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What Does Orange and Blue Make? Color Mixing Complications!

Most of us know the simpler color combinations like, “Yellow and blue make green,” but as an artist, I’ve delighted recently in exploring some of the more lesser-known mixes. Yesterday I dove into the query, “What Do Orange and Purple Make?” and naturally, this made me realize I’ve never learned the answer to: “What does orange and blue make when the two colors are mixed?”

It was time to pull out the art supplies once again to do a series of hands-on experiments to find out. The result may surprise you as much as it did me. These complicated color combos are the shock that keeps on coming!

Orange blue mixed make what?
Orange blue mixed make what?

Mixing Blue and Orange

For my first experiment using the Procreate art app on my iPad, I drew diagonal lines in a range of shades of blue using the “Marker” inking brush (since it has nice bold saturation), then inked orange lines in the opposite direction so that the orange and blue would layer over each other and mix in different combinations.

Next, I took the “Smudge” tool (set to “Wet Acrylic”) to really mix up (and slightly desaturate) several of the different shade combinations. As you can see from the result, below, the first answer to “What does orange and blue make?” yielded TWO different responses: either brown or GREEN!

Blue plus orange make what color?
Blue plus orange make what color?

But Wait — They Don’t Just Make Green and Brown

In my second blue plus orange experiment, things started to get a little crazy. This time I focused on really smudging and mixing all kinds of the two hues, from sapphire blue to sky. What happened? Yes, I got green and brown again — but as you see from my resulting drawing, below, I also got a gray-brown-purple!

What?! That’s a lot of different colors to be made from just two! What the heck was going on? Read on to see the scientific explanation.

What does orange and blue make?
What does orange and blue make?

The Primary Colors Hidden Inside

Check out my illustration, below, to understand why orange and blue make such a range of colors. Because orange is made up of red and yellow, together, orange and blue contain all three primary colors: yellow, red, and blue… and with the primary colors, you can make any other color!

This explains why different shades of blue and orange together created green, brown, or even purple and pink. You could even technically make black, if the shades were right! So how come in our inquiry of “What Does Purple and Green Make?” the answer was more grayish-blue, and this answer is more green? Again, it all depends on the shades and ratios used of each hue.

Why blue and orange make brown.
Why blue and orange make brown.

What Does Orange and Blue Make?

As you can see from the result of these color mixing experiments, the answer to what does orange and blue make is far more complicated than even my over-active artist brain could have imagined! For the most part, those two colors together produce brown or green, but you can also get a dusty, muddy purple if your shades and ratios are right. Why? We have the primary color ingredients hidden inside the soup of both hues to thank. Onward, color mixing explorers!

Want more color mixing fun? Check out “What Does Red and Green Make?” and “What do Orange and Green Make?” plus my full color mixing chart!

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