Discover the Art of Making Tertiary Colors: A Comprehensive Guide

Ever wondered how artists manage to create such a wide spectrum of colors on their palette? They’re not using a magic wand, but a basic understanding of color theory! One essential part of this theory is the creation of tertiary colors.

You’ve probably heard about primary and secondary colors, but tertiary colors don’t get as much limelight. They’re the unsung heroes that fill in the gaps on the color wheel, providing a seamless transition between primary and secondary hues.

So, let’s dive into the fascinating world of color mixing. By the end of this article, you’ll know how to create your own range of tertiary colors, adding depth and variety to your artistic endeavors.

Key Takeaways

  • Tertiary colors add depth and variety to an art piece, filling in the gaps on the color wheel between primary and secondary colors.
  • The primary colors, red, blue, and yellow, form the backbone of all other colors, while secondary colors are formed by merging any two primary colors.
  • To create a tertiary color, simply mix a primary color with an adjacent secondary color. For example, blend red with orange to create red-orange.
  • The intensity of the tertiary color can be regulated by adjusting the mixing ratio. More primary color will produce a brighter, bolder hue, while more secondary color will yield a subtler tone.
  • To mix colors proficiently, gather essential materials such as blue, yellow and red colors, a mixing palette, a paintbrush, acrylic or watercolor paints, and a color wheel.
  • Tertiary colors find practical applications in various fields such as art and design, and home decor. In art, they enrich the visual appeal and maintain color balance. In home decor, they infuse character and uniqueness to the room, helping to create a harmonious color scheme.

Understanding Primary and Secondary Colors

In unraveling the world of tertiary colors, it becomes imperative to take a step back to examine their foundational building blocks: primary and secondary colors.

What Are Primary Colors?

Primary colors form the backbone of all other colors. They’re the fundamental elements, unobtainable by mixing other colors. In traditional color theory, these three colors are red, yellow, and blue. It’s from the combination of these poignant primaries that a vast spectrum of hues emerge, facilitating the creation of seemingly endless variations.

How Secondary Colors Are Formed

Your next coloration checkpoint incorporates secondary colors, created when two primary colors merge. Roll red and yellow together, you obtain orange, combine blue and red and viola – purple. Sample yellow and blue, the result is green. These secondary hues, nestled between their respective primary parents on the color wheel, afford a richer variety to your pallet, strengthening your understanding of the interplay of colors. The magic of tertiary colors subtly springs forth from this dynamic dance of primary and secondary blending.

The Basics of Tertiary Colors

What Are Tertiary Colors?

Diving into the realm of color theory, you’ll encounter tertiary colors. These hues bring a sense of depth and complexity to artworks. Essentially, they bridge the gap between the primary and secondary colors on the color wheel, bringing about a more extensive and varied spectrum. Six individual blends represent these midpoints, namely red-orange, yellow-orange, yellow-green, blue-green, blue-violet, and red-violet.

How Do You Make Tertiary Colors?

Creating tertiary colors involves a simple, yet essential process in color theory – color mixing. Incorporate a primary color with an adjacent secondary color on the wheel, and you’ve got yourself a tertiary color. For example, blend primary color red with its neighboring secondary color orange, and behold the birth of red-orange, a tertiary color. The steps clarify the process:

  1. Select a primary color (red, blue, or yellow).
  2. Combine it with an immediately adjacent secondary color (orange, green, or violet).
  3. Adjust the quantities according to the preferred intensity on the color scale.

This maneuver provides an enriched palette of hues, unlocking limitless possibilities in any artistic pursuit. The trick lies in mastering the mixing ratio — more use of primary colors results in brighter, bolder tertiary colors, while more secondary color usage leans towards more subdued tones. It’s a meticulous mixology but one that broadens the horizons of your color wheel.

Exploring Color Mixing Techniques

This section presents the materials you’ll require and a comprehensive guide on color mixing techniques, building upon the fundamental concept of the creation of tertiary colors. Achieving precise color patterns necessitates a firm understanding of the blending process, a challenge that this guide bravely undertakes.

Tools and Materials Needed

Becoming adept at mixing colors involves certain tools and materials. First and foremost, three primary colors – blue, yellow and red – serve as the basis for your color explorations. It also requires a mixing palette, which provides a surface for blending your paints. Opt for a paintbrush that caters to the particular demands of color mixing. Opt for acrylic or watercolor paints, as they maintain their intensity even when mixed, perfect for generating tertiary colors. Lastly, acquire a color wheel, beneficial for understanding the relation between colors and for consulting while mixing.

  1. Primary Colors: Blue, Yellow and Red.
  2. Mixing Palette.
  3. Paint Brush.
  4. Acrylic or Watercolor Paints.
  5. Color Wheel.

