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What colour wheel is complementary to orange?

What colour wheel is complementary to orange?

Colour theory and colour wheels are important concepts in art, design, and aesthetics. The basic colour wheel consists of 12 colours based on the RYB (red, yellow, blue) colour model. The colours are arranged in a circular format to show how they relate to each other. Complementary colours are colour pairs that are directly opposite each other on the colour wheel. When placed side-by-side, they create the strongest contrast and reinforce each other. Finding the complementary colour for orange on the RYB colour wheel is useful for artists, designers, decorators, and anyone looking to create colour harmonies and impactful colour schemes.

The RYB Colour Wheel

The traditional RYB colour wheel is made up of 12 colours:

– 3 primary colours – red, yellow, blue
– 3 secondary colours – orange, green, purple
– 6 tertiary colours – yellow-orange, red-orange, red-purple, blue-purple, blue-green, yellow-green

This is the most common and traditional colour wheel used by artists. The primary colours cannot be mixed from other colours. The secondary colours are created by mixing two primary colours – for example, red and yellow make orange. Tertiary colours are made by mixing a primary and secondary colour together.

On the RYB colour wheel, complementary colours are located directly opposite each other. This creates the highest contrast and visual tension. Some examples of complementary pairs are:

– Red and green
– Yellow and purple
– Blue and orange

Finding the Complement of Orange

So to find the complementary colour of orange, we simply need to look at the opposite side of the colour wheel. The complement of orange is blue.

Specifically, the complement is a blue with a hint of purple (blue-purple or red-purple). This is because orange is a mix of red and yellow. So its complement contains a mix of the two primary colours NOT in orange – blue and purple.

Colour Complementary Colour
Orange Blue-purple

When orange and blue-purple are placed next to each other, they create a vibrant, high-contrast combination.

Using Complementary Colours

Complementary colour schemes are frequently used in art, design and photography. When used together, complementary colours make each other appear brighter, more saturated and intensified. This creates maximum contrast and visual impact.

Some ways to use orange and blue-purple together:

– In painting, use orange as a warm accent colour against a cool blue background. The orange will pop and stand out.

– In interior design, use accents and textiles in orange against blue-purple painted walls. This creates an energizing and bold room.

– In fashion and clothing design, pairing orange and blue-purple together makes a dramatic statement.

– In food photography and styling, orange food on a blue plate makes the colours of the food jump out.

– In graphic design, green would accent orange in logos or advertisements to grab attention. The high contrast makes the design more memorable.

– In gardening and landscaping, plant orange flowers against purple foliage to create an eye-catching display.

No matter the application, using complementary colours together makes images and designs more vivid, bold and energetic. The combination attracts attention while also balancing each other out through contrast.

Other Complementary Colour Schemes

While orange and blue-purple are classic complements, it’s also worth exploring other complementary colour schemes:

Yellow and Purple

This is another vibrant combo. Yellow, a primary colour, is complemented by secondary purple. Sunny yellow pops against rich purple.

Red and Green

Red and green are holiday colours and also stand out together. Primary red is complemented by secondary green for maximum contrast.

Blue and Orange

The third primary and secondary colour match up. Cool blue is complemented by the warmth of orange.

Use any two complementary colours together to make the other one “pop”. Complementary colours also balance each other out.

Analogous Colours for Orange

Analogous colours sit next to each other on the colour wheel. They are similar in hue and create harmony through matching tones.

The analogous colours to orange include:

– Yellow-orange
– Red-orange
– Red-purple

Using adjacent colours creates a monochromatic scheme with more subtle contrast than true complementary colours. While it lacks vibrancy, analogous harmonies are sophisticated and elegant.

Triadic Colour Scheme with Orange

The triadic scheme uses three colours evenly spaced on the colour wheel. For orange, this would include:

– Orange
– Blue-purple (complementary)
– Blue-green

This scheme provides high contrast from the complements but also harmony from the three balanced colours. The effect is bold, edgy and energetic.

Tetradic (Split Complementary) Scheme

The tetradic scheme pairs a colour with the two colours on either side of its complement. For orange, this includes:

– Orange
– Blue-purple (complement)
– Red-purple
– Blue-green

This is a more complex scheme but provides visual interest through the variety of contrasts and combinations. It is lively yet balanced.


The direct complementary colour of orange on the RYB colour wheel is a blue-purple. When used together, these colours create the highest contrast and vibrancy as each makes the other appear more saturated. Complementary colours are frequently used in art, design and photography for dynamic effects. Additionally, analogous, triadic and tetradic schemes can be created using orange as the base colour. Understanding colour theory principles allows endless creation of colour palettes and combinations.