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Why does blue and orange look good together?

Why does blue and orange look good together?

Color combinations can have a huge impact on the overall aesthetic and feel of a design. Some color pairings just seem to “work” while others can look jarring or unappealing. Blue and orange is one color combo that tends to look very striking and complementary when used together. But why is that? Let’s take a closer look at some of the main reasons why blue and orange make such an effective color pairing.

Complementary Colors on the Color Wheel

One of the biggest reasons blue and orange look good together is that they are considered complementary colors on the traditional RYB (red, yellow, blue) color wheel. Complementary colors are color pairs that are directly across from each other on the color wheel. This placement creates a high amount of visual contrast when the colors are put side-by-side.

Blue and orange strongly oppose and intensify one another since they contain no common hues. This makes them stand out against each other in a bold, eye-catching way. The contrast creates a vibrant energy that grabs the viewer’s attention.

Balanced Contrast of Warm and Cool

Blue is considered a cool color, while orange is warm. Pairing a warm and cool color together creates appealing contrast. This balance is part of what makes the blue-orange combo work so well.

Cool blue takes up less space visually and brings a sense of calmness. Warm orange feels energetic and jumps forward. When combined, these temperature properties balance each other out nicely.

Analogous Colors are Harmonious

While blue and orange may be complements, they are also analogous colors. Analogous colors sit directly next to each other on the color wheel. They share common undertones that tie them together in a harmonious way.

Blue contains undertones of orange in it, and vice versa. This underlying connection brings a subtle harmony that complements the high contrast.

Vibrant Contrast Attracts Attention

As mentioned earlier, the strong visual contrast between blue and orange makes them stand out boldly against each other. This vibrant dynamic intuitively attracts the human eye in an impactful way.

Studies show that contrasting colors can increase attention, arousal and excitement. Blue-orange color schemes take advantage of this effect to create eye-catching designs.

Associations and Symbolism

The meanings and associations people attach to different colors can also play a role in why some color combinations appeal to us. Below are some symbolic associations of blue and orange that may contribute to their pleasing effect:

Blue Orange
Trust, professionalism, calm Energy, enthusiasm, vitality
Intelligence, stability, wisdom Creativity, adventure, socialness
Loyalty, confidence, faith Affordability, friendliness, fun
Peace, tranquility, order Warmth, vibrant, inviting

When combined, the symbolic meanings of blue and orange seem to complement each other nicely as well. Blue evokes stability and professionalism, while orange conveys energy and creativity. This balance of associations deepens the harmony between the two hues.

Aesthetic Appeal in Nature

Blue and orange are both very prominent in natural landscapes, which may contribute to their inherent beauty as a pairing. Blue skies and bodies of water complement the warm hues of orange sunsets, fruits and flowers. This natural aesthetic may have an intrinsic appeal.

Blue and orange are strong enough colors on their own, but their relationship in nature shows how well they work together. Using the colors together in design seems to mimic this natural visual balance.

Digital Design Considerations

The blue-orange combination first gained popularity in the digital space. Websites, apps, infographics and other digital media make frequent use of this high-contrast duo. Why does it work so well digitally?

One reason is that blue light is easier on the eyes than other wavelengths. Its soothing hue has less glare on digital screens. When paired with warm orange accents, it creates a comfortable viewing experience.

Blue and orange also happen to be very distinct colors digitally. They are far enough apart on the color spectrum to clearly differentiate elements on a small screen. This makes them ideal for digital interfaces, widgets, graphics, etc.

Print Design Applications

Beyond digital media, blue and orange make a big impact in print design as well. The combination pops when used for posters, book covers, brochures, ads, packaging and more. The high visual contrast stands out in print just like it does digitally.

Darker shades like navy blue and burnt orange are especially striking together. Bright tints also catch the eye when balanced well. Using blue as the dominant color and orange as accents tends to look best in print.

Blue-orange themes have become staple color schemes for sports teams, brands, books, movies and a wide range of print projects.

Tips for Using Blue and Orange

Here are some quick tips for effectively employing blue-orange color schemes:

  • Use orange as bold accents against a blue backdrop
  • Aim for enough contrast between values/intensities
  • Watch saturation levels to avoid neon vibes
  • Use warm and cool tones together for balance
  • Combine complementary hues like cyan and red-orange
  • Add a neutral color like gray to create a triadic scheme

With the right balance, blue and orange can be adapted to almost any design style from minimalist to retro to abstract. Play with different shades and tones to create your own personalized take on this versatile combo.


Blue and orange is a go-to color scheme for designers across disciplines, and for good reason. The innate visual tension between these complementary hues creates vibrant energy and harmony. Their contrasting temperatures balance one another, while also playing up each color’s strengths.

This powerful color duo makes sense aesthetically, symbolically, and technically. Blue and orange have a natural beauty that translates seamlessly from the physical to digital world. Harnessing the dynamic relationship between these colors can elevate any design to make a bold visual impact.