What Color Do Purple and Yellow Make When Mixed?

Yellow and purple painted wall

Purple and yellow are complementary colors, which means they sit on opposite sides of the color wheel. They can sometimes clash in designs if not used properly.

Since you don’t see a lot of art pieces that use purple and yellow together, you might be wondering what they make when mixed. As it turns out, the result can vary based on what type of color mixing you’re doing.

What Color Do Purple and Yellow Make in Paint?

Yellow and purple paint mixed together makes brown. The type of purple and yellow you choose can affect how light or dark the brown appears. The result is usually a lighter brown.

Mixing yellow and purple is like mixing all three primary colors together since purple is made of red and blue. When you mix equal amounts of all primary colors, they make brown.

Understanding the RYB Color Model

Detailed RYB color model used when mixing paint

The RYB color model uses the color wheel most people are familiar with because it’s regularly taught in early art classes. It’s used for mixing paint and other physical art mediums, such as pastels and colored pencils. RYB is a form of subtractive mixing, meaning wavelengths are removed to create a new color.

Red, yellow, and blue are the primary colors on the RYB color model. Different combinations of those colors can create the secondary colors, which are purple, green, and orange. A mix of a primary color and a secondary color will give you a tertiary color, which is usually named as a combination of the two, such as blue-green or yellow-orange.

Are There Other Ways to Make Brown?

On the RYB color wheel, brown is made by mixing all three primary colors together. So, the most common way to make brown is by mixing an equal amount of red, yellow, and blue.

Another easy way to get brown paint is by mixing complementary colors. Purple and yellow are only one set of complementary colors. Red and green or orange and blue will also give you types of brown. That’s because complementary colors contain all three primary colors when mixed.

Making Brown Paint Lighter or Darker

Several shades of brown leather

If you need a specific kind of brown paint, yellow and purple might not give you what you’re looking for. Luckily, there are ways to alter the combination to make it fit your needs.

Mixing Tints

Tints are lighter versions of a color. To get a tint of brown, you add white. However, white will make the color paler as you add more white. To lighten brown while still keeping it warm and vibrant, you can add extra yellow instead of white. Both white and yellow are light colors, so you might need to add a lot to notice a significant change.

Mixing Shades

Shades are darker versions of a color. You make shades of brown by adding a little black to the mix. Black paint can easily overpower other colors though, so be sure to only use it sparingly. Another method is to add extra purple to the mixture.

Brown Color Meaning

Brown wood texture background

Brown is often overlooked, but it’s an important color. Since it’s the color of the ground beneath us, it’s often a sign of stability, reliability, and comfort. It’s meant to simplify, protect, and stabilize.

Some positive meanings for brown include appreciation, support, and wisdom. However, some people see it as boring, dull, and predictable. How you interpret it often depends on the context.

Can You Mix Colors to Make Purple and Yellow Paint?

If you run out of purple and yellow paint, there’s no need to panic. You might be able to recreate them using other colors. Purple is easy to make because it’s a secondary color that’s made of 50% red and 50% blue.

However, since yellow is a primary color, it’s difficult to make in painting. If you add a lot of white to orange, you can make a type of yellow, but it will be much paler than a traditional yellow. So, if you run out of yellow paint, you’d be better off buying more than trying to create it. Yellow is easier to make in lights where you combine red and green.

What Color Do Purple and Yellow Make in Lights?

RGB and CMYK color models next to each other

Mixing lights is much different than mixing paint. In lights, yellow is a secondary color, while purple is a tertiary color. So, even though they’re still on opposite sides of the color wheel, they’re not directly across from each other like on the RYB color wheel.

The three primary colors for lights make white when they’re all mixed together at full brightness. Since yellow and purple still make up the three primary colors for this color model, they make white too. Yet, the white might have a slightly red tint to it.

Understanding the RGB Color Model

Light mixing uses the RGB color model instead of RYB. This color model is most commonly used for colored lights and digital displays. It’s a form of additive color mixing, meaning wavelengths are added to the mixture instead of removed.

The primary colors for lights are red, green, and blue. Combinations of them can mix together to make the secondary colors, which are cyan, magenta, and yellow.

How to Mix Colored Lights

Mixing lights using the RGB color model

If you have yellow and purple colored lights, you can layer them on top of each other to mix a new color. However, almost all colors can be made in lights using the three primary colors. By shining red, green, and blue on top of each other at different brightnesses, you can make new colors.

For example, red and blue at full brightness with green at about half brightness will give you purple. Red and green at full brightness with no blue will give you yellow. Red, green, and blue at full brightness will give you white, which is similar to what yellow and purple will become. Since both purple and yellow use red, the mixture might have a slight red tint to it.

White Color Meaning

White is a color that symbolizes purity, innocence, and perfection. It’s considered the true balance of all colors. People who look at it often feel refreshed, balanced, and purified.

Some uplifting white meanings are goodness, hope, and clarity. However, it can also be seen as boring, cold, and empty. Like all colors, it depends on how you use it.

What Color Do Purple and Yellow Make in Ink?

CMYK ink cartridges closeup

Ink and printing use a different color model than painting and lights. On this color wheel, the primary colors and secondary colors are swapped from the RGB model, but the tertiary colors are the same. So, mixing yellow and purple is still like mixing all three primary colors, but now it makes black instead of white.

Understanding the CMYK Color Model

The CMYK color model is a form of subtractive color mixing that’s used for printing. You might recognize it from the unique colors of ink that come with printers.

The primary colors are cyan, magenta, and yellow. Combinations of those colors can make red, green, and blue. As mentioned before, the tertiary colors are the same as the RGB color model. When all three primary colors are mixed on the CMYK color model, they make black.

Black Color Meaning

Smoky clouds on a black sky

Black is a bold color with many meanings. It symbolizes power, elegance, and sophistication. It can mystify, seduce, and intimidate, depending on the context.

This color is seen as strong, formal, and prestigious. Yet, some might also think of it as depressing, sad, and pessimistic. There are many different ways to interpret it.

Using Purple and Yellow in Design

Purple and yellow are complementary colors that sometimes clash when used together in designs. However, they are often paired with each other in logos and advertisements to help images and words stand out more.

If applied together in a room design or a painting, these two colors should be used more sparingly. For example, a bouquet of purple and yellow flowers in an otherwise neutral-colored scene can provide a beautiful splash of color. Using them with colors like white or gray can help tone them down a bit while still keeping them fun and vibrant.

You can also choose to use these colors separately if you’re looking for a more traditional design. Most hues go well with the colors that they sit next to on the color wheel. So, yellow might look good with pink, orange, or green, while purple goes well with blue, pink, or red.

Purple and yellow interior design

How Do Purple and Yellow Mix Into Multiple Colors?

Even though purple and yellow are only two colors, they can create three different color mixes, depending on the medium you use. That’s because several color models are used when mixing different materials, giving them unique results. How the colors are mixed can also vary.

For example, mixing paint consists of swirling two different colors together until they make a new one. However, mixing lights only requires that you layer one color on top of another. So, different methods may give you different results. Some color combinations have the same results in every medium, but that’s not always the case.

Mixing the perfect colors consists of a lot of trial and error. Testing out different shades and tints of purple and yellow can be a great way to understand color theory. You might end up finding a color that’s even more beautiful than you expected.