What Colors Make Gold? Color Mixing Guide

Last Updated on January 8, 2024 by Kimberly Crawford

Color mixing is an art that requires both a keen eye and a basic understanding of color theory. It’s a fascinating process that enables us to create a vast spectrum of hues from just a few primary colors.

This skill is particularly vital for artists, designers, and anyone interested in expressing themselves through color. Whether you’re painting a landscape, designing a website, or even baking a themed cake, knowing how to mix colors can greatly enhance your creative projects.

One color that holds a special place in many cultures is gold. Gold isn’t just a precious metal—it’s also a captivating color that symbolizes various concepts, depending on the context. In general, gold is associated with wealth, prosperity, wisdom, and grandeur.

It’s a color that commands attention and exudes a sense of luxury and elegance. But how do we create this enchanting color? Join us as we explore the art of color mixing to create the perfect shade of gold.

Understanding Color Theory

Color theory is a conceptual framework used for discussing, creating, and interpreting color combinations in various fields, including art, design, and marketing. It provides guidelines on how different colors can be mixed or arranged to create visually pleasing effects.

A. Definition of Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Colors

Primary Colors: These are the base colors that cannot be made by mixing other colors together. The primary colors are red, blue, and yellow.

Secondary Colors: When you mix equal parts of two primary colors, you get a secondary color. The secondary colors are green (blue + yellow), orange (red + yellow), and purple (red + blue).

Tertiary Colors: These are created by mixing a primary color with a secondary color. Examples include red-orange (red + orange), yellow-green (yellow + green), and blue-violet (blue + purple).

B. Explanation of Color Wheel

The color wheel is a circular diagram that displays the relationships between different colors. It’s divided into sections for primary, secondary, and tertiary colors, making it a handy tool for understanding color relationships.

At the most basic level, the color wheel consists of 12 colors: three primary colors, three secondary colors, and six tertiary colors. The wheel can also include various shades, tones, and tints of these core colors, providing an endless spectrum of possibilities.

C. Concept of Complementary Colors

Complementary colors are pairs of colors that, when combined, cancel each other out—meaning they produce a grayscale color when combined in equal parts. However, when placed next to each other, complementary colors create the strongest contrast and reinforce each other’s brightness.

On the color wheel, complementary colors sit directly opposite each other. Examples include red and green, blue and orange, and yellow and violet. These pairs are often used in design and art to create a vibrant and dynamic visual effect.

Components of Gold Color

gold design 1

Creating the color gold involves a careful balance of various hues. The primary components include yellow as a base color, red or orange to add warmth, and white or black to adjust the lightness or darkness.

A. The Role of Yellow as a Base Color

Yellow serves as the foundational color when mixing gold. It’s bright, vibrant, and carries the luminous quality that is characteristic of gold. Starting with yellow gives you a solid base upon which to build the more nuanced tones of the gold color.

B. The Importance of Red or Orange as Secondary Colors

Adding a bit of red or orange to the yellow base is crucial for achieving the warm richness associated with gold. These colors deepen the yellow, transforming it from a simple, bright hue into something more luxurious.

The exact amount of red or orange you add can vary depending on the specific shade of gold you’re aiming for. A more reddish gold might require more red, while a subtler gold might need only a touch.

C. Addition of White or Black to Adjust Lightness or Darkness

Finally, white or black is used to adjust the lightness or darkness of your gold color. Adding white will lighten the color, giving you a paler, softer gold. This is often useful for creating a more delicate, feminine feel.

On the other hand, adding black will darken the color, resulting in a deeper, more antique gold. This can be useful for creating a more dramatic, masculine effect. As with the red or orange, the amount of white or black you add will depend on the specific shade of gold you’re trying to achieve.

Steps to Make Gold Color

Creating the color gold with paint requires careful blending of various colors. Here is a simple step-by-step guide you can follow:

A. Step-by-Step Guide on Creating Gold Color with Paints

  1. Start with Yellow: Begin with a base of yellow paint. The amount will depend on how much gold paint you want to make.
  2. Add Red or Orange: Gradually add in small amounts of red or orange paint, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Be cautious with these colors, as adding too much can quickly overpower the yellow.
  3. Adjust with White or Black: Depending on whether you want a lighter or darker shade of gold, add a small amount of white or black paint. Again, be sure to mix well after each addition.
  4. Evaluate and Adjust: Look at your color in different lights to get an accurate sense of its hue. If necessary, continue to adjust by adding more yellow, red, orange, white, or black until you’re satisfied with your gold color.
  5. Test Your Color: Before using your gold paint in a project, test it on a scrap piece of paper or canvas. This will give you a better idea of how it looks when applied and dried.

B. Variations in the Shade of Gold Depending on the Ratio of Colors Used

The exact shade of gold you end up with will depend on the specific ratios of yellow, red or orange, and white or black that you use:

  • A gold color with a higher ratio of yellow will be brighter and more vibrant.
  • Adding more red or orange will result in a warmer, richer gold.
  • If you add more white, the gold will be paler and softer, similar to champagne or rose gold.
  • More black will create a deeper, antique gold.

Remember, creating the perfect shade of gold takes practice. Don’t be discouraged if your first few attempts don’t turn out exactly as you’d envisioned. With time and experience, you’ll be able to create a beautiful range of gold hues.

Making Gold Color in Digital Mediums

Creating the color gold in digital mediums involves understanding and manipulating color models, specifically RGB (Red, Green, Blue), used in screen displays, and CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Key/Black), used in print.

A. Explanation of RGB and CMYK Color Models

RGB (Red, Green, Blue): This color model is additive, which means the primary colors are mixed in various ways to create a broad spectrum of colors. When red, green, and blue light are combined at their maximum intensity, the result is white light. RGB is primarily used for digital designs that will be viewed on screen, such as web design and video.

CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Key/Black): This color model is subtractive. The more color you add, the closer you get to black. CMYK is used for print designs because it reflects the way inks mix on paper. “K” stands for “key,” which is typically black ink.

B. Specific Codes to Create Gold Color in Digital Design

The color gold can be created in both the RGB and CMYK color models using specific codes:

RGB: A common RGB value for gold is (255, 215, 0). However, there are many shades of gold, and you may need to adjust these values slightly to achieve the specific hue you’re looking for.

CMYK: In the CMYK model, a common formula for gold is (0%, 17%, 100%, 0%). As with RGB, you may need to tweak these percentages to get your desired shade.

In Hexadecimal color code, which is also used in digital design, gold can be represented as #ffd700.

Applications of Gold Color

The color gold carries a rich array of meanings and can be used in various ways in art, design, and culture. Its applications range from evoking feelings of luxury and wealth to symbolizing spiritual or cultural concepts.

A. Use of Gold Color in Art and Design

gold design

In art and design, the color gold is often used to convey a sense of luxury, elegance, warmth, and richness. It’s commonly found in high-end product packaging, branding for luxury goods, and interior design. In graphic design, gold color can make a design look upscale and attract the viewer’s attention.

Moreover, gold is frequently used in religious art and architecture, often to adorn sacred spaces or depict divine figures, emphasizing their importance and sacredness.

B. Psychological Impact of Gold Color

Psychologically, gold is often associated with success, achievement, and triumph. It’s linked to abundance, prosperity, and wealth, both material and spiritual. Because of its brightness and preciousness, it also symbolically represents enlightenment and wisdom.

However, if used excessively, gold can also evoke feelings of extravagance or overindulgence. It can come across as pretentious or egotistical, so it’s essential to use it wisely and contextually in design and art.

C. Cultural Interpretations of Gold Color

Different cultures interpret the color gold in various ways. In many Western cultures, gold symbolizes wealth, status, and success. It’s also associated with awards and trophies, as in “going for the gold.”

In Chinese culture, gold is associated with the earth element and symbolizes wealth and prosperity. During Chinese New Year, gold is used extensively in decorations to attract wealth and good fortune.

In ancient Egyptian culture, gold was considered the skin or flesh of the gods, particularly the sun god, Ra. It was used extensively in pharaohs’ tombs and artifacts.

In Indian culture, gold is considered extremely auspicious and symbolizes wealth, prosperity, and status. It’s heavily used in wedding ceremonies and festivals.

Tips and Tricks for Mixing Gold Color

Creating the perfect gold color can be a bit challenging. However, with the right techniques and a little practice, you can master it. Here are some common mistakes to avoid and expert tips to achieve the perfect shade of gold.

A. Common Mistakes to Avoid

  1. Using Too Much Red or Brown: While a small amount of red or brown can help warm up your gold color, using too much can overpower the yellow and result in a muddy hue. Always start with a base of yellow and add your red or brown gradually.
  2. Overusing Black: Black can help darken your gold color, but too much can dull the brightness that is characteristic of gold. Use it sparingly and always mix well.
  3. Neglecting to Test Your Color: Gold can look very different under various lighting conditions and on different mediums. Always test your mixed color before applying it to your final piece.

B. Expert Tips for Achieving the Perfect Shade of Gold

  1. Start with Yellow: Yellow should be the dominant color when mixing gold. You can adjust the shade by adding small amounts of red or orange and a tiny bit of white or black if needed.
  2. Add a Touch of Brown: A little brown can help give your gold color depth and richness.
  3. Use Multiple Coats: Metallic gold color can be achieved by applying multiple coats of paint on the object.
  4. Consider Using Gray: Gray and brown can be fantastic options when mixing gold. They can increase the glimmer of the gold and make it pop more.
  5. Experiment with Different Shades: Don’t be afraid to play around with different shades of yellow, red, and brown. The beauty of mixing your own colors is that you can create a unique gold that perfectly suits your project.


In conclusion, creating the color gold is a simple yet exciting process that involves mixing primary and secondary colors. To recap, you start with yellow as the base color, then add small amounts of red and green to achieve a warm, golden hue. You can also add a touch of white to lighten the color if needed.

Remember, color mixing is not an exact science and it encourages creativity and experimentation. Don’t be afraid to play around with different proportions until you find the shade of gold that’s perfect for your project.

Every artist has their own unique style and approach to color, so your gold might look slightly different from someone else’s – and that’s perfectly okay! Keep experimenting, keep learning, and most importantly, keep creating. Your artistic journey is uniquely yours, embrace it.

FAQs about “What Colors Make Gold – and How To Mix Gold Color”:

What primary colors do I need to make the color gold?

To create a basic gold color, you’ll need the primary colors yellow and red, and the secondary color green.

Can I lighten or darken the shade of gold I’ve created?

Yes, you can adjust the shade of your gold by adding white to lighten it or black to darken it.

Is there a specific ratio of colors to use when making gold?

Color mixing is not an exact science and can depend on the specific shades of your base colors. Start with a base of yellow and add small amounts of red and green until you achieve your desired shade of gold.

How can I use gold color in my art projects?

Gold color can add a touch of luxury and warmth to your artwork. It’s great for highlighting, creating rich backgrounds, or adding decorative details.

Can I make gold color using digital tools?

Absolutely! Most digital art software allows you to mix colors just like you would with traditional paint. You can also find specific color codes for gold in various shades.

Is the process of making gold color different for different types of paints (like oil, acrylic, watercolor)?

The basic color mixing principles apply to all types of paint, but the exact shade of gold you get might vary depending on the medium due to their different properties and pigments.

Can I make metallic gold color with regular paints?

While you can create a gold hue with regular paints, achieving a metallic sheen requires special metallic paints or additives.