Color Mixing Guide on Orange Colors

Orange is a color with a few misconceptions, the fact it is a secondary color is one. Another is that a lot of painting pigments is necessary to create a multitude or bright oranges and golds. In fact, few pigments are required to mix the color of any orange subject matter from marigolds to peppers.

Essential Pigments in Oil and Acrylics for Orange Hues

Types of Orange and Gold Colors

Deep gold jewellery can be suggested in paint by mixing cadmium yellow (pale) with a little burnt sienna and white. Bright, sharp orange as seen on peppers and flowers can be achieved by mixing lemon yellow with a little permanent rose or cadmium red. Beware that lemon yellow has little tinting strength so a large ratio of this color will be needed.

Warm Orange and Cool Orange Colors

One does not have to look far to find many oil pigments that can be used alone or as part of a color mix to produce an array of orange hues, such as any of the cadmium yellows, as well as cadmium orange, Winsor orange, Indian yellow, yellow ochre, scarlet lake, flesh tint and renaissance gold. In fact, many of these colors are superfluous. The cadmium yellow range, for instance comprise cadmium yellow (pale), cadmium yellow and cadmium yellow (deep). The two latter ‘yellows’ are in fact heavily orange in color. The only cadmium yellow I employ in my color mixing is the ‘pale’ one. How to Mix Bright Orange in Oils

The misnomer that orange is a secondary color also needs to be made clear, for orange is in fact a tertiary color. Red is a secondary color, (primary red is magenta of printing ink, which closely resembles permanent rose in art pigments). Red can in fact be produced my mixing permanent rose with cadmium yellow (pale) or lemon yellow. So an array of orange hues can be mixed by the use of yellow and red. I use cadmium yellow (pale), lemon yellow, cadmium red and permanent rose for my range of orange color mixes. Introducing white into the mix will create pale orange colors, golds and creams.

Warm Gold in Painting

A variety of lovely oranges, golds and toasty colors can be mixed for under-ripe tomatoes, peppers, sunsets and gold jewellery by careful mixing of the aforementioned colors. Adding a little earth color will take the sharpness off if necessary. A little burnt sienna will enrichen and deepen orange into a burnished hue. Burnt umber will cool orange down into a smoldering hue, found on dying embers.

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Warm orange as found in ginger hair can be obtained by mixing a little cadmium red with burnt sienna with white. Burnt umber can be substituted if the orange color is too warm. Similarly, autumn leaves can be achieved by mixing cadmium yellow (pale) with a little burnt umber or burnt sienna. Introducing lemon yellow will sharpen the orange hue. A little less yellow in the mix will produce a deep orange, verging on auburn.

Bright Orange, Red and Gold

So orange can be warm, cool pale or dark. Employing the core pigments as described will produce any orange, gold, ginger, auburn or cream required. In certain circumstances, I will introduce other colors into my orange color. If the orange hue is particularly cool as can be found in dying flames or sunset, a little violet can be introduced into the orange pigment (not too much or it will end up brown). In the same way, orange can be darkened by adding more of the violet color, or a warm blue such as ultramarine. Adding too much will darken the color almost to black, as orange and blue oppose one another on the color wheel.

Making Orange Brighter

Orange can be made to appear even brighter by juxtaposing it against a cool color such as blue or green, as can be seen in the painting of the cheetah. Pure, dazzling orange can be achieved by mixing the two primary colors, which (in terms of painting pigment) are cadmium yellow (pale) (or cadmium lemon) and a little permanent rose. Cadmium red can be used in place of the permanent rose, but will produce a richer, more rounded orange.