What Colors Make Yellow?

What Colors Make Yellow?

Full of life and energy, Yellow is undoubtedly one of the most vivid and cheerful colors.

This color can be fun and vibrant in bright hues or bold and elegant in mustard and golden shades.

Despite being the most visible part of the light spectrum, creating various tones, shades, and tints of Yellow isn’t a five-finger exercise.

Consequently, knowing what colors make yellow is vital when creating your color mix.

This post highlights the properties of yellow and how to create different shades of it.

Read on to learn more;

What Colors Make Yellow?

Combining green and red colors in equal intensities creates a vibrant yellow shade. Despite being a primary hue, mixing these two colors will result in a yellow shade since the red cancels out the blue color. However, this is only practical in additive mixing.

The Science of Colors

Color science is the visual understanding of how light reflects off various surfaces. Color is the part of the visible light spectrum reflected from a surface. 

The amount of light absorbed or reflected by the surface will determine its color. If you’re a little creative, you’re likely moved by the surrounding colors.

The traditional color wheel includes three primary, three secondary, and six tertiary colors.

Although color isn’t an exact science, it may enthuse you to capture this wonderful delight in a painting.

Primary colors

The primary colors are at the apex of any color structure. Notionally, they’re the building blocks of the color spectrum. The three primary colors include Red, Blue, and Yellow. 

Being colors in their own right, you can’t create primary hues by mixing other colors. You can, however, mix these primary colors to create secondary colors.

Secondary colors

Next are the three secondary colors, which include orange, green, and purple. You can think of secondary colors as the progeny of primary colors.

In color theory, we learn that you can obtain secondary colors with the following combination;

  • Red+ Yellow = Orange
  • Blue + Yellow = Green
  • Red + Blue = Purple

Tertiary colors

You can create a tertiary color by mixing a primary color with its closest secondary colors.

I like to think of them as the grandchildren of primary colors. The six tertiary colors include Red-Orange, Blue-Green, Yellow-Orange, Yellow-Green, Blue-Violet, and Red-Violet.

  • Yellow + Orange = YELLOW/ORANGE
  • Yellow + Green = YELLOW/GREEN
  • Red + Purple = RED/PURPLE
  • Blue + Green = BLUE/GREEN
  • Blue + Purple = BLUE/PURPLE
  • Red + Orange = RED/ORANGE

The Color Wheel

The Color Wheel

A color wheel is a visual illustration of colors, arranging hues according to wavelength.

It represents the geometrical relationship between primary, secondary, and tertiary colors.

Additionally, you can use the color wheel to determine the color temperature.

The traditional RYB color wheel includes the primary colors of red, yellow, and blue.

The yellow and red color mix will create orange, while blue and yellow will produce green. Lastly, combining blue and red will result in a purple shade.

 If you combine all the primary colors, you’re likely to end up with a brown shade. This is largely due to color temperature and bias. 

Many iterations of the color wheel exist, with the most common one shown using 12 color shades. Some color wheels include more intermediates, totaling 24 colors. 

Other color wheels include interior points and circles to represent color mixtures. Using hex codes, digital teams can communicate the exact colors. 

Color temperature

Color temperature is the coldness or warmth of a particular color. The color wheel is divided into cool and warm colors.

The color combinations on the color wheel usually balance cool and warm colors.

Warm colors lie on the wheel’s red side, while the green and purple sides include cooler colors.

Also, color temperature relations are relative. This means that colors on the wheel’s warm side can be cooler or warmer than the neighboring color.

Color temperatures have psychological and perceptual impacts, evoking different feelings.

Typically, warm colors make you think of energy and coziness. Contrastingly, we associate cool colors with isolation and serenity.

Yellow Color Psychology

The symbolic meaning of the color yellow varies around the world. Yellow symbolizes peace, bravery, and courage, depending on the belief and culture.

On the other hand, yellow represents death in places such as Egypt. 

Other universally recognized meanings of yellow include happiness, hope, energy, optimism, warmth, and cheerfulness.

A wrong yellow tone can also make you think of jealousy, sickness, and deceit.

what colors make yellow

The happiness, hope, energy, and life of yellow

Scientific studies have established that people relate Yellow to increased muscle and mental energy levels. 

