Learning how to make the color green
How to make the color green can sometimes be a confusing topic to deal with, as it is a difficult color to identify accurately. People vary considerably in what they consider to be a pure green color and it can be difficult to distinguish between different shades of green.
For example, if one were to look out at a green field, it would be easy to consider the entire field to be ‘just green’. However, the color green and how to make green color, is far more of a complex and rich color topic than to be pegged with a singular label.
This guide to green color mixing, will introduce you to what colors make green and how to mix a variety of different shades of green. If you invest a little bit of time into learning how to mix green it will pay off immensely. Especially if you are working through how to paint a landscape that has varying shades of green present.
What colors make green – starting with the basics
What two colors make green?
We are starting at the very beginning here with what colors make green and even more specifically what two colors make green. At the very heart of it, blue and yellow make green when mixed together!
In the diagram directly above, you can see that the yellow colors are all the same but I use a different shade of blue for each green color mixture. I simply wanted to demonstrate that although the basic formula of how to mix green color is quite simple – blue and yellow make green. There are multiple ways to go about mixing blue and yellow together. As there are many different shades of yellow and blue colors.
One could also use a different type of yellow such as cadmium lemon, yellow ochre, or naples yellow. However, there is no need to get carried away with different types of blues and yellows to make green at first. As long as you have all the essential paint colors necessary you will be set to mix a large range of colors.
If you haven’t already – grab my FREE Color Mixing Guide for additional helpful color mixing instructions and techniques!
How to mix muted shades of green
How to make the color green muted by mixing red and green together
A very important aspect in green color mixing is knowing how to make green muted and learning what colors make green muted! To mix a muted green color, you have to know how to mix green with its complementary color – red.
The color mixing chart above, demonstrates what colors red and green make when mixed together. The colors in this chart are the same colors as in the first color chart, except that it shows each green mixed with cadmium red. You can see a slight difference between the shades of green that red and green make when mixed together, when compared to the shades of green on the left. The shades of green on the right are much warmer and not as bright of a green.
Using complementary colors to mute the color green
Whenever you mix a color with its complementary color it will make it less of its own color. For example, whenever a green is mixed with a red, these two colors mixed make green a lesser shade of green. The opposite is also true, in regards to the color red and green make. When you have red and green mixed together, the red will be a lesser shade of red.
In the sample chart of how to make the color green above, you will see just cadmium red mixed with green. However there are many different other kinds of reds that are great for muting shades of green. Alizarin crimson is one of my favorites to use as it is a much cooler red than cadmium red. Also, if you want more of a muted green earth tone, burnt sienna is a good option.
How to mix lighter shades of green
What colors make light green?
It is important to know how to mix lighter shades of green for the situations in which you need to use them. On the top row of the above mixing chart you can see that when green is mixed with white, it creates a lighter green. Mixing green with white is probably the easiest and most commonly thought of in regards to what two colors make green lighter.
However, you do not want to limit yourself to only lightening your greens with white. If you do, your green color mix might start to look a little pasty and uninteresting as paintings that are mixed exclusively with white often look.
Lighten up green color mixture with yellows
As rows two and three show in the color chart above, yellow and green mixed makes green lighter as well. Cadmium yellow and green mixed together makes a lighter shade of green, while cadmium lemon makes a slightly darker-light shade of green. Both are great options for creating lighter shades of green. As a bonus option when experimenting with green and yellow mixed together, yellow ochre is another good color to lighten your greens with.
Experimenting with different colors to mix lighter green colors
After getting a good grasp on green and white, as well as green and yellow mixed together to get lighter shades of green colors. Experiment with what two colors make green lighter, by mixing green with other light colors you like. You will be surprised at what you find when you explore the possibilities of how to make green color lighter!
Other options: naples yellow, cadmium green light
How to make the color green darker
There are many situations in which you will need to create rich dark greens. You do not want to automatically darken your greens only with black. All of your shades of green will look the same if you do this all the time! Rather, mix it up a little bit by discovering what colors mixed together make green darker.
