How to Mix Orange Watercolor Paint

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Learn how to mix orange watercolor paint. Everyone knows that red plus yellow equals orange, but there’s a bit more to color mixing than that.

You might also be interested in learning how to mix purple watercolors or green watercolors.

pin image - mix orange watercolors

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I’m using watercolors in this demo, but these mixing properties apply to all paint types.

Orange is admittedly one of the easier colors to mix. Since it is made from two warm colors (red and yellow), the results are more pleasing.

I used Cotman watercolor tubes to make a budget-friendly mixing palette, but I really love the Daniel Smith mixing set too.

Here are the colors I used:

The blue shades aren’t necessary for mixing oranges, but I’ve included them in case you want a whole mixing palette.

Color Theory Basics

As I mentioned, red and yellow are both warm colors, but each shade can still lean warm or cool. Pinkish reds (like magentas) lean to the cool side, whereas warm reds (cadmiums) lean to the warm side.

The same can be seen in yellow paints. Some yellows lean more to the cool side (lemon yellow) and some lean more to the warm side (gamboge.)

Blue sits opposite the color wheel, so it can be used to tone oranges down if necessary.

You might be interested in learning more about color theory.

Mixing Orange Watercolor Paint

Mixing reds with a warm yellow results in a brighter color mixture.

watercolor swatches of orange paint

Warm red + warm yellow results in the cleanest, warmest red.

Cool red + cool yellow result in the weakest mixture.

orange watercolor swatches

If you’re still getting muddy mixtures, check your paint label. Single pigment paints mix the cleanest. If you paint lists several pigments, chances are high that those pigments are fighting each other.

side of watercolor tube with pigment information

How to Make Pastel Orange or Peach Tones

To make a lighter orange, use more water in your mixture.

orange watercolor swatches

I really enjoy using other colors to make special mixtures. Peach is one of my favorite colors to mix using these special mixtures.

For peachy skin tones, you can also use mixtures of pinks and yellows. For instance, Naples yellow and opera pink happen to make a gorgeous skin tone that glows.

Some combinations are less obvious. Try mixing cobalt violet with Naples yellow for a more nuanced version.

How to Make Browner Oranges

Since blue is the complementary color of orange, try mixing blues or purples with the mixture to tone it down a bit. You can also try mixing brown with orange tones like raw sienna.

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pin image - orange watercolor swatch collage

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