What Do Purple and Yellow Make?

Last updated: April 8, 2024

Purple and yellow are beautiful colors on their own, but what happens when you bring them together? You can use purple and yellow to make all kinds of fun colors, such as lovely mauves or rich browns. If you’re willing to experiment, you might surprise yourself with how many color combinations you can experience using just purple and yellow.

purple and yellow make mauve and brown swirl

And what about purple and orange? Orange is similar to yellow, but you can mix purple and orange to make even more interesting shades, tones, and colors. For example, if you're someone like me who enjoys chocolate, you can create almost any chocolaty hue (from bitter dark chocolate to lighter milk chocolate) all by mixing together the orange and purple.

Mixing colors isn’t a purely academic exercise, either. So many of your arts and crafts can benefit from incorporating the results of your purple/yellow mixes. Here, we’ll look at what purple and yellow make, what purple and orange make, why they make those colors, and what you can use all your fun new color combinations for. From birthday cards to spring decorations and more, you can brighten up your day - or someone else’s - by exploring purple, yellow, and orange.

What Does Purple and Yellow Make? | Mauve or Brown | More Colors | Purple and Orange Make | Color Theory | Canceling Out Purple and Yellow | Using Purple and Yellow

What Does Purple and Yellow Make?

Purple and yellow make mauve or brown. While purple and yellow can be bold, bright colors on their own, mixing them will often create neutral colors. We will get into why a little later.

While “mauve and brown” are the easy answers to what purple and yellow make, they’re not the whole answer. That’s because the color you get when mixing purple and yellow depends on the shades of purple and yellow you start with, your medium, and how you mix them. So let’s talk about exactly how to mix purple and yellow.

How to Mix Purple and Yellow to Make Mauve or Brown

Mauve has strong purple tones. So if you want to mix purple and yellow to make mauve, you should start with a nice, bright purple. You will only need to add a little yellow to this to give it that slightly toned down appearance that makes mauve. If you want, you can add a little white to lighten it, or a tiny touch of black to darken it.

purple and yellow make mauve and brown color swatches

How to Make Brown

Using purple and yellow to make brown is different. For one thing, there are a lot of shades of brown. There are dark, chocolatey browns and amber browns and tawny browns and light browns and a whole lot more.

Therefore, the first thing you should do is think about what kind of brown you want. If you want a darker brown, for example, use a darker shade of purple to start off with. A lighter brown will require a lighter shade of purple. You can adjust your final result with white and black, just like you did when mixing purple and yellow to make mauve.

Other Colors Purple and Yellow Make

Don’t stop at mauve and brown. Let those be starting points to launch you into a world of wonderful colors derived from purple and yellow.

For example, a very bright yellow and a bright, warm purple can give you a color that is almost orange in tone. Or take that same bright yellow and mix it with a dark, cool, blue-ish purple to get something that has a touch of green to it. Cool, huh? The warmth or coolness of the purple can change the final result that much.

The same goes for the yellow. If you start with a bright purple and mix it with a bright yellow, you get something almost peach-toned. But if you take bright purple and mix it with a dark yellow, it results in a color that is almost gray.

purple and yellow make mauve carnation

What Does Purple and Orange Make?

Just like purple and yellow, purple and orange make mauve or brown. However, you probably realize by now that the specific type of mauve or brown has quite a lot of variation.

While purple and yellow also make brown, purple and orange make a brown that is usually a lot redder. That’s because of the orange, of course.

However, you can get all kinds of fun shades by adjusting the specific purples and oranges you use. You might even find that purple and orange make some colors that are very similar to what purple and yellow make! It all depends on the specific colors you mix.

Why Does Purple and Yellow Make Mauve?

Just what the heck is going on when we mix purple and yellow? Well, a large part of the reason these colors make mauve or brown is because they’re complementary colors. This means they are opposites on the color wheel. You can see yellow sitting directly across from purple.

You know the old saying “opposites attract?” It’s kind of true for colors, too! Complementary colors like purple and yellow make for striking combinations when placed near each other because they’re opposites. You might notice a lot of sports teams using complementary colors for their uniforms, for example.

This is also why using different shades of purple and yellow makes such a big difference. Those shades might be more or less perfect opposites of each other, resulting in different colors when mixed.

purple and yellow make mauve and brown landscape

What About Purple and Orange?

Purple and orange make similar colors to purple and yellow, but not quite the same. That’s because purple and orange aren’t complementary like purple and yellow. It’s actually blue and orange that are complementary colors.

However, just as purple and blue can be similar, yellow and orange can be similar, so mixing these four colors in various combinations can yield similar results. Some purple and orange combinations might look very similar to purple and yellow combinations.

Do Purple and Yellow Cancel Each Other Out?

They can! As we’ve seen, it depends on how you mix them. A very strong purple color won’t be canceled out entirely by a bit of yellow. Hence all of our mauve shades. But purple and yellow being opposites does mean they can cancel each other out. And by “cancel out,” we mean that they make browns and grays.

Sometimes, hair stylists and makeup artists will even put this principle to work. For example, hair that is too yellow and brassy can be neutralized by a purple or violet tone. How cool is that?

purple and yellow make mauve wall paint

How to Use Purple and Yellow

Let’s say you aren’t an expert hair stylist. How do you use all your new knowledge about what purple and yellow (or purple and orange) make? There are lots of ways!

Birthdays are a great place to use the striking power of complementary colors to make a gift or card that really stands out. You can color your own birthday cards yourself, or use your new knowledge for gift wrapping. Purple wrapping paper paired with a yellow bow will make for an eye-catching gift.

Another great place to use complementary colors like purple and yellow are friendship bracelets, which are a great gift and fun craft all year long. Or simply have fun coloring while employing your newfound knowledge.

Here are some other great crafty projects where you can employ purple and yellow to make new colors or a bold statement!

  • Monthly calendars to color
  • Templates for spring crafts
  • Thank you cards
  • Teacher appreciation cards
  • Paint it Mauve with These Fairy Coloring Pages

    Want a fun and easy project to practice your mauve painting and coloring. I think those colors would go great on cute and fun fairy coloring pages. Whether you're lightening your purples or deepening your browns, you're sure to hit the right aetherial tone.

    Free Printable Fairy Coloring Pages

    How to Make Other Colors

    We’ve only just begun our color mixing journey. You can make a lot more colors if you learn a bit about color theory and mix other colors. Here are some resources to help you do just that!

  • Red and Blue Make Purple
  • Mixing Blue and Pink
  • Green and Yellow Make
  • Blue and Green Make
  • Pink and Green Make
  • What Does Orange and Blue Make?
  • Red and Green Make Brown
  • What Color Does Green and Orange Make?
  • Purple and Yellow Make Mauve
  • Red and Purple Make


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