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Which two colors make an intermediate color?

Which two colors make an intermediate color?

When mixing colors, the resulting color is called an intermediate or tertiary color. This refers to colors made by combining two primary colors or two secondary colors. For example, red and yellow make orange, while blue and red make violet. Understanding color theory and how to mix paints to achieve the desired intermediate color takes some practice. Looking at a color wheel can help visualize which two colors combine to make a third. With a little knowledge of primary, secondary, and intermediate colors, artists and designers can expertly blend paints and get creative with color combinations.

Primary Colors

The primary colors are red, yellow, and blue. These colors cannot be created by mixing other colors, but when combined, they make all other colors. When looking at a color wheel, the primary colors are spaced evenly apart. Mixing two adjacent primary colors results in a secondary color.

Secondary Colors

Secondary colors are made by mixing two primary colors. The secondary colors are orange, green, and violet. On the color wheel, these sit between the primary colors.

Orange is made by mixing red and yellow. Yellow and blue make green. Blue and red combine to make violet. The pigments blend together to create these new hues.

Intermediate or Tertiary Colors

Intermediate colors are made by mixing a primary color with a secondary color. Some examples of tertiary colors are:

Red + Orange = Red-Orange
Yellow + Orange = Yellow-Orange
Yellow + Green = Yellow-Green
Blue + Green = Blue-Green
Blue + Violet = Blue-Violet
Red + Violet = Red-Violet

These colors lie between the primary and secondary colors on the color wheel. With paint mixing, the combinations blend together intuitively based on the color wheel layout.

Artists can mix colors directly on a palette. Start with a pea-sized amount of each color, and use a palette knife to blend them together. Slowly transition between the two colors to achieve the perfect gradation. Pay attention to the change in hue and adjust as needed by adding more of one color or the other.

With color theory knowledge, intermediate shades can also be mixed mathematically using precise ratios. For example, red and orange can be combined in a 1:3 ratio, with one part red and three parts orange. While mixing directly yields more organic results, understanding the proportions helps mix consistent colors every time.

Warm and Cool Colors

Some key things to remember about mixing colors are warm and cool relationships. Warm colors like red, orange, and yellow contain more energy and vibrancy. Cool colors like blue, green, and violet feel more soothing and calming.

When mixing a warm and cool color, the resulting tertiary color takes on both properties. For example, a red-violet leans slightly warm due to the red influence. Yellow-green feels both lively yet refreshing. Mastering these warm and cool nuances takes color mixing skills.

Complementary Colors

Complementary colors sit opposite each other on the color wheel. Common complementary pairs are red & green, yellow & violet, and blue & orange. When blended together, complementary colors mute each other into a neutral brownish-gray.

This can be useful for toning down or shading colors. Start with a vivid color, then add small amounts of its complement to subdue the brightness. The complementary relationship is important in art for balancing color schemes.

Split Complementary Colors

This scheme uses one base color with the two colors adjacent to its complement. For example:


The split complements provide color variety while retaining a harmonic balance. Using this technique adds visual interest without clashing colors.

Triadic Colors

The triadic scheme uses three colors equally spaced on the color wheel. Some triadic combinations are:


The vibrant contrast creates energy. Triads are versatile but require balancing so one color does not dominate. Use one color as a neutral backdrop while accenting with the other two.

Tetradic / Rectangular Colors

Four colors spaced evenly around the wheel make up a tetrad. This creates a vibrant, diverse color scheme with strong visual contrast. Some examples are:


It takes a keen eye to balance these dynamic colors. Use one color as a neutral anchor while accenting with the other three.

Analogous Colors

Analogous colors sit next to each other on the color wheel. They create a harmonious, monochromatic look. Examples include:


This scheme is easy on the eyes but may look a bit plain without contrast. Adding an accent color like the complementary can offset the low key harmony.

Monochromatic Colors

Monochromatic palettes use a single base color with its various tints and shades. For example:

Light Violet
Dark Violet
Light Green
Dark Green

Varying saturation and brightness levels of one hue creates cohesion. Accent colors can be added for contrast. Overall, monochromes lend a soothing, minimalist aesthetic.


