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Which colors make olive green?

Which colors make olive green?

Olive green is a neutral, versatile color that can complement a variety of design schemes. It straddles the line between warm and cool tones, pairing well with shades on both ends of the color wheel. When mixed properly, olive green takes on an earthy, natural look. But what colors combine to make this organic hue? Let’s take a closer look at the color theory behind olive green.

Primary Colors in Olive Green

Olive green is a tertiary color, meaning it is created by combining primary and secondary colors. The main primary color present in olive green is yellow. Adding a touch of yellow introduces warmth and vibrancy. Too much yellow, however, can shift the olive green toward a lime green direction.

The second primary color used in olive green is blue. Blue adds coolness, muting the bright yellow tones. A small amount of blue is all you need when mixing olive green. Too much blue results in a dull, dreary color.

Secondary Colors in Olive Green

In addition to primary colors, olive green also relies on the secondary colors green and orange. Green and orange sit adjacent to each other on the color wheel. When combined, they neutralize each other into a pleasant, earthy olive shade.

Here’s a quick breakdown of how the secondary colors contribute to olive green:

Color Contribution
Green Provides the base green tone
Orange Adds warmth and neutralizes the green

Adding the right balance of green and orange is key for achieving an ideal olive color. Too much green results in a drab, dull shade. Too much orange can make the color resemble a mustard yellow.

Tertiary Colors that Make Olive Green

In color theory, tertiary colors are made by combining a primary color with a secondary color adjacent to it on the color wheel. For olive green, the relevant tertiary colors are chartreuse green and yellow-orange.

Tertiary Color Composition
Chartreuse green Yellow + green
Yellow-orange Yellow + orange

Chartreuse green adds vibrancy from the yellow paired with the base green tone. Yellow-orange boosts warmth to balance out the coolness of blue. Used judiciously, these tertiary colors can give olive green dimension.

Too much chartreuse green risks making the color too bright and overwhelming. Excessive yellow-orange may impart a brownish tint. Finding the right tertiary color balance takes some color mixing finesse.

Complementary Colors

Looking at the color wheel, the main complementary color (or opposite) of olive green is burgundy. Adding a small amount of burgundy can make olive green pop. Too much burgundy, however, can quickly turn the color muddy.

Other shades that complement olive green include:

– Maroon
– Pink
– Rich blues like navy or cobalt
– Violet

These colors contrast nicely against the muted olive background, giving it added visual interest.

Tones of Olive Green

Like any color, olive green takes on different shades depending on how much black, white, or gray is added. Here are some of the most common olive green tones:

Olive Green Tone Description
Bright olive green More yellow added, bolder and vibrant
Army green Dull, desaturated olive drab tone
Dark olive green Deeper tone with more black added
Sage green Lighter, subtle green with some gray
Charcoal green Heavily shaded with black and gray

The lighting and surrounding colors can alter how the olive green is perceived. Brightening with white/yellow or shading with black/gray allows you to adapt the olive tone as needed.

Mixing Paint Colors for Olive Green

When mixing paints, using the right combination of primary colors is key for producing an olive green hue. Here is a simple paint formula to try:

– 2 parts yellow paint
– 1 part blue paint
– 4 parts green paint

Start with a lemon or cadmium yellow for the yellow portion. For the blue, try a cobalt or ultramarine blue. Use a standard sap or forest green for the majority green portion.

Mix the yellow and blue together first until blended. Then add in the green paint and continue mixing. Adjust the formula if needed based on the specific paint shades used.

Alternative options include mixing:

– 1 part yellow + 1 part blue + 2 parts green
– 1 part yellow + 1/2 part blue + 8 parts green

Mixing olive green takes some color theory knowledge and experimentation. Sample how the paints interact before mixing large batches. Adjustments can fine tune the olive shade.

Dyeing Fabric Olive Green

To dye fabric an olive green color, you’ll need to prepare several dye baths using a combination of yellow, blue, and green dyes. Here is one approach:

1. Make a strong yellow dye bath using a direct dye like Fiber Reactive Procion in lemon yellow.

2. Make a medium blue dye bath using a direct dye like ProChem Cobalt Hue powder.

3. Make a weak green dye bath using a reduced concentration of Fiber Reactive Procion in olive green.

4. Dip/soak the fabric in the yellow dye first. Rinse.

5. Dip/soak the yellow fabric in the blue dye. Rinse.

6. Dip/soak the fabric in the green dye. Rinse and wash thoroughly.

The successive dyeing intensifies the olive green color. Wear gloves and follow safety precautions when dyeing. Pre-washing the fabric in synthropol will aid dye absorption.

Mixing Olive Green with Other Colors

One of the benefits of olive green is how well it combines with other shades to create appealing color schemes. Here are some examples of colors that work well with olive green:

– **Brown** – Adds an earthy, natural look perfect for rustic settings

– **Cream** – Softens and lightens olive green in a soothing, understated way

– **Royal Blue** – Contrasts beautifully against olive’s muted tones

– **Red** – Pops against olive green for a vibrant, rich color palette

– **Purple** – Combines two complementary colors for a bold, dramatic effect

– **Turquoise** – Has enough contrast to make both colors stand out

– **Beige** – Subdues both hues into an elegant neutral palette

– **Charcoal** – Darkens olive green into a sophisticated moody scheme

Olive green is extremely versatile. Use color theory to identify hues that work in harmony or contrast. Sample test strips when mixing to find a pleasing balance.

Using Olive Green in Design and Decor

Olive green is a favorite color for home design and decor. Here are some popular ways to incorporate olive green tones:

– **Paint walls** – Olive makes a relaxing, natural wall color in any room

– **Upholstery** – Olive green furniture or accent pillows add comfort

– **Kitchen accessories** – Mix olive dishes, appliances, towels for a vintage vibe

– **Bedding and linens** – Try olive sheets, blankets, curtains for the bedroom

– **Office supplies** – Olive notebooks, organizers fit a functional workspace

– **Outdoor furniture** – Durable olive cushions and patio umbrellas for outdoors

– **Clothing and fashion** – Olive jackets, t-shirts, and accessories for understated style

Olive works in nearly any room as an accent or overall color scheme. Its versatility allows it to be mixed and matched with patterns and textures. Olive green creates a relaxed yet refined style.


Olive green is comprised of a diverse mix of colors from all sides of the wheel. By blending yellow, blue, green, orange, and small accents of complementary colors, olive’s natural, earthy look emerges. Understanding color combinations helps build the ideal olive tone for any project. With its versatility and intrigue, olive green continues to be a staple neutral color.