More people love the color blue than any other color in the world. It is easy to understand why too. Our oceans and skies are varying shades of blue, the things we love the most are blue. Regardless of your artistic passions, whether you love doing graphic design or if you are a painter, you know exactly how important the color blue is. In this article, we are going to examine the beautiful color blue. How to make blue, how to create blue hues, and tints, and the difference between them, as well as what colors make blue, and the meaning of blue will all be discussed below.
What is the Meaning of Blue?
Blue is such an important color. It conveys a multitude of emotions, meanings, and associations, and each shade can drastically alter its effect. Most commonly, blue is used to express feelings of calmness and serenity, it signifies trust and stability, and it is frequently used to show expansiveness in art. However, when used with other colors, blue can communicate other feelings and emotions, such as sadness or disdain. Blue can be anything you want it to be, it just takes some creative thinking!
Positive Uses and Side-Effects of Blue
Since the beginning of the creation of color, humans have been correlating blue and feelings of peace and calmness. It should not be too surprising though, our bodies are hardwired to enjoy the color blue in all its wonder. When we look at certain colors, we can feel specific things. Our bodies react chemically to the color blue, and in turn, we feel more relaxed. It is remarkable how we connect to colors.
You are probably familiar with some of the commonly seen powerful aspects of blue without even realizing it. You have heard of royal “blue blood,” and have seen police uniforms and corporate suits in shades of blue, signifying stability and intelligence. Of course, we have heard the wedding expression “something borrowed, something blue,” which relates to the emotions of togetherness and peace. Blue even holds special cultural significance across various parts of the world as well. Some believe blue can deter evil spirits, and other places use the color blue to represent a time of mourning. Wherever you are in the world, blue means something important.
Blue and how it Relates to Feelings of Melancholy
As we know, the color blue brings us feelings of contentment and serenity, but it can also elicit feelings of sadness and melancholy. Have you heard the phrase “I am feeling a bit blue,” or “I have got the blues?” What about “baby blues,” or having a “blue Monday?” When you hear those phrases, what shades of blue do you think of? Likely, darker blues and blues mixed with shades of grey. The range of emotions that the color blue can impart on one is vast.
So, Which Blue Should You Use?
It is hard to know which blue you should start with, considering how many shades of blue exist, and the different feelings they can deliver. Choosing the perfect shade of blue for your specific project can be tricky, but knowing what you want to convey in your art is a great starting point. Try looking at a few different blues, and examine your thoughts and feelings while you look at them. Are those the same ones you want your audience to feel from your piece? As a general rule, the lighter shades of blue will invoke happier, more joyous, and positive feelings, whereas darker ones will typically lead someone to feel more negative emotions like sadness and loneliness. It is also important to know what two colors make blue.
What two Colors Make Blue and How is it Made?
How do you make blue? what colors make blue? If you think the answer is “by adding green + yellow together,” you are half right.So, what two colors make blue? Due to blue being one of the fundamental colors on the spectrum of light, you can not actually “make” blue. Sir Isaac Newton devised the color wheel, and on it, we can see yellow and red are the other two primary colors, alongside blue.
So, what this means is that you can not truly make any of those colors (red, yellow, blue) but every other color made is a combination of those three. While you can not make your own genuine true blue color, you can create varying shades and hues of blue by mixing other colors with blue. Before we go into detail about how to create certain blues, we need to explain some aspects of color theory. We have also a separate post about what colors make blue.
What is Color Theory and the Color Wheel?
The color wheel is a way to visually understand all the colors we can see, and their placements, in relation to the light spectrum. The color wheel will also help us understand what colors make blue. Now, some wheels are comprehensive, while other color wheels show only primary, secondary, complementary, tertiary, or a combination of these colors. If we look at the tertiary wheel, we see it is composed of 12 colors. These include 3 primary shades, 3 secondary shades, and 6 tertiary hues. The primaries are red, blue, and yellow. The secondaries are orange, green, and purple, and made by combining any of the primary colors together. To get the tertiary hues, we would combine a secondary color with a primary color, creating red-orange, yellow-orange, yellow-green and then varing types of blue such as blue-green, blue-purple, and red-purple.
Complimentary colors are the ones that sit directly opposite each other on the wheel. For example, yellow and purple complement each other, as do red and green. If you were to use a project with red in it, adding green to an element will make both colors appear more vivid. Same with yellow and purple, or orange and blue.
