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How To Make Purple Color { 15+ Mixes for Vibrant Shades }

If you’ve been dreaming of creating the perfect purple, you’ve come to the right place. In this guide, I’ll show you how to mix up various shades of purple, from soft and light to deep and dark.

Purple is such a beautiful color with a vibrant range, and mixing it yourself lets you get just the right shade for your project. Whether you’re aiming for a delicate lavender or a rich plum, let’s dive into the world of color mixing and make some beautiful purples together!

Before we start, if you’re interesting in more acrylic painting mixing guides, check out this how to make brown paint guide.

What colors mix to make purple?

Purple is made by mixing red and blue together. However depending on the vibrancy and shade/tint of purple you’re aiming for, the type of red and blue you use makes a difference.

The ratio of red and blue makes a difference too. If you add more red to your mix you’ll get warmer purples like violet and lilac. Contrarily, if you add more blue into your mix you’ll get cooler purples like indigo and lavender.

Making Purple From The Color Wheel

Now that we know that blue and red make purple, let’s dive into why that’s true. Because it’s going to help you mix vibrant purples and avoid the mistake of making muddy purple concoctions.

And it’s easier (dare I say, more interesting) to understand using the color wheel.

The color wheel is made of primary colors (blue, yellow are red) and secondary colors (purple, green and orange). When mixing any two primary colors together, you get the secondary color that’s sits between them. In this case, you get purple by mixing red and blue together.

And the good news is that once you’ve made the most perfect purple, you can get a whole slew of plums, lavenders and mauves by adding in white and black.

Make light purples, like lavender and lilacs, by adding in varying amounts of white.

Alternatively, you get darker deeper purples (like eggplant and plum) by adding black into the mix.

How to Avoid Dull Muddy Purples

Let’s talk about what not to do to avoid ending up with a dull, muddy purple.

Stay away from cadmium red medium hue (or any similar warm reds with yellow bias) when mixing your purples. I’ve tried it with different blues, and while most other reds gave me fantastic shades of grape, lavender, and lilac, cadmium red just turned everything into a murky brown mess, no matter what.

And this has to do with color theory and the good ol’ color wheel again!

Basically, when you’re aiming for really pure colors, you should steer clear of their opposites on the color wheel. In technical jargon, opposites on the color wheel are called complimentary colors. And when you mix 2 complimentary colors together, you get brown.

Purple’s opposite is yellow (or it’s complementary color), and cadmium red has quite a bit of yellow in it. So, when mixing cadmium red with any blue just, the resulting purple ends up looking dull and muddy.

How To Get Vibrant Purples

To get punchy and vibrant purples, you want to use reds and blues without any yellows and oranges in them.

Or you can think of it this way: pick blues and reds that are as close to purple on the color wheel as possible. Go for a warm blue (with a red bias) and a cool red (with a blue bias). The closer they are to purple, the purer your purple will be.

To summarize let’s break it down into 2 simple equations:

vibrant purple  = red (no yellow in it) + blue (no green/yellow in it).


vibrant purple  = cool red + warm blue

My Favorite Purple Combo

To make things easier for you, I’m going share my favorite purple paint combo for whipping up some awesome purples.

After trying out ten different acrylic paint colors, I’ve found that the best combo for purple was Ultramarine Blue and Quinacridone Magenta in equal parts. And while doing my purple paint experiments, I found that Fluroesent Pink made those purples pop even more to make yummy purple jewel tones.

If you don’t have those exact paints handy, don’t worry. Below are some alternatives, that I tried and tested.

The best blues for making purple are:

  • Ultramarine blue
  • Cobalt Blue
  • Aqua Green

While the best reds to make purple are:

  • Quinacridone Magenta
  • Primary Red
  • Permanent Rose
  • Alizarin Crimson
  • Medium Magenta
  • Fluorescent Pink

Oh and if you’re a watercolor paint artist, you might find this guide on how to make purple with watercolor paints helpful.

5 Vibrant and Bright Purple Color Mixes

Below are the tried and tested vibrant purple recipes I discovered while trying to find the perfect purple.