Step-by-Step Guide to Mixing Colors

Below is a concise guide to accomplish the task of color mixing effectively.

  1. Prepare Your Workspace: Keep your materials within easy reach, ensuring a clutter-free and organized work area.
  2. Understand Your Color Wheel: Identify your primary colors (red, blue, yellow) and secondary colors (purple, orange, green). Comprehending how these colors relate is essential for efficient color mixing. Refer to your color wheel for this.
  3. Mixing Primary and Secondary Colors: Mix your primary color with its nearest secondary color on the wheel. For instance, mix blue (primary) with green (secondary) to obtain blue-green (tertiary) color.
  4. Gauge the Color: After you’ve mixed your colors, examine the outcome. The resultant color should sit between the two initial colors on the color wheel.

By implementing this guide, you can master the creation of tertiary colors, widening your artistic repertoire with a more diversified color palate.

Practical Applications of Tertiary Colors

Steering away from theory, let’s dive into the practical usage of tertiary colors in everyday life. Knowing how, when, and where to apply these complex colors can offer astounding results in various areas, such as art and design, and home decor.

In Art and Design

Chances are, as an artist, you’ve already implemented tertiary colors into your artwork without even realizing it. Whether it’s a mural on a sprawling city wall or the refined strokes on a canvas, these mixed hues are pivotal to the artist’s palette. Monet, for instance, made splendid use of tertiary colors in his iconic Water Lilies series, producing a vibrant and lifelike representation of the nature scene. Just as in cooking, where blending spices can create complex flavors, mixing colors can yield rich visual experiences.

Don’t forget, when designing a logo or a website, a wise use of tertiary colors doesn’t just enhance visual appeal, it maintains the color balance. For an impressive color harmony, strive to incorporate the more intricate shades of tertiary colors into your designs. Muted tones, like russet or slate, can convey sophistication while brighter hues, like vermillion or chartreuse, can draw the viewer’s eye and create more dynamic designs. Much like selecting the right dress for an occasion or pairing the perfect socks with an outfit, choosing the right colors can make all the difference in your artistic or design endeavors.

Using tertiary colors effectively can elevate your work, making it stand out much like a beautifully prepared fish dish at a gourmet restaurant or the intricate details on a painting of a rabbit in a serene landscape. The subtle interplay of these colors can create a more engaging and harmonious visual experience.

In Home Decor

Exit the art scene and enter your living space. Utilizing tertiary colors in home decor gives rooms a striking appearance, infusing a sense of uniqueness and character into your home. The key is balance; avoid overwhelming the space with too many vibrant hues, and remember to draw on the softer tones in your tertiary color palette.

Creating a calm atmosphere? Opt for cooler tertiary colors like aqua or periwinkle. Or add warmth and energy with bolder colors like amber or raspberry. Be it painting accent walls, choosing throw pillows, or selecting art pieces, adroit use of tertiary colors can pull together a room, breathing life into your home decor with a well-defined color harmony.


So, you’ve learned how tertiary colors act as a bridge, linking primary and secondary hues in a beautiful dance of color theory. You’ve uncovered the secrets of creating your own blends, like red-orange or blue-violet, and seen how these subtle hues can transform your art, design, or home decor. You’ve seen how masters like Monet used tertiary colors to breathe life into their work and how designers harness these shades to create stunning logos and websites. And in your home, you now know how to use these colors to set the mood and create a unique, harmonious environment. Now, it’s your turn. Go forth and color your world with the knowledge of tertiary colors.

Discovering the art of making tertiary colors involves understanding the mixing process of primary and secondary colors. According to Color Matters, tertiary colors are created by combining a primary color with a secondary color adjacent to it on the color wheel, resulting in hues like red-orange and blue-green. Additionally, The Spruce Crafts provides tips on experimenting with different proportions to achieve the desired shade and vibrancy in your color mixing projects.

What are tertiary colors?

Tertiary colors are the result of mixing a primary color with a secondary color. Examples include blending red (primary) with orange (secondary) to produce red-orange or blending blue (primary) with purple (secondary) to create blue-violet.

How do tertiary colors contribute to art?

Artists often use tertiary colors to add depth and sophistication to their work. These colors provide additional nuances of shade and tone, allowing for more intricate color interplay, as seen in works like Monet’s Water Lilies series.

How can tertiary colors be used in design?

In design, the appropriate use of tertiary colors can enhance logos, websites, and other graphics. They help maintain color balance and create color harmony, making the design visually satisfying and engaging.

What role do tertiary colors play in home decor?

In the context of home decor, tertiary colors can help give each room a unique and striking appearance. Different tertiary hues can convey various moods and energies, contributing to a well-defined and harmonious color scheme.