Secondary colors are a vital part of learning how color works together. By understanding what secondary colors are, how to mix them and what colors you can mix using them. It will allow you to create an endless array of beautiful shades and color combinations!
In this article, we’ll explore what you need to know about secondary colors. What they are, their relationship with primary colors, and how to mix them. As well as look at some of the stunning color combinations you can create from them. So let’s get started!
What are secondary colors in art?
In the world of art and painting, secondary colors are very important. You can create a wide variety of color combinations and shades with them, that you can use to create color harmonious paintings.
3 secondary colors
The 3 secondary colors − orange, green, and purple, are made by mixing (any 2 of the 3) primary colors together.
When it comes to mixing secondaries, there are a few things you need to keep in mind:
– The ratio of the two primary colors you are mixing together will affect the shade of secondary color you create. For example, if you mix equal parts of both primary colors together, you will create a shade that is closer to the center of the color wheel (a 50/50 split). However, if you want to create a secondary color that is more towards one end or the other of the color wheel, then you will need to use more of the color you wish the shade to represent the most.
The difference between primary and secondary colors
Now that we know what secondary colors are, let’s explore the difference between them and primary colors.
Primary colors, are colors that can’t be created by mixing any other colors together. Whereas secondary colors are created by mixing two primary colors together. In the context of a color wheel. You will find the secondary color within the color wheel in-between the two primaries you go to mix.
How to make the three secondary colors
As we learned above, the 3 secondary colors are green, purple and orange. To make these three colors, you will need to mix the two primary colors that sit beside each other on the color wheel.
For example, to make secondary color green, you would mix blue and yellow together; while to make purple, you would mix red and blue.
Then lastly, the secondary color orange is made by mixing the primary colors red and yellow together.
Secondary color wheel example
To help show the difference between secondary and primary colors, let’s look at an example of a secondary color wheel.
Above, you can see that there are three primary colors (yellow, blue and red) making a triangle, with yellow at the top of the wheel. And then there are three secondary colors (orange, green, purple) located in-between each of those primaries.
As we mentioned before, to mix any of the three secondary colors together. You will need to use two of the primary colors that sit beside each other on the color wheel. For example:
– To make the secondary color green, you would mix blue and yellow together; while to make purple, you would mix red and blue. Lastly, you will mix the primary colors red and yellow together to make the color orange.
Colors you can mix from the secondaries
Now that we know how to mix secondary colors, let’s explore some of the different shades and color combinations you can create from them!
Mixing Shades of Green
When it comes to secondaries, green is one of the most popular and there are a variety of different shades of green you can create.
Here is an article I created, that will show you all the different greens you can create:
Creating Different Shades of Purple
Another of the secondaries that is widely used and loved by artists is purple. And like green, there are a variety of shades of purple you can create depending on the colors you mix together.
To read more about the different shades of purple you can create, check out this article:
How to Mix Shades of Orange
And last but not least, we have the secondary orange and it’s variety of useful shades you can mix for your painting.
To see all the different shades of orange you can create, check out this article:
Benefits of knowing how to create secondary colors
One of the biggest benefits to understanding how to make secondary colors, is that it allows you to better understand color in general.
For example, when mixing colors on your palette and you want to create a certain shade of color. Having knowledge about secondaries (what primaries created them, as well as what the secondaries’ complementary colors are…) will help you to know what color you need to add into your mixture.
Saving Time and Money!
Also being able to mix your own secondary colors can save you time and money.
- Saving Time. If you are painting on the go and realize you forgot your – green, orange or purple paints… Or you run out of one those colors (in tube form), while in the midst of a painting project. You won’t be stuck and have to give up on what you’re trying to create. Rather, you will now know how to create the color you need on your own!
- Saving Money. Again because you can create your own shades of secondaries − you don’t always have to purchase them from the store.
Now, you want to have purchased tubes of these colors on hand. As if you’re painting a lot, it would be a bit annoying to have to mix orange, green and purple every-time you needed them. Also, I personally really like having Cadmium Orange on hand, because the pigment from it, is just a bit more vibrant when mixing it with other colors − such as a blue for example.
Helpful color mixing resource
To go even deeper into learning about all the different color schemes and combinations in the color wheel. Along with how to mix hundreds of different shades…
Get all the help you need with my Color Mixing Master Guide:
I hope you enjoyed this article and feel inspired to start creating your own secondary colors! If you have any questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments below and I’ll answer them as best as I can:)
Until next time, happy painting!