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How To Achieve the Perfect Purple When Mixing Acrylics

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Mixing acrylic paints to create new colors is one of the most exciting parts of learning to paint.

However, many painters are unpleasantly surprised when it comes to attempting to mix purples.

While most people were taught that combining red and blue creates purple, in acrylic painting a muddy brown color is more often the result.

Fortunately, with a little education and experimentation, the perfect purple is easily achievable!

How do you make the color purple with acrylics? To mix a purple with acrylic paints, select a red and blue that do not contain any yellow bias. Mix a small amount of blue into the red with a brush or palette knife until the desired purple is reached. To create different tones, tints, or shades, add a small amount of white, gray, or black.

Mixing Cadmium Red with Phthalo Blue will not result in a luscious lavender!

In this article you will learn how to mix a variety of purples, including favorites such as violet, lilac, and lavender.

You will also learn the basics of color theory and how to create tints, tones, and shades of all different colors.

How To Mix Acrylics To Make Purple

The terms tint, tone, hue, and shade are often used to refer to types of colors, but what do they actually mean?

According to color theory a hue is simply any given color from the color wheel. The color wheel contains three different types of colors: primary, secondary, and tertiary.

Secondary colors are created by combining any two of the primary colors. Tertiary colors are combinations of primary and secondary colors.




RedViolet Red-orange
BlueOrangeBlue violet

A shade of color is created whenever you add black to any particular hue of color. Black is very powerful, and so it should be used sparingly.

If you wish to darken a hue without using black, a darker hue can sometimes be used instead.

Tints, also known as pastel colors, are created by adding white to any hue.

Tones are created by adding gray to any hue.

Acrylic paints come in many more hues than what is listed on the color wheel and have many different names and temperature biases.

Because of this variety, mixing colors can be confusing, and picking the wrong reds and blues to mix together can result in an unsightly brown or dark gray instead of the desired purple.

Creating the perfect purple starts with choosing the correct reds and blues, selecting the proper amount of the appropriate color, and then adding small amounts of the color to be mixed.

  1. Start with your two basic colors to be mixed. (Finish reading this article before deciding on your colors!)
  2. Choose which color will be your base and which one you will mix into. In general, you want to start with the lighter color as the base.
  3. Mix very small amounts of the darker color into the lighter color. For purple, this usually involves using your brush or palette knife to mix small amounts of blue into a larger amount of red.
  4. Add small amounts of white, gray, or black to create tints, tones, or shades.

Achieving Various Shades of Purple

As you have seen, the word shade, while technically describing any hue to which black has been added, can also be used to describe different versions of any given color.

The secret to achieving pleasant shades of purple is to understand that all primary colors have a color bias, meaning that they each contain a little bit of each other.

Choosing paints with the proper color bias results in successful color mixing.

How Do You Mix a Bright Purple?

In order to mix a bright purple, you want to choose red and blue paints without a yellow bias.

When picking paints, you can test your colors for yellow bias by mixing each of them with a small amount of white.

A red with a yellow bias mixed with white will create a peachy color. A red without a yellow bias will make a rosy pink.

A blue with a yellow bias mixed with white will create a green-blue. A blue without a yellow bias mixed with white will create a lighter blue color.

Permanent Rose, Alizarin Crimson, Quinacridone Magenta, or Primary Magenta are all examples of reds that do not contain a strong yellow bias.

Mix any of these colors with Ultramarine Blue to create a beautiful bright purple!

Winsor & Newton Galeria Acrylic Color, 200ml (6.75-oz) Tube, Permanent Rose
  • Winsor & Newton Galeria Acrylic Colours are strong and vibrant with good covering power and a smooth, satin finish.
  • Series: 1/Color Code: 502
Liquitex BASICS Acrylic Paint, 118ml (4-oz) Tube, Alizarin Crimson Hue
  • Thick, creamy with satin finish; Good pigment load
  • Retains peaks and brush strokes; Ideal for learning color theory and color mixing
Winsor & Newton Professional Acrylic Paint, 60ml (2-oz) Tube, Quinacridone Magenta
  • Our highest quality professional acrylic with unrivalled color brilliance that stays brilliant when wet & dry
  • Series: 3/Color Code: 545/Color Index: PV19
Amsterdam Standard Series Acrylic Tube 120 ml Primary magenta 369 (17093692)
  • A very high level of lightfastness thanks to the use of pure and non-fading pigments. Even after...
  • An exceptionally durable paint film (the binding agent consists of 100% acrylic resin), for an...
ARTEZA ARTZ-8169 Art-Paints, Ultramarine Blue A110
  • Vivid, Acrylic Color: Whether you’re new to acrylic painting or a seasoned artist, this acrylic...
  • Rich, Vivid Pigment: Your Premium Acrylic Paint features a smooth, highly pigmented color that...

How Do You Mix a Deep Purple?

To mix a deep purple, start with your bright purple color. Slowly add small amounts of Ultramarine or Cobalt Blue to the bright purple.

You can also add tiny amounts of black to make a deeper shade of purple.

Another option is to add small amounts of black to a premixed version of purple, such as Dioxazine Purple, which produces a satisfactory deep purple.

How To Make Lilac Acrylic Paint

Lilac is a lovely light purple that is a great color for painting flower and nature scenes.

To create lilac, begin with a bright purple paint. Add small amounts of white to the bright purple until you have your desired shade of lilac.

