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What colour is mixed to get yellow?

What colour is mixed to get yellow?

Yellow is a bright, warm color that is often associated with sunshine, happiness, and optimism. In the visual arts, yellow is a secondary color that is made by mixing primary colors together. The two primary colors that are blended to make yellow are red and green.

The Color Wheel

On the standard color wheel used by artists and designers, there are 3 sets of primary colors: red, yellow, and blue. These are called the primary colors because they cannot be created by mixing other colors together. Secondary colors like orange, green, and purple are made by mixing adjoining primary colors on the wheel. For example, red and yellow make orange, blue and yellow make green, and red and blue make purple.

Yellow sits between red and green on the color wheel. When these two primary colors are mixed, they make yellow. Adding more red intensifies the vibrancy of the yellow, while adding more green creates a yellow that is muted or olive-tinged.

Paint Mixing

When mixing paints, combining red and green pigments will make yellow. The specific shades of red and green paint used will affect the resulting yellow hue.

Here are some examples of paint mixtures that will yield yellow:

  • Cadmium red + Viridian green
  • Naphthol red + Phthalo green
  • Cadmium red light + Sap green
  • Pyrrole red + Hooker’s green

Cadmium red is a warm, orangey red while Viridian green has a bluish undertone. Combining these two pigments makes a bright, warm yellow. Swapping in a cooler red like Pyrrole red with a dull olive green like Hooker’s green results in a more muted, earthy yellow.

Light and Color

When it comes to light and color, red and green are considered additive primary colors. This means that combining beams of pure red and green light will produce yellow light. This is the principle behind RGB color models used for digital displays, photography, and television.

The red, green, and blue LEDs in devices like computer monitors, phones, and TVs emit three different wavelengths of light. These three colors of light blend together in varying intensities to create all the colors we see on these screens. Mixing red and green light makes yellow light.

Printing and Pigments

In the world of printing and pigments, the primary colors are cyan, magenta, and yellow. These three inks or dyes combine to absorb and reflect light in a way that allows full color reproduction. When cyan and magenta pigments are mixed, they absorb all colors except yellow, creating the appearance of yellow.

So with printing methods like inkjet printing and offset printing, yellow is its own primary color, rather than being mixed from red and green primaries. This CMYK color model is the standard model used for full color printing.

Dyeing and Tinting

Yellow dyes and tints can also be produced by mixing specially formulated colorants, rather than relying on red and green pigments. Many yellow fabric dyes and food colorings are their own independent formulas.

However, some shades of yellow dye are made by mixing red and green dyes. Combining these complementary colors from the dye chemist’s wheel makes yellow in a process similar to paint mixing. The specific choice of dye compounds determines the shade of yellow.

Digital Color Mixing

In digital applications like graphic design, illustration, and digital painting, mixing colors is done by layering and blending RGB light. While digital yellow can be mixed this way, yellow is also available as a primary color to use straight from the digital palette.

Mixing pure red and green coloring in programs like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator makes yellow in an additive way, like combining light. This gives the designer access to rainbow hues.


In summary, the two colors that are combined to make yellow are red and green. This subtractive mixing applies to paints, dyes, and pigments. Red and green are also additive primary colors, so combining red and green light makes yellow light. And in some cases like printing and digital design, yellow is its own primary color.

The exact red and green hues used affect the resulting yellow’s vibrancy and shades ranging from lemon yellow to olive yellow.

Color Mixing System Primary Colors Mix to Make Yellow
Painting (subtractive) Red, blue, yellow Red + green
Light and digital screens (additive) Red, green, blue Red + green
Printing/pigments (subtractive) Cyan, magenta, yellow Cyan + magenta
Dyes/tinting (subtractive) Varies, yellow is often a primary Red + green OR yellow dye