What Color Do Orange and Black Make When Mixed?

Orange color explosion on black background

Orange and black are the colors of Halloween, so they give a fun and spooky vibe when paired together. However, the two colors couldn’t be more different. Black is the darkest color while orange is extremely vibrant. So, they uniquely contrast each other.

Since orange and black are so different from each other, what happens if you mix them together? Is the result the same in every medium? Let’s take a look.

What Color Do Orange and Black Make in Paint?

Mixing orange and black together creates a type of brown. Usually, when you mix black with another color, it creates a shade, which is a darker version of that color. So, brown is a shade of orange. This is just one of many ways to create brown by mixing paints.

Understanding the RYB Color Model

RYB color model

RYB is the color model that’s commonly taught in early art classes. Most people associate it with paints, but it can be used for any physical art medium. It’s a form of subtractive mixing, which means when colors are combined, light is removed from the equation.

The primary colors in paint are red, yellow, and blue. If you mix two primary colors together, you’ll get one of the secondary colors, which are orange, purple, and green. When an equal amount of all three primary colors are mixed together, they make brown.

You might notice that black and white don’t appear on the RYB diagram. However, they both still exist in this color model. Black and white are primarily used to make other colors lighter or darker.

Making Brown Lighter or Darker

There are many types of brown, so the shade that orange and black make might not be exactly what you want to use. Here are some tips for making brown lighter or darker.

Shades of brown leather

Mixing Tints

Tints refer to a color mixed with white, which makes it look lighter. So, adding white to brown will make it paler. The more white you add, the lighter the mixture will become.

Mixing Shades

Technically, brown is already a shade of orange. A shade is any color mixed with black, which makes it look darker. If you want to create a shade of brown, add a touch of black. A little black paint can go a long way, so you should only use it sparingly.

Brown Color Meaning

Brown is a color of many meanings. It symbolizes reliability, stability, and honesty. Some of its effects include protecting, grounding, and simplifying. Yet, like most colors, brown has a wide range of both positive and negative meanings.

A few positive sides of the color brown include appreciation, support, and wisdom. However, some negative sides are boring, dull, and predictable. The exact meaning depends on the type of brown you use and the context, so be sure to consider that when creating your design.

Can You Make Orange and Black Paint?

Wood wall painted orange and black

Running out of specific paint colors can be frustrating, but you can create most colors using other paints. So, can you make more orange and black paint if you run out?

Luckily, it’s easy to make orange because it’s a secondary color on the RYB color model. So, you can create it by using an equal amount of yellow and red.

It’s a little trickier to make black. You may be able to create it by mixing red, yellow, and blue, but that combination usually makes brown instead. Yet, if you use deeper versions of the primary colors, such as ultramarine blue or crimson red, you may get black instead. You might also be able to create black by mixing brown and blue together.

What Color Do Orange and Black Make in Lights?

You cannot mix orange and black in lights because lights cannot be the color black. You won’t find the color black anywhere on the visible spectrum or the RGB color model, which is used for mixing colors in lights and digital displays. RGB is an additive color model with the primary colors of red, green, and blue. When the three primary colors are mixed together, they get lighter and create white.

Even though lights can’t be the color black, there’s a type of light called a “black light,” which can be confusing. However, a black light is an ultraviolet light, so it shines purple instead of black. Black doesn’t exist in lights, but we can still see objects that are the color black, so why is that?

Why Does the Color Black Not Exist in Lights?

Black light bulb in the dark

In lights, black is not a color. It’s often referred to as the “absence of detectable light.” That’s why you’ll never see a light that’s the color black. The only time lights look black is when they’re turned off.

All colors in the RGB color model can be made by mixing red, green, and blue at different brightnesses. However, the only way to create black that way is by setting all three colors to 0% brightness. So, it’s the equivalent of turning all lights off, proving that lights can’t be black.

Yet, we can still see black objects, even on our lit-up computer screens. That’s because when our eyes look at colors, they also rely on our brains to provide context. For that reason, we can see darker colors like black, brown, and gray even though they’re not on the visible spectrum. Based on the object and the colors around it, our brains can help us understand what color we’re looking at. Thus, we can see the color black even though it doesn’t exist in lights.

How Do Our Eyes Perceive Colors?

Our brains might help us interpret colors that aren’t on the visible spectrum, but our eyes do a lot of work too. When light shines on an object, certain wavelengths get absorbed while others reflect back toward us. Each wavelength corresponds with a color of the rainbow, so the wavelengths that reflect back at us are the colors we see.

The wavelengths on the spectrum go from short, frequent wavelengths to long, stretched-out ones. The shortest wavelengths are violet while the longest ones are red. So, if we look at a red apple, all the wavelengths will be absorbed into it except the longest ones. The wavelengths corresponding with red will reflect back toward us, allowing our eyes to see the apple as red.

Our eyes use cells called photosensors to help us interpret these wavelengths. The cells are called cones and rods. Cones help us see colors best in bright lighting while rods function better in dim lighting. These two types of cells work together to see the many beautiful colors around us, no matter what the lighting is like.

Does Black Exist in the CMYK Color Model?

Closeup of printer ink cartridges

CMYK is commonly associated with the RGB color model, but the two are very different. CMYK is a form of subtractive mixing that’s used for printer ink. Its primary colors are cyan, magenta, and yellow, while the secondary colors are red, green, and blue. So, the primary and secondary colors are the opposite of RGB.

However, black exists in CMYK. It’s even one of the main colors. The “K” in CMYK stands for “key color,” which refers to black. That’s why black is often included with the three primary colors when you purchase ink. Also, if you combine an equal amount of the three primary colors, you get black.

If you mix black and orange together in CMYK, you’ll get brown just like you would with paints. CMYK and RYB color models usually have similar results for color mixing.

Designing with Orange and Black

It’s hard to design with orange and black without thinking of Halloween. They contrast each other perfectly for spooky designs. However, you may be able to use them differently if you add other colors into the mix.

White, pink, red, yellow, and gray are just a few colors that might pair well with orange and black. Adding a brighter color to the design can make it more vibrant and uplifting as opposed to the combination’s usual eerie feel. However, if you don’t want to worry about people mistaking your design for a holiday decoration, you can try using orange and black separately.

Black goes well with almost any color, especially bright, more vibrant colors like pink, green, yellow, and blue. If you pair it with other neutral colors, like brown, white, or gray, it’ll give off a more mature tone. The color orange looks best when paired with brown, yellow, pink, red, or white. If you want to make orange pop in an advertisement or poster, you can pair it with its complementary color, which is blue.

Black and orange room design

Mixing with the Color Black Can Be Tricky

The color black is often used in designs, but mixing with it isn’t always easy. In painting, black can easily overpower other colors if not used carefully. In lights, it doesn’t even exist. So, besides making shades of other colors, it might not be one of the most common colors for mixing.

Yet, mixing a wide variety of color combinations is a great way to better understand color theory. Unusual color combinations will often create unique colors. So, using trial and error with color mixing may help you find new and exciting colors to use in your designs.