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Opposite of Pink: Complementary Color Wheel Fun

Today we will investigate one of the most complex questions of all of our lessons about complementary colors: What is the opposite of pink on the color wheel? As we’ll see, there are several reasons why multiple answers are actually correct.

As background, I am an artist and teacher named Lillie who hand-draws each and every illustration on this educational art site. Most recently we were exploring, “What is the opposite of yellow?” Ready for the lesson? Let’s go!

Opposite of pink
The opposite of pink is…

Defining Key Terms

In order to correctly answer today’s color theory question, we need to define some key terms. Specifically, we need to understand what colors make pink, what it means to be a complementary color, and the different types of color wheels.

What is Pink?

If we’re trying to find its opposite, we need to know what the color pink even consists of — and what’s confusing is that there are several answers. The most common one is that it’s what red and white make (in other words, it’s a light red).

However, as we learned in “Is Pink a Warm Color?” there are also pinks that have purples and blues in them, such as magenta or fuchsia. All this information will come into play soon, so keep it locked tight in your brain.

Complementary Colors

Finally, what is a complementary color, or “opposite color?” It is defined as whatever color is directly across from another on a color wheel, and thus provides maximum contrast when the two are put in juxtaposition together.

For example, the opposite of blue is orange in the RYB color model, and yellow in the RGB and CMYK wheel. Huh? There are different color models and wheels? Why, yes there are!

We can learn from the invert of red...
We can learn from the invert of red…

The Opposite of Pink

The most known color model and wheel is the RYB system, in which red, yellow, and blue are the primary colors, and they combine to form the three secondary colors: orange, green, and purple. As you can see by my illustration above, the opposite of pink in this color wheel is light green.

Why? As we learned in “What is the Opposite of Red?” the invert of red is green, and if pink is just light red, then pink’s invert is light green! (Just add white to each original color to make a hue.)

We can verify that this is correct because when two complementary colors combine, they form a neutral like brown, gray, or black — and indeed, pink and green make brown! But wait — we still have to examine the other two color models.

Complementary colors for pink in RGB
Complementary colors for pink in RGB.

Pink’s Complementary Color in RGB and CMYK

Above, I’ve illustrated the RGB color wheel used in the context of screens. In this model, the primary colors are red, green, and blue, and the secondary colors are magenta, cyan, and yellow. The CMYK model used in printing is the same, just with the primary and secondary colors swapped. Because of this, a complementary color in the RGB wheel is the same as in CMYK.

As you can see by my drawing, there are a few possible complementary colors to pink in RGB and CMYK, depending on how we define “pink.” If we define it as magenta (similar to fuchsia — not spelled fushia), the opposite is simply green.

If, however, we define it as rose color (the intermediate color between magenta and red on these wheels) the complement becomes aquamarine: a combination of green and cyan that is a light green-blue teal. Finally, if we are just going to make pink out of light red, then the opposite color would be a mixture of cyan and white, which would create a lighter hue of that color. Wow!

Opposite of Pink, in Sum

I hope this lesson on the opposite of pink has been fun and useful! For further reading, check out my article on the opposite of orange. Enjoy!

Want more? Come with me to investigate the opposite of green