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What color is a mix of purple and green?

What color is a mix of purple and green?

When mixing colors together, the resulting color can often be unpredictable. Purple and green are two colors on opposite sides of the color wheel, so mixing them together results in a tertiary color that is essentially a blend of the two. Determining the exact shade that results when mixing purple and green depends on the specific shades of each color used. However, the general result is a tone of dark gray, muted brown, or desaturated olive green.

Complementary Colors

Purple and green are considered complementary colors. This means they are directly opposite each other on the color wheel. Complementary colors create strong visual contrast when placed side-by-side. However, when mixed together, complementary colors mute or neutralize each other. The pigments cancel each other out, resulting in a more neutral, desaturated color.

Color Theory

According to basic color theory, secondary colors are created by mixing two primary colors, while tertiary colors are made by mixing a primary and secondary shade. Purple is considered a secondary color, as it can be created by mixing the primary colors red and blue. Green is one of the three primary colors. When a primary and secondary color are mixed, the resulting tertiary color is essentially a combination of all three primary pigments.

Shades of Purple and Green

There are many shades of both purple and green across the color spectrum. The specific shades used when mixing these colors will affect the end result. Lighter tints of purple and green will blend together to create a light olive green or muted taupe. Mixing darker shades of purple and green will result in a deeper, more grayish and muted shade. More vivid or jewel toned shades will blend into a more brownish olive color.

Purple Shade Green Shade Mixed Color
Light lavender Mint green Pale olive green
Lilac Seafoam green Dull teal
Grape Forest green Dark olive brown
Eggplant Hunter green Muted olive gray

As seen in the table, lighter purple and green shades tend to mix into pale olive tones. Darker shades create more grayish brown olives. Vivid shades result in a stronger, brownish olive.

The Color Wheel

On the traditional RYB color wheel, purple sits between red and blue, while green is between yellow and blue. When looking at the wheel, the tertiary colors formed between these complementary shades are shades of olive, taupe, and gray. For example, the color between violet and green is a dusky olive-brown. The color between red-purple and yellow-green is a desaturated neutral taupe.

The color wheel shows how mixing any complementary colors results in a muted, desaturated tertiary shade halfway between the two original colors.

Paint Mixing

Blending complementary paint colors is a common technique used by artists. Mixing purple and green paint results in a similar muted olive, brown, or gray shade. The specific tone depends on the purple and green used. Mixing phthalo green with dioxazine purple makes a deep neutral olive. Combining viridian green and ultramarine violet creates a grayish-brown. Blending emerald green and carbazole violet results in a dull olive-brown.

Purple Paint Green Paint Mixed Color
Dioxazine Purple Phthalo Green Deep olive
Ultramarine Violet Viridian Green Grayish brown
Carbazole Violet Emerald Green Olive brown

As with other mediums, the specific green and purple shades alter the mixing result. But paint blending generally produces an olive, brown, or grayed-down tertiary color.

Light and Pigments

The physics of light also helps explain why green and purple create a muted tone when combined. Green and purple are on opposite sides of the visible color spectrum. Green light is made up of wavelengths around 510-530 nanometers, while purple is around 380-450 nanometers. When these opposite light wavelengths mix, they essentially cancel each other out. The result is a color without much intensity or chroma.

In terms of pigments, green absorbs red wavelengths while reflecting blue and green light. Purple absorbs green light while reflecting red and blue wavelengths. When combined, the purple pigment absorbs the green light being reflected by the green pigment. The green pigment absorbs the red wavelengths being reflected by the purple. The resulting color reflects a small amount of blue along with mostly absorbed wavelengths, resulting in a dark, olive, brown, or gray tone depending on the amounts of each pigment present.

Mixing Other Colors with Purple and Green

Adding additional colors into the mix can alter the resulting blended shade. Mixing purple and green along with white will produce a pale olive or grayed lavender. Adding black will deepen the tone into a true dark gray or charcoal. Introducing yellow shifts the mix towards brown, while adding red intensifies a more solid, vivid olive.

Added Color Mixed Color
White Pale olive green or grayed lavender
Black Dark gray or charcoal
Yellow Brown
Red Vivid olive

So while purple and green alone generally make a muted olive or brown, bringing in additional colors provides more variety.

Proportions of Each Color

The exact proportions of purple and green pigments also impact the final blended shade. Using more green will shift the mix towards an olive color, while more purple moves it towards a grayish taupe. Finding the right balance is important for achieving the desired tertiary color.

Here is a quick overview of how the proportions affect the mixed shade:

– More green, less purple – olive color
– Balanced amounts – grayish brown
– More purple, less green – taupe/gray
– Mostly green, touch of purple – olive green
– Mostly purple, touch of green – lavender gray

Adjusting the purple and green quantities gives full control over navigating the range of brown, olive, and gray tones.

Lighting Conditions

The lighting conditions when viewing the blended color also impact how it is perceived. Under warm, yellow incandescent lights, the purple-green mix will take on a browned-olive cast. In cool fluorescent lighting, it will have more of a greenish-gray appearance. Direct sunlight may give it a taupey look.

Lighting Perceived Color
Incandescent Brown olive
Fluorescent Greenish gray
Direct sunlight Taupe

So the exact color that purple and green make depends on context. But in general, it falls in the range of gray, brown, and olive tones.


When blended together, purple and green create a tertiary shade that is essentially a mixture of the two complementary colors. The resulting tone sits between purple and green on the color wheel. Depending on the specific shades used and their proportions, this color is typically a muted, desaturated olive brown, greenish-gray, or taupe. While not the most vibrant or exciting mixed color, it is a great example of how complementary colors interact to form a more neutral tertiary shade. With some adjustments and experimentation, artists can use the muddy blend of purple and green to their advantage for an earthy, subtle effect.