Although green is traditionally made by combining blue and yellow paint, there are a number of ways to achieve different shades of green. If you have various blues and yellows at your disposal, play around with the colors until you create the desired hue.
Table of Contents
How to mix different and exciting green colors
A bright and warm green may be achieved by combining a moderate amount of Cyan with a brilliant Chromium Yellow. A darker Prussian Blue can be combined with a Lemon Yellow to create a more muted, cooler green.
Green is a secondary color, and like any other colors, you may combine various color palettes to produce the desired tone.
If you’re looking to mix colors for a landscape painting, consider using yellow ochre with paynes grey. The Payne’s Grey has darker blue pigment which creates an earthy green when blended together with the Yellow Ochre. You can see this used in the painting below..
Keep testing color combinations until you find the perfect green for your needs. It takes time and practice to get a feel for this, but eventually it will become second nature. And when you see any color, you’ll automatically start picking out its individual shades and hues.
The tone of green can be modified in much the same way as any other color. After you’ve gotten the shade of green you desire, you may modify the tone to your liking. A little bit of white or black will provide you with the lightness or darkness that you require.
Make an green paint chart
Make a green color chart like the one below, with only yellow and blue primary colors. It will help you understand the impact of combining several hues. Blue may be used for all columns, while yellow should be utilized for all the rows. It will teach you how to rapidly and simply create a variety of green colors by mixing them together.
Because you combine yellow and blue primary colors to make green, it’s typically a cool-to-neutral color. Depending on how much blue or yellow you use, the color temperature will be different. You may create warmer greens, but they won’t be as warm as other hues you utilize.
When you mix colors, create a chart to document the process. This will help you save time by understanding how each primary color affects the final mixed color.
Please note, the colors in the chart are representative. Computers will render them according to set up so the colors will vary from one screen to another. The idea is to give you an idea of the different effect that mixing slightly different colors can have on the mixed color.
Mixing green with acrylic paints
Acrylic paint dries quickly, so you’ll have to work faster than with other types of paint. It’s best to mix a green base color first, then fine-tune the hue on the painting itself. Have some clean water handy for mixing colors and a pot of water close by to wash your brush when you’re done.
If you want your final green color to be dark, then start with a darker blue. Doing so will make it easier to get the shade of green you desire. Once you have added a small amount of medium yellow, check if the color is close to what you wanted; if not, keep adding more yellow until it reaches the desired tint.
If you want a lighter tone, add some more yellow or white until you get the right hue. You have a variety of choices if you want to darken the color. Adding more blue produces a cold shadow, but adding Burn’t Umber will warm and deepen the tone, which can be beneficial when attempting to create depth in your work.
When you have a strong foundation color, it is much simpler to add faint washes or utilize dry-brushing in order to get the tonal diversity required. There will always be leftovers of the colors being mixed on your palette – use these glimmers of paint to highlight sections hit by sunlight, or darken areas shadowed.
Mixing green with oil paints
Oil paint stays wet for longer so it is easier to mix. Mix a chart like the one you did for acrylics, Just use primed paper and put a blob of each color on each square (you will need to prime the paper). Clean your brush and then blend the colors in each square together. Don’t forget to clean your brush after mixing each square on the chart.
Another thing to try is to run a big line of blue oil paint across the top of a page with a palette knife. Put a blob of one yellow in the left bottom corner and then a blob of a different yellow in the right bottom corner.
Scrape areas of the blue down until you have an uneven layer of blue paint over the upper half of the paper. Then clean the palette knife and spread the yellow from each corner towards the centre of the page. Where the colors get close to each other just mix them. Blend them in different ways and you will begin to see some of the colors you can mix.
Blend them gently and evenly with a fan brush, or mix them roughly leaving streaks of the original colors as well as the green’s you mix.
If you add different amounts of each color and mix them in a small area then you can run that paint into the other colors to adjust the tone again.
Mixing color gradients with oil paints
Similar to how we did above take a palette knife and put a blob of the yellow and blue paint you are using on a primed piece of paper, then put a smear of white across the top of the page and a smear of Burnt Umber across the bottom. Mix the yellow and blue across the middle roughly to begin with and spread the colors gradually out towards the white and Burnt Umber.
Study the different colors you end up with closely and you will start to see how much of each color you need to get the green you want.
Blend in the white and Burnt Umber to give yourself a complete tonal range for the green color you have mixed. You can do this with any combination of blue and yellow. You will find dark metallic green’s made from Chrome Yellow and Prussian Blue, but you can wash each color out until you have light pastel shades too.
Cadmium Yellow and Ultramarine Blue will give a warmer green color. Cobalt Blue with Lemon Yellow will give you a cooler green. Yellow Ochre and Raw Sienna will give you much more natural green’s that are useful in landscape painting. You can mix them with any blue.
Mixing green with watercolors
Remember that the paper is your white with watercolors, so don’t add too much pigment at the start.
You can mix the paint on the paper if you use plenty of water. I tend to mix the paint on my palette a little first to get a base color that I can then work from. You don’t need the exact color because you can add and adjust the tone as long as you don’t start with a pigment that is too dark.
Mix the tones with more water to begin with and then you can gradually darken them as you paint.
Don’t paint dark areas too big, or too quickly. It can be difficult to lift paint off if it gets too dark.
If you need to lift some paint off, dampen some kitchen roll and squeeze out any excess water, then gently dab on the areas that have got too dark and it should lift some of the color off the paper.
With watercolors it is easy to use thin washes. You can gradually adjust the tone as you paint. Adding a little Payne’s Grey to your yellow and blue will give you a dark enough color for any shadow. If you need more highlights you can use a little yellow, or white Guache. However, lifting the pigment off as described above is often the best solution. It will just leave more of the white from the paper showing.
Discover the variety of greens you can make
Think about color temperature when you are mixing any new colors. Different blue’s and yellows give you a fantastic variety of colors. Ultramarine blue is a warm blue and will give you a warmer green when used in the mix of colors.
Cobalt Blue will give you much cooler greens. Used with Yellow Ochre it can give you a lovely natural green color.
Using Cadmium yellow will give you warmer greens whatever blue you use. With a lighter blue like Cerulean Blue it gives you a lighter brighter green. It sounds simple and in many ways it is. Understanding color temperature will help you a lot. It will take time and practice, but in time you will just ‘know’ the colors you need at the start.
Green is the dominant color in nature and if you paint landscapes you will need to explore the whole range of green colors. Earthy greens form a totally different palette to the greens made using Metallic yellows like Chrome or Cadmium Yellow, Lemon Yellow is the coolest yellow you can use so it is great for creating depth.
Naples Yellow can also be useful and is sometimes overlooked. It has a higher white pigment content than other yellows so will give you strong light tones, especially if mixed with Cerulian Blue.
Enjoy your journey discovering the many beautiful green colors you can mix
Try to understand the effects that different blue’s and yellow’s have on the green colors you make. As your skills improve you will find it easier to mix any colors you need quickly and much more easily.