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What color do orange and green make?

When it comes to mixing colors, orange and green are considered complementary colors on the color wheel. This means that when blended together, they create a gray or brown shade. The specific resulting color depends on the shade and intensity of the original orange and green hues used.

Quick Answer

In general, mixing orange and green paint or light results in a brown or olive color. This is because orange contains red and yellow, while green contains yellow and blue. When blended, the shared yellow cancels out, leaving behind a neutral brown or olive tone.

The Color Wheel

To understand what color orange and green make when combined, it helps to visualize the color wheel. This circular diagram organizes colors by hue and illustrates the relationships between primary, secondary, and tertiary colors.

On the color wheel, orange sits opposite from green. These two colors are complementary, meaning they are directly across from each other. When complementary colors are mixed together, they neutralize each other to create a gray, brown, or olive shade.

Primary Colors

The primary colors are red, yellow, and blue. These three colors can’t be created by mixing other hues but are the building blocks for all other colors on the wheel. Orange is a secondary color made by mixing red and yellow. Green is also a secondary color, created by blending yellow and blue.

Secondary Colors

The secondary colors are orange, green, and purple. They are made by mixing two primary colors next to each other on the color wheel. For example:

  • Red + Yellow = Orange
  • Yellow + Blue = Green
  • Blue + Red = Purple

Tertiary Colors

Tertiary colors are made by mixing a primary color with a secondary color. Examples of tertiary colors include red-orange, yellow-orange, yellow-green, blue-green, blue-purple, and red-purple.

Complementary Colors

Complementary colors sit directly across from each other on the color wheel. Common complementary color pairs include:

  • Red & Green
  • Orange & Blue
  • Yellow & Purple

These opposing hues balance each other out and create a neutral color when blended. The complement of orange is blue, while the complement of green is red.

Mixing Orange and Green Pigments

When working with paints, dyes, or inks, mixing the pigments of orange and green creates an earthy, olive color. The specific resulting shade depends on the orange and green hues used.

Warm Orange + Cool Green

A warm orange shade like scarlet orange contains more red. When blended with a cool green like viridian green, which has more blue, the result is a brownish olive color.

Cool Orange + Warm Green

If you mix a cooler orange like mustard orange with a warmer green like chartreuse, which contains more yellow, you’ll get more of a murky olive-brown result.

Equally Warm/Cool

Using similarly warm or cool shades of orange and green, such as orange soda and lime green, will create a more neutral olive or brownish mud tone.

Mixing Orange and Green Light

When it comes to light instead of pigments, mixing an orange hue with a green hue still results in a brownish, olive tone. This is because the shared yellow wavelength between the two colors cancels out and subtracts brightness.

Additive vs. Subtractive Color

Mixing colored light is different than mixing colored pigments. Light combines in an additive way, while paint mixes together subtractively:

  • Additive: Red + Green = Yellow (light)
  • Subtractive: Red + Green = Brown (pigment)

So when orange and green light mix, the overlapping yellow wavelengths subtract brightness, leaving behind a brownish or olive color, similar to mixing orange and green paint.

The Scientific Explanation

On a technical level, the reason orange and green create a brown or olive color when combined has to do with the specific wavelengths of light these colors reflect and absorb.

Orange’s Wavelengths

The color orange is made up of wavelengths around 600-620nm. This wavelength range is primarily composed of red wavelengths, along with some yellow wavelengths.

Green’s Wavelengths

Green consists of light with wavelengths of around 490-570nm. This incorporates blue and yellow wavelengths, with green in between around 500nm.

Overlapping Yellow

When orange and green light mix, the overlapping yellow wavelengths (570-590nm) cancel each other out through subtraction. This leaves behind the non-overlapping red-orange (600-620nm) and blue-green wavelengths (490-510nm).

These remaining wavelengths combine to create a brownish or olive shade, depending on the exact orange and green colors used and their wavelength make-up.

Using Color Mixing Equations

Color scientists use specific formulas and equations to predict the results of mixing different colored lights. Here are simplified examples:

Mixing Paint or Pigment

Orange Pigment + Green Pigment = Brown/Olive Pigment

Mixing Light

Orange Light + Green Light = Brown/Olive Light

This reflects the fact that mixing orange and green light results in a similar brownish or olive color, due to the way the wavelengths combine additively.

Real World Examples

Blending orange and green can create some aesthetically pleasing color palettes for art, graphic design, fashion, interior design, and more. Here are some real world examples of orange and green combinations:


  • Leaves changing color in autumn
  • Green foliage against an orange sunset sky

Fashion & Décor

  • A brown patterned rug with olive green and burnt orange accents
  • An earth-toned bohemian style printed dress mixing orange, olive, and brown


  • A cheese board with orange and green grapes, brown crackers, and olive tapenade
  • A salad with orange citrus segments, avocado, brown mushrooms, and green lettuce

Creating Different Variations

While orange and green typically blend to form a shade of brown, olive, or mud, you can create some variations by tweaking the hues and ratios used.

More Green

Using a higher proportion of green will push the resulting color toward a more greenish-brown olive tone.

More Orange

Using more orange will create a more reddish-brown color closer to rust or ochre.

Blue-Green vs. Yellow-Green

Mixing orange with a bluer green will yield more of a traditional olive, while using a yellow-based green will result in a brownish khaki color.

Dull vs. Bright

Muting down the orange and green hues creates a grayer, more subtle neutral brown. Keeping the orange and green bright results in a richer, warmer brown.


While the specific resulting shade may vary, in general mixing the colors orange and green will create form of brown, olive, or khaki color. This is because orange contains red and yellow light waves, while green contains yellow and blue. Their shared yellow cancels out, leaving behind a mix of red and blue wavelengths that combine to make some form of brownish tone.

Understanding the relationship between complementary colors like orange and green allows artists, designers, and scientists to predictably create aesthetically pleasing color combinations and palettes.