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What color is in the middle of red and orange?

What color is in the middle of red and orange?

Red and orange are two vibrant colors that evoke warmth, energy, and excitement. They sit next to each other on the visible spectrum, with red on the lower end closest to infrared light, and orange on the higher end closest to yellow light. When you mix red and orange together, an intermediate color is created that lies somewhere between the two. But what exactly is this middle color called? And what determines its exact hue? Let’s explore the mixing of red and orange to find the color in between.

The Visible Color Spectrum

The visible color spectrum is the range of colors that the human eye is capable of perceiving. This spectrum of light consists of wavelengths ranging from about 380 to 740 nanometers. At the red end, wavelengths are longer, while at the violet/blue end, wavelengths are shorter. The visible spectrum can be represented as a continuous range of colors starting with red and moving through orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet.

The exact hue we perceive depends on the specific wavelength of light. Red has wavelengths around 700 nm, while orange has wavelengths around 610 nm. Yellow falls between red and green at around 580 nm. When wavelengths of two colors combine, our eyes perceive a new intermediate color. So mixing wavelengths of red and orange light should produce a color between red and orange.

The Mixing of Red and Orange Light

When beams of pure red light (around 700 nm) and orange light (around 610 nm) are overlapped, the two wavelengths combine additively. This means the longer red wavelengths and the shorter orange wavelengths are both present for our eyes to detect. Our visual system processes these two wavelengths as a single intermediate hue.

The relative amounts of red and orange light that are mixed determine where this new hue falls along the visible spectrum. If there is more red than orange, the mix will appear closer to red. With more orange than red, the mix will be more orange-like. The balance point between red and orange – where neither color dominates – results in a vivid color midway between the two parent hues.

The Resulting Middle Color

Color Wavelength (nm)
Red ~700
Middle color ~655
Orange ~610

The color exactly between red and orange in terms of wavelength is a light hue with a dominant wavelength of around 655 nm. This wavelength falls neatly halfway between the ~700 nm red and ~610 nm orange on either side.

When we look up this midpoint wavelength on a color chart, the resulting hue is a vivid reddish-orange shade. Some specific names used to describe this color include vermilion, Chinese red, scarlet, and cadmium red. But the most common general term used to refer to the color halfway between red and orange is…red-orange!

The Red-Orange Hue

Red-orange is an accurate name for the hue between red and orange. As the name indicates, it exhibits qualities of both parent colors but cannot be classed definitively as one or the other. It sits directly in the center of the red-to-orange section of the visible spectrum.

Red-orange is brighter and more energetic than pure red. It has a distinctly orangey quality while still retaining obvious redness. Compared to orange, red-orange has a stronger reddish tint. It is less yellowish than pure orange. Overall, red-orange strikes the perfect balance between its two bounding colors.

The exact shade of red-orange depends on the relative mixture of wavelengths present. Adding more orange shifts it toward a yellowish orange. More red results in a deeper crimson red-orange. But the even midpoint retains the vibrancy of both components in equal balance.

Uses of the Red-Orange Color

The eye-catching red-orange shade has many uses across different industries and applications:

– Safety and Workwear – Red-orange’s high visibility makes it ideal for safety vests, traffic signage, and equipment marking. It grabs attention while still appearing bright and energetic.

– Food Packaging – Red-orange is an appetizing color associated with fruits, spices, and fast food. It shows up on packaging for oranges, barbecue sauce, and restaurants like Pizza Hut.

– Autumn Marketing – Red-orange fits the seasonal theme of fall. Marketing for autumn activities often incorporates this warm earthy tone alongside brown, yellow, and green.

– Fashion and Cosmetics – Clothing, accessories, and makeup in bold red-orange help project excitement. It contrasts well against neutral skin and fabric.

– Home Decor – From throw pillows to accent walls, red-orange can add a lively pop of color and visual interest to any room. Pairing it with blues or greens helps balance its bold impact.

Mixing Red and Orange Pigments

We’ve looked at the mixing of red and orange light. But what happens when we mix red and orange pigments, like paints, dyes, or inks?

When two pigments are combined, they don’t mix additively like light wavelengths. Instead, they blend by transmitting or absorbing select wavelengths. The overlap of transmitted wavelengths results in the new blended color we perceive.

With red and orange pigments, the combination once again produces a vivid shade between the two starting hues. Vermilion, scarlet, Chinese red, and cadmium red pigments all fall at this midpoint. Acrylic, oil, and watercolor paint mixes will also create a bright red-orange blend.

The exact pigment combination determines the shade. More orange pigment shifts the mix toward the orange end of the spectrum. A higher red pigment ratio produces a more crimson result. But a well-balanced blend right in the middle is that eye-catching red-orange color.

Mixing Red and Orange Paints

Let’s look at mixing a vivid red paint and a bright orange paint to achieve red-orange. Suitable red and orange paints pairs include:

– Cadmium red and cadmium orange
– Napthol red and hansa yellow orange
– Quinacridone magenta and arylide orange

Combining equal parts of the red and orange paint results in the true red-orange midpoint between them. Adjusting the ratios gives more of a reddish or orangey tint. Vermilion can also be purchased directly as a premixed red-orange hue.

Oil paints blend well on the palette for mixing. Acrylics can be mixed directly on the canvas. Watercolors may need additional water to facilitate blending into the perfect red-orange. Always make sure your paint pairs are compatible and mixable.

Computer Color Mixing

Mixing red and orange can also be simulated digitally using image editing and design software. Instead of physical pigments, software mixes light wavelengths to display results onscreen.

Most programs use the RGB color model, mixing levels of the red, green, and blue primaries additiveitly to create intermediate hues. Mixing maximum red (RGB 255, 0, 0) with maximum orange (RGB 255, 127, 0) produces the red-orange midpoint (RGB 255, 64, 0).

Digital artists can easily tweak the component amounts, instantly previewing how shifts between red and orange affect the tone and vibrancy of the resulting composite color. This facilitates exploring gradations along the red-orange spectrum.


When red and orange light combine in equal balance, a vivid reddish-orange hue is created right between the two parent colors. This shade at the midpoint of the red-to-orange spectrum is commonly referred to as red-orange. It exhibits the energy of red and yellowish warmth of orange in perfect harmony.

Whether mixing light wavelengths, pigments, or digital colors, red-orange arises as the intermediary blend between red and orange across the different color models. So for both additive light and subtractive pigment mixing, red-orange is the color directly in the middle.