Turquoise: it’s a color you see brightening up nature, fashion, and interior decorating. But where do you start if you want to create your own turquoise color? What colors make turquoise?
With a basic understanding of color theory, you can produce a turquoise color for paintings and projects of your own! This article will answer your questions about how to make turquoise and teach you how to make turquoise colors yourself. We’ll give you:
- A brief guide to how to make turquoise
- A scientific answer to the question, “What is turquoise?”
- The cultural meanings and significance of turquoise
- An explanation of three ways to make turquoise
- Three tips for getting the right shade of turquoise
There’s a lot to learn here, so let’s get going!
How To Make Turquoise: A Quick Primer
Turquoise is made by mixing blue and green. The amounts of each color that you add to a mixture determine the shade of turquoise you will get. Turquoise falls between blue and green on the color wheel, so shades of turquoise can range from predominantly blue to predominantly green.
You can experiment with the amounts of blue and green you incorporate in order to achieve different shades. As long as you’re mixing blue and green, you’ll end up with some variant of turquoise!
But you probably know that there isn’t just one shade of turquoise. There are many different shades of turquoise you can make! If you want to achieve the right shade of turquoise, you need to have a basic understanding of the science of color.
By the end of the next section, you’ll understand how color works in order to create turquoise.
If you're trying to mix the perfect turquoise color for your beach painting, then you'll need to understand how color works from a scientific perspective.
What Is Turquoise? The Science Behind the Color
You might have learned in elementary school that blue and green make turquoise. This is definitely true on a basic level! However, making the perfect turquoise color is a bit more complicated than just mixing blue and green and hoping for the best.
To answer the question, “What is turquoise,” you need to start with an understanding of how color works. Since color is created by light, we can look at how light interacts with objects to understand where color comes from.
The experts on color at Crayola describe how light creates what we see as color like this:
When light shines on an object some colors bounce off the object and others are absorbed by it. Our eyes only see the colors that are bounced off or reflected.
The sun’s rays contain all the colors of the rainbow mixed together. This mixture is known as white light. When white light strikes a white crayon or marker barrel, it appears white to us because it absorbs no color and reflects all color equally. A black crayon or marker cap absorbs all colors equally and reflects none, so it looks black to us. While artists consider black a color, scientists do not because black is the absence of all color.
So let’s break that down. In simpler terms, the physical makeup of an object makes it reflect light (also called electromagnetic waves) in a new way, which makes color!
Sometimes all color bounces off an object to make it appear white. A black object will reflect no colors, which makes it appear black. Most of the time, though, an object will reflect some light...which is why it has color! When an object appears to be blue, green, or red to your eyes, you’re seeing the wavelength of light that the object is reflecting.
So what’s a wavelength, anyway? Wavelengths of light can be compared to the movements of water at the beach. The waves will come in high and close together at certain times, but low and further apart at other times. Now, say you decided to measure those waves. You’d start at the crest, or highest point of one wave, then measure to the crest of the next wave. These measurements would give you the wavelength of the water hitting the beach.
The way that light works is similar--but waves of light are a lot smaller and closer together. When these lengths bounce off an object, your eyes measure them...and your brain translates them into color.
The “spectrum” refers to the full range of possible wavelengths of light. The spectrum of light can be translated into the spectrum of color like this:
A single wavelength of light is measured using nanometers (nm). Longer wavelengths produce “warmer” colors, and shorter wavelengths make “cooler” colors.
You might have noticed that we’re only able to see a small portion of the entire spectrum of light. Our eyes can only see those wavelengths between approximately 400 and 800 nanometers. But the possible wavelengths of light span far beyond the boundaries of that small range! Certain animals, like sockeye salmon and European roller bird chicks, can see much more of the spectrum than we can.
The range of light that humans can see without the help of technology is called the “visible spectrum.”
Blue and green, the two colors that combine to make turquoise, appear on the visible spectrum. Blue has wavelengths between about 450 and 495 nanometers, and green has wavelengths between about 492 to 577 nanometers. An object our eyes perceive as turquoise has a makeup that causes it to absorb all wavelengths of light except those that are between 450 and 577 nanometers in length. The object then reflects those wavelengths of blue and green back differently. The resulting mixture will make the object look turquoise to us!