Black, white, gray, and brown sit neutral on the color wheel. They mute brighter colors and let them shine. Too much neutral overwhelms a palette, but used sparingly, neutrals enhance other colors.

Black contrasts dramatically against brights. Pair with primaries like red, blue and yellow to make them pop. White provides open space for colors to breathe. Browns and earth tones complement nature palettes. Gray tones things down. Skillfully balancing neutrals with richer colors allows each element to enhance the others.

Tinting and Shading

Any color can be lightened by adding white to make a tint. Tinting brightens hues and gives luminosity. For example, a sky blue tint feels cheerful and airy.

Shading is adding black or darker versions of the color. This creates moodier, more sophisticated tones. A charcoal gray shade feels refined and elegant. Mastering tinting and shading gives dimension to color work.

Color Temperature

Some key things to remember are the temperature relationships between colors. Warm colors (red, orange, yellow) feel heated and advance visually. Cool colors (blue, violet, green) appear icy and recede.

When mixing warm and cool colors, striking balance is key. Warm schemes feel active and alarmingly hot. Cool palettes seem quiet and spacious. Skillful combinations meld the two for visually pleasing results.

Hue, Saturation, and Value

Three important attributes determine a color:

Hue – the pigment or spectral position

Saturation – intensity, brightness, purity

Value – lightness or darkness

Altering these qualities affects colors drastically. Lower saturation mutes intensity. Increasing value lightens hues. Adjusting the characteristics creates nuance and variety within a palette.

Color Context

A color’s appearance changes based on its surroundings. Background, lighting, nearby colors – all affect the perception of a hue. A red may look vivid on white but muted on black. Yellow pops on gray but gets lost on beige. Being mindful of context ensures colors look their best.

Test swatches of finished colors in the environment they will be seen. Observe changes and adjust mixes accordingly. With consideration of its surroundings, any color combination harmonizes beautifully.

Psychology of Color

Beyond their aesthetic impact, colors also evoke psychological responses. Warm hues feel energizing and friendly. Cool tones seem calming and sophisticated. Color associations stem from natural analogies that become ingrained.

Red means excitement, love, intensity. Orange elicits vibrancy, creativity, happiness. Yellow cheers up, stimulates, warns. Green soothes, refreshes, balances. Blue calms, trusts, focuses. Violet dignifies, mystifies, spiritualizes. Being mindful of these impressions adds meaningful depth to color use.

Pigment vs. Light

Important distinction – pigment and light colors mix differently. With pigments like paint, colors darken and mute when combined. But colored light blends by adding wavelengths, lightening and brightening mixtures.

Digital screens use RGB light. Red, green and blue pixels light up to create all other hues. Mixing color with art media versus digital displays yields different results. Yet color principles help unlock the potential of any medium.

Color Harmony

Harmony brings colors together in a satisfying way. But vivid colors can sometimes clash. Certain guidelines create foolproof combinations:

– Balance warm and cool
– Complement with neutrals
– Anchor with one dominant hue
– Repeat colors for unity
– Offset brights with darkened hues

Trusting basics like the color wheel yields good results. With experience, breaking traditional rules creates edgy drama. Developing an eye for harmonious hues just takes practice.

Mixing Other Art Media

The same color principles apply when mixing pastels, colored pencils, dyes, and other media. However, each has its own characteristics. Opaque paints behave differently than transparent watercolors. Dyes mix subtractively, darkening as more is added. Other media vary in texture, application, transparency, and blending. Practice and experimentation with a new medium teaches its unique mixing capabilities.

Matching Colors

Sometimes an exact hue needs to be matched. Mixing by eye can estimate close shades. For precision color matching:

– Use controlled lighting
– Compare under daylight or bulbs
– View test strips near the target
– Adjust in small increments
– Check mixes on varied backgrounds
– Let swatches fully dry before evaluating

With careful observation and controlled conditions, formulas can be tweaked to achieve accurate target colors. Commercial paint mixing systems use computer calibration for correct matching.

