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What colors are red and violet?

What colors are red and violet?

Red and violet are both colors that exist on the visible spectrum of light. They occupy different regions on the color wheel and have their own unique properties that set them apart from one another. This article will explore what defines each color, how they are created, and how red and violet interact to produce other shades.

Defining Red

Red is a primary color and sits at one end of the visible spectrum. It has the longest wavelength of all the colors in the rainbow and occupies the hotter end of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Red has a wavelength range of approximately 620-780 nanometers. When all the wavelengths in this range are present in roughly equal intensity, we perceive the color red.

On the additive RGB color model, red is created by having the red color value turned on full strength, with no blue or green added to it. This means red has the RGB values:

Red: 255
Green: 0
Blue: 0

In print and on screens, red is made by mixing magenta and yellow pigments. In nature, red occurs when an object absorbs all other visible wavelengths of light except red. Examples of naturally occurring red objects are blood, roses, rubies, and apples.

Red evokes strong emotions and symbolism. It is associated with energy, passion, aggression, excitement, heat, spontaneity, and war. It is known to increases heart rate and stimulate appetite. In design, red commands attention and highlights important elements.

Defining Violet

Violet is a spectral, or real color, meaning it occupies its own narrow band on the visible light spectrum. It is NOT a primary or secondary color.

Violet has the shortest wavelength of all the colors in the visible spectrum and sits at the opposite end from red. Its wavelength range is approximately 380-450 nanometers. When wavelengths in this range are present with roughly equal intensity, we see the color violet.

On the RGB color wheel, violet is made by mixing red and blue light. This means violet has the RGB values:

Red: 255
Green: 0
Blue: 255

Printed violet uses the CMYK color model. It is created by overlapping magenta and blue pigments. In nature, violet occurs when an object absorbs all visible wavelengths except blue and red light. Examples are violets, plums, lavender, and galaxies.

Violet has cultural associations with spirituality, imagination, creativity, wisdom, royalty, and luxury. It creates a sense of mysticism and magic. In design, violet can give a sense of nostalgia or femininity.

The Visible Spectrum

The visible spectrum is the narrow portion of the full electromagnetic spectrum that humans can see. It includes all the colors of the rainbow that are visible to the human eye.

The visible spectrum ranges in wavelength from approximately 380-750 nanometers. Violet has the shortest wavelengths at the lower end, red has the longest at the upper end. The other colors like blue, green, yellow, and orange fill the range in between.

White light contains all the wavelengths of the visible spectrum mixed together. When this light encounters an object, some wavelengths are absorbed while others are reflected back to our eyes. The reflected wavelengths determine what color our eyes perceive the object to be.

The visible spectrum represents just a tiny slice of the full electromagnetic spectrum. Other parts like gamma rays, x-rays, microwaves, and radio waves have wavelengths too short or long to be seen. But they can still be detected and used by technology.

Color Wavelength (nm)
Violet 380-450
Blue 450-495
Green 495-570
Yellow 570-590
Orange 590-620
Red 620-750

Mixing Red and Violet

When red and violet light are mixed together, the resulting color our eyes see is called magenta. This vivid purplish-pink sits halfway between the two colors on the visible spectrum.

Magenta has a wavelength range of approximately 400-600 nanometers when mixing red and violet light. It does not have its own wavelength on the electromagnetic spectrum since it is not a spectral color.

The RGB values for magenta are:

Red: 255
Green: 0
Blue: 255

In print, magenta pigment is used alongside cyan pigment to produce violet ink. On computer screens that show red, blue, and green, mixing maximum red and blue makes magenta.

Magenta sits opposite green on the color wheel. Complementary colors like these create maximum contrast when placed side-by-side, making magenta and green vivid and eye-catching.

When red and violet pigments are physically combined, like when mixing paints, the resulting color is a dark purple-red hue. Adding white makes it lighter and more pink. Adding black creates a deep, vivid purple.

Differences Between Red and Violet

Though red and violet may mix to make shades like magenta and purple, they have some key differences:

Red Violet
– Longest visible wavelength – Shortest visible wavelength
– Primary color – Not a primary or secondary color
– No blue or green needed to make it – Needs red and blue to create it
– Evokes heat, passion, aggression – Evokes spirituality, creativity, luxury
– Absorbs all wavelengths besides red – Absorbs all wavelengths besides violet

Some key points:

– Red sits at the long wavelength end of the visible spectrum, violet at the short end
– Red is a primary color, violet is not
– Red needs no other colors to create it, violet requires red and blue
– They elicit differing emotional reactions and associations
– Objects appear red or violet by absorbing all wavelengths besides those colors

So while red and violet can mix to form new shades, they occupy distinct places on the visible light spectrum.

Using Red and Violet Together

Red and violet have very different effects, but can combine in interesting ways for design and art. Some tips for using them together:

– Pair them for extremely vibrant contrast. The colors are as far apart on the color wheel as possible, creating a dynamic, eye-catching combination.

– Mix them with white to make pinks and lavenders. This creates softer, lighter shades.

– Add black to make deeper plums and purples. These darker shades are luxurious and sophisticated.

– Use red for the main color, violet for accents. Violet has a delicate beauty that pairs well with the boldness of red.

– Use violet text on a red background for visibility. Violet text tends to pop against the intense red.

– Use red sparingly to draw attention. Its strength can overwhelm violet’s lightness.

– Use a red and violet split complementary palette. The adjacent colors accent them beautifully.

With careful balance, red’s vibrancy and violet’s mysticism combine to create colorful, expressive palettes with great artistic potential.


In summary, red and violet are distinct colors occupying opposite ends of the visible light spectrum. Red has the longest wavelength, violet the shortest. Red is a primary color that requires no other hues to create it, while violet is made by combining red and blue.

They elicit very different responses, with red being associated with heat and passion, violet with spirituality and luxury. Mixed together they make shades like magenta and purple, though combining their pigments creates dark purples and plums.

Though very different colors, red and violet can complement each other beautifully. Their vibrant contrast creates eye-catching and energetic color combinations. By balancing the boldness of red with the delicate beauty of violet, visually exciting palettes can be built.

Understanding the properties and interactions of these disparate colors on the spectrum gives designers and artists more tools for creating vivid, moving works. Red and violet paint a rainbow of possibilities.