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Will purple and green make blue?

Will purple and green make blue?

Many people wonder if mixing the colors purple and green will result in the color blue. This is an interesting question that involves some basic color theory and physics. In this article, we’ll break down the science behind mixing paint pigments, light waves, and digital colors to find out if combining purple and green will actually make blue. Understanding color interactions helps artists mix paints, designers choose color palettes, and scientists build color models. Read on to learn the factors that determine what colors are produced when colors are blended.

How Paint Pigments Mix

When it comes to mixing paint pigments, the answer is no – combining purple and green paint will not make blue paint. Here’s a quick overview of how paint pigments work:

Paint pigments are chemical compounds that absorb some wavelengths of visible light and reflect others. The wavelengths that are reflected back determine what color our eyes perceive.
Purple pigment absorbs green, orange, and yellow light and reflects back blue and red light.
Green pigment absorbs red, orange, and purple light and reflects back green and blue light.
When these two pigments are mixed, both red and yellow light are absorbed, leaving only blue light to be reflected back – resulting in a dark blue or purple shade rather than a true primary blue.

So when working with paints, mixing purple and green will create a dark, muddy color but not a vibrant primary blue. This is why understanding color mixing is so important for painters!

Additive vs. Subtractive Color Mixing

To understand why combining purple and green light can make blue, we need to talk about the difference between additive and subtractive color mixing.

Additive color mixing applies to light. With light, individual wavelengths are added together to create other colors:

Red light + Green light = Yellow light
Red light + Blue light = Purple (magenta) light
Green light + Blue light = Cyan (light blue) light

Subtractive color mixing applies to pigments. With pigments, wavelengths are absorbed (subtracted) to create new colors:

Yellow pigment absorbs blue light and reflects red + green.
Cyan pigment absorbs red light and reflects green + blue.
Magenta pigment absorbs green light and reflects blue + red.

This difference explains why combining paint pigments works differently than combining light. So to find out if combining purple and green light makes blue, we need to think about additive color mixing.

Mixing Colored Light

When it comes to light, combining the right purple and green wavelengths can make blue light. Here’s a more in-depth look:

The purple or magenta wavelengths are ~700nm (red) and ~400nm (blue).
The green wavelengths are ~496-570nm.
If the green wavelengths around ~550nm are combined with the blue ~400nm wavelengths from purple, the resulting wavelengths are perceived as blue by our eyes and brains.

Specifically, wavelengths of about 450-495nm appear blue to us. So while green light on its own doesn’t look blue, combining it with the blue end of the purple spectrum can produce a true blue color.

You can try this yourself by overlapping green and purple spotlights – where they overlap, you’ll see the color blue. Computer and TV screens work the same way, mixing red, green and blue light to create all the colors we see.

Digital Color Mixing

Unlike paints, digital colors use additive color mixing. Combining purple and green RGB values will make a shade of blue.

Purple RGB values are around Red: 125, Green: 0, Blue: 255
Green RGB values are around Red: 0, Green: 128, Blue: 0
If you averaged these RGB values, you’d get Red: 62, Green: 64, Blue: 127 – a medium blue color.

The exact RGB values determine the shade of the resulting blue. Darker blues have higher blue values, while lighter blues have higher green and red values mixed in.

So in digital applications like graphic design, illustration, and web design, combining purple and green always makes some shade of blue. Understanding color mixing helps designers pick the perfect hues.


While purple and green paint won’t make blue, combining light waves or digital colors in the purple and green spectrums will result in a blue output. This is because of the difference between additive and subtractive color mixing.

With paint pigments, which use subtractive mixing, the two colors create a dark blended shade. But with light and digital colors, which use additive mixing, the component wavelengths combine to form wavelengths our eyes see as shades of blue.

So the short answer is no, purple and green pigments won’t make blue paint. But with light and digital colors that mix additively, purple and green can combine to create blue! Understanding the science of color mixing helps artists, designers and scientists predict the colors produced by blending different color spectrums.


Here is a summary of the key points:

– Mixing purple and green paint pigments creates a dark, muddy shade, not a pure blue.

– With additive color mixing of light, combining purple and green light can make blue by mixing the green and blue wavelengths.

– On digital screens, combining purple and green RGB values averages to a shade of blue.

– The difference comes down to subtractive vs additive color mixing.

– Understanding color theory helps predict the results of mixing different color pigments and light wavelengths.