Another fascinating aspect of color theory is how a color bias changes the shades of whatever color you are working with. For example, if you want to make a blue darker, it will have more purple in it. Contrastingly, a lighter blue will have more green in it, resulting in different types of blue. The same applies to secondary shades as well. Making a purple lighter will involve adding more red, and making it darker will include more blue. It is important to note these aspects because warmer blues evoke emotions of safety and comfort (blues with orange, red, or yellow added) and cooler shades of blue (ones with purple, or green added) can make you feel the complete opposite.
How to Make Blue in Varing Shades
Since we already know blue is a primary shade, we know we can not make it from scratch. Rather, when we learn how to make blue, we will be starting with a base blue and adding other colors to it to create the shades we desire. We will be using 2 different blues in this article as our basis. Firstly, we have what is called ultramarine blue, which is essentially a darker-hued royal or navy blue.
Secondly, we have cobalt blue, which is a more common and brighter blue used in art. In this next section below, we are going to discuss how to mix properly, and how to create the perfect shade of blue for your project. If you have an art journal, go grab it now, so you can write down the blue formulas we have to share with you. A journal is a great place to jot down the amounts of each color you use to achieve specific shades and hues.
Making Warm Shades of Blue
Now that we have explained temperature terminology within the color theory, you are ready to start creating your warmer blues. Blue is typically considered a cooler color, but you can create warm blues with the addition of other shades. A warm blue can be inviting and make you feel safe, or if done with darker hues, it can make you feel sadness and melancholia.
How to use Ultramarine to Make Warmer Blues
You may have noticed how ultramarine is already a pretty warm shade of blue. Dab a little on your paper and spread it thinly- you will notice how it ranges to a more purple shade than blue. Because of this, it is the perfect shade of blue to start with if you want to create warmer hues. If you want to make a lovely warm hue with ultramarine, you can start by mixing one of two colors with it.
Mixing ultramarine with alizarin crimson is the first option. This color of crimson is closer to a purple-red than an orange-red and is a relatively cool red. If you mix alizarin crimson with ultramarine, you will end up with a lovely dark purplish-blue hue. However, using a more orange crimson, or one that leans closer to yellow than blue, will result in a muted tone of blue, possibly in the brownish orange.
Burnt sienna is your second option for creating a warm blue shade. This color is also a warm, reddish hue, but adding this to ultramarine will result in a much darker and warmer blue than by using the alizarin crimson. This is because burnt sienna is several shades darker and closer to brown than red. So, for a cooler warm blue, use a more purple-red, like alizarin crimson, and for a warmer warm blue, use burnt sienna.
How to use Cobalt Blue to Make Warmer Shades
Cobalt blue is much harder to turn into a warm shade, simply because it is already a very cool shade of blue. However, by adding the same colors we did to the ultramarine, you will be left with a warmer version of cobalt blue. For a brighter warm blue using cobalt as a base, try the alizarin crimson as a recommended option. Due to cobalt blue being a much more intensely bright blue than ultramarine, the results using cobalt and alizarin crimson will be truly vibrant. To create a subtle addition of warmth, use only a very small amount of crimson. Alternatively, you could make an incredibly warm blue, on the edge of purple, by adding a lot of crimsons.
Now, let us say you wanted a more muted and darker blue shade. You would use cobalt blue and mix in a tiny bit of burnt sienna. Doing this will give you a much darker shade of warm blue.
Making Cool Shades of Blue
More commonly used, cooler shades of blue are seen in paintings with majestic turquoise blue oceans or bright blue skies. The best way to make a cool blue hue is to add just a small bit of green. There are countless shades of green to use, which means you can create an almost endless variation of cool blue colors. Two shades of green we will be using to create our cooler blues are Veronese green and cadmium green.
How to use Veronese Green for Cooler Shades of Blue
If you know what malachite looks like, then you know what color Veronese green is. It is a cool, bright shade of green shade, which makes it perfect for creating a cooler blue. Since this shade of green already has a bit of blue in it, it is perfect for making a lighter and brighter cool blue. For a dark, cool blue hue, using Veronese green and ultramarine is a great combination, and would make an excellent deep blue ocean. When using ultramarine and Veronese green, the darkness of the ultramarine blue stays but is lightened up almost magically with the addition of such a complimentary tone as Veronese green. Picture a stormy sea, and how beautiful yet powerful it appears to be. That is the emotion conveyed with this color combination.
