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How do you make maroon from purple?

How do you make maroon from purple?

Making maroon from purple is a simple process of color mixing that involves adding a complementary color like red to darken the purple hue. While purple is made by combining red and blue, maroon contains more red and less blue, giving it a warmer, richer tone. By adjusting the ratios and shades of the mixed colors, you can create various maroon hues to match the desired shade.

Understanding Color Theory

In color theory, purple and maroon are considered tertiary colors, meaning they are created by combining primary colors. The primary colors are red, blue, and yellow. Mixing two primary colors makes the secondary colors of orange, green, and purple. Combining a primary and secondary color produces the tertiary colors, including maroon.

On the color wheel, purple is located between red and blue. Maroon lies between red and purple. Since maroon contains more red pigments, it is a warmer, deeper shade than purple. The key to making maroon is adding extra red to purple to reduce the blue tones.

Complementary colors are located opposite each other on the color wheel. The complement of purple is yellow. Adding yellow to purple produces various brown tones. To make maroon, the complementary color to add is red, which reduces the blue in purple.

Start with a Base Purple

When working with paint or dye, you first need to select a base purple shade as your starting color. Options for purple hues include:

  • Violet – This purple leans towards blue on the color wheel.
  • Orchid – A light purple with hints of pink.
  • Amethyst – A medium reddish-purple.
  • Royal purple – A rich, deep purple.
  • Eggplant – A very dark purple that appears almost black.

Choose whichever purple hue is closest to your desired maroon color. Keep in mind, a lighter purple like orchid or violet will require more red pigment to turn maroon than starting with a deeper royal purple or eggplant base.

Select a Complementary Red

With your base purple chosen, next pick a red hue to mix in. The red will neutralize the blue tones in the purple. Options for red hues include:

  • Scarlet – A warm, bright red that leans slightly orange.
  • Crimson – A cool, rich red with blue undertones.
  • Ruby – A vivid reddish-pink.
  • Maroon – A darker red-brown shade.
  • Burgundy – A reddish-purple, lighter than maroon.

Scarlet or crimson work well for most maroon mixing. Avoid pinkish reds like ruby or shades too close to maroon already, like burgundy. Instead pick a bold, pure red.

Adjust the Color Ratios

Now comes the fun part – actually combining the purple and red to create maroon. Start by adding just a small amount of red to the purple base. Use more red for a lighter purple starting shade. Mix the colors thoroughly. You may need to add the red in several stages to slowly deepen and neutralize the purple.

Pay attention to the shifting color tones as you add more red. Stop adding red when you achieve the desired maroon shade. For a slightly muted or earthy maroon, add a small dash of yellow too. Keep a record of the ratio mixtures so you can replicate the custom maroon color again.

Here are some example purple and red color ratios to produce maroon:

Starting Purple Complementary Red Ratio
Violet Crimson 3 parts purple to 1 part red
Lavender Scarlet 1 part purple to 2 parts red
Royal purple Maroon 4 parts purple to 1 part red

The ratios required will vary based on the starting shades and intensity you want for the final maroon color.

Alternative Maroon Mixing Methods

In addition to mixing colored paints or dyes, here are some other techniques for making maroon shades:

  • Tint with white – Add white paint/dye to maroon to lighten it into softer dusky rose or mauve shades.
  • Shade with black – Mix in black paint/dye to deepen maroon into darker burgundy hues.
  • Combine paints – Mix maroon acrylic paint with maroon watercolor paints to achieve unique tones.
  • Layer translucent glazes – On canvas, build up layers of maroon oil paint glazes over purple underpainting.
  • Use opposite process – Instead of adding red to purple, start with a red base and mix in purple until maroon.

Experiment with using different coloring mediums together to expand the shades of maroon you can create.

Achieving a Maroon Finish

Here are some final tips for successfully mixing and working with maroon:

  • Mix enough to have extra – It’s hard to reproduce the exact custom maroon again, so make more than you need.
  • Match undertones – Keep the purple and red undertones similar for a unified maroon, like combining a cool crimson red with an eggplant purple.
  • Check saturation – Highly saturated colors will make bolder maroons. Muted shades mix to more subdued earthy maroons.
  • Use opaque pigments – Translucent paints or dyes will blend together more compared to thicker, opaque pigments.
  • Store mixed colors – Save custom maroon paints in an airtight container so you can use the same shade on future projects.

With some color theory knowledge and experimenting, you can create the perfect maroon hue to suit any project needs.


Transforming purple into maroon is achievable by incorporating the right shades of complementary red hues. Follow basic color mixing principles to carefully darken purple with red to reach the ideal reddish-brown maroon tones. Adjust the color ratios and use opaque pigments for the best results. With practice and record keeping, you can learn to expertly mix a signature maroon that coordinates across all your arts, crafts, fashion or decor projects. Understanding how to manipulate color combinations opens up an endless spectrum of unique shades to utilize.