Y – Yellow is Orange?

I opened the can of ink marked Yellow…and it looked orange. I’m not talking about yellow-orange or a dark yellow…it looked orange…a bright, solid orange. My first thought, “is the ink bad?”


No…it’s not bad…it’s yellow (it just looks orange).

Ink can drive a person insane. The above ‘yellow’ is a prime example. It looks orange until you thin it out on the press. Then it looks yellow—or it does once it’s printed on paper. A lot of colors have this issue…they appear darker or off in the can. This makes mixing colors a bit of a project and nearly impossible for the novice.

So, you need a mixing guide in order to make colors accurately. In comes Pantone. Pantone has a formula guide called Pantone Matching System (PMS)  with a dizzying number of colors…and, most importantly, the measurements/directions to make them.


Now, I can take my yellow (orange) and mix it with white and red and get a nice sunset orange based on weights determined from the formula guide.

It’s not logical…even though you’d think it is. Take the two cards below. These are both the same blue…one is just thinned out. It’s strange, isn’t it, they look nothing alike.


I keep thinking of elementary school art class and the color wheels we used to make. It all seemed simple: yellow and blue make green, yellow and red make orange, blue and red make purple, blue and yellow make green.

Simple…as long as you have the guide.


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