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Does orange and purple make pink?

Does orange and purple make pink?

Orange and purple are two distinct colors that evoke different feelings and associations. Orange is often seen as energetic, warm, and lively. On the other hand, purple can symbolize royalty, spirituality and imagination. When blended together, these two colors create a new shade that many describe as pink. But does combining orange and purple really make pink? Let’s explore the science and psychology behind color mixing to find out.

The Color Wheel

To understand how mixing any two colors together results in a new shade, we first need to look at the color wheel. The basic color wheel consists of 12 distinct hues – red, orange, yellow, chartreuse, green, cyan, blue, violet, magenta, rose, vermilion, and amber.

The color wheel is arranged so that colors that go well together are next to each other, while colors on opposite sides of the wheel create high contrast. Looking at the color wheel, we can see that purple sits between blue and magenta, while orange is between red and yellow.

Color RGB Values
Red 255, 0, 0
Orange 255, 165, 0
Yellow 255, 255, 0
Green 0, 128, 0
Blue 0, 0, 255
Purple 128, 0, 128

The placement of colors on the standard color wheel can help us predict how they will interact when combined. Colors opposite each other on the wheel are complementary colors, which create bold, high-contrast results when blended. Colors next to each other are analogous and tend to create subtle, low-contrast results when mixed.

Mixing Color Pigments

When working with physical pigments like paint, combining colors relies on subtractive color mixing. This means that each pigment absorbs and reflects different wavelengths of light. For example, orange pigment absorbs blues and reflects wavelengths in the red-yellow spectrum. Purple pigment absorbs greens and yellows and reflects blue and red wavelengths.

When orange and purple pigments are blended, the resulting color reflects a wider range of wavelengths. Most of the green wavelengths get absorbed, while red, blue and yellow wavelengths are reflected back to our eyes – which we perceive as a pinkish tone.

So in terms of mixing actual pigments, orange and purple do combine to create a shade of pink. But the exact hue will depend on the specific orange and purple pigments used. A bright orange and deep purple will yield a vivid magenta. A burnt orange and lavender may create a softer dusty pink. The mixing ratio also impacts the final color.

Mixing Light

What about mixing orange and purple light instead of pigments? Light follows an additive color model based on RGB (red, green, blue). The primary colors of light are red, green and blue. When combined, these add up to create white light. Computer screens and TVs create color by emitting different intensities of red, green and blue light.

Orange light emits strong intensities of red and green. Purple light has high blue and red with little green. When these two are blended, the result is high red intensity, moderate green and blue – which creates a light pink.

So whether working with physical pigments or colored light, combining orange and purple does result in a pinkish tone. But there are some interesting exceptions.


Most, but not all, shades of orange and purple will mix to form pink. Here are some exceptions to keep in mind:

  • Deep purple + pale orange = lavender
  • Yellow-orange + blue-purple = gray
  • Dull orange + dull purple = brown

The highly saturated or dullness of the colors impacts the mixing results. Additionally, orange and purple combinations that lean towards secondary colors like yellow and blue may neutralize each other. This subtractive mixing can create gray or brown colors rather than pinks.

Psychology of the Color Pink

Now that we’ve confirmed orange and purple can make pink from a scientific perspective, what does this color mixing reveal about the psychology of the resulting pink shade?

Pink is often considered a feminine color associated with nurture, sweetness, and romance. But pink can have multiple meanings. Let’s look at how pink’s associations may be impacted by its orange and purple origins.

From Orange…
Pink retains some upbeat, energetic qualities from its orange origins. Orange-leaning pinks are youthful and fun.

From Purple…
The purple contribution adds an element of imagination and spirituality. Blue-leaning pinks seem magical and mystical.

Best of Both…
True neutral pinks that balance the orange and purple retain the positive qualities of both – they are romantic, lively, sweet and whimsical.

So while pink has distinct psychological associations, these can be nuanced depending on whether the pink leans slightly towards the feelings evoked by orange or the meanings purple conveys. Regardless, pinks of all shades share an aura of positivity, love and imagination.

How Lighting Affects Pink

Something interesting also happens when true pink is perceived under different lighting conditions. Pink can transformation into different hues entirely based on the light source.

Under standard white light, a true neutral pink stays pink. But introduce colored lighting, and the pink may shift towards other shades:

  • Yellow light – makes pink shift towards purple
  • Blue light – makes pink shift towards orange
  • Red light – makes pink more vibrant, intensifying to magenta
  • Green light – mutes pink into a grayish brown

So pink’s vibrancy and hue can appear fluid under colored lighting. This mercurial quality adds to pink’s sense of imagination and energy.

Pink in Fashion and Design

The color pink permeates modern fashion and design in many shades and variations. Its blended orange and purple origins provide a versatile energy that pink-loving designers embrace.

Bright pinks pop with youthful, funky energy. They create excitement and fun in designs. Clear pinks also read as playful and bold.

Dusty pinks offer a softer, more sentimental feel. Muted pink shades convey intimacy, romance and femininity.

Vibrant hot pinks make a lively, happy impression. These hot pink shades pair orange’s vitality with purple’s creative spirit.

Pale pinks give off an innocent, delicate aura. Pastel pink shades feel sweet, wistful and gentle.

From the brightness of neon pink to the softness of blush pink, designers tap into the full spectrum of pink for diverse needs. By balancing orange and purple origins, pink covers the full range of moods.

Pink in Nature

Pink appears in nature too, often from plant and animal life that blend color combinations that mirror orange and purple pigments. Vibrant pink flowers like roses, peonies and tulips all combine a degree of orange and purple genetics to achieve those rich pink petal colors.

Pink flowers attract pollinators and indicate health and reproductive readiness in plants. Pink appearing in the animal kingdom frequently relates to fertility and courtship displays as well. Think pink flamingos, or the pink breeding plumage of the Caribbean roseate spoonbill. The high visibility of pink in nature signals energy and vigor.

Edible pink foods gain their hues from plant phytochemicals called anthocyanins. These naturally occurring pigments offer health benefits beyond providing pretty colors. Anthocyanins act as antioxidants with anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. So the pink shades in fresh foods like guava, dragonfruit, lychee, radishes and rhubarb indicate nutrient richness.


In summary, by understanding color mixing principles and color psychology, we see orange and purple do blend to create pink in most cases. While pink carries feminine connotations, its origin from high-energy orange and imaginative purple gives pink an expansive range of meanings from delicate to bold. Pink transcends its stereotypes to offer dynamic versatility across nature, design and art. So don’t underestimate the power and potential of pink!