How do you make grey in color theory

Grey is an important color within your color scheme. You can use it for accents like shadows and details but also as the main color in certain objects. But how do you make grey according to color theory? Let's take a look.

How do you make grey in color theory

How to make grey in color theory

In color theory, making grey depends on the type of design you are working on. It differs depending on the color model (RGB or CMYK) you use.

Let's take a look at both the RGB and CMYK color models and how you make grey using either one.


For example, you use the RGB (red, green, blue) color model when working on a digital design like a landing page or mobile application.

When you add RGB colors together, you get the color white. The opposite is also true; when you remove all colors, you get black. That's how monitors work.

One way to display your grey color is to use a hexadecimal value. It is a six-digit value with two values per color (#RRGGBB).

You can make a very bright grey color using the hexadecimal value #E9E9E9, for example. It is very close to RGB's white (#FFFFFF).

If you want a darker shade of grey, move the value closer to RGB's black (#000000), like #444444, for example.




The examples above are all showing balanced grey colors. If you want to bring the grey closer to your other colors, you can differentiate between the R, G, and B values of your grey.




Examples above! Can you spot the differences between both color sets?


You use the CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, key) color model for print design. It works opposite to RGB because you get black by adding all colors together.

With that in mind, making grey using the CMYK color theory means adding colors together. More colors mean a darker shade of grey.

The same applies if you're a painter using watercolor. You get grey by mixing multiple colors and adding water. More water means a lighter shade of grey.

Further reading

That's it for how you make grey. If you want to apply color theory to your work, I recommend reading my article on color theory basics next.

Also, if you want to know how to make grey as part of a bigger color scheme, I have a guide on that, too.

Nick Groeneveld

About the author

Nick Groeneveld


Hi! I'm Nick Groeneveld. As a senior designer, working with color theory has become my second nature. In recent years, I've helped companies improve their websites and apps by making better use of color theory.