Mixing Green From Cadmium Yellow Medium With Acrylics
Mixing and using green is one of the things that can drive painters crazy.
The frustrations of mixing greens are that often they look fake, they have the wrong temperature or the wrong value, and they look like they somehow clash with the other colors.
In This Article
In this article we’ll look at very specific examples of green mixes, with the following characteristics:
- They all include only one yellow: Cadmium Yellow Medium.
- They all show how cooler and neutral they become by adding white.
Five Green Mixtures Using Cad Yellow Medium
When it’s time to mix green, we tend to instinctively start from a yellow and a blue, but that’s not the only way to get green.
To explore these mixes, we will combine Cad Yellow Medium Pure with the following colors:
- Payne’s Gray (a very dark, bluish-gray)
- Raw Umber
- Ultramarine Blue
- Cerulean Blue
- Manganese Blue Hue
Mixing Green from Cad Yellow Medium
Looking at the image 1 above, you can clearly see how the brightest green is achieved from mixing Cad Yellow Medium with Manganese Blue Hue. This is because of the five colors tested, Manganese Blue Hue is the blue with the strongest green bias.
As we'll see later, the intensity of this green becomes a beautiful aqua color when white is added, see image 2 below in this article.
The mixes with Ultramarine Blue and Payne’s Gray are the most similar on the cool side, Manganese Blue makes the most intense mix, and Raw Umber makes the brownest mix. It’s almost brown but closer to olive green.
In Color Mixing It’s Important to Know the Color Bias
To predict what greens we can expect, it is essential to know the color bias of the paints you are going to use.
Payne’s gray is a very dark, cool color, with a bluish coloration.
Raw Umber is a very dark and dull red, so it’s a warm color.
Ultramarine Blue is a dark blue with hints of red in it, so relatively speaking, it’s a warm blue.
Cerulean Blue is lighter than Ultramarine Blue and it leans more toward green, so it’s a cool blue.
Manganese Blue Hue is also a cool blue, with a green bias.
Cad Yellow Medium is a mid-value yellow with an orange bias, therefore it’s considered a warm yellow.
Visit a green place to understand green.— Susan Easton Burns
What a Red Bias Does to a Green
Now, you must know that every time you introduce some kind of red in a green mix, you are causing the mix to become duller.
The yellow we are using is already bringing a tiny red hint to the mix, due to its orange bias. That, from the start, tells you that the greens that you will get are never going to be the most vibrant.
A cool yellow, with green bias, such as lemon yellow, would give you much brighter greens.
When you add to cad yellow medium, a color with a red bias, like Raw Sienna or Ultramarine Blue, you will get somehow duller greens than when mixing with Cerulean or Blue Manganese Blue Hue.
They'll sell you thousands of greens. Veronese green and emerald green and cadmium green and any sort of green you like, but that particular green, never.— Pablo Picasso
Adding White Makes a Color Cooler
Every time you add titanium white, which is a very opaque and chalky white, to any color, you are making it lighter, but also cooler.
Titanium white makes the pigments less intense and less bright and changes the temperature of the mix to be cooler than the original color before you added white.
Often painters have to counterbalance the addition of white by introducing a yellow or another warm color, to keep the original temperature.
The image below shows how our mixed change by introducing white.
The six columns show the pure mix at the top, and how it changes with the gradual addition of Titanium White.
Column 1: Cad Yellow Medium + White
Column 2: Cad Yellow Medium + Payne’s Gray + White
Column 3: Cad Yellow Medium + Raw Umber + White
Column 4: Cad Yellow Medium + Ultramarine Blue + White
Column 5: Cad Yellow Medium + Cerulean Blue + White
Column 6: Cad Yellow Medium + Manganese Blue Hue + White
Adding White to Green Mixtures
It's not easy being green.— Kermit the Frog, Muppet
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
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© 2020 Robie Benve