Similarly, yellow can trigger the nervous system and activate memory. As a result, many people associate yellow hues with intellect, enlightenment, and confidence.

Yellow, considered the most joyful of all colors, can also encourage communication.

We likely associate yellow with life due to the different yellow shades in flowers, especially in spring.

Also, it could be because the sun, which gives us life, is yellow, with its bright light giving us energy. 

The practical properties of yellow

Besides the energy, life, and happiness properties of yellow, the color is also used by most world systems.

Since yellow is a bright and vibrant color opposite of purple on the color wheel, we use it to capture people’s attention and get them to look. 

Yellow is also the most visible color next to black, making it easy to read even from a distance.

Subsequently, we use yellow and black for school buses, road lines, road signs, and taxis.

The negative intimations of yellow

There is a thin line of balance regarding the yellow color. Due to its positive attributes, an absence of yellow could increase feelings of isolation, fear, insecurity, and low self-esteem. 

Furthermore, limited exposure to the color yellow could make one possessive and defensive.

They could also be rigid in their actions and beliefs, distracting them from emotions.

While the absence of yellow can negatively impact human emotions, too much of it can lead to distress. For instance, babies tend to cry more around yellow-painted walls.

Moreover, too much stimulation from the color yellow can lead to concentration issues in adults, making it difficult to complete tasks.

It can also cause people to become demanding, overcritical, and irritable.

Two Ways of Understanding Color

In the traditional color theory, we’re taught that mixing the three primary colors in various ways could create all other colors.

The theory further suggests you can’t create these primary colors by combining other shades. 

Like red and blue, yellow is among the primary colors we learned. Ideally, this means that it’s impossible to achieve various yellow shades.

Fortuitously, there’s yet another way to look at color. This modern color model is based on the structure utilized by printers. 

This structure is known as the CMYK model. With the CMYK model, it’s possible to create all the other colors using Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and black.

What Two Colors Make Yellow?

Creating yellow from scratch requires artists and designers to experiment with the light spectrum instead of paint pigments.

Observing the light spectrum and focusing on what colors make yellow allows you to create your desired shade.

For instance, mixing red and green at equal intensity creates a vibrant bright yellow color.

However, mixing red and green on your paint palette will result in a dark brown shade. The two colors can only balance each other in the digital environment.

Typically, the red tone in the color spectrum will cancel out the blue shade within the green, leaving the yellow shade to shine through.

This complex approach to mixing Yellow may only work in some cases. Nevertheless, knowing how to make yellow from two colors in the right mediums is satisfying.

Upon mastering how to mix yellow in the digital world, you can further experiment with creating custom shades and tones.

You can also combine shades of red and green to create a unique yellow tone from scratch.

To increase your chances of success, ensure the color intensity of each shade is equal. 

Can You Make Yellow? 

Although the traditional color theory doesn’t explain, you can make a yellow shade from scratch. The issue with mixing paint pigments is they don’t work in real life. 

For example, if you mix Ultramarine blue + Cadmium Red, you will likely be cast down. Expect a disappointing dark brown result instead of the rich purple (violet). 

Mixing Colors to Make Yellow

You can make yellow by mixing orange, green, and white colors. The resulting color resembles Indian yellow, nickel azo yellow, or yellow ochre.

This means you can’t mix other colors to achieve the primary yellow tone, which is lively and vibrant. 

However, you can create a darker, less vibrant yellow shade with orange and green colors. Adding white to the resulting mixture will form a lighter color.

what colors make yellow

Mixing pigments to make yellow

A primary paint color, including red, yellow, and blue, is a paint that only contains one pigment.

These are pure pigments that you can’t create by mixing other colors. Consequently, you can’t mix other pigments to create a yellow shade.

How to make yellow with paint

Manufactured paint comprises mineral, chemical, and organic pigments. There are various pure red, yellow, and blue pigment paints.

Creating yellow by mixing inks or paints takes a lot of work. However, you can easily create the color by mixing colored light sources in the additive color theory.

The closest we can get to creating yellow with inks or paint is by mixing green and orange colors in equal amounts.

Mixing dyes to make yellow

According to the subtractive color theory, mixing green and orange dyes should result in a yellow tone.

