When used side by side, yellow and orange remind us of things like fire and autumn leaves. Yet, if you’re looking for something even more unique, you can mix them together to create a new vibrant color.
So, what do orange and yellow make when mixed together, and is it a suitable color for your artwork? Let’s find out what the result looks like and how it can be used effectively in designs.
What Color Do Orange and Yellow Make in Paint?
When mixed together, orange and yellow create yellow-orange, also known as amber. It can be described as light orange or dark yellow. Yellow-orange is a tertiary color that’s not commonly used, but it can make a great addition to a warm painting scene.
Understanding the RYB Color Model
The RYB color model has the color wheel most people learn about in early art classes. It’s used for mixing paint colors and other physical art mediums. In this color model, the primary colors are red, yellow, and blue. Then, combinations of those colors can make the secondary colors, which are purple, orange, and green.
RYB is a form of subtractive mixing, which consists of subtracting wavelengths from an object. This occurs when two paint colors are swirled together, resulting in a brand new color.
What are Tertiary Colors?
Tertiary colors are considered mixes of a primary color and a secondary color, which are usually next to each other on the color wheel. So, to create a yellow-orange, you mix yellow, which is a primary color, and orange, which is a secondary color.
All the tertiary colors on the RYB color model are named using a hyphenated version of the two colors. In addition to yellow-orange, there’s blue-green, yellow-green, red-orange, red-purple, and blue-purple. Many popular colors are shades of these tertiary colors, such as chartreuse, teal, and vermillion.
Mixing Tints and Shades of Yellow-Orange
If a 50/50 mix of yellow and orange isn’t exactly what you’re looking for, then you can make variants of the color by creating lighter and darker versions. Here’s how to make tints and shades of yellow-orange.
Making Lighter Colors
A tint is a lighter version of a color. So, if you want to make your yellow-orange lighter while keeping it vibrant, add a little more yellow than orange. You can also add white to the mixture instead, but that will make the color look paler.
Making Darker Colors
On the contrary, shades are darker versions of colors. By adding more orange than yellow, you can create a darker yellow-orange. Adding a hint of black instead will also make it darker, but it will look less vibrant. If you choose to mix black in, be careful. Adding too much black paint could overpower the other colors.
Does the Color Yellow-Orange Have a Meaning?
Since most people know yellow-orange as amber, it has plenty of meanings and symbolism. It shares a lot of similar meanings to yellow and orange, including happiness, excitement, and enthusiasm.
Amber is commonly associated with joy, energy, and security. People who look at the color might feel uplifted, inspired, or comforted. For the most part, it’s a protective, friendly, and warm color that makes people feel welcomed. However, it could upset some people, due to its negative effects of provoking, irritating, and bothering. Like all colors, its meaning greatly varies depending on the context.
Can You Mix Colors to Make Yellow and Orange?
If you run out of yellow or orange paint, you still might be able to create yellow-orange. However, you need some yellow to create orange and some orange to create yellow, so if you’re missing both colors, you’ll need to buy more paints.
Orange is a secondary color made from 50% red and 50% yellow. However, yellow is a primary color on the RYB color wheel, so you can’t easily make a perfect yellow. Adding a lot of white to orange can make a shade of yellow, but it won’t be as bright and vibrant as the traditional color. So, you’ll be better off buying more yellow paint instead.
What Color Do Orange and Yellow Make in Lights?
Mixing lights is very different than mixing paints. Yet, there are some instances where the results are similar. While it’s unlikely that you’ll ever mix yellow and orange in lights, the result will still give you a yellow-orange color. The exact color may vary based on the brightness of the yellow and orange lights.
Understanding the RGB Color Model
The RGB color model uses additive mixing, which means wavelengths are added to the mixture instead of removed. This model is used for mixing lights and digital displays, and it’s done by layering one colored light on top of another.
Red, green, and blue are the primary colors in light. Then, their combinations can mix to create the secondary colors, which are cyan, magenta, and yellow. If all three primary colors are mixed at full brightness, they’ll create white.
The CMYK color model is the opposite of the RGB color model. It’s a subtractive mixing method commonly used for ink and printing. On this model, the primary colors are cyan, magenta, and yellow, while the secondary colors are red, green, and blue. If all the primary colors mix together, they’ll make black, which is why you can still create black ink when your printer’s black cartridge is empty.
Despite being used for different mediums, the RGB and CMYK color models have the same tertiary colors. Orange is a tertiary color in both examples, so mixing yellow and orange in ink will also give you a yellow-orange result.
How Do You Mix Colored Lights?
Colored lights can be mixed by layering one colored light on top of another. This is the easiest method if you already have a variety of colored lights. However, if you only have the RGB primary colors, you can mix the other colors by shining red, green, and blue at different brightnesses.
Yellow is made by shining red and green at full brightness, but with no blue. Orange is similar, but the green is about halfway instead of all the way up. So, if you did something in the middle of the two, such as shining red at full brightness and green at 75%, you would get a nice amber light.
Mixing lights is a much different process than mixing paint or ink. Yet, you still might want to experiment with different light mixtures to better understand the process. You might end up finding the perfect colors through trial and error.
How Do Our Eyes Perceive Color?
Mixing colored lights might take a while to get the hang of, but the way our eyes perceive color is even more complicated. When we look at an object, the colored wavelengths that bounce off it are the ones we see. All other colors on the visible light spectrum get absorbed into that item.
For example, if you look at a blueberry, the blue wavelengths bounce off it, while the rest will get absorbed into the object. So, when you see a blueberry, it only looks blue. On the visible light spectrum, all colors have different wavelengths. On one end, violet has short, frequent wavelengths, while on the other end, red has long, less frequent wavelengths.
In our eyes, we have cones and rods, which are cells that help us perceive colors. The cone cells work best at recognizing colors in bright lights, and the rod cells are more sensitive to lights, but they can see colors in dim lighting better. So, when we look at a colorful object, there’s a lot more going on in our eyes than we even notice.
Orange and Yellow in Designs
Orange and yellow are both bright, vibrant colors that add a lot of energy and excitement. So, they’re great for art pieces that give off an uplifting tone. They can also work well in logos and advertisements, especially paired with complementary colors. Complementary colors are colors on the opposite side of the color wheel. While they sometimes clash, they can be used to help the other color stand out more. Orange’s complementary color is blue, while yellow’s is purple.
However, using yellow and orange in furniture and room designs can be a bit trickier. Since they’re so bright, they can easily overpower a room if used too much. So, many designers opt for touches of yellow and orange paired with neutral colors. For example, a gray couch with yellow pillows or a beige wall with orange wall hangings.
If you want to use more yellow and orange than that, you might want to consider toning the brightness down. Using tints or pastel versions of the colors will make them softer and easier on your eyes, which can help you create joyful yet peaceful designs.
No matter what medium you’re using, yellow and orange create a yellow-orange or amber color. Amber is a great color for matching with other warm colors, so consider using it in your art pieces and designs. It can be a nice change of pace from typical yellow and orange.