Color theory is so fun! I know that red and blue make purple, but what KIND of purple are you trying to make? Lavender or deep purple, more of a mauve or plum? So really, what colors make purple?
Just the other day I was working on one of my daily junk journal pages and I needed a purple background (it is a rainbow journal), but I didn't have purple acrylic paint so I thought, oh I will just mix up blue and red, no problem!
Trouble was I wanted more of a lavender mix than a true dark purple so I wound up mixing and mixing and adding more colors (including white) to make the perfect color, making WAY more purple paint than I could ever use in one day!
So I thought I would give us an idea of how to make all different kinds of purple!
Tints & Shades
Before we get to our purples, let's talk about how to make colors lighter (tints) or darker (shades).
You tint a color by adding white to it, lavender is just purple diluted with white!
You shade a color by adding black to it, aubergine is purple with black (and maybe a hint of yellow) added!
Additional Resource: What Happens When You Mix Purple and Black
If you want a lighter, airier version of purple, use white. If you want darker and deeper use black!
You can also make a tone by adding grey (mixed white and black) but I never do that because it makes “muddy” looking colors!
How To Mix Purple In Acrylic Paints, Dye or Markers
Okay, I looked ALL over to find an easy, plain English version of how to make purple and there wasn't a great, all in one for the different purple colors.
Here is my process… I found a color that matched in Hex# (those are computer numbers), then found the RGB (red, green, blue) and the CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, black). Which is helpful for normal people, so I added my two cents in after that!
Find out more about mixing purple with all the colors in the rainbow!
How To Make Purple
50% Red, 50% Blue
C 68%, M 100%, Y 26%, K 18%
This color purple is straight half red, half blue
How To Make Lavender
50% Red, 50% Blue, Add White
C 8%, M 8%, Y 0%, K 0%
This color lavender is straight up purple, mixed with a LOT of white
How To Make Aubergine
51% Red, 43% Blue, 6% Black
C 76%, M 95%, Y 45%, K 58%
This is a bit more red, mixed with blue, add black
How To Make Mauve
38% Red, 35% Blue, 27% Green
C 29%, M 54%, Y 14%, K 0%
This is a little bit more blue than red, add a little yellow
How To Make Plum
41% Red, 39% Blue, 20% Green
C 50%, M 86%, Y 17%, K 2%
This is a little bit more red than blue, and maybe a wee bit of yellow
How To Make Violet
33% Red, 67% Blue
C 69%, M 79%, Y 0%, K 0%
This is 2/3 blue and 1/3 red
How To Make Amethyst
34% Red, 44% Blue, 22% Green
C 49%, M 67%, Y 0%, K 0%
This a bit more blue than red and a little bit of yellow
The Color Purple Controversy!
Okay, when I was trying to figure out how to make a nice little chart for myself to know how to make purple, I was unaware how many people have strong feelings about the color purple.
Your wine is someone else's aubergine and my purple is your plum… ack!
As an artist, don't get hung up on using the “right” color, after spending hours looking at different purples, I can tell you there is no consensus on what the colors actually mean!
Okay, here are some questions that people ask about purple!
What is a complimentary color to purple?
I love this color wheel because it shows the tints and shades, as well as the other colors!
As you can see, yellow is the directly complimentary color to purple (and lavender and dark purple (mixing the shades and tones).
But some of the other colors that we call purple are really outside that range so Mauve would look better with green and violet would look better with gold.
Mauve and lime are one of my all time favorite color combinations, as are teal and red. You can see why because they are directly across the color wheel from each other!
Do purple and green go together?
Purple, green and orange are on the opposite corners of the color wheel, pretty far apart when you think of it! With that in mind I would NOT use true green, true orange and true purple unless you wanted to make a jarring painting!
- You can use any kind of paint (acrylic, watercolor, oil)
- Paintbrush to mix colors
- Containers to mix them in
- Purple - straight half red and half blue
- Lavender - purple mixed with a lot of white
- Aubergine - more red, mixed with blue, add black
- Mauve - a little bit more red than blue, add a little yellow (and I had to add some white to make it light enough for me)
- Plum - a little bit more red than blue, and maybe a wee bit of yellow
- Violet - 2/3 blue and 1/3 red
- Amethyst - a bit more blue than red and a little bit of yellow
Have fun with mixing your colors of purple! Creat an hombre effect by using a plain color and adding black to half of it and white to the other half making tints and shades that go together perfectly.
What Colors Make Purple Wrapup
Well there you have it, I bet you have NEVER thought so much about purple in your life, but in case you didn't get it…
Equal amounts of red and blue make purple.
Interesting post about the history of purple and photography!