How to make dark green using purple
In the color chart above you can see several options for how to make the color green darker – dioxazine purple, pthalo green and burnt umber. Dioxazine purple purple is a great option for darkening green as it will make your green a cooler dark but not as cool as if it was mixed with ultramarine blue.
Making shades of dark green by adding a darker green to the color mix
In addition, pthalo green will darken your green quickly. The only downside is that it can be a very saturated color. So, you might need to mute the color a little bit with alizarin crimson.
Darkening green color with burnt umber
Lastly, burnt umber is also a great option for how to make dark green. Though, it will probably be more of an earthy green since your green is being mixed with a brown.
How to mix warm green shades of color
Temperature is important to all color mixing especially when it comes to greens. For example, when painting a landscape you want to be able to tell the viewer if it is a cold winter day or a warm sunny landscape. This is where paying attention to temperature in color mixing plays a role!
Color options to use to make warmer shades of green color
In the color chart above I show a few options of what two colors make green warmer when mixed together. Adding some cadmium orange to your green is a great way to create a warm green color. Yellow ochre will also make your green warmer, but will also make it more of an ‘earthy green’ as yellow ochre is an earth tone color.
Cadmium red is another great option for how to make green color warmer. Additionally, alizarin crimson will make green warmer but not as warm as cadmium red and green mixed together.
Other options: Naples yellow, burnt sienna, cadmium yellow
What colors make green cooler
Now that we have covered what colors make green warmer, we transition into mixing cool green colors. You can use this free color mixing guide as a helper tool for additional color mixing techniques.
At the top of this color chart is provence violet bluish – probably one of my favorite colors to mix green with. The result of these two colors mixed make green a subtle cooler green color. Dioxazine purple is another good option to make your greens cooler – especially if you need to darken your green at the same time.
Make green cooler using different shades of green
Veronese green is another favorite of mine to make a cool green with. It makes green cooler, while also creating a more saturated color. So, if you need a little more punch in your green – this is a good color!
Also, pthalo green is quite similar to veronese in that it can provide a lot of saturation to your green. In fact, it will provide even more saturation than veronese green! Also, it will darken your green at the same time.
Other options: You can also use blue colors to make green cooler.
Additional thoughts on how to make the color green
There will never be a simple formula for how to mix greens. Therefore one of the best things you can do to mix good greens for your painting is to spend a lot of time experimenting. The color charts above act as examples and show general principles in mixing different greens.
Get out of your comfort zone with color mixing
You will only ever get excellent mixed green shades of color, if you get outside your comfort zone and try out different color combinations. There unfortunately can never be a formula for every single color you will run into. This is impossible!
Get outside and practice painting the shades of green you see in the landscape around you, using the mixing principles outlined above. However, also be sure to experiment with different color combinations until you get the precise green you were looking for.
Examples of how to use different shades of green together in a painting
Here are some real life examples of mixed greens in paintings. Each painting is an example of how use different kinds of greens for different situations. In addition, you will see that there is never really a simple formula for mixing green colors. Getting a certain color can take a lot of experimenting with mixing different colors.
Warm and cool green colors in painting
Here is an example of a painting that has a mix of warm and cool greens as well as light and dark greens. You will see that each color is mixed with quite a few different colors! Interesting and complex greens require mixing numerous colors together.
A deeper look at warm green colors in a painting
Here is a good example of a landscape with many warm green colors. Notice all the light warm greens around the landscape.
Stormy day landscape painting example
This painting has much darker greens than the other two paintings shown above. Notice that many of the colors used for the mixtures in this painting are dark.
How to make the color green in conclusion
As you can see, how to make green color and what colors make green is a world unto itself. There are endless different ways of how to make varying shades of green color. The sky is the limit!
It is exciting experimenting with the different shades of green and possible combinations you can mix together for your paintings. However, above everything when learning how to make the color green, have fun when you mix colors!
Additional Color Mixing Resources
For additional color mixing help learn how to mix earth tone colors.
Also, learn about color shading and how to paint with color and light.