Alternatively, you could create a brighter, lighter cool blue by using cobalt blue as a base, with Veronese green. The end result of using both of these shades will be a much more greenish-blue.
How to use Cadmium Green for Cooler Shades of Blue
Veronese green is a cooler cool-green whereas cadmium green is a warmer cool-green hue. Because cadmium green is created with more yellow, it will affect whichever blue we combine with it. Using cadmium green will create a subtle muted effect when mixed with most blues that contain shades of red.
When you combine cadmium green with ultramarine blue, that is when you really notice the muted effects. Ultramarine is a very purplish blue, which means it contains reds as well. This muting effect takes place because we are adding a bit of all the primary colors together at once, which results in a bit of a brown shade. We are going to go further in-depth with muted shades later, but for now, this is a great muted blue to use. If you wanted to create an overcast or stormy sky, this muted shade of blue created by mixing ultramarine blue and cadmium green would be perfect. The resulting feeling from this shade is a bit ominous.
Using cobalt blue with cadmium green will give you a brighter cool blue than using ultramarine. Since cobalt blue is already a much cooler blue than ultramarine, we do not run into the same issue of using all 3 primary colors. By mixing these two colors, we are left with a bright and cool shade of slightly muted blue that would be great for a light summer sky or a peaceful ocean on a sunny day.
Ways to Mute Different Shades of Blue
Let us say you want to paint an ocean, and capture the essence of movement it contains. You would have to use a myriad of blues to make it just right, but if they are all the same vividness, there may be garish results. Now, bright blues are gorgeous and certainly have their place, but solely using them will result in an overabundance of brightness. The ocean has depth, and as such, you will need to know how to create muted shades of the blues you use. There is a very easy and rather basic trick used to mute any color you want- just add a bit of its complementary color. For example, blue has a complementary color of orange.
How to use Cadmium Orange to Created Muted Blues
As above, we are still using our ultramarine and cobalt blues for our base colors. Very bright orange with a warm hue is cadmium orange, and it will easily mute both the blues we are working with. Combining cadmium orange and ultramarine blue will give you a dull, dusky warm blue shade. Adding a bit of orange diminishes the brightness of ultramarine blue, which will give a dulling and warming effect. You will be left with a rather dark color, but we will explain how to lighten things up in the next section.
Just as with ultramarine blue, cadmium orange will dull cobalt blue as well. Since cobalt blue is a much brighter blue, you will need a very small amount of orange to create a muted tone. Too much orange and you will be left with a dark brown shade of green, which probably is not what you are aiming for. To resolve this dilemma, simply add a bit more blue.
How to use Burnt Umber to Created Muted Blues
If you are not familiar with burnt umber, it is similar to cadmium orange but much darker and warmer. Due to this, any blue you add it to will be much darker as well. Mixing burnt umber with either cobalt blue or ultramarine blue will give you an end result that is much more brown than blue. Remember, a little goes a long way when it comes to creating muted colors.
How to Create Light and Dark Blue Shadows and Tints
Tints and shadows are exactly what you need to add to your collection of blue shades and hues. For many artists, tints and shadows are a more essential part of creating colors than muted tones. Thankfully, we can easily create both light and dark blue tints and shadows with a few pointers.
You can use White to Create Light Blue Tints
If you really want to be technical with color theory, you create tints by adding white, and shades by adding black. However, for the sake of ease, we have broadened shades to include the addition of any dark color. Tints, on the other hand, are solely created by adding whte to another color. Adding a bit of white to your ultramarine or cobalt blue will give you a brighter tint of blue, and you can also brighten up muted tones with white as well.
If you wanted to have a softer, gentler blue, you could add some white to ultramarine, which would give you something close to cornflower blue. As with any addition of color, always start with a little then gradually add more. White is one color that can drastically change the shade you are working with, with only a tiny bit of color.
Using white with ultramarine will give you a warmer, lighter shade of blue. Alternatively, using white with cobalt blue will really bring out its cooler aspects. Try mixing shades of green and yellow with your whites as well to “create” different kinds of blue that fit your project. Remember to note down what combinations you use so you can recreate them if needed.
