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What color blue and red make?

What color blue and red make?

When it comes to mixing colors, one of the most common combinations is mixing blue and red. But what color do you get when you mix blue and red paints or light? Here, we’ll explore the basics of color theory and look at what happens when these two vivid primary colors are blended together.

The Basics of Mixing Blue and Red

In basic color theory, there are three primary colors – red, blue and yellow. When you mix primary colors together, you get secondary colors. For example:

  • Red + Blue = Purple
  • Red + Yellow = Orange
  • Blue + Yellow = Green

So when it comes to mixing blue and red, the resulting secondary color is purple. The exact shade of purple will depend on the ratio of blue to red used. Equal parts blue and red will make a vivid violet purple. Adding more blue will create a cooler, bluer purple. Adding more red will result in a warmer, redder purple.

Mixing Blue and Red Paint

When mixing blue and red paint pigments, the blended color created is a purple shade. Here’s a look at what happens when you combine common blue and red paint pigments:

  • Cadmium red + ultramarine blue = violet
  • Alizarin crimson + phthalo blue = reddish purple
  • Cobalt blue + cadmium red = purple

Oil and acrylic artists can mix up a variety of purple tones by blending their blue and red paints. Watercolorists can also mix their blue and red pigments, but need to work quickly before the paints dry.

For example, an artist might squeeze out ultramarine blue and alizarin crimson oil paints onto their palette. Using a painting knife or brush, they can blend the two colors to achieve a nicely balanced purple for their artwork. The more blue added, the cooler or more violet the shade becomes. With more red, the color takes on a warmer, red-violet hue.

Combining Blue and Red Light

When it comes to colored light instead of pigments, mixing blue and red light results in a different color than purple. This is because the physics of light work a bit differently than paint mixtures.

In additive color mixing with light, the primary colors are red, green and blue (RGB). The essential colors used for TV, computer, phone and tablet screens. When you blend blue and red light, the resulting additive secondary color is magenta.

For example, combining the light of a blue LED bulb with a red LED bulb will cast a bright magenta light. On a computer screen, setting the pixels to full red and full blue values will display magenta. So when it comes to light, blue + red = magenta.

Mixing Color Wheels

The color wheel is a useful visual tool for understanding color relationships. The basic RYB (red, yellow, blue) color wheel shows the primary, secondary and tertiary colors and how they relate to each other.

On the RYB wheel, the secondary color purple appears between blue and red. This illustrates how mixing blue and red paint pigments produces purple.

There is also an RGB (red, green, blue) color wheel that shows the colors of light. On this wheel, magenta appears between blue and red, visually showing that combining blue and red light makes magenta.

Digital Color Mixing

With digital design and image editing software like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign, you can easily experiment with mixing colors digitally.

Most of these applications use the RGB color model. This means mixing pure red and pure blue will make magenta, just like with light. You can adjust the saturation and lightness to modify the magenta tone.

However, digital programs also allow you to switch color models or work in CMYK mode (cyan, magenta, yellow, black). In CMYK, a pure blue + red mix will get you closer to a purple outcome. So digital color mixing gives you flexibility.

More on Complementary Colors

Looking again at the RYB color wheel, blue and red are complementary colors. This means they are directly opposite each other on the wheel.

Complementary color pairs contrast strongly, creating vibrant tension and dynamic impact when combined. Other examples of complements include:

  • Red & Green
  • Blue & Orange
  • Yellow & Purple

Using complementary colors together can really make your artwork or photographs pop. The bold contrast helps elements stand out prominently in a composition.

However, complements must be balanced carefully, or the clashing can be jarring. Often, mixing a bit of one complement into the other (like blue into red or vice versa) helps create harmony.

Mixing Tints and Shades

So far, we’ve looked primarily at mixing pure, vivid hues of blue and red. However, you can mix blue and red paint or light in their tints and shades too.

A tint is a color mixed with white, lightening it. A shade is a color mixed with black, darkening it. Mixing blue and red in their tints and shades will also result in lovely variations of purple and magenta.

