How to Use ORANGE in your Next Project for the Best Results

Just Orange

So after learning all I could about ORANGE, here are 4 GREAT TIPS when using ORANGE…


When using ORANGE the one color that is only used once in all of the color theory schemes is GREEN. This is an interesting fact to consider as it can easily taint your outcome into something that is not exactly favorable.

Of course you can use ORANGE and GREEN together. I am not against using any color combination in the rainbow spectrum. But if you find yourself with an unresolved color dilemma, check your ORANGE/GREEN usage.

These two colors together can feel a bit unbalanced. To rectify this situation, try introducing PURPLE. This will give you your 3rd leg of a 3-legged stool. ORANGE/GREEN/PURPLE is the TRIADIC color scheme.

Another way to resolve an ORANGE/GREEN color dilemma, without introducing a 3rd color, is to tint your GREEN slightly towards GREEN-BLUE. This will push your color scheme into the SIDE-COMPLEMENTARY of orange.

See my blog post 9 Fantastic ORANGE Color Schemes Based on Color Theory for other great color schemes.


Remember that ORANGE is a secondary color. Apart from a pure orange straight from the tube, in order to mix an ORANGE you need to combine YELLOW & RED together. Each of YELLOW & RED could have their own color bias depending on the shade of paint chosen.

For the brightest ORANGE, you will need to mix a YELLOW with a red bias together with a RED with a yellow bias. And, for a muddied orange, you will need yellow or red with opposing biases (see my blog post How to Mix Paint Colors without Creating Mud).

Because sometimes it is difficult to choose the right color when standing in front of the overwhelming rack of paint tubes at the art supply store, I have compiled a shopping list of the colors you can choose to mix bright oranges. 


Now, if you are using ORANGE in a project and you want the ORANGE to pop instead of disappear, you will need to consider what color ORANGE is placed beside. ORANGE will cast a BLUE-aura in the surrounding area (see my blog post How to Successfully Place Colors Side-by-Side, to understand the Law of Simultaneous Contrast).

The graphic below shows how the BLUE-aura will affect any surrounding colors.


At the time of the Impressionists, in the late 1800-1900s, color theories were being developed and published for the first time. Many of the Impressionists used these theories to discover that in order to achieve the bright oranges that pop, they often paired ORANGE with AZURE BLUE.

This is also the same color combination that inspired WWII US pilots to use bright orange life jackets. If a plane went down into the azure blue water, the orange life jacket would be the most visible for rescue.

So why is this?

There are a few factors that are coming into play with this specific color combination.

The first is the Law of Simultaneous Contrast. A pure ORANGE will cast a BLUE-aura that will heighten the surrounding BLUE.

The second factor is the fact that AZURE BLUE is the direct complimentary color to a pure ORANGE.

The third factor is the use of warm/cool components. ORANGE is a warm color that will appear to come forward, where as AZURE BLUE is a cool color which will recede.

A trifecta that creates a winning combination!

To continue on this discussion, here are the other posts in the Just ORANGE Blog Series…