You can Add Green, Purple, or Red to Create Dark Blue Hues
Now that you know how to lighten different clues, let us talk about how to darken them. Obviously, you could use black, but we want to discuss other options today. To begin, let us take a look at dioxazine purple. This color is one of the best additions to any blue if you want to make it a bit darker. Adding it to ultramarine or any warm blue will result in a rich, deep dark blue shade. However, using dioxazine purple with cobalt blue will slightly mute it due to the red pigments it contains.
Another way to darken shades of blue is by adding burnt umber, which will also slightly mute some shades. Finally, we recommend making a combination of phthalo green and alizarin crimson to create a darker color blue. Adding this combination to either cobalt or ultramarine blue will result in a lovely darker shade, although still slightly muted.
Technical Table of Blue Colors
In this article, we have discussed the ways to create different blue colors, how to mute them, and brighten or darken them. Now we are going to go over the more technical aspects of creating blue hues. Let us take a look at the blue hex codes and RBG values for each of these blue colors below:
Type of Blue Visual
RBG Turquoise #40e0d0 64,224,208 Navy Blue #000080 0,0,128 Baby Blue #89CFF0 137,207,240 Cerulean Blue #2a52be 42,82,190 Egyptian Blue #1034a6 16,52,166 True Blue #0073cf 0,115,207 Azure Blue #007FFF 0,127,255 Pacific Blue #1ca9c9 28,169,201 Cornflower Blue #6495ed 100,149,237
Type of Blue Uses of the Color
Turquoise Turquoise has a soothing effect and is an extremely versatile color. Invoking feelings of calmness, luck, and luxury, turquoise is a popular color for positive-natured artwork. Navy Blue Navy blue has been used since the British Royal Navy officers ade the color famous back in 1748. Denoting feelings of importance and strength, many use this color today to signify integrity. Baby Blue Baby blue is one of the most commonly used shades of blue. Although it is used in nurseries for male babies, it is quite a neutral tone. Cerulean Blue One vibrant shade of blue we absolutely love is also referred to a light turquoise. Cerulean blue evokes feelings of peace and confidence. This warmer shade of blue can reduce the sense of visual space in certain art projects as well. Egyptian Blue Egyptians considered blue to be a sacred color and associated it with the most important things to them- the sky, the Nile, the Universe.The pigment of Egyptian blue is rich and vibrant. To create a cooler palette, add this color to other blues or greens. True Blue Lighter than royal blue, yet deeper than baby blue, we have True Blue. Considering this variant of blue is the most widely sold, you have probably used this shade of true blue before when painting a sky or an ocean.True blue is a much deeper tone of azure blue, and can give a feeling of loyalty and dependability. Azure Blue Between Cyan and Blue, is Azure. The range of shades of azure vary from almost completely white, to so dark it looks like it almost has purple in it. Using this shade of blue will evoke thoughts of cleanliness, positivity, and freshness, which is why it is commonly used in advertising. Pacific Blue Pacific blue is a beautiful shade of blue. It is a heavily saturated very light cold bluish cyan color that makes us feel calm and relaxed.Like its name suggests, it is frequently used to convey ocean waves and sea spray. Cornflower Blue Made from mixing blue with a small amount of green and white, you have cornflower blue.It is a gentle color named after a blue flower that grows in fields of corn.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you Make Blue by Mixing Green and Yellow?
If you want a short answer, it would be “no.” Because blue is one of the 3 main primary colors, you can not truly create it. You could make a secondary color, like green, by combining blue and yellow. However, you would not be able to do more than alter your shade of blue by adding yellow or green to it.
What is Blue’s Complementary Color?
Finding the complementary color for any color is simple. All you have to do is take a look at the color wheel, then find the color that sits across from it. For blue, the complementary color is orange. You can add a bit of orange to blue colors to mute them, and the same is true for all complementary colors. Adding their complement will mute them.
What is the Easiest way to Make Dark Blue Shades?
The easiest way to darken any color is by adding black, but if you add black to blue you may lose any warmth or coolness you have created. As such, we recommend using burnt umber, purples, greens, and a combination of alizarin crimson and phthalo green.
What is the Easiest way to Make Light Blue Shades?
Adding a little touch of white will be the easiest way to lighten any shade of blue. Alternatively, you could always use green or yellow.