What Is the Opposite of Orange? (Complementary Color)

Illustration with color wheel and text saying what is the opposite of orange

In the art world, there is one secret up painters’ and digital artists’ sleeves: the use of the color orange and its opposite color together. They use this technique time and time again in advertising, paintings, interior design, and the fashion world. Yet, all the viewer will notice is that the art catches their eye and holds their attention. Do you want to master the same approach? In this guide, you will learn:

  • Why does the opposite color of orange matter?
  • What is the opposite of orange on different color wheels?
  • What are the opposite colors of different orange hues?
  • How do you find the exact opposite of an orange hue?
  • What are the common uses of orange and its opposite?

Why Does the Opposite of Orange Matter?

One of the fundamental elements of color theory is understanding opposite colors or complementary colors. In general, the colors lie opposite each other on the color wheel. When combined, they have the ability to cancel each other out and produce grayscale colors.

Illustration of color circle and complementary colors.

Painters, designers, digital artists, and virtually anyone working with colors can benefit from knowing about opposite colors. As each color is unique in pigment combinations, they each have a different opposite. For this reason, it is advantageous to know about orange and its particular opposite color.

You can apply your knowledge of orange and its opposite in two main ways. The first way is to use orange and the opposite color together. You can use each in strategic ways, such as placing small amounts of one color within a sea of the other or using equal amounts of the color alongside each other. No matter how you use them, you will call attention to one, or both. It is an excellent way to attract your viewer’s eye and provoke certain thoughts, emotions, or attitudes.

The second way is to mix orange and the opposite color together. If you mix in a small amount of the opposite, you can alter the color slightly or make it more muted. On the other hand, if you mix a large amount of the opposite color in, you can cancel orange and produce a neutral color.

What Is the Opposite of Orange?

The opposite of the color orange is blue. Although this is the standard response, the exact blue hue is dependent on which color wheel you are using and which hue of orange you are using. In this section, you will learn what the opposite of orange is on the most popular color wheels: RGB, CMY, and RYB.

What Is the Opposite of Orange in RGB?

Orange jellyfish against deep blue water.

If you are designing any piece that broadcasts over a digital screen, you are using the RGB (red, green, blue) color wheel. A computer, tablet, television, or mobile screen transmits color and light in a very unique way, unlike physical inks and paints. When a digital screen is off, not producing light, it is a black canvas. When you turn it on and add light, you can use red, green, or blue or a combination of these colors to create images. You can also choose the vibrancy of your colors. If you were to add all three colors together at full brightness, you would achieve complete white light. Since it is an additive color model, the more color you add to the base, the more vibrant or bright the color will be. This is why colors on screens are brighter than colors in the everyday world.

On the RGB color wheel, orange lies directly beside red, a combination of red and green. While most people would state that orange is a mixture of red and yellow, it is good to keep in mind that in RGB, you can only create colors with these three primaries. As such, yellow is actually a mixture of red and green as well, with a greater quantity of green. Yellow is only a little further down the color wheel, beside orange. This is why there are yellow-orange hues and red-orange hues of orange colors.

Across from orange on the RGB color wheel is its opposite, Azure or cyan-blue. It is a mixture of blue and green, heading towards cyan on the color wheel. Accordingly, you may note that the opposite of orange is not a pure blue hue on the RGB color wheel. Rather, the opposite of yellow is pure blue. Furthermore, the opposite of red is cyan, which is an equal mixture of blue and green. As such, in RGB, you’ll find that all orange hues extend from red to yellow and their opposites extend from pure blue to cyan.

Hex #0080FF
RGB 0, 128, 255
CMYK 100, 50, 0, 0

What Is the Opposite of Orange in CMY?

Blue and orange colored liquid.

The CMY (cyan, magenta, yellow) color wheel is the perfect choice for anyone using inks, dyes, paints, or anything physical. That said, if you do not need a wide range of colors, you may prefer to use the RYB color wheel. The CMY color wheel uses cyan, magenta, and yellow inks to create a large range of color combinations and saturations. They are subtractive colors, meaning if you keep adding a certain color of ink, you will produce darker and darker saturations. If you added all three colors together at maximum saturation, you would achieve a very dark, murky brown. As it can be expensive to combine the actual colors in this way, and it does not produce entirely pure black, most modern printers add black ink to the model: CMYK. The K stands for Key, which is the black color.

When you look at the CMY color wheel, you may find the colors and their opposites are similar to RGB. However, since it is a subtractive color model rather than an additive color model, the colors are actually darker and more muted. Of course, it is also the case that this model creates colors by combining a different set of primaries as well, so the pigments will be unique to CMY.

On the CMY wheel, you can see that orange is a mixture of yellow and magenta. You will find orange right between yellow and red on the color wheel. On more detailed CMY wheels, it may be between yellow-orange and red-orange.

Orange’s opposite in CMY is Azure or cyan-blue, while yellow’s opposite is blue and red’s opposite is cyan. Similar to RGB, the orange range’s opposites run from pure blue to cyan.

Hex #0080FF
RGB 0, 128, 255
CMYK 100, 50, 0, 0

What Is the Opposite of Orange in RYB?

Orange paper plane on blue background.

Take a look at the RYB color wheel if you are learning how to use color wheels or if you do not need an elaborate set of colors for your particular project. Keep in mind RYB is only appropriate for those using paints, inks, and other physical mediums. If you are carrying out any type of art meant for a digital screen, you need to use the RGB color wheel. Similar to CMY, RYB uses a subtractive color model. As such, it is unsuitable for bases demanding additive colors.

On the RYB color wheel, orange is a mixture of yellow and red. You will find orange either between these two colors or between yellow-orange and red-orange. Orange’s direct opposite in RYB is blue, while the opposite of yellow is purple and the opposite of red is green. Accordingly, you will find the opposite of yellow-orange is violet and the opposite of red-orange is cyan.