To create a more muted lilac, add a tiny bit of Lemon Yellow to your bright purple mix.

How Do You Make Dioxazine Purple With Acrylic Paint?

Dioxazine Purple is a premixed deep purple acrylic paint.

Dioxazine Purple is a very blue paint, so when mixing your own version you can start with Ultramarine Blue and add small amounts of Quinacridone Magenta until you have an attractive Dioxazine Purple.

Making Lavender With Acrylic Paint

Lavender is another lovely color for floral scenes and is actually named after the flower.

There are many different shades of lavender, some of them containing more blue and some of them more red.

Mixing your own lavender is very similar to mixing your own lilac.

First, depending on your desired shade, add more red or blue to your bright purple mix.

Then simply add small amounts of white to the bright purple until you have the shade you desire.

What Acrylic Paint Colors Make Violet?

Although the colors violet and purple are often referred to interchangeably, purples tend to contain more blue, while violets have more red.

To create a clean violet, start with Permanent Rose and add a little bit of Ultramarine Blue. You will want to make sure there is more red than blue in your violet mix.

How To Lighten a Dark Purple

Lightening a dark purple is easy. Simply add tiny amounts of white to the dark purple until you have a lighter shade.

Be aware that if the dark purple contains black, adding white to the shade will have a muting effect on the color and create a tone.

In this case, you can mix the same reds and blues that were used to make the dark purple and then add a little bit of white to the mixture.

Pull small amounts of the new, lighter purple into the original dark purple to construct a lighter shade.

How To Darken a Light Purple

Add a little bit of blue or black to a light purple to make it darker.

To make a subtle change, mix a darker shade of the light purple separately, and then add small amounts to the original color.

How To Make Purple Without Blue

If you’re looking to create an intense purple but find yourself suddenly out of blue, have no fear!

A very fine purple can be created by mixing Quinacridone Magenta with Phthalo Green.

How To Make Purple Without Red

To make a good purple, it is essential to have a color with a red bias. Magentas are a great option to use in place of warmer reds.

How To Create Magenta

Magenta can be created in acrylic painting by mixing Alizarin Crimson and Ultramarine Blue.

Be sure to start with the Alizarin Crimson and add very tiny amounts of Ultramarine Blue until you get the hue you’re looking for.

How To Make a Color Chart

Creating your own color chart is a fantastic method for experimenting with color mixing.

All you need is a large sheet of paper made specifically for acrylic paint, a pencil, a ruler, paints, and a brush.

Create a series of 1 inch squares across the paper.

Starting on the upper left hand side of the paper and going down, list the colors that you will begin with. Paint a dab of each color by its name.

Then write the names of the colors that you will be mixing in across the top of the paper. Paint each square with a combination of the labeled colors.

12 Tips for Success When Mixing Purple

  1. Use high quality paints with as few pigments as possible.
  2. Start with small amounts of the colors you are mixing.
  3. To avoid creating murky browns or dark grays, choose reds and blues without a strong yellow bias.
  4. In general, to create clean color combinations, pick colors that are on the same side of the color wheel. Colors on the opposite sides of the color wheel are called complementary colors, and combining them is a great way to create a variety of browns.
  5. Mixing primary colors together creates browns and grays – great for nature paintings, not so great for crafting vibrant purples. To mix a pretty purple, choose reds with a blue bias, such as Alizarin Crimson or Primary Magenta.
  6. Buy a small batch of colors at first. Starting with fewer colors helps you to get a feel for color bias and saves money too. A good selection for beginners includes: Scarlet Red (yellow bias), Crimson Red (blue bias), Lemon Yellow (blue bias), Yellow Ochre (red bias), Ultramarine Blue (red bias), and Cerulean Blue (yellow bias).
  7. In general, when mixing colors start with the lighter color, and slowly add in very small amounts of the darker color.
  8. Using a palette knife to mix colors helps to keep your brushes clean and in good shape.
  9. Color wheels are an invaluable aid in learning about color theory and color mixing. Not only can you get a clear look at the primary, secondary, and tertiary colors, but some color wheels demonstrate tints, tones, and shades as well. 
  10. Add a little bit of white to lighten up a purple shade, or add a small amount of black or blue to darken it.
  11. To make a muted shade of purple, add a slight amount of yellow to the color.
  12. Want to make your new purple shade really stand out? In order to make any shade of purple appear brighter in a painting, paint the background around it a dull or neutral color. Using bright colors like blue or pink as a background will make your purple appear muted.

Related Questions:

How Many Shades of Purple Are There?

From boysenberry to wine, there are over 100 different shades of purple in the world! 

Is Magenta a Primary Color?

Magenta is not a primary color. On a traditional color wheel, there are only three true primary colors: red, yellow, and blue.
Magenta is composed mostly of a cool red, with a little bit of a cool blue, making it essentially a type of secondary color.
The reason people get confused about whether magenta is a primary color is because of digital design.
In the Red Green Blue (RGB) and Cyan Magenta Yellow Black (CMYK) color models of digital printing and design, magenta is a primary color, and can be mixed with the other primary colors to create all colors.
According to these models, to make red you can mix magenta and yellow, to make yellow you can mix red with green, and to make blue you can mix magenta with cyan.


Attempting to mix the perfect purple using acrylic paints can be intimidating at first, especially for beginners.

Armed with the proper paints, knowledge, and a little bit of practice, making your own pleasing purple doesn’t have to be impossible! 



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