What Colors Make Orange & How to Make the Color Orange

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The Color orange is a very important color on every painter’s palette. It is used in many different varieties of color mixtures. So, it is essential to learn what colors make orange!

What two colors make orange

Yellow and red make orange when they are mixed together. However, this is just the beginning in learning how to make different shades of orange paint color. We will be exploring multiple possibilities and variations on top of just mixing these two colors that make orange together.

How to make orange paint color with different types of yellow

In the diagram above of what colors to make orange, you can see that I used three different yellows and mixed each of them with cadmium red.

Cadmium yellow and cadmium red are two colors that make orange a good robust color when mixed together. While yellow ochre mixed with cadmium red creates a much more muted orange. The third orange mixture with cadmium lemon and cadmium red creates a brighter orange that is much more saturated than the muted orange with the yellow ochre.

So you can see by just changing the type of yellow you use, changes the shades of orange color red and yellow can make.

How to make orange paint color with different types of reds

What Colors Make Orange,

Now we look at mixing a couple of different types of red with cadmium yellow, to see the shades of orange color our yellow and red make. Here we have Alizarin Crimson and Burnt Sienna. The type of orange we get when mixing cadmium yellow with Alizarin crimson is a nice robust orange – however not quite as warm and bright as the two oranges above that were the result of being mixed with cadmium red and cadmium yellow (and cadmium lemon).

Alizarin crimson is a much cooler shade of red, than cadmium red. So it is natural that an orange mixed with alizarin crimson would be cooler in temperature.

Next, we see a very muted orange mixed from cadmium yellow and burnt sienna. Burnt sienna is an earth tone color – so whenever a yellow is mixed with it, it will be a muted orange!

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What colors make orange muted…

How to mix a muted orange, Orange mixed with blue

Knowing how to be able to mix a muted orange and what colors make orange muted, is paramount! Almost every time you mix an orange color, you will need to mute it a little bit.

What color does orange and blue make?

To mute a color, you need to mix it with its complementary color. Since blue is the complementary color of orange, you will then mix blue with orange. Blue and orange make a lovely neutral muted orange color when mixed together. 

You can mix a variety of different muted shades of orange color, as you can see in the diagram above. You will notice that when cadmium orange is mixed with ultramarine blue you get a cooler muted orange. When you mix cobalt blue with cadmium orange you get a warmer muted orange color.

The cadmium orange that is mixed with the RGH blue creates an even deeper almost greenish muted orange. So, you can see that the muted orange color your blue and orange makes, is deeply impacted by the type of blue you use to mix it.

Green and Orange make…

Orange Color Mixing Chart, Green mixed with Orange

What color does green and orange make? More muted shades of orange! Though blue is the best color to mix your orange with for the most neutral shade of muted orange. Orange and green however, make their own unique muted shades of orange color, which can add depth to your muted color palette.

In the mixtures above I used a couple of different orange mixtures to mix with green. The result when mixed with cadmium green was a greenish muted orange color.

Orange Color Mixing Chart

The Diagram above shows cadmium orange mixed with various different greens. Cadmium orange is a much more saturated orange than mixing your own orange from red and yellow.

Cadmium orange mixed with pthalo green creates a darker cooler orange. In contrast, when cadmium orange is mixed with veronese green you get a lighter mixture than the one above it. The third orange that is mixed with cadmium green creates a much more robust and warm muted green!

For more help on how to mix different types of greens refer to the Green Color Mixing Guide.

Examples of how to mix and use shades of orange color in art

Oranges by Diarmuid Kelley
Diarmuid Kelley, Seville Oranges

Above is a painting of Oranges by British Artist Diarmuid Kelley. Notice all the variety of oranges that can be found on the surface of the fruit. The artist mixed up dark oranges, light oranges, yellowish oranges, reddish oranges, the list goes on…

If it weren’t for being able to mix up such a variety of oranges, you as the viewer would not be able to experience the sense of light and dark that falls on the oranges. Not to mention, you would not be able to feel the subtle changing colors around the surface of the orange.

Orange Painting by Euan Uglow
Euan Uglow, Orange on a Match

Above is another painting of an orange but this time by Euan Uglow. You can see very clearly that there are patches of a variety of different orange colors all around the orange. It is all these different orange colors working together that gives the orange subject volume and makes it feel round.

Utilizing your knowledge of what colors make orange muted in painting portraits

Self Portrait by Edgar Degas
Edgar Degas, Self Portrait

Above is a less obvious example of what colors make orange and how to use them in a portrait painting. Orange is a prominent color in portrait/ figure painting! However, one hardly ever uses a straight orange color mixed from just yellow and red alone. Rather the shades of orange that are typically used, go through a good deal of color mixing to make much more interesting muted colors.

The shades of orange that are used in portrait painting have a much more muted quality than those that would be used in, for example a painting of an orange. This is where the process of being able to create muted shades of orange colors becomes even more helpful. In for example, when painting skin tones!

Wrapping up what colors make orange

Though we have learned yellow and red make orange and are the primary colors of what two colors make orange. We have also seen that by mixing different types of red and yellow together yield different and varying shades of orange color.

In finding what colors to make orange muted, there are numerous options to experiment with. Blue and orange make a more neutral muted orange color, while orange and green make for unique temperature contrasts in the muted shades of orange color they create.

Where to go next?

If wanting to dive deeper into color mixing, learning how to mix earth tones and different shades of green are a great place start. From there you can put your color mixing techniques into practice with learning how to paint a landscape or step by step portrait painting.

Elisabeth Larson Koehler creator of art studio life

Hi! I am Elisabeth

Art Studio Life exists for you to be able to stay inspired, learn, and improve your skills.

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