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What colours make olive green?

Updated July 19, 2017

The mix of colours for creating olive green -- whether in paints, dyes or for cake icing -- depends on the exact shade desired. With a bit of careful blending you can combine several colours to achieve that perfect olive green finish.

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Olive green varies from a medium yellowish green, similar to the colour of green olives, to a dark, brownish green, to the greyish olive drab associated with military-issue clothing.


A standard olive or olive green -- a muddy, medium green -- can be made by combining yellow oxide or primary yellow with primary blue or green, and a small amount of black or white. Yellow acts as the base colour. The proportion of colours used varies with the shade of olive green.


Adding a small amount of red oxide or primary red will produce a browner shade. Yellow oxide and black, or yellow oxide, white and black create a greyer olive drab.

Food colouring

Olive green-coloured icing -- sometimes called khaki -- is made by mixing primary yellow, black and primary blue or green tint paste with a white icing base.


Adding orange, brown or purple shades to the mix of colours is likely to produce a grey, murky shade that doesn't resemble any olive green tint.

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About the Author

Danette Thompson has 30 years experience as a journalist, writing and editing for a chain of community newspapers. Thompson holds an Associate's degree in communication arts from St. Louis Community College at Meramec, Mo. She is also a published author of 12 novels, writing for Harlequin Books under the pseudonym Nicole Foster.

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