Although you don’t need to buy all these different reds and blues, I wanted to share my results with you so you can compare.

They all make gorgeous purples that are all slightly different.

Some of them even mixed some popular store bought paints like Dioxazine purple, prism violet and brilliant purple. Note that they are mixed in mainly 1:1 ratio, blue to red.

Interestingly, I was able to also mix dioxazine purple, brilliant purple and prism violet by using different ratios of quinacridone magenta, ultramarine blue and fluorescent pink. That’s why my Quinacridone Magenta and Ultramarine blue is my fave purple mix, because they’re so versatile together. More on that below in my color mixing chart exercise.

They are all warm blues and cool reds and you can find most of these colors in most paint brands. The brand I used was Liquitex basics, but I’ve seen these colors carried in other brands too.

From top to bottom they are:

  1. Fluorescent Pink + Ultramarine Blue (1:1) = Punchy Purple
  2. Quinacridone Magenta + Aqua Green (1:1) = Mauve
  3. Primary Red + Cobalt Blue (1:1) = Prism Violet
  4. Medium Magenta + Ultramarine Blue (1:1) = Brilliant Purple
  5. Quinacridone Magenta + Ultramarine Blue (1:1) = Indigo / Doxazine Purple

How To Make Purple Without Blue

If you don’t have any blue to make your purple you can use aqua green. Mixing aqua green with quinacridone magenta yields a beautiful mauve purple (pictured below). It might not be as vibrant as a purple with a warmer blue like ultramarine blue or cobalt blue, but it definitely isn’t a muddy purple.

You can then lighten it up with some white and darken it with some black.

How To Make Purple Without Red

If you don’t have any reds on hand, you’ll be happy to know you have many alternative here. Magentas and fluorescent pinks to the rescue!

My favorite red alternative is fluorescent pink, because it yields a gorgeous bright and vibrant purple. I’ve paired fluorescent pink with ultramarine blue below in a 1:1 ratio.

Some other great options are medium magenta and quinacridone magenta.

How to Make Warm Purples

Just like there are warm/cool reds and blues as we learned above, there are warm/cool purples. Some examples of warm purples are lilac, prism violet, orchid, red wine and mulberry. They have more or a pink undertone to them.

One way to achieve warmer purples is to buy different magentas/reds to get the perfect hue. An easier (and cheaper) trick is to simply change the ratio of red:blue in your mix.

To get warmer purples add more of your red/magenta into the mix compared to the amount of blue.

The reason why this trick works? It’s because blue is a cool color and red is a warm color. And when you add more of the warmer color to the mix, the resulting purple will also be on the warmer side.

In the picture below I added Ultramarine Blue and Quinacridone Magenta in a 1:3 ratio to achieve the warm prism violet purple in the top row. In the bottom row I added ultramarine blue and fluorescent pink in a 1:2 ratio.

I then added some white to create the lilac and barbie purple. Grey was added to make the warm mauve and summer mauve. And finally black was added to make the dark purple plum and red wine color.

How to Make Cool Purples

Now let’s learn how to mix some cool purples like eggplant, amethyst, lavender, violet, mauve and indigo.

To get cooler purples start out with equal amounts of blue to red and notice the color. If you want to go even cooler add slightly more blue to the mix until you get the desired cool purple. Be careful here because blue can quickly overpower the red in the mix, so mix small amounts of blue at a time.

In the picture below I mixed Ultramarine Blue and Quinacridone Magenta in a 1:1 ratio to get the beautiful cool Indigo color in the top row. For the bottom row I mixed ultramarine blue and fluorescent pink in a 1:1 ratio to get the mermaid purple.

I then added some white to make the lavender and brilliant purple. To make the chill mauve and cool mauve I added some light grey. The eggplant and concord grape color was made by adding in a tinge of black.

How To Make Light Purples

To make light purples like lavender and lilacs all you need to do is add varying amounts of white into the original purple. Technically speaking, anytime you add white to lighten a color the resulting colors are called “tints”.