Mixing Tips and Tricks

– Use a white art palette for mixing – the white surface shows true colors
– Mix in a larger area before applying to artwork
– Allow mixes to dry before changing further – some colors shift hue
– Keep a mixing journal to record color combinations
– Clean brushes fully between colors to prevent muddying
– Use parchment or wax paper for test strips to check mixes
– Don’t forget black and white – darken, lighten, or neutralize other hues

Potential Problems

Color mixing does involve some common hurdles:

– Muddy brown if too many colors blend together from overmixing
– Uneven textures mixing thick and thin paints
– Colors falling outside the desired hue range
– Tints getting chalky or losing intensity
– Colors shifting after drying, looking different than when wet
– Inability to evenly graduate between color transitions

With care and practice, these issues can be prevented. Take time building color transitions in small steps.

Troubleshooting Mixing

Some ways to troubleshoot and improve color mixing:

– If muddy, add more of the dominant pigment
– To soften roughness, thin paints and blend smoothly
– Refer to a color wheel if hue seems off
– For dense tints, use soft body paints, not heavy bodied
– For drying shift, test mixes on a practice sheet
– For uneven blending, work in thin, small strokes
– Let layers dry fully before adding more on top

Don’t get frustrated! Color mixing takes lots of trial and error. Experiment and observe results to steadily improve.

Mixing Black and White

Black deepens, intensifies, and darkens colors. Adding black helps create richer, darker shades and tones down brightness. But black is powerful and can overwhelm other pigments if not used sparingly. Mix in a little at a time.

White lightens and softens color. Adding white makes tints and reduces saturation. But too much white can make colors look chalky and faded. Build up white gradually for clean, light tints.

Balancing black and white properly gives colors elegance and dimension. Dark shades contrast beautifully with light tints. Handle both with care when adjusting color brightness and darkness.

Color Mixing for Kids

Teaching children color theory and mixing techniques develops vital skills. But kids need accommodation for their developing abilities. Use these tips when guiding beginners:

– Select large, easy-grip brushes and thick paint
– Choose simple, kid-friendly subjects to paint
– Demonstrate mixing on paper before painting
– Help squeeze paints onto palette in organized blobs
– Encourage playful experimenting and exploration
– Allow creativity and self-expression over realism
– Focus on enjoying the process over results

Nurturing a positive, encouraging environment lets artistic wonder bloom naturally. Guide gently, let kids take the lead, and keep things fun.

Advanced Color Mixing

Once color fundamentals are mastered, artists can break rules for captivating effects. Advanced techniques include:

– Contrasting complementary colors
– Juxtaposing discordant hues
– Painting colors outside naturalistic lines
– Using colors unrelated to the subject
– Exaggerating or distorting color
– Expressing imagined, non-objective color
– Evoking mood, emotion, or ideas with color

Pushing boundaries requires confidence. But skillful execution makes innovative risks pay off in bold, visionary artwork.

Why Learn Mixing?

Dedicated color mixing practice brings many rewards:

– Build an intuitive understanding of color relationships
– Gain ability to blend exact desired hues
– Mix customizable colors rather than buying premixed
– Save money mixing primaries into any color imaginable
– Develop a discerning eye for color subtleties
– Deepen artistic skills and techniques
– Create stunning effects using color knowledge

Like any discipline, expertise requires persistence. But color mastery empowers breathtaking creative freedom.


Mixing the vast spectrum of possible colors can seem daunting at first. But a logical color wheel simplifies the relationships between hues. Start with the primary colors, then explore mixing secondary and intermediate colors. Be mindful of temperature, complements, context, and color theory basics. Practice recognizing subtle variations between similar tones. Keep learning through ongoing experimentation. Artistic intuition develops alongside technical knowledge. Be patient and keep colors clean. Soon, you will expertly blend any imaginable color combination. So grab your paints and starting mixing magic!