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What are Warm and Cool Colors

Is That Color Warm or Cold

You hear a lot about the terms warm or cool colors. There is a broad definition and a more detailed explanation for warm and cool colors. The basic definition for your primary colors are red is warm and blue is cold some refer to yellow as warm but I consider it a neutral color meaning it can lean either warm or cool. Next you have your secondary colors Orange is warm and Violet is cool but once again I consider green to be neutral because it can be warm or cool.

General Definition

Warm Colors Neutral Colors Cool Colors
Red Yellow Blue
Orange Green Violet


There is a more detailed definition of warm or cool and it is applied to every color on color wheel and the colors you have on your palette. Here is a break down of the warm an cool versions of each color.

Warm and Cool of each Primary and Secondary Color

Warm Colors Cool Colors
Yellow – Orange Yellows  yellow-orange Yellow – Greener Yellows yellow-green
Blue – Blue Greens  blue-green Blue- Violet Blues voilet-blue
Red – Red Orange  red-orange Red – Red Purples  red-voilet
Orange- Orange Reds  orange-red Orange – Orange Yellows orange-yellow
Purple – Purple Reds red-purple Purple – Purple Blues blue-purple
Greens-Yellow Greens Greens – Blue Greens green-blue

There is an even more detailed definition and probably the most important

Warm or Cool Depends on the surrounding colors

Colors can be warmer or cooler in context to one another, you can take a cool color from a overall warm painting(one with mostly oranges and reds) and put it in an overall cool painting(one with a a lot of purple and blues) and the color that was cool in one context can be warm in another. Below is a good example.

The Violet Color Seems Warm among blues and greens but cool among yellows and reds


To see videos on Color Theory and Mixing visit my YouTube channel

Here is a video on Warm and Cool colors

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