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What color mixes with blue to make purple?

What color mixes with blue to make purple?

Blue and red mixed together make purple. This is because purple is a secondary color created by combining the primary colors of blue and red. When blue and red light mix, the resulting color is purple. When blue and red pigments or paints mix, the resulting color is also purple.

The Color Wheel

On the standard color wheel used by artists and designers, the primary colors are red, yellow, and blue. The secondary colors – purple, orange, and green – are created by mixing pairs of primary colors. Specifically:

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

So purple sits between red and blue on the color wheel. This visual relationship helps illustrate why combining these two primary colors results in the secondary color purple.

Light vs. Pigment

It’s important to understand that mixing colors of light is different from mixing pigments. With light, the primary colors are red, green, and blue (RGB). The primary pigment colors are cyan, magenta, and yellow (CMYK).

This means if you mix red and blue light, such as with stage lighting, you get purple. But if you mix red and blue paints or dyes, you typically get a muddy brown color, not vivid purple. That’s because pigments work by absorbing certain wavelengths of light and reflecting others. To get purple with pigments, you need to start with magenta and blue.

Shades of Purple

There are many shades of purple, from light lavender to dark purple that is almost black. The specific shade you get when mixing blue and red depends on the ratio of the two colors.

  • More blue + less red = light purple
  • Equal blue + red = medium purple
  • Less blue + more red = dark purple

Adjusting the amounts of each primary color gives you richer or duller shades of purple. Adding white will lighten the purple into lavender tones. Adding black will darken it to deep purple hues.

Complementary Colors

An important concept in color theory is complementary colors. These are pairs of colors that sit opposite each other on the color wheel. Some examples of complements are:

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

When placed side-by-side, complementary colors create high contrast and reinforce each other. Since purple is the complement of yellow, pairing purple and yellow together will make both colors appear more vibrant.

Other Ways to Make Purple

While combining blue and red is the standard way to achieve purple, there are a couple other color combinations that can also create purple tones:

  • Blue + Magenta – As mentioned above, mixing a blue pigment with a red pigment usually makes brown. But starting with magenta, a reddish purple pigment, results in a nice purple.
  • Blue + Pink – Pink contains both red and white pigments. Mixing pink with blue yields a light pastel purple.
  • Red + Violet – Violet is the light purple color on the color wheel between blue and magenta. Combining violet with red creates a slightly desaturated purple.

Uses of Purple

Throughout history, purple has been associated with royalty, nobility, luxury, and ambition. This stems from the rarity and expense of purple dyes in ancient times. Here are some common uses and associations of the color purple:

  • Wealth, status, exclusivity
  • Royalty, sovereignty, aristocracy
  • Creativity, mystery, magic
  • Imagination, artistry
  • Spirituality, meditation, wisdom
  • Ambition, independence, nonconformity

In branding, purple can convey luxury but also creativity and imagination. It’s a popular color in beauty and anti-aging products. In web design, light purples complement green color schemes. Darker purples pair well with yellows.

Key Purple Color Codes

In digital design, purple colors are defined using hex codes or RGB values. Here are some of the most popular shades of purple and their color codes:

Purple Tone Hex Code RGB Values
Vivid Purple #9900FF R: 153, G:0, B:255
Medium Purple #9370DB R: 147, G: 112, B: 219
Pale Purple #B768A2 R: 183, G: 104, B: 162
Lavender #B57EDC R: 181, G: 126, B: 220

These color codes allow digital artists and designers to specifically recreate key shades of purple.


In summary, the primary way to make purple is by combining blue and red, whether mixing light sources or pigments. Adjusting the ratio of blue to red achieves different hues and shades of purple. Through history, purple has been connected with luxury and creative fields. Today it is an elegant, imaginative color used in many contexts ranging from web and graphic design to branding and marketing.