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Does orange complement blue?

Complementary colors are color pairs that appear vibrant and harmonious when placed next to each other. Knowing how to use color combinations effectively can make a big difference in graphic design, fashion, interior decorating, and more. Two of the most popular complementary pairs are orange and blue. But do they really complement each other? Let’s take a closer look at the color theory behind this pairing.

The basics of color theory

Complementary colors sit opposite each other on the color wheel. They create a strong visual contrast when combined in a design. However, this contrast is pleasing to the eye. The most basic complementary pair is red and green. But many other complementary pairs exist, including yellow and purple, blue and orange, and more.

Complementary colors share no common hues. This means they don’t have overlapping wavelengths of light. In the traditional RYB color model, primary colors are red, yellow and blue. Secondary colors are created by mixing two primary colors, giving us orange, green, and purple. Tertiary colors are made by mixing a primary and secondary color. Complementary colors always include one primary and one secondary color.

Do orange and blue complement each other?

Yes, orange and blue are complementary colors on the traditional RYB color wheel. Blue is a primary color, while orange is a secondary color made from mixing red and yellow. When placed side-by-side, these two colors create a vibrant visual contrast.

Here are some key reasons why orange and blue complement each other:

  • They are opposite each other on the color wheel
  • They share no common hues
  • Blue has a cooling effect, while orange feels energetic and warm
  • When combined, they create a vibrant, eye-catching color palette

Examples of orange and blue in design

Many iconic brand color palettes rely on blue and orange as complementary colors. Here are some real-world examples of how designers use this color pairing:


The Amazon logo pairs light blue with an orange arrow flowing from the letter A. This color pairing aims to communicate trust and security (blue) with dynamic energy and momentum (orange).


Nickelodeon’s bright orange logo pops against their solid blue backgrounds. This fun color combination aims to be energetic and eye-catching to appeal to children.

The Home Depot

The Home Depot logo uses navy blue and orange. Their color palette aims to communicate strength and reliability with the navy blue combined with the vibrant energy of orange.


Harley-Davidson motorcycles are well-known for their bright orange accents combined with cool blue paint jobs. This color palette aims to communicate the exciting, rugged nature of the brand.

Houston Astros

The Houston Astros baseball team uses a blue and orange color scheme. The navy blue is grounded while the orange injects energy and vibrance into their uniform design.

Tips for combining orange and blue

Here are some tips to keep in mind when combining orange and blue in your own designs:

  • Use bright, saturated shades for maximum contrast
  • Pair light tints together for a softer, pastel effect
  • Use one color as the dominant shade and the other as an accent
  • Break up large blocks of each color with white or black space
  • Try different color combinations like teal and burnt orange
  • Add neutrals like gray, tan or white for balance

Sample color combinations

Here are some examples of specific shade pairings for blue and orange:

Blue Shade Orange Shade
Navy blue Bright orange
Royal blue Burnt orange
Light blue Peach orange
Sky blue Bright tangerine
Turquoise Dark pumpkin orange

These are just a few examples of the many different shade combinations you can create with blue and orange as complementary colors.

Using orange and blue in interior design

Orange and blue can make for an energetic, visually appealing interior decorating color scheme. Here are some ways to effectively use this color pairing in home design:

  • Paint architectural elements like moldings or columns in orange, and walls in blue
  • Upholster furniture in orange and hang blue patterned curtains
  • Choose blue and orange area rugs to define spaces
  • Mix and match blue and orange decorative pillows
  • Choose vibrant art, flowers or accessories in these colors
  • Paint rooms different shades of blue and orange for dynamic adjoining spaces

Keeping accent colors, metals, and wood finishes neutral helps prevent the design from becoming overwhelming. But used thoughtfully, orange and blue can create a bold, energetic living space.

Using orange and blue in fashion

Orange and blue is a popular color combination in fashion design. The colors look great together in patterns and prints. Orange and blue can also be mixed and matched creatively in apparel and accessories:

  • Pair an orange skirt with a blue top
  • Match blue jeans with an orange belt and shoes
  • Layer an orange tank under a blue shirt
  • Wear orange earrings with a blue dress
  • Carry an orange handbag to liven up a blue outfit
  • Tie an orange scarf with a blue coat

Different shades can create anything from a retro or nautical vibe to a contemporary, artsy look. Orange and blue is a versatile pairing that allows for lots of creativity.

Psychology of orange and blue

Color psychology examines how different colors affect us emotionally. Orange and blue are two stimulating colors with very different effects. Here is an overview of what these colors represent psychologically:


  • Represents energy, warmth, vibrance
  • Stimulates mental activity and conversation
  • Associated with joy, creativity, adventure
  • Can also represent low-cost or affordability in some contexts


  • Represents calm, trust, intelligence, stability
  • Has a soothing effect on the mind and body
  • Associated with professionalism, peace, tranquility
  • Can also represent sadness or melancholy in some uses

By combining energizing, vibrant orange with calming, professional blue, designers can create color palettes tailored to their desired mood or brand personality. The balance creates visually striking designs with wide appeal.

Going beyond the color wheel

While orange and blue are complementary on the RYB color wheel, the color relationships get more complex in other color models. For example, in the RGB and CMYK color systems:

  • Cyan is the complement to red, not blue
  • Blue and yellow are complementary instead

Digital designers working in RGB will need to keep these alternate relationships in mind. But for most purposes, it’s perfectly fine to rely on the simplicity of the RYB color wheel.


Orange and blue clearly complement each other due to their placement on opposite sides of the color wheel. While not the only complementary pair, they are one of the most popular and effective thanks to their visual vibrance. Whether used in graphic design, fashion, interiors or more, blue and orange make a lively color combination.

Understanding color theory principles helps designers choose palettes tailored to their specific needs. While personal taste still matters, orange and blue have a special relationship rooted in their lack of common hues. With the right balance and shades, they come together to create beautiful, eye-catching designs in any medium.