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Does green and blue make blue?

Does green and blue make blue?

When it comes to color mixing, many people have the misconception that combining green and blue makes blue. This is not actually the case. Mixing light waves of different colors produces different results than mixing pigments like paint or ink. So what happens when green and blue light mix? What about green and blue paint? Let’s explore the science behind color mixing.

How Light Colors Mix

When it comes to light, red, green, and blue are known as the primary colors. This means other colors can be created by combining these three. Computer and TV screens use red, green, and blue light to produce all the colors we see.

So what happens when you mix green and blue light? The resulting color is a brighter cyan. Cyan sits between green and blue on the color wheel. It absorbs more red light and reflects green and blue back to our eyes.

The principles of light color mixing are:

Color 1 Color 2 Result
Red Green Yellow
Red Blue Magenta
Green Blue Cyan

As you can see, combining any two primary light colors results in the secondary color between them on the color wheel. No matter how much green and blue light you mix, you’ll never get pure blue light.

How Pigment Colors Mix

Mixing pigmented colors like paint, ink, or dyes follows a different set of rules than mixing light. The primary colors are red, yellow, and blue. Combining two primary pigment colors makes the secondary colors:

Color 1 Color 2 Result
Red Yellow Orange
Yellow Blue Green
Blue Red Purple

So according to the principles of pigment color mixing, combining green and blue paint should result in a dark blue-green teal. The pigments blend together, with neither color becoming visually dominant.

To demonstrate, here is a color mixing chart showing the result of blending increasing amounts of green and blue paint:

Cyan 25% Green 50% Green 75% Green Green

As more green pigment is added to the blue, the color shifts from cyan towards green. But the resulting color is always a blue-green rather than a pure blue.

This is why mixing green and blue paint will never make a true blue. The green pigment reduces the saturation of the blue and pulls the color towards green. To make blue paint appear more vibrant, you would need to mix it with white rather than green.

The Science of Color Mixing

The different color mixing principles for light versus pigment stem from the physics of how color works.

Light is made up of wavelengths along the visible spectrum. Red has the longest wavelength, violet the shortest. When light wavelengths combine, the results are additive and get brighter. Mixing green and blue light brings both wavelengths together to stimulate the cones in our eyes that detect those colors.

Pigments work by absorbing some wavelengths and reflecting others back to our eyes. For example, a blue pigment absorbs orange, yellow, and green light. It reflects back only the blue to our eyes. When pigments mix together, they absorb more wavelengths, resulting in darker and murkier colors. Green and blue pigments blended together absorb more wavelengths than either one alone, resulting in a dark teal rather than pure blue.

Tips for Mixing Colors

Understanding these principles can help you become better at mixing colors for art, design, or other purposes:

– Know whether you are working with light (RGB colors) or pigmented materials (RYB colors). The primary colors and mixing rules differ between the two.

– To make a more vibrant, saturated color, mix it with white rather than another color. White reflects back all light wavelengths.

– To darken a color, mix in its complementary color from the opposite side of the color wheel. For example, blue’s complement is orange.

– When mixing paints, start with smaller amounts and add more as needed. It’s easier to lighten a dark color than to darken a light one.

– If mixing two colors results in brown, one of the colors you used was likely an undertone. Undertones affect how pure a color appears.

– Use color mixing charts to experiment and see how different color combinations turn out before mixing large batches.

The Takeaway on Mixing Green and Blue

While green and blue are side-by-side on the color wheel, they do not actually combine to make pure blue. When mixing light, green and blue make a cyan or aqua color. When mixing pigments, the result is a teal or blue-green hue. This is because of the different physics underlying light color mixing versus pigment blending. So while green and blue are complementary colors, expect their combination to produce a brighter cyan or duller teal rather than a true primary blue. Understanding color theory helps explain why.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does mixing green and blue make cyan?

Mixing green and blue light combines their wavelengths to produce cyan, which our eyes perceive as between green and blue on the color wheel. Cyan absorbs more red light while reflecting green and blue.

What color results from mixing green and blue paint?

Blending green and blue pigmented paint produces a teal or blue-green color. The pigments absorb more wavelengths of light, darkening the color towards green compared to pure blue.

What colors make blue without green?

The closest way to make blue without green is to mix blue with white. White reflects all visible wavelengths, so blue remains the dominant pigment. Another option is mixing blue with a touch of purple.

Why does green paint turn blue paint green?

Green pigment absorbs wavelengths of light that would otherwise reflect back blue. This reduces the saturation of blue, shifting it towards green on the color wheel. The green pigment dominates the light absorption when blended.

What is the complement of blue?

Orange is the complementary color of blue. Orange and blue are opposite each other on the color wheel. This means they contain opposite wavelengths of light that cancel each other out in pigment mixing.


While closely related colors, green and blue do not actually combine to make pure blue. Understanding the physics and color theory behind mixing light versus pigments explains why. Cyan or teal are the real results of mixing green and blue. But color mixing remains a complex and nuanced practice worth exploring and experimenting with.