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What two two colors make green?

What two two colors make green?

What two colors make green?

Green is a secondary color that can be made by mixing two primary colors together. The two primary colors that combine to make green are blue and yellow. When blue and yellow light mixes, the result is green light. When blue and yellow pigments or paints are mixed, the result is also green.

The Primary Colors

The primary colors are red, blue, and yellow. These colors cannot be created by mixing other colors together but are the building blocks that all other colors are made from.

Red, blue and yellow are considered primary colors because they correspond to different types of cones in our eyes that detect light. Cones contain pigments that are sensitive to red, blue or green/yellow light. When all three types of cones are stimulated equally, we see white light. Varying the stimulation of the different cones allows us to perceive all the different colors.

The primary colors in art and design differ slightly from the primary colors of light. When working with pigments, dyes or inks, the primary colors are cyan (a shade of blue), magenta (which has a purplish-reddish tint) and yellow. This is because these colors combine to absorb light and create the widest range of colors.

Secondary Colors

Secondary colors are made by mixing two primary colors. The three secondary colors are green, orange and purple.

Green Blue + Yellow
Orange Red + Yellow
Purple Red + Blue

Green results when blue and yellow are mixed. Yellow and blue are on opposite sides of the color wheel, which tend to produce vibrant secondary colors when combined.

Why Blue and Yellow Make Green

On a basic level, blue and yellow make green because those are the primary color components of green light and pigment. But why is that?

Additive vs Subtractive Color Mixing

There are two main ways that colors combine:

– Additive color mixing – Combining colors by adding light together, like on a computer screen or theater light. The primary additive colors are red, green and blue light. Mixing all three makes white.

– Subtractive color mixing – Combining colors through pigments, dyes or inks that absorb certain wavelengths of light and reflect others back to our eyes. The primary subtractive colors are cyan, magenta and yellow because they absorb red, green and blue light respectively. Combining these makes black by absorbing all light.

Additive Mixing of Blue and Yellow Light

When working with light such as on TV screens or theater lighting, we use additive color mixing. This means combining colors by adding different wavelengths of light together.

The primary colors of light are red, green and blue. Screens display color by emitting varying combinations of red, blue and green light. Yellow light stimulates both the red and green color receptors in our eyes because it is a mixture of red and green wavelengths. Blue light stimulates only the blue color receptors.

When yellow and blue light mix, both the blue and green/yellow color receptors in our eyes are stimulated. The brain interprets this combination as green. Therefore, mixing blue and yellow light results in the perception of green light.

Subtractive Mixing of Blue and Yellow Pigments

When mixing paints, dyes and inks, we use subtractive color mixing. This involves combining colors through pigments that absorb certain wavelengths of light and reflect the rest back to our eyes.

The primary subtractive colors are cyan, magenta and yellow because they absorb red, green and blue light respectively. Cyan absorbs red, magenta absorbs green, and yellow absorbs blue.

Yellow pigment absorbs blue light while reflecting back red and green. Blue pigment absorbs green and yellow light while reflecting blue. When yellow and blue pigments are mixed, both the blue and green wavelengths are absorbed, while red light is reflected back. The brain perceives this combination as green.

Therefore, combining blue and yellow pigments results in green through the process of subtractive color mixing.

Other Ways to Make Green

While blue and yellow are the primary ways to make green through additive or subtractive mixing, green can also be made by combining other color pairs:

– Cyan and yellow – Cyan is a shade of blue that absorbs red light, and yellow absorbs blue light. Combining these creates green through subtractive mixing.

– Green and magenta – Green absorbs magenta while reflecting green and blue light. This yields a more blue-biased green.

– Red and cyan – Red light mixed with cyan pigment (absorbing red) yields green.

– Red, blue and green light – Mixing balanced amounts of the primary additive colors makes white light, which appears greenish when dimmed.

So in summary, green is fundamentally a mixture of blue and yellow, both additively with light and subtractively with pigments. But other color combinations can also produce green depending on the specific properties of the colors used.

Properties of Green

Now that we understand where green comes from, what are some key properties of the color green?

Wavelength of Green Light

Green sits between blue and yellow on the visible spectrum. It has a wavelength of 495-570 nm. The peak green wavelength is around 510 nm.

Human eyes perceive light at wavelengths of 380-740 nm. Green occupies the central portion of the visible spectrum.

