What Colors Make Yellow and How to Make Shades of Yellow Color

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color mixing palette with different shades of yellow color

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Did you know that yellow is one of the primary colors? This means you can’t create your own “pure” yellow because it’s already a primary color. However, there are plenty of exciting possibilities when it comes to mixing various shades of yellow.

Understanding what colors make yellow different shades is invaluable for artists (and all those) working with these colors. Discover the power of knowing how to achieve your desired yellow paint colors when you need them! Let’s dive in.

What colors make yellow different shades?

Yellow is a different color in that it is the brightest as well as lightest color on your palette after white. Any color that you mix with yellow will have a strong influence on it because of how light in value it is.

palette knife with yellow paint color showing how to make yellow
Creating different shades of yellow involves deciding which colors to use. It’s all about the specific shades of yellow you aim to achieve.

Now, we can really mix quite a few different colors with yellow to create various shades. As a general rule, warm colors (such as Cadmium Orange and Red) will create warm yellows, while cool colors (like Ultramarine Blue and Cadmium Green) will create cool yellows. Then dark colors, like a dark green and red, are examples of how to make yellow color darker by mixing two colors.

If you do not have the colors mentioned in the color charts included in this article, you can certainly substitute the colors used for something similar. Mixing yellow (as well as mixing colors in general) is not about a specific color recipe… Rather these charts will act as guides for you, so that you can adjust and experiment when mixing your own shades of yellow colors.

How to make dark shades of yellow color

Yellow is typically lighter in value when compared to other colors found on a painter’s palette. While it is relatively simple to darken yellow, preserving its true yellow hue without it veering towards green can be a challenge.

how to make dark yellow colors
There are different ways to make dark yellow colors, as you can see in the color charts below.

The addition of any dark bluish color has the tendency to cause yellow to adopt a slightly greenish tint, as the combination of yellow and blue naturally produces green. So, let’s take a look at the color chart below to see what colors make yellow darker without changing its hue.

How to make dark yellow paint colors using different yellow color combinations:

How to make dark yellow color with paint
Yellow color combinations to show you how to make different shades of dark yellow colors

On the first line of the mixing chart above, you will see Cadmium Yellow mixed with Burnt Umber and Ultramarine Blue. The reason we do not mix Cadmium Yellow with simply a straight blue color, as that would give you more of a green color, rather than a dark yellow. Instead, you first want to mix Ultramarine Blue with Burnt Umber to create a very dark blackish-brown color. Then, mix the blue/ brown mixture with Cadmium Yellow. You can do the same with yellow ochre as seen in the second line.

The other option presented with the color chart is to mix yellow with a Pthalo Green/ Alizarin Crimson mixture. Alizarin Crimson and Pthalo Green mixed together with yellow create a really wonderful dark yellow color. Since the Alizarin Crimson will mute the green it will not turn the yellow into a green!

How to make light yellow (color values)

how to make yellows that are light in value
Looking to what colors make yellow lighter in value, white is an obvious option. However, there are other ways to make yellow lighter as you can see below.

As previously stated, yellow is already considered one of the lightest colors on the painter’s palette. However, there may be instances where you’ll want to mix an even lighter shade of yellow yourself! Let’s explore how you can achieve this.

The simplest way of getting a lighter yellow is to mix white with yellow. However, this can result in losing the brightness of the yellow – even though it will make it lighter. You can see the result of what white mixed with yellow looks like in the color chart below.

how to make yellow colours that are light in value (color chart)
Color combinations to mix different shades of light yellow colors.

Another option of what colors you can mix to make yellow lighter, is to mix cadmium lemon yellow with your cadmium yellow or yellow ochre. Cadmium lemon yellow is a bright but very light yellow color that will easily make your yellow lighter.

How do you make yellow cool in temperature?

Mixing a cool yellow can be a bit tricky because it can easily turn green. In the color chart below you will see blue mixed with yellow to mix a cool yellow color – which might seem a little bit confusing, as that is how green is also mixed…

However, you just need to mix a small amount of blue with yellow to make it a cool shade of yellow. If you mix too much into the yellow color it WILL turn green! So just be sure to mix in a very small amount of blue into your yellow.

Color combinations that create cool shades of yellow colors
Here, cool blues and greens are what colors make yellow cool in temperature

When mixing green into yellow, be sure to mix only a very small amount of green as well. Just enough to make it cool. If your yellow does end up turning green, simply mix more yellow into your mixture.

