What Color Do Purple and Black Make When Mixed?

Purple smoke on black background

Black and purple are two dark colors, but they can evoke very different emotions. Purple is a color of imagination and mystery, while black is related to power and sophistication. Yet, they can work well together in designs.

Many artists love to create different types of purple, so what happens if you mix purple and black together, and is this combination possible in every medium?

What Color Do Purple and Black Make in Paint?

When you mix black with another color, it creates a shade, which is a darker version of that color. So, when you combine purple and black, you’ll get dark purple.

The only downside is that black and purple don’t make a vibrant dark purple, but instead, the result looks a little muddy. It could even look more black than purple. Thus, it’s not commonly used in art pieces.

Understanding the RYB Color Model

Illustration of RYB color model used for mixing paints

RYB is the color model that most people learned in art classes when they were kids. It’s a type of subtractive mixing that’s most commonly used for mixing paints, but it works for most physical art mediums.

The primary colors of RYB are red, yellow, and blue. You can use those colors to make the secondary colors, which are green, orange, and purple. If you mix all three primary colors together, you’ll usually get a type of brown.

While white and black aren’t shown on this color model, both colors exist, and they can be used to mix tints and shades, making each color look lighter or darker.

Making Purple Lighter or Darker

The dark purple that black and purple make might not be what you’re looking for. If that’s the case, you can use other colors to adjust what it looks like.

Mixing Tints

You can make tints of a color by adding white paint, which will make it look lighter. However, adding a lot of white will also make the purple look paler. It’s best to add white to regular purple rather than dark purple because otherwise the black and white would clash and make the mixture look duller.

Mixing Shades

Dark purple is already a shade of purple, which means black was added to make it look darker. So, you probably won’t need to make it darker, but if you do, you can add a little more black. A little black paint can go a long way, so only use it sparingly.

Dark Purple Color Meaning

Dark purple leaves texture

Light purple can be an uplifting color related to romance and nostalgia, but dark purple isn’t quite as delicate. Dark purple is a symbol of frustration and sad feelings, so it could be a great addition to an emotional piece of art. Yet, a shade of purple could also have the meanings of regular purple instead.

Purple symbolizes mystery, royalty, and imagination. It’s meant to enlighten, inspire, and encourage. It has many positive meanings like compassion, wisdom, and creativity, but it can also have negative characteristics like sensitive, vigilant, or immature. It depends on the context you use dark purple in.

Can You Make Purple and Black Paint?

If you run out of purple or black paint, there’s no need to panic. Most colors can be made from scratch by using other paint colors. Purple is an easy color to make because it’s a secondary color created with 50% red and 50% blue.

Black is a little trickier to make, but it’s still possible. You might be able to create black using the three primary colors (red, yellow, and blue). Yet, you’ll need to use deeper versions of them, such as ultramarine blue or crimson red. Otherwise, they’ll make brown. Another way to make black is by mixing brown with some blue. Mixing a perfect black can be tricky, so you might be better off buying more paint instead.

What Color Do Purple and Black Make in Lights?

Purple light shining on black background

Unfortunately, it’s not possible to mix purple and black in lights because lights cannot be black. Lights are mixed using RGB, which is an additive color model. Red, green, and blue are the primary colors, and they can all combine to make white. Yet, black isn’t present on this color model.

This may be confusing because there’s a type of light called a “black light.” However, it’s an ultraviolet light that gives off a purple glow, so it’s not actually black. There are several reasons why black can’t exist in lights even though it’s a color we see regularly.

Why Can Lights Not Be Black?

You might be thinking that if we can see black objects, the color must exist. However, you will never see a light shine the color black. That’s because black is considered the absence of detectable light.

Most colored lights can be created by combining red, green, and blue at different brightnesses, but the only way to make black is to turn all their brightnesses to 0%. So, it’s the equivalent of turning off all the lights, which is why you can’t mix black with colored lights.

Black might not appear on the RGB color model or the visible light spectrum, but it’s still a color we can see. That’s because there are lots of colors we can see that aren’t represented as wavelengths of light. When our eyes perceive colors, they also rely on our brains to provide context for those colors.

So, even though lights can’t be dark colors like black or brown, we can still see them because our brains can register objects as those colors. We can see plenty of things that are black, but we will never see a light that’s the color black.

How Do Our Eyes Perceive Colors?

Visible light spectrum wavelengths

Our brains and eyes need to work together to understand colors, but our eyes are crucial for seeing colored lights. When light shines on an object, certain wavelengths get absorbed into the object while others reflect off it. Each type of wavelength is associated with a color.

On one end of the visible light spectrum, short and frequent wavelengths appear violet. On the opposite end, long wavelengths that look stretched out are red. All the other colors have wavelengths in between those two. So, if we look at a ripe banana, the wavelengths that represent yellow will bounce off the fruit while all other wavelengths will be absorbed. Thus, the banana will look yellow to us.

Inside our eyes, we have cells called “photosensors” to help us interpret colors. Cone cells are the ones we use the most often because they can see colors under bright light. Yet, rod cells are just as important because they can help you see colors in dim lighting. That’s why we can usually interpret colors even if a light isn’t shining directly on them.

Does Black Exist in CMYK?

CMYK is a subtractive color model that’s used for printer ink. Many people mistake it for being similar to RGB because its primary and secondary colors are the same, but opposite. CMYK has cyan, magenta, and yellow as the primary colors, while red, green, and blue are the secondary colors. However, black does exist in CMYK.

Black is one of the main colors in CMYK because when all three primary colors are combined, they make black. The “K” in CMYK stands for “key color,” which is black. That’s why ink cartridges usually come with black in addition to the primary colors.

Since CMYK is a form of subtractive mixing like RYB, the two often have similar results. Mixing black and purple in CMYK will give you dark purple just like it would with paints.

Designing with Purple and Black

Purple and black movie room

Purple and black are both dark colors, so they can give off a serious or eerie tone when used together in designs. The best way to make the design look more appealing is to add some lighter colors. You can also try using tints of purple to make the two colors less intimidating.

Some colors that could go well with purple and black are white, gray, blue, red, or gold. If you decide not to use purple and black in the same design, you’ll likely have more options.

Black is a neutral color, so it goes well with most vibrant colors. Black usually has a mature tone, but it can become more interesting when paired with colors like rose, green, or yellow. It can also go well with other neutral colors like white, beige, and gray.

Purple goes best with pink, blue, red, or silver. If you want to make purple stand out more, you can use its complementary color to contrast it, which is yellow.

Mixing with the Color Black Can Be Tricky

Black isn’t always an ideal color to mix with, but it can be fascinating to learn about. With subtractive mixing, it can make colors darker, but it can easily overpower brighter colors if not used carefully. Yet, in additive mixing, it doesn’t exist at all, so it can’t be mixed with colored lights.

Not all color combinations are easy to mix with, but that’s part of the fun. Experimenting with different color mixtures is a great way to understand color theory and improve your designs. So, don’t be afraid to get creative with your color mixing.