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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
The author and artist, Lillie Marshall, is a National Board Certified Teacher of English who has been a public school educator since 2003, and an experienced Reiki practitioner since 2018. All art on this site is original and hand-drawn by Lillie. She launched DrawingsOf.com Educational Cartoons in 2020, building upon the success of her other two sites, AroundTheWorldL.com (established 2009) and TeachingTraveling.com (founded 2010). Subscribe to Lillie’s monthly newsletter, and follow @WorldLillie on social media to stay connected!