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How do you make pink out of primary colors?

How do you make pink out of primary colors?

Pink is a secondary color that can be made by combining two primary colors – red and white. The primary colors are red, blue, and yellow. By mixing together two primary colors in different ratios, all the other colors can be created. To make pink, you need to mix a larger amount of red with a smaller amount of white. The more white you add, the lighter and more pastel the pink will become. The less white, the more saturated and vibrant the pink.

What are the primary colors?

The primary colors are red, blue, and yellow. These three colors can’t be created by mixing other colors together. All other colors are derived from some combination of these three primary colors. This is known as the RYB (or subtractive) color model that is used for painting, printing, and other design applications.

Here are the key characteristics of the primary colors:

  • Red – A warm and vibrant color that’s associated with energy, passion, and excitement.
  • Yellow – A bright and cheerful color that represents happiness, optimism, and intellect.
  • Blue – A cool and calming color that is linked to serenity, trust, and professionalism.

When you mix together two primary colors, you get the secondary colors – purple, orange, and green. Mix all three primary colors together and you get various shades of brown or black.

How do secondary colors work?

Secondary colors are created by mixing two primary colors together. The three secondary colors are:

  • Purple – Made by mixing red and blue.
  • Orange – Made by mixing red and yellow.
  • Green – Made by mixing blue and yellow.

The secondary colors sit between the primary colors on the color wheel. Mixing two secondary colors together produces a tertiary color. For example, mixing purple and orange makes a red-orange tone.

When it comes to light instead of pigments, the primary colors are red, blue and green (RGB model). This is because the eye has receptors for these three colors. Mixing light works differently than mixing paints. With light, combining all three primary colors makes white rather than black.

How is pink made from primary colors?

Pink is made by mixing the primary colors red and white. White is not technically a primary color, but it is needed to lighten and dilute the red to create pink.

Here is the process for making pink paint from red, white, and blue as the primary colors:

  1. Start with a red paint or pigment.
  2. Add a small amount of white paint/pigment to dilute and lighten the red.
  3. Adjust the ratio of red to white to achieve the desired shade of pink. More white makes it lighter.

And here is the process for mixing light to make pink:

  1. Start with a red light source.
  2. Add a lesser amount of a white light source to dilute and lighten the red into pink.
  3. Adjust the brightness of the white light to control how light or saturated the pink is.

So in summary, pink is made by adding a little bit of white to red. The more white you add, the lighter the pink becomes. To keep it vivid, you want more red than white in the mix.

How does the ratio of red to white affect the pink shade?

The ratio of red to white determines whether you have a vibrant pink or a pale pastel pink. Here is how the ratio impacts the shade of pink:

Red to White Ratio Resulting Pink Shade
10 parts red : 1 part white Vibrant fuschia pink
5 parts red : 1 part white Bright pink
3 parts red : 1 part white Medium pink
1 part red : 1 part white Light pink
1 part red : 3 parts white Very pale pastel pink

As you increase the amount of white relative to the red, the pink becomes lighter, closer to a pinkish-white. With more red, you get the bold hot pink tones.

The exact shades that result from mixing reds and whites will also depend on the starting shades. A bright primary red will give different results than a darker red pigment. But in general, decreasing the white dilution keeps the pink more saturated.

Tips for mixing a perfect pink

Here are some tips when blending red and white paint or light to achieve your ideal pink:

  • Start with a warm primary red that leans slightly towards orange/salmon. Too cool of a red may end up giving a purple tone.
  • Add white gradually and mix thoroughly. Too much white at once can over-dilute.
  • Aim for a red to white ratio around 3:1 or 5:1 for a nice vibrant pink.
  • Test your mixed color on a spare canvas or surface before applying it.
  • Adjust the ratio as needed to get the right hue. More white for lighter pinks.
  • For a pastel pink, use an opaque white like titanium or zinc white.

It may take some trial and error to find your perfect pink for a given project. But starting with a warm, primary red and slowly adding white is the basic technique. Control the white dilution to get the pink look you desire.

What other factors affect the pink color?

In addition to the red/white ratio, a few other factors can impact the final look of a mixed pink color:

  • Type of red pigment or light: A primary red on the cooler violet side will mix to make a raspberry pink. A warm orangey red will mix to make a peachy pink. The red undertone matters.
  • Opacity of white pigment: Opaque whites like titanium white will dilute the red more than translucent whites like zinc or mixing white. Opaque whites make lighter pinks.
  • Surface color and texture: The base color you apply the pink to will influence the end result. Mixing on white gives brighter pinks than mixing on black or gray.
  • Type of paint/medium: Watercolor and acrylic handle mixing differently than oils or color pencils due to transparency, viscosity, and drying time.

So the white/red balance is the dominant factor in mixing pink, but keep these other elements in mind too for your ideal color.

Common problems when mixing pink

Here are some potential troubles people run into when attempting to mix up pink colors from basic reds and whites:

  • Getting purple or mauve tones instead of pink – This happens when the starting red contains too much blue or the white adds a blue tint.
  • Ending up with beige or pale orange – Not enough red pigment leads to a diluted neutral pink that looks more peachy or brown.
  • Having a flat, lifeless pink – Using cadmium reds or opaque whites can make a chalky pink without vibrancy.
  • Needing white to lighten but also mute & desaturate the pink – Transparent mixing whites solve this by lightening without dulling the color.

Avoid these issues by choosing a warm primary red, adding white gradually, and testing your mixed pink before applying it broadly. Adjust the mix until you get the exact pink tone and intensity you want.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are red, yellow and blue the primary colors?

Red, yellow, and blue are considered the primary colors in art and design because they cannot be created by mixing other pigments but are needed as the basis to create all other hues. When different ratios of the primaries are combined, they form the secondary and tertiary colors on the color wheel.

What two colors make hot pink?

Hot pink is made by mixing a lot of vivid red with a smaller amount of white to dilute it slightly while retaining the saturation. A ratio of about 5 parts primary red to 1 part white makes a bright hot pink.

Is pink a primary or secondary color?

Pink is a secondary color, made by combining the primary colors red and white. Primary colors can’t be made by mixing while secondary colors are created by mixing two primaries.

What colors make pink without red?

While red is needed to make a true pink, you can mix other color combinations to create pink-like tones such as:

  • Purple + White
  • Magenta + White
  • Violet + White
  • Crimson + White

These will give you varying hues of light or dark pinkish purple tones.

Can you make pink with blue?

While adding blue to red makes purple, you can make a light pink tone by mixing a very small amount of blue with a lot of white. However, this will lack the vibrancy of a true pink made from red and white.


In summary, pink is created by mixing red and white paint or light. Red is necessary as the base pigment. The more white you add, the lighter the pink becomes. A mix ratio of around 3-5 parts red to 1 part white gives the best vibrant pinks. Control the amount of white to achieve different shades from bold pink to pale pastel pink. Test your mixed pink and adjust the ratio as needed to get the exact hue you desire.