What colors make purple? (with a long list of shades with names)
Or: What two colors make purple?
Simply saying: a purple is a color between red and blue in the color wheel. But as you can see on the picture below where only a fraction of possible mixes of three primary colors is displayed, this definition is in most cases far from satisfactory. There are actually hundreds of different colors, each with a unique name, between red and blue and the word purple is definitely not enough to describe all of them.
A unique definition of purple color does not exist. While every mix of blue and red can qualify, we can, at least, say blue and red are mandatory components. We can add a bit of yellow as well, so all possible brownish tones are candidates too. If we further complicate with an addition of white or black, life becomes really colorful!
If we explore a bit, we quickly find many people use words purple and violet for the same color. Or: they use the same name for different colors, especially if we are dealing with folks with different cultural backgrounds, for instance with Americans and Europeans. Anyways, in general, we expect purple to have a higher degree of red and violet more blue in the mix.
Because there are so many different hues of purple out there, we’ll explore some of them in detail and here is a quick list:
Difference between purple and violet
In optics, things are a bit easier. Violet is so called true color. It has its own space in the spectra (around 750 THz) and purple is simply a mix of two other real colors (red and blue). Our mission is to present 50 different shades of purple with examples and hex codes which can be used in every graphic program, so you can not only easily find and use the right purple shade, but name it (and maybe even find a bit of interesting info about it) as well.
Here are first five for start:
800080 Purple (also Patriarch Purple)
9370DB Medium Purple
BF00FF Electric Purple
A020F0 Purple (X11)
9F00C5 Purple (Munsell)
We can already notice some vagueness in the nomenclature. We have the color with simple name purple, there is medium purple and electric purple (with an old name true purple). This color is exactly on the halfway between red and blue and is by artists considered as pure purple, but in the more accurate three-dimensional Munsell’s system we have a different color with the same name. And by the way, Veronica (old name for another shade) or purple (X11) ( a new name for the same shade – this standard is constructed for web browsers) is sometimes called medium purple too!
The purple color is relatively rare in nature and it was for centuries reserved for nobility only. The pigment for purple dye was made from sort of sea snail and for one piece of colored cloth they needed tens or hundreds of thousands of snails, there was a lot of manual work and the procedure was very time-consuming, so you can imagine it was expensive (the price was approximately the same as the price of silver). Because the pigment was produced in ancient city Tyre (today it is part of Lebanon), the dye was sometimes called Tyrian purple. Being the color of kings and emperors, it is sometimes called imperial purple. There are of course other shades, tones, hues and tints with names suggesting its expense and prestige:
66023C Tyrian Purple (also Imperial Purple)
92717C Sovereign Purple
7851A9 Royal Purple
9678B6 Purple Mountain Majesty
Don’t worry if you find another color with the same name and different hex code, because standards are not unique. Considering the fact some shades are used for many centuries and the color in real life was made from pigments with varying quality, color becoming paler with exposure to the sun and other elements, this is only logic to expect.
In the next set, we can see the association with precious stones and the last color is the color of prestigious US military decoration.
86608E Pomp and Power
B768A2 Pearly Purple
843F5B Deep Ruby
69359C Purple Heart
Important people in Old Rome adored this color and we can find the shades named after locations in both parts of the Roman Empire. The Eastern part survived longer, so we can’t be surprised to have at least three variations of basically the same color named after Byzantium.
5D3954 Dark Byzantium
682860 Palatinate Purple
66424D Deep Tuscan
As we could easily add another set of purple tones named after places (magenta, for instance) the same is true with flowers as well. We’ll limit with only ten different shades with fuchsia and orchids being dominant representatives.
All the names with the word violet are included in the list of violet shades and you can find magenta and additional shade of fuchsia among pinks. We can add the fact phlox, named after the flower is often called psychedelic purple. This color is fluorescent magenta and blue pigments and it was very much in favor in the hippie movement. Jimmy Hendrix was one of the biggest fans.
D39BCB Light Medium Orchid
BA55D3 Medium Orchid
9932CC Dark Orchid
CC00FF Vivid Orchid
Another set of purples comes from the garden, this time, we’ll meet few shades of eggplant (aubergine in French) and sweet potato (also known as yam or ube).
D19FE8 Bright Ube
663854 Halaya Ube
430541 Eggplant Purple
We’ll continue our journey through the lands of purples, inspired by nature, in the woods – with five kinds of berries. Again, we’ll skip grapes and plums, to stay within our limit of 50 tones of purple.
872657 Dark Raspberry
FF43A4 Wild Strawberry
Ready for some more … purple? Next set of names is pretty descriptive as is. By the way – purpureus is purple in Old German.
Let’s conclude with last set of five purple colors. Blush is a new name for the color which was before called cranberry purple. Pizzaz is used to describe vitality, we have fandango, a dance from Spain and Portugal, Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday in French), the famous carnival in masks, and for the final – a brownish tone called taupe what means a mole in French.
This color is definitely one of the most powerful ones with powerful psychological effects and strong historic background and it is still among the most popular colors for special occasion, like weddings or parties, for instance.
Don’t forget – all purples are basically made of two colors only (red plus blue in approximately equal proportions), but the beauty lies in the details … I hope you have found all the purple shades and tones you wanted!