Green Meaning

Green leaves see-through texture

Green is a color commonly seen in nature through trees, grass, and other plants. So, the color has meanings of health, growth, and harmony. People who see the color green might feel relaxed, balanced, and revitalized. Green portrays feelings of safety and security, and it can encourage people to live their best lives.

However, like all colors, green can have some negative meanings depending on the situation. It’s often used as a sign of envy, judgment, and materialism.

Can You Create Blue and Yellow Paint?

Even though blue and yellow are both primary colors on the painting color wheel, you can use other paints to create them. For blue, you will have to look at the subtractive color model of CMYK, which is usually used for ink. On that chart, cyan and magenta mix together to make blue.

However, yellow is a primary color on both the RYB and the CMYK color models. So, the only easy way to make it in paint is to add a lot of white to orange. Yet, even then, the yellow will appear less vibrant than a natural yellow.

So, while you can create blue and yellow from other colors, it’s best to use plain blue and yellow paint if you have it.

What Color Do Blue and Yellow Make in Printing?

You might notice that printer ink doesn’t come with blue or red. Instead, it comes with cyan, magenta, and yellow. These are the primary colors of the CMYK color model. On that color wheel, cyan and magenta mix to create blue.

So, mixing yellow with blue on the CMYK color wheel mixes all three primary colors together. In ink, cyan, yellow, and magenta make black when mixed together. So, in this case, blue and yellow make black.

The CMYK Color Model

Subtractive vs additive color mixing

CMYK is considered a form of subtractive color mixing, and it’s used for color printing. The three primary colors are cyan, magenta, and yellow, and combinations of them can mix together to create red, green, and blue. When all three primary colors mix together, they create black.

When using a printer, you’ll notice that it comes with black ink in addition to cyan, magenta, and yellow. That’s because black is used so frequently that it’s more efficient to use black ink that’s already made. However, if you run out of black ink, most printers can mix an equal amount of cyan, magenta, and yellow to make black. The only color you can’t make in ink is pure white.

Black Meaning

Gold glitter on black background

Black has many meanings, but it’s most commonly related to power, elegance, and sophistication. It can seem strong and intimidating in some cases, but it can also provide a feeling of security and protection.

While black is usually seen as powerful and professional, it can also give off some negative feelings. It’s sometimes related to depression and pessimism. Yet, in some cases, it could also be related to mystery and seduction. It all depends on the context in which the color is being used.

What Color Do Blue and Yellow Make in Lighting?

The color model for lights is drastically different than for ink or paint. In this scenario, red, green, and blue are the primary colors. Red and green lights mix together to create yellow.

Like in the CMYK color model, yellow and blue are on opposite sides of the color wheel again. So, mixing them together is like mixing all three primary colors together. Mixing red, green, and blue in lights makes white. That means that mixing yellow and blue lights also creates white.

The RGB Color Model

Different colored theater lights

Unlike the RYB and the CMYK color models, RGB is a form of additive color mixing. It’s used for mixing colored lights. In this color model, the primary colors are red, green, and blue. When all three mix together, they make white.

Additive color mixing is very different than subtractive mixing because it involves adding different colors on top of each other rather than mixing them together. It’s usually only used for colored lights and digital graphics.

Understanding Light Mixtures

In lights, you can’t swirl two colors together to create a 50/50 mix. Instead, you can layer the colors on top of each other at full brightnesses. Some colors will have a little bit of each primary color mixed in them while others will only have two at higher brightnesses. So, learning how to mix the perfect color can be a bit tricky.

For example, white occurs when red, blue, and green are all presented at full brightness. Yet, if you dim the green light, you’ll see a magenta/purple color. If you dim the red light instead, you might get cyan. Creating successful mixes of lights takes a lot of practice, but it can create a wide range of colors just like paint and ink can. The only color you won’t see in lights is pure black.

White Meaning

Bright white wavy design

White is a true balance of all colors, so its meanings are related to cleanliness, purity, and innocence. When we look at the color white, we often feel refreshed and balanced. Things that are white are also considered simplified.

Most people see white as a positive color that’s filled with goodness, hope, and clarity. However, in some cases, it could be associated with negative feelings and considered empty, cold, and boring. It all depends on the context and who is perceiving the color.

How Can Two Colors Mix Into Several Results?

It might seem confusing that one color mixture can have three different results. Yet, when you focus on the different color models, it’s easier to understand. Blue and yellow mix to create different colors because the process of mixing different mediums varies.

Mixing paint and ink are subtractive mixing methods, which means the two colors are swirled together and combined to create a new color. However, when using additive mixing, like in lights, you’re simply adding one color on top of another to make a new hue. When you look at it like that, it’s less surprising that the results aren’t consistent.

Even though yellow and blue can result in more than one color, that’s not the same for every mixture. Mixtures like red and yellow always make some type of orange. So, it all depends on what colors you’re using.

Green, black, and white might all be drastically different, but they are all great colors for designs. They each have unique meanings, so consider the feelings they evoke before using them in paintings, furnishings, or any type of digital design.