What Color Do Red and Orange Make When Mixed?

Red and orange triangle background

Red and orange are two warm colors on the color wheel. They work well together in designs, but what happens when you mix them? Let’s take a look at what color red and orange make in different mediums when combined.

What Color Do Red and Orange Make in Paint?

When red and orange are mixed in paint, they create red-orange. Some people also refer to this color as vermilion. It’s a tertiary color on the RYB color model.

Some artists will use a little more red or orange to adjust the color’s appearance. Scarlet is a similar color that’s described as mostly red with an orange tint. However, a true red-orange is 50% red and 50% orange.

What are Tertiary Colors?

RYB color wheel with tertiary colors

Tertiary colors are colors that are a mix of one primary color and one secondary color. Those two colors usually sit next to each other on the color wheel.

There are six tertiary colors on the RYB color model: yellow-orange, red-orange, red-purple, blue-purple, blue-green, and yellow-green. They’re usually referred to as a combination of the colors they’re mixed with, but sometimes they’re called by specific names, such as chartreuse, amber, and magenta.

Understanding the RYB Color Model

The RYB color model is most commonly used for physical art mediums like paints and colored pencils. It has the color wheel that many people learn about in early art classes. It’s a form of subtractive color mixing, which means wavelengths are removed when colors are combined.

Red, yellow, and blue are the primary colors in RYB. Combinations of those colors can mix to create the secondary colors, which are orange, green, and purple. If an equal amount of all three primary colors are combined, they’ll make brown.

Making Red-Orange Lighter or Darker

Mixing orange paint on white background

After mixing red and orange, you might not end up with the color you want. Luckily, you can adjust red-orange like you can with other colors. Here are some tips for making shades and tints of a color.

Mixing Tints

Tints are lighter versions of a color. To make a tint of red-orange, you add white to it. Since white is such a light color, you’ll likely need to add a lot of it before noticing a significant difference.

Mixing Shades

Shades are darker versions of a color. A shade of red-orange can be made by adding a hint of black to the mix. Black paint can easily overpower other colors, so it’s best to only use it sparingly.

Red-Orange Color Meaning

Red-orange, also known as vermilion, isn’t a common color, so it doesn’t have too many universal meanings. Some consider it a symbol of life or eternity since it’s a color similar to blood.

Yet, it could also share the meanings of the colors that it’s mixed with. Red is a color of passion, energy, and strength. It can capture people’s attention and motivate them. Orange is associated with youth, optimism, and enthusiasm. It’s also an uplifting color that encourages great communication. So, red-orange will also be full of energy, motivation, and positivity.

Can You Use Other Colors to Make Red and Orange?

Red, orange, and yellow brush strokes

If you run out of red and orange paint, there’s no need to fear. You might still be able to make red-orange. You can’t make orange without red, so you’ll need to start by making red paint. Since red is a primary color, it’s not easy to make in paint. According to the CMYK color model, which is used for printer ink, red can be made using magenta and yellow. However, magenta isn’t a common paint color, so you might be better off buying more red paint.

Orange is a much easier color to make. It’s a secondary color that’s made of an equal amount of red and yellow paint. So, if you already have red, you can also create orange.

What Color Do Red and Orange Make in Lights?

Mixing lights is a little more complicated than mixing paint. Orange is a tertiary color for lights, so it’s unlikely that you’ll need to mix orange with anything. However, if you happen to mix red and orange lights together, you’ll get a red-orange color, similar to the one you can make with paints.

Understanding the RGB Color Model

CMYK vs RGB color models

The RGB color model is used for lights. Unlike RYB, it’s a form of additive mixing, which means wavelengths are added to the mixture instead of removed.

In this color model, the primary colors are red, green, and blue. Combinations of those colors can create the secondary colors, which are cyan, magenta, and yellow. If you mix all three primary colors together at full brightness, they create white.

The CMYK color model is a subtractive color model that’s similar to RGB. It’s used for color printing, and it’s the opposite of RGB. The primary colors are cyan, magenta, and yellow, while the secondary colors are red, green, and blue. Yet, the tertiary colors on both diagrams are the same, so red and orange also make red-orange in CMYK.

How Do You Mix Colored Lights?

The process of mixing lights is much different than mixing paints. If you have red and orange lights, all you have to do is shine them on top of each other to create a new color.

However, if you only have the primary colors, you can create other colors on the color wheel by layering them at different brightnesses. For example, orange can be made using red at full brightness, green at about half brightness, and no blue. So, mixing orange with red means the mixture will have a lot of red and only a little green, resulting in a red-orange color.

Mixing colored lights can take a lot of trial and error, so it’s a good idea to experiment with the different colors. It’s much easier to make red-orange by layering a little green on red instead of trying to mix red and orange.

How Do Our Eyes Perceive Color?

Visible light spectrum chart with wavelengths from infrared to ultraviolet

When light shines on an object, certain wavelengths are absorbed into it, while others are reflected off of it. So, when we look at the object, we only see the colors reflecting off it.

All colors on the visible light spectrum have different wavelengths. On one end of the spectrum, violet has short, frequent wavelengths. On the other end, red has much longer wavelengths. Anything in between has wavelengths that aren’t quite as long or short.

For example, if you look at a ripe banana, all the wavelengths will be absorbed into it except yellow. So, red, orange, green, cyan, blue, and violet will be absorbed, while yellow will reflect off it, making our eyes perceive it as yellow.

Our eyes have cone and rod cells in them, which help us perceive those colors. The cone cells work well in bright light, allowing us to see colors throughout the day. The rod cells are more sensitive, but they can help us see colors in dimmer lighting. So, when we see colors, a lot more is going on in our eyes than we realize.

Red and Orange Colors in Designs

Red and orange living room design

Red and orange are both warm, vibrant colors. Since they sit next to each other on the color wheel, they work well together in designs. Yellow and pink are other colors that go well with both red and orange.

If you’re looking to design a room with these colors, you might need to tone them down a bit. Only using red and orange can be a lot for your eyes to handle, so try pairing them with some neutral colors, such as white, tan, or gray. For example, you could have a bright orange couch, but with a white wall to balance it out. Using pastel versions of red and orange can also help tone them down.

Of course, you don’t have to use red and orange together if you don’t want to. Since they’re similar colors, they could blend together in designs. If you’re hoping to make an image or text box stand out in a design, such as in a logo or advertisement, you might want to use complementary colors instead. Complementary colors are the colors on the opposite side of the color wheel. Blue is the complementary color for orange, and green is for red.

There are many ways to use orange and red in designs, so get creative and test out different color combinations if you can.

Do Red and Orange Always Make Red-Orange?

Yes, red and orange always make some type of red-orange color. Even though color mixing is very different for paint, lights, and ink, they can sometimes have similar results. That’s because, on all three color models, orange and red are directly next to each other, which is how they always end up making red-orange.

Mixing a variety of colors is a great way to understand color theory. Try experimenting with different color combinations, along with tints and shades, to find the perfect colors for your designs.