Tertiary color

Tertiary color image

Page from A New Practical Treatise on the Three Primitive Colours Assumed as a Perfect System of Rudimentary Information by Charles Hayter.

A tertiary color or intermediate color is a color made by mixing full saturation of one primary color with half saturation of another primary color and none of a third primary color, in a given color space such as RGB, CMYK (more modern) or RYB (traditional).

Tertiary colors have general names, one set of names for the RGB color wheel and a different set for the RYB color wheel. These names are shown below.

Another definition of tertiary color is provided by color theorists such as Moses Harris and Josef Albers, who suggest that tertiary colors are created by intermixing pairs of secondary colors: orange-green, green-purple, purple-orange; or by intermixing complementary colors. This approach to tertiary color relates specifically to color in the form of paints, pigments, and dyes.


RGB or CMY primary, secondary, and tertiary colors

Primary, secondary, and tertiary colors of the RGB (CMY) color wheel.

The primary colors in an RGB color wheel are red, green, and blue, because these are the three additive colors—the primary colors of light. The secondary colors in an RGB color wheel are cyan, magenta, and yellow because these are the three subtractive colors—the primary colors of pigment.

The tertiary color names used in the descriptions of RGB (or equivalently CMYK) systems are shown below.

Tertiary-, quaternary-, and quinary-color terms

The terms for the RGB tertiary colors are not set. The names for the twelve quaternary colors are more variable, if they exist at all, though indigo and scarlet are standard for blue–violet and red–vermilion.

Traditional painting (RYB)

A traditional RYB color wheel.

The primary colors in an ...read more

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