Tertiary colors


The tertiary colors , also called intermediate, are those obtained from the combination of a primary color and a secondary. Conventionally, a series of tertiary colors has been established, which are those that arise from the combination of a primary and a secondary that are adjacent on the chromatic circle. However, these colors can be infinite as the combinations may be subject to the amounts of each shade used. Tertiary colors are considered to be those that are most present in nature and in people’s daily lives.


What are tertiary colors?

They are called tertiary colors to those colors that are the result of the combination or mixture of a primary color and a secondary color. Although six tertiary colors have been conventionally recognized, the proportions in the combination of both types of colors can result in an infinite variety of colors. However, for better compression and, using the color wheel, the six tertiary colors have been established.

  • What are the tertiary colors?
  • Chromatic circle
  • What are they for?
  • Examples

What are the tertiary colors?

Listing and describing tertiary colors would be nearly impossible. From the combination of a primary color with a secondary color and, depending on the amount used of each tone, an infinite amount of tertiary colors could be obtained.


For this, a general convention has been reached to establish which are the six tertiary colors that result from the mixture of a primary and a secondary that are adjacent in the chromatic circle. Let’s say as a characteristic that to determine these colors equal amounts of the primary and secondary colors are established.

The six conventionally defined tertiary colors are:

  • Yellow green : Also known as pistachio green, this color is the result of the combination of green and yellow.
  • Orange red : This color is usually called brick red and to achieve it, red is mixed with orange.
  • Green blue : This tertiary color is the result of combining blue and green. It is commonly known as turquoise blue.
  • Orange yellow : It is the well-known amber color. It results from combining yellow and orange.
  • Violet blue : the sixth tertiary color is obtained from combining blue and violet. It is identified as purple blue and in some countries it is known as “bishop color” in allusion to the color used by the Roman Catholic Apostolic Church.

Chromatic circle

To better understand the color combinations there is the chromatic circle . It is a color wheel where primary , secondary and tertiary colors are included . These colors appear in an orderly way where we can see the combinations.

The color wheel can vary according to the primary color model in question (RGB, CMYK or RYB).

You can find circles with a greater breadth of combinations that represent up to 48 colors.

With the help of the chromatic circle we can know how tertiary colors are formed .

What are they for?

Looking closely at the tertiary colors we can see that they are the most abundant in nature and in our daily lives. for this, it is important to learn to reproduce them.

In graphic arts , in painting and in numerous activities, tertiary colors are widely used and their recreation allows us to establish their usefulness and what they are for.

The importance of tertiary colors allows their use in everything that needs to be represented. Trademarks, for example, use the full range of obtainable colors, including tertiary ones. More and more companies are turning to colors to attract public attention. The example of the Benetton firm is remembered for revolutionizing its garments through the use of a varied range of tones.


Everyday life is immersed in a world of colors. From those created artificially by human beings to those that surround us in nature.

If we look closely, tertiary colors abound in nature. Pure primary colors are harder to find. What we see are variations like secondary and tertiary colors .

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