For example, you can mix a sky blue tint with a pale pink tint using acrylics to make a soft pastel purple. Or combine a deep navy blue shade with a burgundy red shade for a really dark, rich purple.

With light, you can make a light magenta by illuminating pale blue and pink spotlights together. And make a deep magenta with darker blue and red lighting. So don’t be afraid to mix blue and red tints and shades as well.

Advanced Color Mixing

When you start mixing multiple colors together, things can get more complex. For example, you might mix blue, red and yellow acrylic paint together on your palette.

This three-color blend introduces the third primary color, yellow. The resulting secondary mixtures include green and orange. While the three combined produce an interesting trinary blend, likely some version of brown.

Mastering advanced color mixing does take time. But experimenting with blending primary, secondary and tertiary colors together will help deepen your understanding. And produce some fascinating new shades in your paintings!

Mixing Colors in Nature

In nature, we can see beautiful examples of blended colors. Adding blue’s cool energy to red’s warmth results in captivating purples found in flowers, minerals, animals and more.

Vibrant purple flowers like orchids, lilacs and hydrangeas showcase red and blue mixed together. Deep red-violet sunsets contain a blend of the sky’s blue with the sun’s red-orange light.

Purple minerals like amethyst and sugilite get their violet hues from a fusion of red and blue undertones. And regal purple birds like hummingbirds reveal a merging of cool blue with warm red in their plumage.

Observing how vividly blue and red combine in the natural world around us can inspire our own color mixing as artists.

Mixing Blue and Red – In Summary

When mixing blue and red, the resulting secondary color is purple. But the exact purple shade produced depends on if you are mixing pigments or light.

Mixing blue and red paints makes a vibrant violet purple. Combining blue and red light produces a bright magenta hue. Digital programs allow you to achieve either purple or magenta tones.

The contrast of blue and red as complementary colors creates visual excitement. Mixing the tints and shades of blue and red results in soft or deep variations of purple and magenta.

Mastering color mixing takes practice, but is an enjoyable way to produce new colors. Observe blues and reds blending together in the natural world for artistic inspiration.

So grab some blue and red paint or light and experiment with mixing the two yourself. Discover the range of purple hues you can create by blending these vivid primary colors together.

Frequently Asked Questions

What two colors make purple?

The two colors that make purple are blue and red. Per the basics of color theory, purple is the secondary color resulting from mixing the primary colors blue and red. The exact purple shade depends on the ratio of blue to red used.

Why does mixing blue and red make purple?

Mixing blue and red makes purple because blue and red are considered complementary colors on the traditional RYB color wheel. Complementary colors are directly across from each other on the color wheel. When complementary colors are physically blended together, a new secondary color is created.

Does blue and red make pink?

No, mixing blue and red does not make pink. Pink is made by mixing red and white to create a red tint. Blue and red mixed together makes purple. However, combining very pale tints of blue and red can result in a light purple that approaches pink.

What color does red and blue make digitally?

When mixing red and blue light in digital programs like photo editing software, the resulting color is magenta. This is because digital design uses the RGB or CMYK color models where red and blue light combine to make magenta. However, you can achieve a purple tone digitally as well by switching color models.

What colors should you not mix together?

Some colors that generally do not mix well together include:

  • Red and green (can result in a muddy brown)
  • Purple and yellow (can look dingy and dull)
  • Blue and orange (creates a high-contrast effect that may be jarring)
  • Warm and cool colors (the temperature contrast can compete)

However, sometimes contrasting colors can produce interesting effects. It’s often best to avoid mixing more than three highly saturated colors together at once.


Mixing the primary colors blue and red results in a secondary purple hue. The specific purple shade shifts from violet with paint pigments to magenta with light. Complementary colors contrast excitingly when blended. Experimenting with mixing blue, red and other colors deepens our understanding of color relationships and unlocks new artistic possibilities.

Blue Pigment Red Pigment Resulting Color
Ultramarine blue Cadmium red Violet
Cobalt blue Alizarin crimson Reddish purple
Phthalo blue Perm rose Purple