You can also mute green by mixing in red. However, since mixing red into the mixture will make it warmer. You can then mix in more yellow, and add a very small amount of blue. The trick is, just not to add too much blue again to make the color green.

The key to learning how to make yellow cool in temperature, without it turning green… is to experiment! And not be afraid to go too far one way or the other. This will be the quickest way to ultimately learn, what color will make yellow cool in temperature.

What colors make yellow warmer

Warm yellows are much easier to mix than cool yellows as there isn’t any danger of making yellow turn green in the process of making it warmer. The quickest and easiest way to make yellow colors warmer in temperature, is to mix orange or red (or both) with yellow.

how to make yellow colours that are warm in color temperature
This color chart demonstrates, different warm yellow shades of colors and how to mix them

The color chart above showcases the combination of Cadmium Orange and Cadmium Red with various shades of yellow, resulting in the creation of warm yellow hues.

If you mix too much red with yellow the color will turn orange. However, if you mix in a moderate amount it will simply make the yellow warmer in color temperature. You can experiment with mixing different reds with yellow. There are warmer and cooler reds. Alizarin Crimson is a much cooler red than cadmium red. If you ever want a warmer yellow but not too warm alizarin crimson is a good option.

What colors make yellow muted?

Did you know that the complementary color of yellow is purple? So, when you mix purple into yellow, it actually tones down the yellow and makes it less vibrant. And guess what? The reverse is true too! When you mix yellow into purple, it has a similar effect on the purple, making it less intense. So, next time you’re experimenting with colors, keep in mind this cool color mixing trick!

If your yellow is ever too bright or saturated, then use purple to help mute your yellow color. Doing so will also take out some of the brightness of the yellow shade. In the color chart below, mixing purple makes the shade of yellow less bright and less of a yellow color.

Color chart that shows what colors you mix to make yellows muted
It is very useful to know how to make yellow colours muted. In the color mixing chart here, you can see different variations of complementary colors make different tones of yellow.

Creating muted yellows will be incredibly useful when mixing colors for your painting. Especially if you are working on a subject you are painting from life. Nature is primarily made up of muted colors. We rarely see colors as bright as a pure cadmium yellow.

It is important to use muted colors because they will help your bright colors to stand out. If your painting was full of bright colors, only a few bright colors would stand out. However, if you have a lot of muted colors and only a few bright colors… Then the bright colors would definitely stand out.

How to make yellow (when in a bind)

Since yellow is a primary color we cannot mix our own yellow color. However, sometimes you may not have a tube of yellow paint available or maybe have run out…

So how can you make a shade of yellow that’s close to the primary color without yellow?

There isn’t a way for us to mix up a bright yellow color without yellow, however we can mix up a muted yellowish color. Remember that it is all about what the color looks like in relation to the other colors it is next to on the painting!

How to make a yellowish without using yellow
Here’s how to make a yellowish paint color without using yellow.

In this article you have begun to learn what colours make yellow and how to make different shades of yellow colors. The knowledge of which, will help you to mix any shade of yellow you may need for your painting.

Get started painting with (shades of yellow) color in application by learning how to paint sunflowers.

There is an incredible amount of different shades of yellow you can mix… So it is important to understand how color works. So that you can then mix up whatever color you need to!

Going beyond yellow and understanding how all colors work together will only help your painting even more. Start by learning the basics of the color wheel. After that, you can expand to learning more about how each individual color operates.

Learn how to mix other primary colors such as different shades of blue and what colors make shades of red.

Want to remember this? Save How to Make Different Shades of Yellow Color to your favorite Pinterest board!


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    14 thoughts on “What Colors Make Yellow and How to Make Shades of Yellow Color”

    1. Dr Shirley Ann Wittering

      I think it would be useful if it was stated whether it is Oils or Watercolour that is being featured. If watercolour then White is not used. It looks as if it is oils that you are featuring this time.

    2. This is a great information that at times we struggle. Thanks for all you do and I always wish you the best and much success. Blessings and take care.

    3. You are amazing. Thank you so much for all that you do and share with beginners like myself I struggle with color mixing right now so it sets me back a bit on creating my own style. I practice however almost daily. I love learning from you. You make it easy and fun.

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