A Plethora of Purples

I’ve mixed greens and oranges, so now it’s time for purples! I made a bunch of different purples from a variety of reds and blues.

Purple mixing chart

Chart Exploration

The columns are the reds, arranged roughly from most orange to most purple. The rows are the blues, arranged roughly from most purple to most green. Because of the way the colors are ordered, I would expect the brightest purples to be on the top right, and the most dull/muted/gray-brown colors to be bottom left. That’s more or less what I see, but overall it looks much more like it goes muted to bold left-to-right, without as much of a clear change top-to-bottom. This means the reds have much more of an impact on the mutedness than the blues!

Note that this is not all the purples that can be made from these 16 colors, because any of the mixes could be balanced more toward the red ingredient or more toward the blue ingredient. I tried to make fairly balanced mixes for all of them, but I was more successful with some than others.

My general impressions by row/red ingredient:

  1. Daniel Smith – Deep Scarlet (PR175) – The most muted mixes, some of these are closer to black than to purple, especially the Winsor Blue or Winsor Green. Still, these mixes have some character.
  2. Daniel Smith – Pyrrol Scarlet (PR255) – Pretty much as muted as the Deep Scarlet mixes. Pretty similar in many cases. Makes near-black with Winsor Blue. The Indanthrone Blue mix looks more muted.
  3. Daniel Smith – Perylene Red (PR178) – These look more like traditional purples. I find these to be roughly the worst of both worlds because they’re much more muted than the pink/magentas but not as intentionally earthy-looking as the scarlets.
  4. Winsor & Newton – Scarlet Lake (PR188) – Similar to the Pyrrol Scarlet mixes, but they don’t get as dark or quite as muted.
  5. Daniel Smith – Quinacridone Coral (PR209) – Surprisingly bold purples for a color that, unmixed, appears to have a fair amount of orange in it! These are nearly as bold as the Quin Rose mixes!
  6. Da Vinci – Alizarin Crimson Quinacridone (PV19) – More muted than Quin Coral, but not as muted as the scarlets or as Perylene Red. Just okay.
  7. Da Vinci – Red Rose Deep (PV19) [Quin Rose equivalent] – Warm, pinky, very bold mixes.
  8. Holbein – Quinacridone Magenta (PR188) – Extremely clear and vivid mixes. I think I erred by making these too blue; I could have included more magenta. Still, I find these quite beautiful. I especially like the ethereal quality of the mix with Cobalt.

By column/blue ingredient:

  1. Holbein – Ultramarine Deep (PB29) – Magical, color-separating mixes.
  2. Daniel Smith – Indanthrone Blue (PB60) – Some of the darkest mixes – though Indigo and Winsor Blue give it a run for its money.
  3. Da Vinci – Cobalt Blue (PB28) – Very beautiful mixes! Surprisingly, I may like these even more than the Ultramarine mixes, even though it’s not as purple-biases. There is just something beautiful and ethereal about the coolness of the blue and the gentle color separation.
  4. Holbein – Indigo – Also makes very dark mixes, though it can be washed out by overdilution.
  5. Winsor & Newton – Winsor Blue Green Shade (PB15:3) – Another option for making very drk mixes, since you can make the color so intense. Surprisingly, despite its green bias, it didn’t really wash out the mixes. Still super-vivid with magentas.
  6. Da Vinci – Cerulean Blue Genuine (PB36) – Lighter valued, granulating mixes. I don’t like these as much as the similar Cobalt Turquoise ones.
  7. Schmincke Horadam – Cobalt Turquoise (PG50) – Has a similar ethereal quality to Cobalt Blue. Its green bias does not dull the purples hardly at all, and its opacity keeps the colors fairly light. Top quality lavenders!
  8. Winsor & Newton – Winsor Green Blue Shade (PG7) [only present on the first 3 columns] – I started doing this one but gave up on it because it really doesn’t mix purple so much as brown.

Single Pigment Purples

On the right of the chart, I swatched three single-pigment purples:

  1. Winsor & Newton – Winsor Violet (PV32), aka Dioxazine Violet. Underneath this, I swatched a lookalike from my DS Indanthrone Blue (PB60) plus Holbein Quin Magenta (PR122). I think this is a pretty successful lookalike, but the original has a bit more depth and character.
  2. Daniel Smith – Perylene Violet (PV29), a more muted, grape-juicy purple. Underneath this, I swatched a lookalike from DS Deep Scarlet (PR175) + Winsor Violet (PV32). I think this is a decent lookalike but it was harder to get dark. It also requires some pretty specific ingredients. I found it difficult to swatch a lookalike with other colors from the chart.
  3. Daniel Smith – Quinacridone Violet (PV19). Next to Quin Violet are two small patches of similar colors, DS Bordeaux and DS Quin Magenta (PR202). I think these colors are extremely similar. Underneath, I made a few mixes attempting to match them: Quin Rose or Quin Magenta plus a bit of Indanthrone Blue. I don’t think either of these quite gets there.

Here’s a closer look at the warmer violets you can mix from Dioxazine Violet and our reds from before. (The scarlets are slightly in a different order due to mistakes I made.)

Red mixes with Dioxazine Violet

Mixes with Dioxazine Violet are all fairly bold purples. Deep Scarlet and Pyrrol Scarlet both make good Perylene Violet hues.

Here’s a closer look at the mixes with blue from single-pigment red-toned purples:

Single-pigment purple and blue mixes


  1. DS Quin Magenta (PR202)
  2. DS Quin Violet (PV19)
  3. DS Bordeaux (PV32)
  4. DS Perylene Violet (PV29)

I was surprised by how dull the Perylene Violet mixes were; it acts more like a scarlet than anything else! The other three make very similar mixes. Variations are within what I’d expect from slightly adding more of the magenta or more of the blue to each mix. Bordeaux mixes are maybe slightly duller. The Quin Violet mixes are probably subtly the nicest, but it’s a close call.

None of these are as vivid as the PR122 mixes. I’d put them roughly at the same level as Quin Rose or Quin Coral, but a bit darker overall.


This exercise confirmed my feeling that the color bias of the red ingredient has more impact on the vividness of the purple mix than the blue. There are vivid colors for every blue, but some of the red mixes are extremely dull across the board.

Overall, my favorite vivid purples were made from Quin Magenta (PR122). I think it is worth it to have PR122 for mixing bold purples. To me it makes a noticeable difference over the next-best, Quin Rose or Quin Violet. (Quin Coral is almost as good as Quin Rose.)

I think it’s nice to have a scarlet for intentionally dull purples; Deep Scarlet and Pyrrol Scarlet were both good options, and Perylene Violet was pretty similar to those. Middle reds didn’t impress me much.

For blues, I was surprised by how much I liked Cobalt Blue and Cobalt Turquoise for mixing ethereal purples. Indanthrone Blue, Indigo, and Phthalo/Winsor Blue are all good options of making purples with a deep value range. Dioxazine Violet is worth having if you struggle to make vivid purples, since every mix with it was quite bold, and it’s especially handy for making middle-to-warm purples since there’s a limit on how blue it can go.

4 thoughts on “A Plethora of Purples”

  1. Once again, the unassuming Quin Coral showing its incredible versatility. Real limited-palette potential. I really like how Indanthrone mixes in your tests here. I also like how well the red-purples mixed into blue-purples. I wonder how PV55 would fare? I would like to do a similar test to yours and mix as many purples as possible… really inspiring post here for a purple lover!

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