However, when you mix the dyes, you’ll have a dark brown color instead. Similarly, mixing green and orange will yield a darker, black color. 

Mixing light to make yellow

In the RGB color model, computer and television screens use to generate colors; you create yellow by combining green and red parts of the light spectrum in equal intensity.

How to Make Different Shades of Yellow

Making yellow cooler

To make a yellow hue cooler, you’ll need a cool yellow shade, such as cadmium yellow light, as your base. 

Adding a cool blue shade, like cobalt teal blue, to the yellow base will produce a cooler color.

If you use a warm yellow shade as your base color, the resulting color will have a reddish touch. 

Yellow is a light color, even when compared to the lightest shade of blue. Consequently, you must add a small touch of blue at a time to your yellow base. 

Since combining blue and yellow results in a greener shade, add the blue color periodically to create a vibrant cool yellow shade.

Adding excessive blue will produce a yellow shade that leans more toward green.

If you wish to achieve a less vibrant but bright cool yellow shade, add a dash of cobalt blue to the yellow base.

Since cobalt blue is warmer than cobalt teal, it’ll mute the yellow color while making it cooler.

The result is a somewhat darker cool yellow color that leans towards brown.

How to make yellow warmer

You’ll want to add a warmer color to your warm yellow base to achieve a warm yellow hue.

In addition to being fairly neutral, we recommend using cadmium yellow as the base color since it contains minimal red. 

While you can add shades of warm red, we insist you use either burnt sienna or scarlet red.

Adding a light touch of scarlet red to the cadmium yellow base will result in a warm and fiery shade of Yellow. 

Scarlet is a bright, warm shade, so you don’t risk muting the final color. Instead, the resulting shade is a warm and vibrant yellow hue. 

Note that the amount of red you use will affect the final color. Subsequently, this allows you to make the final color as cool or warm as possible.

For a muted, warm yellow shade closer to yellow ochre, dab some burnt sienna into your base color.

Burnt sienna is cooler and darker and contains minimal traces of blue. This allows you to create a warmer but muted shade of Yellow.

How to make yellow paint darker

By experimenting with different ratios and shades, you can discover how to make dark yellow paint to suit your artistic needs.

One method includes adding any color that compliments yellow. Alternatively, combining different yellow shades will result in a darker tone. 

Besides making yellow warmer, red color can also make it darker. Similarly, you can utilize different orange shades to darken a yellow shade.

Luckily, unlike red, you can darken a yellow shade with orange without making it warmer.

Also, adding a purple shade will darken the yellow color. Since purple color compliments yellow, not only does it darken a yellow tone but also mutes it.

Combining cadmium yellow with a purple shade, such as violet purple, will produce a slightly darker cool yellow tone.

How to make yellow paint lighter

You can lighten the yellow color depending on your desired temperature and vibrancy.

Use grey, light green, or white to make yellow paint lighter. Adding white to the base color is the easiest and most common way to make yellow paint lighter. 

While white is the preferred shade when lightening any color regardless of its temperature, it offers several shortcomings.

For instance, adding a tad of white to your yellow shade will slightly mute the color, reducing its vibrancy.

But if you wish to mute yellow paint completely, use a light gray shade to lighten the paint.

Grey completely removes the yellow shade’s vibrancy and brightness without giving off a brownish color. 

The muting and lightening effects of gray color are consistent in all yellow shades, regardless of temperature.

On the other hand, to lighten your yellow paint without distorting its vibrancy, add a tad of a light green shade. 

For instance, dabbing a lime green shade into a yellow shade will result in a light and vibrant yellow hue. Additionally, the green color will make your yellow cooler.

Read also: what color does brown and yellow make when mixed?

How to make yellow muted

Besides being vibrant, bright yellow shades make amazing superfluities to any structure. However, excessively vibrant Yellow can be overwhelming, as well as shouting. 

Similarly, most paintings require muted yellow shades when adding shadows and dimensions.

This creates the need for a more muted yellow shade. Fortunately, you can use several colors to mute yellow. They include the following;

  • Violet Purple
  • Burnt Sienna
  • Cobalt Blue
  • Grey

How to make yellow ochre

As we’ve learned, making a vibrant yellow shade by mixing colors is no easy feat.

