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Can white and pink make red?

Can white and pink make red?

Whether white and pink can be combined to make red is an interesting question that gets at some fundamentals of color theory and painting. In this article, we’ll explore the basics of color mixing, look at whether combining white and pink pigments or light can make red, and provide some tips for mixing custom colors when painting.

The fundamentals of color mixing

When it comes to mixing colors, there are two key things to understand:

  • Pigment mixing – This involves combining different colored pigments, like paints, dyes, etc. The more pigments you mix together, the darker the resulting color will be.
  • Light mixing – This involves combining different colored lights, like the pixels on a computer screen. The more light colors you mix, the lighter the resulting color.

So if we want to know whether we can mix white and pink to make red, we need to consider both pigment mixing and light mixing scenarios.

Can you mix white and pink pigments to make red?

When working with pigments, mixing any color with white will make it lighter and desaturate it. Pink is already a light tint of red, so adding white will make it even lighter and more pastel.

No matter how much white pigment you add to pink, you’ll never get a saturated bright red. At most, you’ll end up with a pale peach or baby pink color. This is because white reflects all wavelengths of light evenly, so it dilutes the hue and saturation of whatever color it is mixed with.

Some examples of pink and white pigment mixes:

Pink Pigment White Pigment Resulting Color
Deep magenta 20% white Light pink
Hot pink 40% white Pastel pink
Red violet 60% white Pale lavender pink

As you can see, the more white added, the lighter and more washed out the pink becomes. While you can make various shades of pink by adding white, you cannot make a true saturated red.

Can you mix white and pink light to make red?

When working with light instead of pigments, the color mixing principles are different. Combining light colors works by additive mixing – each added light color contributes to the overall hue and brightness.

So while white pigment dilutes color intensity, white light actually contains all wavelengths and can be mixed with other colors of light to create new hues. This means it is possible to combine white light + pink light and get red.

On a computer or TV screen, for example, white is made by having the red, blue, and green pixels on at full brightness. Pink is made by turning down the blue pixel.

By mixing some white light (full red, green, blue) with pink light (full red, dimmed blue, full green), the addition of the full blue from white balances the dimmed blue in pink. This mixes to create red light.

The exact ratio needed would depend on the starting intensities. A deep pink would require more white light to cancel out the blue. A pale pink would require less white to mix to an even red.

Mixing custom colors when painting

When working with paints and pigments, it’s still possible to mix custom colors like red even if you can’t directly mix white and pink.

Some tips for mixing a vibrant red:

  • Start with a bright primary red pigment as your base
  • Add a small amount of blue to the red to give it extra saturation and brilliance
  • Slowly mix in white to lighten the red to the desired shade
  • Add a touch of yellow if the red starts looking too pink
  • Mix in black pigment sparingly to darken the red without dulling it

It takes some trial and error to mix the perfect red. Always start with very small amounts of your secondary mixers like white, blue, yellow and black. Too much will mute or distort the color.

You’ll know you’ve hit the right ratio when you achieve a rich, vibrant red instead of a pink or orangey tone.

Some examples of mixing a vibrant red with paint pigments:

Base Pigment Mixer 1 Mixer 2 Resulting Color
Cadmium red 10% white 5% black Deep red
Alizarin crimson 5% yellow 2% blue Bright cherry red
Scarlet 30% white 3% blue Fire engine red

Following these tips and experimenting with mixing ratios will give you the vibrant reds you want, even starting from white and pink pigments.


While simply mixing white and pink pigments won’t produce red, understanding color theory provides guidance on remixing to achieve the desired hue. With light mixing, combining white light with pink light can directly make red by balancing the color channels. And when painting, strategies like selective mixers and layering can mix custom reds from less than ideal pigments. So with the right approach, even white and pink can come together to make red.