How to Make Yellow Paint and Everything You Need to Know

From bananas to smiley emojis, yellow is everywhere. It’s a bright and warm color. Interior designs with this vibrant color make them stand out in the crowd.

If you are thinking of adding some touch-ups to your interiors to make your guests keep looking at it, you can give it a try with yellow. But the problem appears when you have no idea about how to make yellow paint.

how to make yellow paint
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It’s simple; you just need to add red and green to get yellow color in additive color models.

But that’s not all; don’t you want to find out more about yellow? It’s because this technique doesn’t work on subtractive color models. So, how can we make yellow on different color models? Let’s dive in to find out. 

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Basics of the Yellow Paint

On the spectrum of light we see, the color yellow stands in between two colors; green and orange.

For your information, there are two color models; additive and subtractive color models. In the subtractive, yellow is considered to be a primary color which means you cannot make it using other colors.

However, in additive color models like the RGB color model that appears on your screens, yellow is a secondary color which means you can make yellow by mixing other colors.

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What Colors Make Yellow Paint?

It’s time to take out your dusty-old school supplies from the attic. We are about to throw some old-school myths into the trash can.

You probably learned that yellow is the primary color and it cannot be made by a mixture of other colors. But that’s not true in all cases, at least not in additive color models which we have explained earlier.

So, what two colors make yellow? Well, the color theory that we are familiar with is related to the subtractive color model. In this model, yellow is a primary color hence we can’t make yellow using other colors. That’s why elementary school color theory approves this fact.

However, when we are talking about the additive color model, this theory no longer exists because yellow is a secondary color in this model as we stated earlier. As this model doesn’t deal with paints rather it deals with light beams, if you mix green and red lights you will get yellow as a result.

So, that’s how you can make yellow using two other colors in additive models. But if you try with paints, unfortunately, you will not be able to get a true yellow shade by mixing other colors.

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How to Make Yellow Paint Step by Step?

To make yellow paints according to the additive color model here is what you need to do:

Step 1: Getting the Ingredients Ready

Take some red-colored water in a clear glass jar and green in another jar. Take the same amount of colors for each jar.

Step 2: Mixing the Ingredients

Now, pour the colors in a separate jar or you can pour the liquid of one jar on the other if it has enough space. Wait for the colors to mix properly. Mixing the colors will totally not look like yellow, not even close. But here is where the trick is.

Step 3: Use Light to See the Yellow Color

Now place a bright light source under the glass jar. Place your eye in a position like you would look using a microscope. You will notice the ugly color appearing as yellow where the light is emitting.

As this will work on additive models only, trying this method using acrylics or watercolors will create nothing but a mess!

Here is a helpful guide:

How to Make Yellow Paint Darker?

If you want to make the yellow paint a little bit darker while maintaining the vibrancy, you need to look for the complementary shades of yellow. You need to add colors like purple, gold, or orange. But colors like brown, red, or green will also work fine.

You can try any of these colors to make yellow paint darker. Mix the colors properly and make sure that there are no streaks remaining. And remember, the amount of the complementary color will be less than the base color; yellow.

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How Do You Make Light Yellow Paint?

If you think the yellow paint on the surface is looking a bit gloomy, there are multiple solutions to lighten the paint. You may choose from white, light green or gray to complete the job. Here are the methods.

1. Light Yellow Using White:

Using white to lighten up yellow is probably the most common and easy way of doing it. As white is a very light color, adding it with yellow will make the yellow lighter. Don’t worry about the temperature of the color, white makes a lighter shade of the yellow paint with any temperature.

There is a drawback though; if you add white it will make changes in the color yellow by muting it a little bit. That means your yellow will look light but you won’t get the true brightness of the color yellow itself anymore.

2. Light Yellow Using Light Gray:

If you use light gray, it will lighten the yellow but the brightness will be removed, and ultimately the vibrancy of the yellow will get reduced. Good thing is that gray will work on yellow with any temperature.

3. Light Yellow Using Cool Green:

If you want to make the yellow lighter but don’t want to make it pale and lifeless, a cool shade of green is the answer. You can choose lime green for example. You will get a bright yellow using this method, but it’s not a promise that cool green will not mute the yellow shade. So, your yellow will get a slightly cooled-down look.

Tips on Making Yellow Paint Lighter

Okay, these are like theories, to turn them into practice you need to be the artist yourself or should I say an “experimenter”. So, before making a light yellow paint at a large scale for a project, make small experiments and check which of the above techniques works best.

And one thing to remember, always take yellow in a comparatively larger amount and the helping colors in a smaller amount.

First, take the helping colors like white, gray, or green and mix them with yellow, if you are satisfied with the shade you can move on to make lighter yellow in a large amount maintaining the same ratio.

But if the helping color seems to be dominating, add more yellow and your problem will be solved. And if someone asks how to make yellow paint brighter? The process will be a close one; you just need to mix in some bright green.

How to Make Mustard Yellow Paint?

To make mustard yellow, you just need two colors, red and yellow.

Now here is how to get a mustard yellow, ready to be squeezed on a hotdog!

Step 1: Take the same amount of yellow and red paint. Mix them well until the streaks vanish. You will get a nice orange shade from this.

Step 2: Now, in a separate mixing bowl, take some yellow paint and add the same amount of orange paint that you just made. Mix them well and you will get the mustard color.

If the mustard color seems a little bit dark, fix it by adding a little bit of yellow. And if the opposite happens, add some orange to give it a darker look.

How to Make Yellow Ochre?

To make yellow ochre you need to gather some supplies first:

  • Cadmium yellow
  • Cadmium red
  • Ivory Black
  • Paintbrush
  • Yellow Ochre Paint Chip

Step 1: First, take some cadmium yellow and add some red to it using the paintbrush. Mix them well and you will get a bright orange shade.

Step 2: Now, add the ivory black on the orange and mix them well. You will achieve a darker-looking shade.

Step 3: Now, keep mixing until it matches the paint chip. If the color doesn’t match, adjust the temperature of the color by experimenting and adding the colors in a small quantity. Repeat step 3 until you are satisfied with the shade.

How to Make Yellow without Green?

In the subtractive color model, yellow cannot be created with other colors because it’s a primary color. In the additive color model, yellow can be created by the mixture of red and green. So, if you remove the green color, simply you will not be able to make a yellow shade.

How to Make Golden Yellow Paint?

To make a nice golden yellow shade, you need two colors in general; yellow and brown. The main color will be yellow and brown will be the helping one.

  • First, take some yellow and add a little brown color. Mix them well until no streaks remain.
  •  Adjust the temperature of the color simply by changing the amount of the colors.

You can try a combination of yellow and gray as well. You need to keep experimenting with the colors to find out if the result of this technique matches your expectations or not.


Yellow is a great color, suits pretty much everything; from interiors to vehicles. Whenever you are painting your interiors or just completing a regular painting project, it’s not rare to fall short on some paints. And buying a large paint can for a small task will bring nothing but the extra cost.

Keeping this guide in mind, you can experiment with different colors to make different shades of yellow, complete your unfinished jobs like a creative artist, and save a pretty penny on paints.