Tertiary Colors: The Key to Adding Interest

Tertiary colors are in the middle of primary and secondary colors on the color wheel. There are six main tertiary colors which include red-violet, blue-violet, yellow-orange, red-orange, blue-green, and yellow-green. Each is a combination of equal parts of a primary and secondary color.

What Are Tertiary Colors?

Tertiary Colors

Tertiary colors have a warm or cool tone. They are less intense than primary or secondary colors

Examples of Tertiary Colors and Their Effects

Common tertiary colors are blue-green, blue-violet, red-violet, yellow-orange, red-orange, and yellow-green. Others include yellow-magenta, blue-magenta, yellow-brown, and red-brown.

  • Red-violet: A rich, warm color associated with luxury, elegance, and mystery. It evokes feelings of sophistication.
  • Blue-violet: Creates a feeling of elegance and luxury. Common in interior design, advertising, and fashion.
  • Yellow-orange: Yellow-orange is a warm and cheerful color representing happiness and optimism. It’s associated with the sun and warmth.
  • Red-orange: A warm and energetic color that evokes energy, warmth, and enthusiasm. Red-orange is also associated with autumn and fall and creates a sense of drama and excitement.
  • Blue-green: A cool and soothing hue associated with the forest, nature, and the ocean. It brings the element of serenity and tranquility.
  • Yellow-green: Yellow-green is a refreshing tertiary color linked to health, growth, and renewal.

Tertiary colors create a more natural look when closer to their base color. Their varied shades make them suitable for highlighting a primary or secondary color.

Mixing Tertiary Colors

The amount of each primary or secondary color affects the appearance of the tertiary color. Experimenting with different primary and secondary color ratios helps achieve the shade of your choice.

Tertiary Colors for Healing Therapy

Tertiary colors create a range of emotions and healing effects in color therapy. In holistic medicine, the colors form a radiating, healing energy that reduces stress and physical pain.

Red color therapy, for instance, creates a sense of relaxation, stimulation, and vitality. Tertiary colors using red as their primary connect the heart and throat chakras.

Those made of yellow and blue stimulate the mind. Softer combinations like blue-green provide a relaxing effect to the body. Some believe these colors cleanse the immune system, reduce inflammation, and relieve headaches.

Tertiary Colors in Art and Design

In art and design, tertiary colors add depth and contrast. They create a sense of harmony since they’re not as overpowering as primary or secondary colors. 

Designers use tertiary colors in their artistic works to create a balance and enhance visual appeal. They can provide an illusion of depth in a 2-dimensional space. While warm colors appear closer, cool colors such as blue-purple or blue-green recede.

In graphic design, tertiary colors create a sense of hierarchy and visual interest. Digital artists use them to draw attention to specific elements.

Tertiary Colors in Interior Design

Tertiary colors create muted and subtle hues that can act as the base or accents in interior design.