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What mixes to make purple?

What mixes to make purple?

Purple is a popular color that comes in many shades and hues. Unlike primary colors, purple is a secondary color, meaning it is created by mixing two primary colors together. The two primary colors that make purple are red and blue. By mixing different proportions of red and blue, you can create different shades and intensities of purple. Understanding color theory and color mixing allows you to deliberately create the perfect purple for any project.

The Basics of Mixing Colors

In painting and other visual arts, there are three primary colors – red, yellow and blue. These are called primary colors because they cannot be created by mixing other colors together. Secondary colors are made by mixing two primary colors. For example:

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

Tertiary colors are made by mixing a primary color with a secondary color next to it on the color wheel. For example:

Red + Purple = Red-Purple
Yellow + Green = Yellow-Green
Blue + Green = Blue-Green

The secondary color purple sits between red and blue on the color wheel. This means it can be made by mixing just red and blue pigments. Understanding these color relationships allows you to mix a wide range of purple shades.

Mixing Red and Blue Paint

When working with paints, mixing purple is straightforward. You simply combine red and blue paint in different proportions. Here are some examples:

More red + a little blue = Raspberry purple
Equal red + blue = Violet
More blue + a little red = Royal purple
Blue with a touch of red = Indigo purple

Adding more red creates reddish purples, while adding more blue creates bluish purples. The intensity also changes depending on how much of each color you add. Mixing equal parts red and blue will give you a vivid violet purple. Adding just a touch of blue to red makes a soft raspberry purple.

The best way to mix up a perfect purple is to start with a small amount of one color and add the other color slowly. Test the mixed color on a paint palette or other surface as you go. This allows you to gradually achieve the right hue and intensity of purple for your needs.

Mixing Red and Blue Dye

Purple can also be created by mixing dyes rather than paint pigments. Fabric dyeing and food coloring rely on dye to tint materials and liquids.

When working with dyes, the same color theory applies. Mixing red and blue dyes will allow you to create a wide spectrum of purple shades. However, the proportions may need to be adjusted compared to paint.

Some tips when mixing dyes:

– Start with more blue dye than red since blue tends to be less intense
– Add just a small amount of red at a time
– Dye a test strand before dyeing the whole item
– Adjust with more red or blue dye as needed

Mixing complementary colors like red and blue often produces a muted or grayish result. This is because the two colors neutralize each others’ intensity. With dyes, extra intensity can be added by using warm red and cool blue shades. This keeps the hues more vivid.

Mixing Red and Blue Light

When working with light instead of pigments, the primary colors are red, green and blue. This means purple can be created by mixing red and blue light.

Red and blue light can be combined by using gels over stage lighting or colored light bulbs. The principles of color mixing still apply:

– More red light = reddish purple
– More blue light = bluish purple
– Equal red and blue = balanced violet

Computer and TV screens provide another way to mix light colors. On a RGB color picker, purple colors have high values for both red and blue. By increasing one more than the other, different purple shades can be produced.

Mixing purple light allows limitless variations for website backgrounds, graphic design, photography and anywhere colored light is used.

Best Color Combinations for Vibrant Purples

Some red and blue pigment mixes can appear muddy or flat. However, there are ways to mix purples that pop with vibrancy. Here are a few tips:

– Choose a warm red like crimson or magenta
– Use a cool blue such as cobalt or ultramarine
– Add a drop of purple like violet to boost intensity
– Mix in a small amount of white to brighten

Complementary colors opposite each other on the color wheel result in grayer hues. But analogous colors next to each other, like red-violet and blue-violet, intensify one another.

Vibrant purples can make energetic accent colors. Pair purple with orange, yellow or lime green for an exciting color scheme. For softer, elegant purples use lavender, mauve or lilac shades alongside cream, peach or light gray.

Troubleshooting Muddy or Dull Purples

Sometimes purple mixtures come out dark, muddy or flat. Here are some ways to troubleshoot:

– Add a small splash of white paint or dye
– Substitute in magenta for crimson red
– Switch the blue from navy to bright cobalt
– Try more blue dye than red dye
– Remix adding colors slowly and testing as you go

Checking that your red and blue pigments are pure, intense shades can prevent lackluster purples. Strong color plus a splash of white is also key for vivid purples.


Mixing the perfect purple may take some trial and error. But by understanding primary color combinations and testing as you go, you can achieve exactly the right purple hue and vibrancy.

Red and blue are ideal complements making a wide spectrum of purple shades. Adjust the proportions and add white or an analogous color for maximum intensity. With paints, dyes, lighting or digital tools you can mix up the purple tone needed for any creative project.