Green and gray might seem like two very different colors, but they can go well together in designs. The bright, earthy hue of green contrasts nicely with the dark, calming tone of gray.
The question is, can gray and green be mixed together, and what happens if you try mixing these colors in each color model?
What Color Do Green and Gray Make in Paints?
When gray is mixed with other colors, it creates what’s called a tone. Tones bring down the intensity of a color, which often makes them look duller. When gray is mixed with green, it makes a dark, dull green that’s sometimes described as “muddy.” It might not be an ideal type of green, but it’s a unique version that can be used in designs to create a natural vibe.
Understanding the RYB Color Model
RYB is the color model that most people are familiar with. It’s commonly taught in art classes where kids learn to paint. It’s a type of subtractive color mixing that works for all physical art mediums. In a subtractive color model, wavelengths are removed when colors are combined.
The primary colors of this color model are red, yellow, and blue. Combining two primary colors will give you a secondary color like green, purple, or orange. If you combine all three primary colors together, you’ll get brown.
You might notice that gray doesn’t appear on RYB’s diagram, but it exists in this color model. It’s made by combining white and black, and it’s mostly used to tone down other colors.
Making Green Lighter or Darker
Now that you have a less intense green, you may want to adjust it even more. There are many types of green in nature, so it may take a few attempts to get the one you’re looking for. Here are some tips for making any type of green lighter or darker.
Tints occur when white is added to a color. They make the hue look lighter, so adding white to any type of green will make it lighter. White is easily overpowered by darker colors, so you may need to add a lot of white paint to get a significant change.
Shades are the opposite of tints. They occur when black is added to a color, which makes it look darker. A little black paint can go a long way, so you only need to add a touch of it to get a darker green.
Green Color Meaning
All types of green share a similar color meaning. Green is a color that symbolizes harmony, growth, and health. It’s meant to make others feel revitalized, balanced, and encouraged. It has a wide range of meanings that evoke a variety of emotions.
Some positive meanings of green are hope, luck, and generosity. However, some negative meanings are envy, judgment, and materialism. If you’re using a darker green like the tone green and gray make, it likely relates to ambition, greed, and jealousy. Yet, the meaning of any color also depends on the context.
Can You Create Green and Gray Paint?
It can be a pain to run out of one paint color. Luckily, if you’re missing green or gray paint, you probably won’t need to buy more right away. Both colors can easily be created using other paints.
Green is a secondary color, so it can be made by combining yellow and blue. More blue creates a deeper green while more yellow makes it more vibrant. Then, to create gray, you just need to mix black and white. The more white you include, the lighter the gray will appear.
What Color Do Green and Gray Make in Lights?
Unfortunately, you can’t mix green and gray lights because lights can’t be the color gray. You might notice that gray isn’t present on the visible spectrum or the RGB color model, but green exists in both. Green is one of the primary colors in RGB, which is used for lights and digital displays. The other two primary colors are red and blue.
Combining colors in the RGB color model makes colors lighter rather than darker. When all three primary colors are combined, they make white. So, creating darker colors like gray, brown, and black isn’t possible in lights. Yet, we can see gray objects, so why is that?
Why Can’t Lights Be Gray?
Gray isn’t a color that exists naturally in lights. The colors on the visible light spectrum are all bright, vibrant colors, so you won’t see gray among them. That’s because gray is one of many colors that exist due to context, not wavelengths.
When we look at colored objects, our eyes don’t work alone. They also rely on our brains to provide context. Just because a color reflects certain wavelengths doesn’t mean we’ll see that exact color. Instead, our brains can shift our perceptions of colors to help us see a wider range of hues.
For example, dim white lights can appear gray in certain situations. If you place two white lights next to each other and make one dimmer than the other, the dimmer one will seem gray in comparison. So, if a dim white light is placed next to something brighter than it, our brains will usually perceive that color as gray.
This means that it’s possible to see lights that appear gray, even though they’re not actually gray. Gray doesn’t exist in lights, which is why we can’t mix with it. Yet, our eyes can still see things that are that color if they rely on our brains for context.
How Do Our Eyes Perceive Colors?
Even though our eyes and brains work together to help us see colors, our eyes still do a lot on their own. When light shines on an object, it has wavelengths that will either reflect off the object or be absorbed into it. The wavelengths that reflect toward us represent the color that the object is.
The visible spectrum includes the colors of the rainbow. On one end of the spectrum, red has the longest and most stretched-out wavelengths. Violet is on the other end with the shortest, most frequent wavelengths. All the other colors have wavelengths that fall in between those two.
So, if we look at a red apple, all the wavelengths will be absorbed into the fruit except for the longest ones, which are red. The red wavelengths will reflect back at us, which is why the apple looks red to us. Our eyes use “photosensors” called cones and rods to help us perceive these colors. Cones help us see colors in bright lights while rods work best in dim lights.
That’s how our eyes see colors on their own. Yet, as mentioned earlier, some scenarios require the brain to provide context to our eyes to see a wider range of colors.
Does Gray Exist in CMYK?
CMYK is the subtractive color model used for printer ink. It might seem similar to RGB because the primary and secondary colors are the opposite of lights. In CMYK, the primary colors are cyan, magenta, and yellow while the secondary colors are red, green, and blue. Yet, CMYK is very different than RGB.
Gray exists in CMYK. The “K” in CMYK stands for “key color,” which is black. That’s why black usually comes with the three primary colors for printer ink. A little black ink can make gray. If you mix gray and green ink together in CMYK, you’ll get a toned-down version of green. RYB and CMYK often have similar color mixing results because they’re both forms of subtractive mixing.
Designing with Green and Gray
Green and gray might seem like an unlikely pair, but they can make some unique art. Designs with these colors are often seen as modern or earthy. Yet, it’s common to add other colors to the layout.
Other dark colors like black, brown, or navy can keep the design relaxed and mature. However, adding a light color like pink, tan, or orange can make the design more exciting. You can also consider adding tints, shades, and tones of green to create more variety.
If you use green and gray separately, you can pair different colors with them. Green goes best with blue, purple, yellow, or brown. However, gray is a neutral color, so it can go well with almost any color. Some common colors to pair with gray are pink, light blue, purple, and gold. There are so many design options when you use gray and green.
Mixing with Gray Is Sometimes Difficult
Mixing a variety of colors is fascinating, but not all mixtures will give you the best results. Gray is a tricky color to mix with because it tones down colors in paints, but in lights, it doesn’t exist at all. So, the results aren’t as cut and dry as they are for many other colors.
Yet, mixing with a variety of colors is a great way to understand color theory. The more color combinations you try, the more colors you can discover. You might even find a new color to use in your future designs.