Is Turquoise the Same Color as Cyan?
Cyan is a super important color because it’s part of the color printing process. When you combine yellow, turquoise, cyan, and black in different combinations, you can make all the colors of the rainbow.
In the subtractive color model, which is used for color printing, turquoise is considered a shade of the primary color cyan. So yes: turquoise and cyan are the same color.
Cyan appears between blue and green on the visible spectrum of light at around 490 to 520 nanometers. In some cases, cyan may be considered synonymous with turquoise. Both colors are a very similar bright, greenish-blue.
When you use blue and green as your base colors, you have room to experiment with making turquoise in different ways. This process is a little complicated, but don’t worry--we’ll explain three ways to use blue, green, and other colors to make turquoise next.
How Do You Make Turquoise?
What colors make turquoise? When you combine materials that reflect light in different ways, their ability to reflect light is combined too. This combination occurs through two different methods: additive mixing and subtractive mixing.
How to Make Turquoise: Additive Mixing
Additive mixing is a simple way to create a new color by mixing different waves of light together. For instance, if you mixed a wavelength of 460 nanometers with another, different wavelength of 540 nanometers, you would get turquoise.
So what colors make turquoise when wavelengths are combined? In additive mixing, blue and green light waves mix to make turquoise.
How to Make Turquoise: Subtractive Mixing
Subtractive color mixing is a way to create new colors by removing wavelengths from the visible light spectrum through the use of paints, dyes, or pigments. This process is called subtractive mixing because when we mix colored paints or pigments, some wavelengths are absorbed. Each paint or pigment being mixed absorbs some wavelengths and reflects others. This allows us to dial in the wavelength of light that’s reflected so that we get the perfect color!
When it comes to combining pigments, mixing blue and green is key to creating the color turquoise. Depending on the proportions you use, you’ll be able to create different shades of turquoise!
How to Make Turquoise: Tints and Shades
We mentioned earlier that there isn’t just one turquoise color. There are many different tints and shades of turquoise that you can create! Before trying your hand at this, you need to know what tints and shades are first.
Tints are more muted colors that are created when white is added to another color. Shades, on the other hand, are created by mixing black with another color to produce a darker color.
The amount of black or white you add to another color determines the saturation, or intensity, of the new color you create. So, for instance, brighter colors won’t have much white or black. When black and white are incorporated, the color wheel becomes a three dimensional color sphere.
While turquoise can be made using just blue and green, you’re only going to get more complex tints and shades of turquoise when you mix those colors with white or black!
What Other Colors Can You Make With Turquoise?
Now that you understand the science behind making turquoise, you’re probably catching on to the fact that you can make different tints and shades of turquoise. By combining blue, green, and white in different ways and amounts, you can achieve specific shades of turquoise.
Keep reading to find out some of the most popular shades of turquoise!
Predominantly Blue Tints of Turquoise
What colors make turquoise? Blue and green make turquoise, but you can add a higher ratio of blue to green to get a shade of turquoise blue. Adding in different amounts of white can help you achieve bluish turquoise shades that range from lighter to darker as well!
Tints of turquoise that would be considered predominantly blue include:
Predominantly Green Tints of Turquoise
You already know that blue and green make turquoise with some white added in. But you can amp up the amount of green in your mixture to achieve various tints of turquoise green.
Here are seven shades of turquoise green that you can easily create:
Turquoise With Gray Undertones
Turquoise colors can also be made by combining blue and green with small amounts of gray.
Keep reading to find out about turquoise shades that can be created by combining blue, green, and gray.
Turquoise Color: Meaning and History
Turquoise originally referred to a mineral that’s found in nature. The mineral is an opaque, blueish green color that comes from a hydrated phosphate of copper and aluminum. Finer grades of turquoise are considered very valuable, especially as gemstones. Turquoise gemstones have been highly prized because of their beautiful color.
