What Color Do Red, Yellow, and Blue Make When Mixed?

Red, yellow, and blue colored paper

Red, yellow, and blue are known as the primary colors of paint. They can be used to create a wide range of color combinations, and many kids learn about them in early art classes.

Most people are familiar with combinations like red and blue or yellow and red, but what happens when you mix all three primary colors together? Some sources will give you different answers, so it all depends on the type of red, yellow, and blue you choose. Let’s see what this famous trio mixes into in each color model.

What Color Do Red, Yellow, and Blue Make in Paints?

If you mix an equal amount of red, yellow, and blue together, you’ll create brown. Adjusting the amounts of each color or changing the type of red, yellow, and blue can alter how the brown appears. Another way to make brown is by mixing complementary colors since they include all three primary colors when combined.

Sometimes you’ll hear that red, yellow, and blue make black. In some cases, this is true, but it’s the less common result.

Why Do Red, Yellow, and Blue Sometimes Make Black?

RYB color model with red, yellow, and blue primaries and orange, purple, and green secondaries

As mentioned before, sometimes red, yellow, and blue make black instead of brown. If you use deeper versions of the primary colors, such as ultramarine blue, crimson red, and ochre yellow, you’re more likely to get black. You could also get black if you use a little more blue than yellow and red. Yet, most of the time, you’ll get brown.

Understanding the RYB Color Model

Many people are familiar with the RYB color model because it’s taught in art classes. It’s a subtractive color model that’s used for mixing the colors of physical art mediums like paints and pastels.

Red, yellow, and blue are the primary colors in RYB. Combinations of those colors can create the secondary colors, which are purple, green, and orange. A dark brown color is usually displayed in the center of the RYB diagram to show that red, yellow, and blue create it.

Making Lighter or Darker Brown

Shades of light and dark brown leather

If you don’t like the type of brown that red, yellow, and blue give you, there are ways to change it. By making the mixture lighter or darker, you can find the exact shade or tint you’re looking for.

Mixing Tints

Tints are lighter versions of a color, and they’re created if you add white. The more white you add, the lighter and paler the brown will look. You might need to add a significant amount of white to notice a difference. To make the brown lighter while still being vibrant, you can add yellow instead of white.

Mixing Shades

Shades are darker versions of a color, made when mixing a color with black. A little black paint can go a long way, so only use it sparingly when creating a shade. Adding extra blue could also make the brown darker, but the color might have a blue tint to it.

Brown Color Meaning

Brown is the color of many beautiful things in nature. It symbolizes reliability, stability, and comfort. It can simplify, protect, and ground, making it a soothing color to include in a design.

Like all colors, brown has a mix of positive and negative meanings. It can indicate good things like appreciation, support, and wisdom. However, it can also have displeasing attributes, like boring, timid, and predictable. Consider all these meanings when deciding how you want to use the color brown.

Can You Create Red, Yellow, and Blue Paint From Scratch?

Yellow, blue, and red paint strokes

If you run out of certain paint colors, you can usually create more using your other paints. However, red, yellow, and blue are the primary colors in RYB, so there’s no easy way to make them from scratch.

To make these colors, you should look at the CMYK color model, a form of subtractive mixing used for printing. According to that diagram, red is made by mixing yellow and magenta, while blue is created by mixing cyan and magenta. However, cyan and magenta aren’t common paint colors, so buying more paint is often easier.

Yellow is a primary color on both RYB and CMYK, so there’s no way to create it in these color models. The only way to create a type of yellow paint is by adding a lot of white to orange. Yet, that result will be much paler than a traditional yellow. In lights, yellow is made by mixing red and green using the RGB color model.

What Color Do Red, Yellow, and Blue Make in Lights?

Red, yellow, and blue aren’t the primary colors in the RGB color model, which is used for lights. Instead of making brown, they make pink.

In RGB, red and blue are primary colors, but yellow is a mix of red and green. So, mixing red, yellow, and blue is the equivalent of mixing blue with a lot of red and a little green. If you test that mixture out on a lighting simulator, it gives you pink.

Understanding the RGB Color Model

RGB color model with red, green, and blue primaries and cyan, magenta, and yellow secondaries

The RGB color model is used for lights and digital displays. It’s a form of additive color mixing, which means when colors are combined, wavelengths are added.

On this color model, the primary colors are red, green, and blue. Combinations of those colors can mix together to create the secondary colors, which are cyan, magenta, and yellow. All three primary colors mixed at full brightness make white.

Pink Color Meaning

Pink is a beautiful color that’s usually associated with compassion, love, and playfulness. It gives off calming, comforting, and nurturing effects.

The color pink has many emotional meanings that may vary depending on how it’s used. Some positive sides of pink include kindness, warmth, and intuition. Yet, some downsides of it are timid, immature, and unconfident.

How Do You Mix Colors in Lights?

Red, green, and blue lights overlapping

Mixing colored lights isn’t quite as simple as swirling paints together. If you already have the necessary colored lights to use, you can combine them by shining them on top of each other. When they overlap, a new color will appear.

However, all colors on the RGB color model can also be made by layering red, green, and blue on top of each other at different brightnesses. For example, pink is made by using red at full brightness, blue at half brightness, and green at a quarter brightness. This makes sense if you consider the fact that yellow is made of red and green. So, there’s extra red, but not as much green as blue.

Mixing colored lights involves a lot of trial and error. Playing around with different combinations and brightnesses can help you understand the RGB color model better.

How Do Our Eyes Perceive Colors in Light?

A lot goes on in our eyes when we look at colors. When light shines on an object, our eyes see the colors that reflect off the object. On the visible spectrum, each color of the rainbow has different wavelengths. For example, violet has very short wavelengths, while red has long ones.

When light shines on an object, some wavelengths absorb into that item, and others reflect off it. So, if we look at a ripe banana, the colors red, orange, green, blue, and violet will be absorbed, while yellow wavelengths reflect back toward us. Thus, the banana will look yellow.

Inside our eyes, we have cone and rod cells, which help us see a variety of colors. Cones are “photosensors” that allow us to decipher colors under bright lighting. Then, rod cells are more sensitive, so they allow us to see colors when the lights are dim. Together, these cells help us see colors vividly no matter what time of day it is.

Designing with Red, Yellow, and Blue

Red, yellow, and blue kids room

Red, yellow, and blue are vibrant and upbeat when used together in designs. They’re most commonly seen in playrooms, classrooms, and advertisements. The best way to make them look natural together in a design is to include some white or black with them.

Another way to make red, yellow, and blue designs visually appealing is by using tints and shades of the colors. Using pastel versions of the three colors can make them easier on the eyes. Tints and shades in a design can also add more variety without including extra colors in the mix.

You probably won’t design with all three of these colors often, but if you’re looking for an exciting and vibrant design, this combination is an interesting option to choose.

Mixing the Perfect Colors

Mixing with two colors can be complicated, but adding in a third color can make the results even more interesting. In paints, the more colors you add, the murkier the combination usually gets. Yet, in lights, extra colors usually make the mixture look closer to white. So, it’s unlikely that you’ll need three colors to create something new. Most colors can be achieved by only mixing two colors.

Red, yellow, and blue are famous for being the primary colors of RYB, so mixing combinations of them can help you understand color theory even better. Don’t be afraid to try creating unusual color combinations. You might find a unique color that looks even better than you expected.