Hex #0000FF
RGB 0, 0, 255
CMYK 100, 100, 0, 0

What Is the Opposite of Different Orange Hues?

Colorful orange and red sunset over a dark blue ocean.

There are many different orange colors in the world. Sunsets and sunrises, pumpkins, fires, oranges, flowers, butterflies, and leaves just to name a few. You may be looking for the perfect shade of orange for your particular project, but at a loss as to what its specific opposite color is. Fortunately, you can find the most popular orange hues below and their designated complementary colors.

What Is the Opposite of Pumpkin Orange?

Pumpkin orange is a vivid, bright orange most commonly used to brighten up art or paintings. Its opposite color is Blue Cola.

Pumpkin Orange
Hex #FF7518
RGB 255, 117, 24
CMYK 0, 54, 91, 0

Blue Cola
Hex #008AE7
RGB 0, 138, 231
CMYK 100, 40, 0, 9

What Is the Opposite of Burnt Orange?

Burnt orange was the popular home decor and fashion color in the 1970s. Today, artists and designers still use this lovely color to represent warm, rich, autumn tones. Its opposite color is Brilliant Azure.

Burnt Orange
Hex #BF5700
RGB 191, 87, 0
CMYK 0, 54, 100, 25

Brilliant Azure
Hex #40A8FF
RGB 64, 168, 255
CMYK 75, 34, 0, 0

What Is the Opposite of Copper?

Copper is a light, orange-brown color. It can have a metallic or matte finish, depending on your tastes. Its opposite is Celestial Blue.

Hex #B87333
RGB 184, 115, 51
CMYK 0, 38, 72, 28

Celestial Blue
Hex #478CCC
RGB 71, 140, 204
CMYK 65, 31, 0, 20

What Is the Opposite of Salmon?

Most people recognize salmon as being a pink color, but it has distinct orange tones. Its opposite is Metallic Seaweed.

Hex #FA8072
RGB 250, 128, 114
CMYK 0, 49, 54, 2

Metallic Seaweed
Hex #057F8D
RGB 5, 127, 141
CMYK 96, 10, 0, 45

What Is the Opposite of Peach?

Peach is an incredibly light orange-yellow color. You will find more pink tones if you choose a deep or dark peach. The opposite of peach is Oxford Blue.

Hex #FFE5B4
RGB 255, 229, 180
CMYK 0, 10, 29, 0

Oxford Blue
Hex #001A4B
RGB 0, 26, 75
CMYK 100, 65, 0, 71

What Is the Opposite of Tangelo?

Tangelo is a beautiful, bright, and deep orange. Artists and marketers use tangelo to represent summer, the beach, or tropical destinations. Its opposite is Blue Bolt.

Hex #F94D00
RGB 249, 77, 0
CMYK 0, 69, 100, 2

Blue Bolt
Hex #06B2FF
RGB 6, 178, 255
CMYK 98, 30, 0, 0

How Do You Find the Exact Opposite of an Orange Hue?

Abstract background of small squares or pixels of different sizes in red and orange.

As an artist or designer, it feels great to find the exact hue, shade, tone, and tint of orange you need for your work. Yet, finding the precise opposite blue hue can be a difficult task. Retrieving an accurate opposite is crucial for contrast to work properly, as harmony is only achieved with the perfect opposite pigments and saturation. Fortunately, there are easy ways to find out what that hue is.

If you are a digital artist, congratulations; your task of finding the opposite is the easiest. When you are working within an advanced digital art, photography, or videography program, you may be able to find a color picker and a color inverter. If not, you can use a free online tool such as Image OnlinePine Tools, or WTools. The tools allow you to enter a HEX code, designated for each color, and find out the exact inverted HEX code. Then, you can go back to your program and enter this HEX code and utilize this blue hue.

If you are an artist working digitally but planning to print your pieces, it is important to use CMY. While you can use RGB, the printed colors will be very different from how they present themselves digitally. Some programs allow you to work within RGB and convert to CMY or start from CMY altogether.

When you are working with paints, dyes, fabrics, makeup, and other types of physical mediums, it may be a more complicated task to find the opposite color. However, it’s not impossible. There are advanced software and machines designed to find the exact pigments within each of these products. From there, you can find the opposite color using the pigment information. You can also use the RYB color wheel in situations that do not require exact precision, such as basic makeup or basic hair color correction.

Common Uses of Oranges and Their Opposite Colors

Modern home interior with orange and blue colors.

Orange and blue are some of the most popular complementary color combinations. A few of the common uses include:

  • Interior Designers: Orange and blue color schemes are perfect for a beach theme or a retro theme. You may find this combination most often in spas, resorts, tanning salons, beach-side restaurants, and sunrooms.
  • Painters: Mark Rothko, Van Gogh, and Paul Gauguin are just a few examples of prominent artists who have used orange and blue in their paintings.
  • Makeup Artists: Makeup artists may use orange to cover blue veins, under-eye bags, bruises, and certain types of tattoos.
  • Hair Colorists: Hair colorists perform corrections on lightened hair that has high orange tones with blue or purple toners.
  • Video Game Designers: Orange and blue may be the best choice for video game designers, especially if they wish to cater to colorblind users.
  • Potters: Potters use copper glazes to produce intense blues after firing.
  • Marketers: Companies know that orange and blue combinations entice users. A few well-known uses include Fanta, Firefox, and Tide.

Moving Forward with Orange

After reading this guide, you have a strong grasp of orange and its opposite, how to find the exact blue hue you need for your project, and how you can use orange and blue together in various contexts. Now, it’s time to see how you can use orange and blue together for your own project. Never fear, you truly cannot go wrong with this pairing of complementary colors!