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What basic Colours make red?

What basic Colours make red?

Red is a primary color that can be made by mixing other colors together. The two most common combinations to make red are mixing yellow and magenta, or mixing blue and orange. Understanding what colors combine to create red can be useful for artists, designers, scientists, and anyone who works with color theory and color mixing. In this article, we’ll explore what two colors can combine to make the color red.

Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Colors

To understand what makes red, it helps to first understand the basics of color theory. The primary colors are red, yellow, and blue. These are colors that cannot be created by mixing other colors. Secondary colors are created by mixing two primary colors together. For example, if you mix red and yellow, you get orange. If you mix blue and yellow, you get green. If you mix red and blue, you get purple.

Tertiary colors are made by mixing a primary color with a secondary color next to it on the color wheel. For example, red mixed with orange makes red-orange. Yellow mixed with green makes yellow-green. Blue mixed with purple makes blue-purple.

So in summary:

Primary Colors Red, Yellow, Blue
Secondary Colors Orange, Green, Purple
Tertiary Colors Red-orange, Yellow-green, Blue-purple

Knowing these color relationships will help illustrate what two colors can mix to make red.

Mixing Magenta and Yellow Makes Red

One way to make the color red is by mixing the primary colors magenta and yellow.

Magenta is a vivid reddish purple color made by mixing red and blue light. It is one of the three primary colors along with red and yellow.

Yellow is one of the primary colors, often associated with brightness and warmth. It has a wavelength of about 575-590 nanometers.

When you mix magenta and yellow together, the resulting secondary color is red. Here’s a visualization:

Magenta + Yellow = Red

On the light spectrum, magenta and yellow are on either side of red. When combined, they create the vivid red hue we are familiar with.

This is why printers use magenta and yellow ink to produce red colors on paper. By layering these two primary colors on top of each other, they are able to create a full range of red tones for printing photos, graphics, and text.

In art, magenta and yellow are commonly mixed together to make red paints, pastels, and other mediums. Mixing pure soft magenta pigment with soft lemon yellow pigment results in a bright primary red. Adjusting the ratios can produce red-oranges and red-violets.

So in summary, combining the primary colors magenta and yellow results in red. This is a key color combination for understanding how to mix and create red tones.

Mixing Orange and Blue Makes Red

In the RYB (red, yellow, blue) color model, red can also be made by mixing the secondary colors orange and blue.

Orange is a mix of red and yellow, falling between the two on the visible spectrum. It has a wavelength of about 590-620 nm.

Blue has shorter wavelengths than red and orange, ranging from around 450-495 nm. This makes it a cool, calming color.

When orange and blue are mixed, the resulting color is red. Here’s a visualization of this:

Orange + Blue = Red

Since orange contains red wavelengths, when combined with cool blue it neutralizes into a vivid red.

This is why red paint can be created by mixing orange paint with blue paint. The pigments combine to absorb wavelengths and reflect back red.

Using opposites on the color wheel is a technique artists use to mix a variety of colors. Complementary colors like orange and blue balance out when mixed into a neutral, creating red in this case.

The red created by mixing orange and blue may have a slightly different hue compared to mixing magenta and yellow. But both combinations result in some shade of red tone.

Tinting, Shading, and Toning Red

Once red is created by mixing two primary colors, the shade can be easily lightened, darkened, or adjusted. Here are some ways to modify red:

Tinting: Adding white to red lightens it into softer pinks and light reds. This decreases the saturation while keeping the red hue.

Shading: Mixing red with black produces darker maroon, burgundy, and red-brown shades. Adding black reduces brightness.

Toning: Mixing red with gray neutralizes and mutes the color into dusty reds and brick shades. The red becomes less saturated.

So whether the starting red was made from magenta and yellow, or orange and blue, further mixing creates all the red varieties used in art, fashion, and design.

Light vs. Pigment Color Mixing

It’s important to note light and pigments mix colors differently. On a computer display, red light is created by combining green and blue light. Red pigment is created by mixing magenta and yellow pigments.

This distinction exists because of the different properties of light versus physical pigments. Here’s a comparison:

Light Color Mixing (RGB model) Pigment Color Mixing (RYB model)
Combines colored light Combines pigments that absorb/reflect light
Red, green, and blue light make other colors Red, yellow, and blue pigments make other colors
Mixing green and blue light makes red Mixing magenta and yellow pigments makes red

This explains why the color mixing principles for light and paint are different. But in both cases, combining the right two primary colors will result in some variety of the color red.

Mixing Color Theory in Design

Understanding primary and secondary color relationships is essential for artists, designers, photographers, and anyone who works with color.

Some ways color mixing principles are applied include:

– Combining paints, dyes, inks, and pigments to create new hues

– Using RGB vs RYB color modes effectively

– Choosing complementary colors that look appealing together

– Adjusting colors for printing to achieve accurate results

– Balancing and neutralizing colors for aesthetics and visual interest

So while the specifics vary by medium, the foundations are the same. Combining paints, dyes, inks, and light relies on mastering color theory and color mixing.


In summary, the two primary ways to make the color red are by mixing magenta and yellow, or by mixing orange and blue. Red can then be lightened, darkened, or shaded by adding white, black, or gray. The basics of color theory help explain how two colors combine to make a third.

Mastering color mixing takes practice across different mediums. But understanding the fundamentals provides artists and designers a valuable foundation to work from. Whether mixing pigments or light, combining the right two primary colors results in some vibrant shade of red.