I like to use titanium white as my white because it’s opaque and lightens up the mix nicely without having to add too much paint.

The more white you add to the mix the lighter and pastel the tints will become.

I would start out with a 2:1 ratio to original pruple to white to begin. This will lighten your purple a bit, usually enough to see a difference. Then slowly add more white into your mixx until you’ve achieved your desired light purple color.

If you’re trying to mix lavender you would want to start out with a cooler purple (see above). Now if you’re wanting a warmer light purple like lilac then you would want to start with a warmer original purple (above).

How Do You Make Lavender Color?

Since lavender is a cool purple, my favorite mix is quinacridone magenta + ultramarine blue + titanium white in a 1:1:1 ratio. This yields a beautiful light cool lavender color. You can lighten it up even more if you add more white into the mix. And if you want to darken it just add more of your original purple back in.

How To Make Deep Purple

If you start out with a vibrant purple and your goal is to darken it, all you need to do is add black. The technical term for this is creating “shades” of purple.

Now, black can be a tricky paint color to work with. I find that black is one of the most intense paint colors to work with and a little goes a long way. I would start out with a tinge (this is equivalent to a “pinch” in cooking terms) to start out with. What I usually do is add black just to the tip of my palette knife and mix it in.

It’s easier to make paint darker by slowly adding your black, opposed to trying to lighten things up after the mix is too dark. You’ll wasted less paint if you start small.

My favorite black to make various shades of purples with is Mars Black.

How Do You Make Indigo Color?

Since Indigo is a dark cool purple with more blue in it, my favorite mix is quinacridone magenta + ultramarine blue in a 1:1 ratio. If you want your Indigo to be more on the bluer side add a little bit more of the ultramarine blue. If you want it to be more on the purple side add the blue and red in a 1:1 ratio.

Yield: 1

Color Chart Exercise

Color Chart Exercise

Learn how to make 16 different purples in this color chart exercise. You'll make colors like indigo, lavender, lilac, vibrant purple, mauve and deep purples like plum and red wine.

Active Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour
Difficulty Easy


  • Quinacridone Magenta
  • Ultramarine Blue
  • Fluorescent Pink
  • Titanium White
  • Mars Black
  • Mixed Media Paper
  • 1/2" Flat Brush
  • Black Sharpie


  1. Watch the full Youtube video
  2. Organize your chart into 4 rows and 4 columns on mixed media paper. Use a Sharpie to label each row for each purple mix combo. From top to bottom the rows are: ultramarine blue + quinacridone magenta (1:1), ultramarine blue + quinacridone magenta (1:3), ultramarine blue + fluorescent pink (1:1), ultramarine blue + fluorescent pink (1:2) Label each column (from left to right) : purple, + white (tint), +grey (tone), +black (shade).
  3. Mix the ultramarine blue + quinacridone magenta in a 1:1 ratio. Divide this purple up into 4 piles. This purple is very similar to dioxazine purple or Indigo. It's a dark and cool purple. From the 1st pile paint a swatch of it in the first row first column "purple". .
  4. Mix equal amounts titanium white with the second pile of purple, to make a lavender color. Paint a swatch of this light purple in the "+ white" column.
  5. Make a light grey paint by mixing in 4 parts white to 1 part black. Mix equal amounts of this grey with your third pile of purple. This will make a mauve color. Paint a swatch in the "+grey" column.
  6. Mix in a tinge (tiny amount) of black with your fourth pile of purple. This will make a dark eggplant purple. Paint a swatch in the "+black" column.
  7. Repeat steps 2-5 but this time your purple will be ultramarine blue + quinacridone magenta in a 1:3 ratio. This row of purples will be warm purples.
  8. Now repeat steps 2-5 with your purple made with ultramarine blue + fluorescent pink in a 1:1 ratio. The purples in this row will be bright purples that are on the cool side.
  9. Repeat steps 2-5 with bright and warm purple made with ultramarine blue + fluorescent pink in a 1:2 ratio. These will be vibrant purples that are on the warmer side.You can optionally lable and name each purple.

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