Green Pigment and Dyes

Natural green pigments have been used since ancient times. Malachite, a green copper carbonate mineral, was used as a green paint as early as 3000 BCE. Later, the vibrant green pigment verdigris was produced by reacting copper with acetic acid.

In the 18th and 19th century, synthetic green pigments became available. Chrome green was made by mixing chromium oxide with other ingredients. Emerald green used copper acetate as a base. Viridian was invented in 1859 and is still used today. It has excellent lightfastness.

Today, the most common green synthetic pigments are phthalocyanine PG7 and PG36. Food coloring dyes like Fast Green FCF are also used.

Absorption and Reflection

When green pigments and dyes are illuminated with white light:

– They strongly absorb light in the violet-blue and orange-red wavelengths
– They weakly absorb yellow-green light
– They reflect back mostly green light

This selective absorption and reflection of different wavelengths makes the pigment appear green.

Complementary Color

The complementary color of green is magenta. Complementary colors are opposite each other on the color wheel.

When placed next to each other, green and magenta create strong contrast and make each other appear more vibrant. This complementary color pairing is useful in design.

Tints, Tones and Shades

By mixing green with other colors, a wide range of hues can be created:

– Tints – Adding white to green makes lighter tints like mint green.
– Tones – Mixing gray with green yields muted olive and sage tones.
– Shades – Adding black darkens green into forest, emerald and jade shades.

This ability to produce a wide spectrum of shades, tints and tones contributes to the versatility of green as a color.

Meaning and Symbolism of Green

What does the color green represent? Here are some of the key symbolic associations of green:


Green is strongly evocative of the natural world. It reminds us of grass, trees, plants and forests. It represents growth, renewal and vitality. Dark green can also symbolize the wilderness.


Green has become associated with environmentalism and sustainability. Organic and eco-friendly products often use green branding and packaging.


In some cultures, green can represent affluence and abundance. Green was associated with precious greenstone artifacts among the Maori people of New Zealand.


The expression “green with envy” reflects how green can symbolize jealousy. This may stem from how green bile was considered a cause of envy in medieval medicine.


The term “greenhorn” refers to someone who is new, fresh or inexperienced. This derives from inexperienced farmhands being likened to unripened green crops.

St. Patrick’s Day

Green is inextricably linked with St. Patrick’s Day and Irish culture. It represents the lush green countryside of the Emerald Isle.

Permission / Safety

Green light and traffic lights give permission to go. Green is often used to indicate that something is safe or acceptable.

Prosperity and Growth

In many Asian cultures, green is associated with prosperity and growth, often paired with gold.

Use of Green in Design

How is green utilized in art and design? Here are some of the main applications:

Balance and Harmony

Green is considered one of the most balanced and harmonious colors. It strikes a pleasant chord between the warm and cool primary colors. This makes green a broadly useful background color.

Restful and Soothing

Along with blue, green is one of the most commonly described colors as restful and relaxing. It triggers calming associations with nature and evokes quiet sanctuary. Dark greens can be soothing.

Emphasizing Nature Themes

Using greens helps reinforce natural themes and organic branding. Greens complement photography of landscapes, plants and wildlife.

Indicating Growth and Prosperity

In cultures where green signals wealth and growth, green can be used to promote eco-friendly products, investments and sustainability initiatives.

Contrasting with Complementary Colors

Vibrant greens pair beautifully with complementary magenta. This high-contrast combination grabs attention.

Warnings and Cautions

While green generally signals “go”, yellow-greens are sometimes used as a cautionary signal. Toxic materials may use green-yellow hazard coloring.

Unique and Memorable Branding

Green offers brands a memorable way to stand out. Green packaging leaps off the shelf. Retailers can use green accents to create a distinctive look.

In summary, green is a versatile, balanced color with many associations that make it broadly useful in design and branding.


So in conclusion, what two colors make green? The primary colors that combine to create green are blue and yellow. This is true whether mixing light sources additively or pigments subtractively.

Green sits in the center of the visible spectrum, resulting from a balance of blue and yellow wavelengths. It can also be produced by mixing complements like red and cyan, or colors adjacent on the color wheel.

Green is a secondary color with a rich symbolism, evoking nature, envy, inexperience and more. It plays an important role in design for creating harmony, contrast and unique branding themes. So the next time you admire a green forest or eye-catching advertisement, you’ll know it owes its color to that perfect mixture of mellow blue and cheerful yellow.