However, if you must include yellow ochre in a painting, try mixing a yellow base with orange and green colors. 

Yellow ochre is the perfect underpainting color when working on a colored ground.

Here are the steps to follow when mixing yellow ochre;

  1. Start with a cool yellow base, such as cadmium yellow
  2. Add a warm shade of red to darken the yellow and make it warmer
  3. Add a blue shade to darken and despoil the yellow
  4. Make any adjustments to achieve the desired hue.

How to make mustard yellow?

Mustard yellow is a popular shade used in décor and fashion niches. As one of the warmer yellow shades, you can create mustard yellow combination by adding warm shades to a neutral yellow base. 

In this case, you’ll want to ensure that the yellow base significantly overshadows any other shade in the mix.

We recommend starting with a bright yellow base, such as cadmium yellow, and adding a touch of orange until you achieve your desired shade.  

You can also dab in red to make your mustard yellow warmer and browner.

Once satisfied with the brownish mustard shade, add some extra orange and yellow to attain the right shade. 

Dabbing in some white shade will make the color paler, while adding a black shade will deepen it.

Mustard yellow pairs well with several other colors, creating different moods and aesthetics. Some of the colors that match with mustard yellow include:

  1. Navy Blue
  2. Olive Green
  3. Rust or Burnt Orange
  4. Terracotta
  5. Charcoal Gray
  6. Cream or Ivory
  7. Deep Burgundy
  8. Teal
  9. Pale Pink
  10. Brown

How to make deep yellow?

Often, when artists and designers explore deepening a yellow color, they mostly target a darker yellow shade.

Depending on your desired results, making the yellow color darker is quite simple. 

Adding a complementary color, such as blue or purple, will subdue or mute the Yellow, resulting in a darker texture. 

However, if you wish to maintain vibrancy in the yellow shade while making it as deep and dark as possible, use orange instead of red.

The orange color lets you darken the shade without subduing it too much.

Since darker shades of yellow closely resemble brown, you must get the balance right. Fortunately, there are various options you can use to create quality golden-yellow shades.

Combining three colors instead of two offers more variety when exploring for darker yellow hues. 

For instance, mixing cadmium yellow with a Burnt Umber and Ultramarine Blue dash will result in an almost khaki tone.

On the other hand, yellow ochre mixed with a light touch of Burnt Umber and Ultramarine Blue will create a warmer, goldish color.

How to make yellow-orange?

While creating a true yellow-orange shade isn’t a walk in the park, especially with paint pigments, it isn’t entirely impossible.

 If you’re using primary colors only, start with a simple yellow base and add a dash of red paint. In your mixture, ensure the quantity of your yellow base outweighs the red paint significantly, lest you end up with a true orange.

Alternatively, you can start with a vibrant yellow shade and add a light touch of Burnt Sienna or Crimson. 

Note that the vibrancy of the final mixture will depend on the brightness of the mixed colors.

To minimize the impact of saturation, consider adding a neutral color, such as gray or white, in small quantities. 

How to make bright yellow

According to the traditional color theory, yellow is a primary shade. Like all other primary shades, including red and blue, you can’t create yellow color by mixing other pigments. 

However, combining equal parts of red and green will result in a vibrant, bright yellow tone in the digital realm.

How to make bright yellow

Yellow Color Description

Saffron yellow

Saffron Yellow is a warm and lovely shade of Yellow. The shade comes from the warm yellow, expensive spice derived from the Autumn crocus flower.

It offers beautiful transparency, allowing you to create beautiful shades of green once combined with phthalo blue or Prussian blue.

Yellow ochre

Yellow ochre is among the darker yellow shades you can find. Its dark brown and earthy tone makes it perfect for landscape paintings.

Canary yellow

Canary Yellow is the perfect hue if you’re looking for a bright and lively shade.

Despite being quite cool, canary Yellow isn’t classified as a cold color. The color will make you think of the warm and vibrant sun.

Lemon yellow

Lemon yellow, which is much lighter compared to canary yellow, is a soft, lovely, and bright yellow tone.

This shade of yellow in a painting will perfectly represent a budding wildflower field.

