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What is the opposite color of purple?

What is the opposite color of purple?

Purple is a color that occupies a special place in the color spectrum. Known for its regal qualities, purple has long been associated with royalty, nobility, luxury, and ambition. But like any color, purple has an opposite on the color wheel that seems to embody some of its contrary qualities. Determining the direct complementary color to purple helps provide balance and contrast in color schemes and designs. So what exactly is the opposite of purple? Let’s take a closer look.

Defining Purple

To understand the opposite of purple, we first need to define what exactly purple is. Purple is a secondary color made by combining the primary colors red and blue. On the traditional RYB color model, purple falls between red and blue. On the modern RGB color wheel, purple sits between magenta and blue.

There are a few different shades of purple, depending on the specific ratio of red to blue used:

Purple Shade Red Blue
Violet High red Low blue
Purple Equal red & blue Equal red & blue
Royal purple Low red High blue

So when we talk about the opposite of purple, we need to consider that the exact shade of purple matters since purple is a range of hues.

Understanding Color Wheels

To find the direct complementary color to purple, we need to look at a color wheel. The traditional RYB and modern RGB wheels provide a visual representation of colors and their relationships. Complementary colors sit directly across from each other on the wheel. These colors create maximum contrast and reinforce each other when placed side-by-side.

Some key facts about complementary colors:

– They are opposites on the color wheel
– They create maximum contrast
– They are lively pairings
– They complement each other

When looking directly across from purple on a color wheel, we can identify its complementary color match.

Identifying the Opposite of Purple

Now we’re ready to name the direct complementary color to purple. On both the RYB and RGB color models, the opposite color of purple is…


No matter what specific shade of purple you start with, the complement will be some shade of yellow.

Purple Shade Complementary Shade
Violet Lemon yellow
Purple Primary yellow
Royal purple Goldenrod yellow

Yellow and purple stand out boldly against each other. This striking contrast is what makes them complementary pairings. The lively pop of yellow energizes and uplifts purple’s moodier, more introspective qualities.

Why Yellow Complements Purple

But why exactly does yellow complement purple so well from a color theory perspective?

There are a few key reasons:

– Contrast of light and dark
– Contrast of warm and cool
– Contrast of hue

Looking at these contrasts:

Light and dark – Yellow has a very high luminance while purple has a very low luminance. This creates bold visual contrast.

Warm and cool – Yellow is a decidedly warm color while purple is very cool in tone. This temperature contrast is visually stimulating.

Hue – Yellow and purple sit exactly opposite each other on the color wheel. This opposite positioning in hue creates a complementary pairing.

So yellow addresses all three factors that make for a strong color contrast – lightness, temperature, and hue. No other color naturally complements purple in the same way.

Using Complementary Yellows and Purples

Knowing that yellow and purple strongly complement each other opens up many possibilities for using these colors together. Here are some examples:

– Graphic design color schemes
– Painting and artwork
– Interior design accents
– Fashion and clothing
– Food presentation
– Event decor

Getting the right balance of the two colors is key. Having too much of both can look jarring and overwhelm the eyes. But the right touch of vibrant yellow can make purple pop, and vice versa.

It’s also important to pay attention to the specific shades used. Not all yellows complement all purples equally. But keeping hue, lightness, and warmth in mind when selecting the shades can create beautiful and lively color harmonies.

Color Psychology

An interesting aspect of yellow and purple’s complementary relationship is the color psychology these hues represent.

Associations with yellow include:

– Happiness
– Optimism
– Clarity
– Energy
– Intellect

Associations with purple include:

– Royalty
– Luxury
– Creativity
– Ambition
– Mystery

So yellow represents the light, joyful, and energetic side of things while purple embodies the luxurious, mystical, and imaginative side. Yellow’s vibrant optimism balances out purple’s dreamy introspection.

These psychological effects contribute an extra dimension to their visual contrast. Using complementary yellows and purples together can create balance between mind and emotions, intellect and imagination.

Notable Examples

To see this complementary color scheme in action, here are some real-world examples of yellow and purple:

The Minneapolis Lakers – This popular basketball team used a yellow and royal purple color scheme in their uniforms during the 1950s.

Penguin book covers – Many vintage Penguin paperbacks paired a bold yellow stripe with purple cover art.

Prince logo – The famous musician combined yellow and deep purple in the iconic Prince symbol.

Cadbury chocolate – Cadbury uses yellow and purple packaging to distinguish its brand and products.

Yellow and lavender bouquets – Floral arrangements often bring out the visual pop of yellow and lavender flowers together.

Yellow and violet gemstones – Jewelry makers sometimes set vibrant yellow citrine alongside stunning violet amethyst for contrast.


While yellow is clearly the complementary color of purple, there are a couple of interesting exceptions:

Tertiary purples – When a tertiary purple contains a high amount of green or aqua as part of its mix, its complement shifts closer to red-orange rather than yellow.

Magenta purple – The complement to the vivid hue of magenta purple is more of a lime green than a pure yellow.

So the exact complementary color can vary depending on how close purple shades are to violet vs. magenta on the color wheel. But in general, yellow remains the opposite and complement of classic purple hues.


When exploring complementary color schemes, purple and yellow are classic examples of opposites that attract. The vibrant energy of yellow balances the royal richness of purple to create visually stimulating combinations. Knowing how these two colors interact provides smart guidelines for color mixing in all sorts of applications.

So remember, whenever you want to identify the direct color contrast to purple, look for the power and pop of yellow. The right touch of this sunny hue provides the perfect color counterpoint. Use yellow and purple together to highlight both colors’ unique strengths in any creative color palette.

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