The word turquoise comes from the French word turquois, which means Turkish. This signifies how the mineral came to France: turquoise was brought to Europe by way of Turkey, from mines in a part of Iran once known as Persia. Before that, turquoise was mined in the Sinai Peninsula of ancient Egypt. Turquoise prehistoric artifacts have also been found in Bulgaria, dating to the fifth millennium BCE. This means turquoise has been used, valued, and traded since antiquity.
Turquoise is often used in jewelry, like the turquoise beads in this bracelet.
In the United States, turquoise is also associated with the southwest region, particularly Arizona and New Mexico. (That’s mostly because it can be found there!) The mineral was originally mined by pre-Columbian Native Americans using stone tools in the region. With its beautiful color resembling the sea and the sky, turquoise came to symbolize powerful protection from harm. For example, the Aztecs incorporated turquoise into the design of ceremonial objects and weapons, and the Apache people believed that carrying a turquoise amulet could give an archer perfect aim.
Thanks to these origins, people all over the world view turquoise as a symbol of protection and hope today. People who attribute spiritual meaning to the turquoise color may view it as the color of emotional balance. Turquoise is associated with open communication between the head and the heart, which promotes calmness of spirit.
Like many other gemstones, turquoise is also a birthstone. Turquoise is the birthstone for the month of December and is associated with the zodiac sign Sagittarius. For this birth month, turquoise is regarded as a symbol of good fortune and success.
Real turquoise gemstones and jewelry are expensive and precious. But anyone with the right art tools and understanding of color can produce beautiful shades of turquoise for personal use. We’ll explain how you can make turquoise next!
3 Tips for Getting the Right Shade of Turquoise
Learning all about how to make turquoise probably has you excited about creating your own turquoise colors.
To make turquoise, you need to have the right colors on hand: blue, green, black, and white. Once you have your colors ready to go, keep reading for three tips to help you create your desired shades of turquoise. We also suggest using the color matching company Pantone’s online color tool to help you visualize the many possible shades of turquoise.
Tip 1: Choose a Hue
Hue refers to the colored pigments that are visible to our eyes. So hue refers to the primary and secondary colors red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet, but not to mixed colors or white or black. Hue is strictly the element that produces the pure color.
Since turquoise falls on the spectrum between blue and green, you can adjust the hues of blue and green you use to achieve the perfect shade of turquoise for you..
You can also select blues and greens that range from cooler to warmer shades to achieve the specific shade of turquoise you want. Cooler shades of blue and green will produce a cooler turquoise, whereas warmer shades of blue and green will produce a warmer turquoise color.
Tip 2: Consider Darkness and Light
“Value” refers to the relative level of lightness or darkness of a color. It’s typical for colors with a lighter value (more white added), like a light sea green, to translate as lighter and calmer. You can probably match a light turquoise color in a painting you’ve seen by adjusting the value to incorporate more white. Yellow can also be added in small amounts along with blue and green to achieve a more subdued shade of turquoise.
Darker values, which have more black added, tend to feel more ominous. You can add black to darken turquoise, but it’s far more common to add darker shades of blue or green to achieve a darker value. Midnight green and polished turquoise are two examples of darker turquoise shades that can be achieved by adding darker blues or greens.
So if you want to get a darker, more vivid shade of turquoise, consider starting with a darker blue or green base color.
Tip 3: Adjust the Saturation
“Saturation” refers to the intensity of color in a hue in relation to the amount of white or black. When a color has smaller amounts of white or black added, it’s more saturated, or intense. If you want to get a bright turquoise or aquamarine, for example, you’ll want to amp up the saturation.
Less saturated colors will have larger amounts of white or black added. If you want a color with more saturation, add smaller amounts of white. Colors like pale turquoise and icy teal have a lower saturation, and pure turquoise and turquoise blue have a higher saturation.
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Ashley Sufflé Robinson has a Ph.D. in 19th Century English Literature. As a content writer for PrepScholar, Ashley is passionate about giving college-bound students the in-depth information they need to get into the school of their dreams.