Apricot yellow

Although many designers dispute it as a shade of yellow, Apricot yellow is. This light and warm hue of yellow features an orangish tone similar to the skin of apricots.

School Bus yellow

This shade of Yellow is promptly familiar to anyone whose schooldays was marked by running to catch the bus.

Slightly warm, this bright yellow shade represents bees and sunflowers.

Shades, Tones, And Tints

You can form tints, tones, and shades of a color by mixing black, white, or grey with your base hue. Here’s an in-depth description of these color terms


Shade is a hue that forms after adding black to a mixture of pure colors. While shade darkens the color, the hue will remain the same.

Besides being richer and deeper, shades can be overpowering and dramatic.


A tint is obtained by adding white to any hue, often lightening the color. You can obtain lighter tints depending on the amount of white added.

Adding white to your color mixture makes it less intense, allowing you to balance vibrant color combinations.


Tones result from combining black and gray or white with a base color. Like tints, a tone is a subtler version of the original hue.

Tones are unlikely to be lighter, revealing less apparent intricacies in the base color.

Hue, Luminance, and Saturation

A hue is any color in the color wheel, which includes primary and secondary colors.

While saturation is the purity or intensity of a color, luminance is the light amount or brightness in a color.

When using a color picker or color wheel, you can alter the luminance and saturation of a hue.

Color Combinations

Complementary colors

These are two colors that lie on opposite sides of the color wheel.

Mixing complementary colors provides a high-impact and high-contrast color combination. As a result, the colors will be brighter and more protuberant.


Monochrome colors are a single hue’s shades, tones, and tints. Typically, a monochromatic color scheme ranges between lighter to darker variations of the base hue.

They provide a conservative and more subtle color combination for a more harmonious look.

Analogous colors

These are the hues that lie cheek-by-jowl on the color wheel. Mixing analogous colors will result in a versatile but overwhelming combination.

If you want to balance analogous color schemes, use one dominant color while the others work as accents.

Related posts:


What colors mix to make yellow?

Contrary to the traditional color theory, you can make yellow by combining red and green light in equal intensities. Mixing equal parts of green and red will result in a bright and vibrant yellow color. Typically, the red will cancel out the blue, leaving the yellow color only.

What 3 colors make yellow?

Since Yellow is a primary hue, you can’t mix three colors to create it. In additive mixing, combining red, blue, and green in equal proportions will produce a neutral color (white or gray.) However, in the RGB model used to generate colors on digital screens, we create yellow by combining red and green light. 

How to make yellow without green

Generally, mixing warm colors such as red and cadmium orange will create a warm shade of Yellow. However, you’ll require cool colors such as cadmium green and ultramarine blue to achieve a cool yellow shade. However, this is impossible when mixing pigments.

What primary colors make yellow?

You must work with the light spectrum instead of existing paints or pigments to create yellow from scratch. Mixing green and red lights in equal intensities will result in a bright and vibrant shade of Yellow. However, mixing green and red paint or pigment will have a brown shade.

How to make yellow without red

To create a yellow shade, you require red and green light in equal parts. This makes it impossible to create a yellow tone without red. As a primary hue, yellow cannot be created by mixing other shades unless in additive and subtractive mixing.

Do red and green make yellow?

Yes, mixing equal parts of green and red light will produce a bright and vibrant yellow tone. Typically, the red hue cancels the blue tone in green, leaving only the yellow color. However, you’ll have a brown shade when you mix two paint colors, red and green.

What colors can you make with yellow?

Mixing yellow with red will result in an orange color. You can make orange as a secondary hue by combining two primary colors. Additionally, it may surprise you that mixing yellow and black will result in a green color. Lastly, yellow and gray paint combinations will form olive-green, mostly a gray shade with a green tint.


It takes a lot of work for designers to create yellow with existing oils, paints, and other materials.

Nevertheless, you can create a yellow hue by mixing green, white, and orange colors. However, the mixture is closer to yellow ochre or nickel azo yellow. 

This means you can only create a bright, vibrant primary yellow color in additive mixing.

Knowing what colors make yellow is vital when experimenting with light concepts on digital screens.

In this case, mixing red and green light in equal intensities will produce a true yellow color.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *