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There's a common misunderstanding that there's only one primary blue, red and yellow. Actually, there are many variations of blues, reds, and yellows that are all considered primary. People think that when you mix red and blue, you get purple. But that's not always the case. To demonstrate the variations of colors that come from the different primaries, and show you that red and blue can make something very different than purple. I'll use the traditional media of watercolor and show the effect by painting.
Here are some sample blues that would fall into the primary category, but are very different, one from the other. Let's take ultramarine and phthalo blue from this chart. Both are primaries, but ultramarine is closer to purple than phthalo blue. Phthalo blue feels slightly more green than ultramarine; a bit less purple. Although neither color can be broken down into other colors, they appear different, one from the other, to our eye.
Let's look at the variety of primary reds, and then do some color mixing. For primary reds, we have cadmium red, and permanent rose. Which create entirely different secondary colors, depending on the blues they're combined with. Ultramarine and cadmium red, create brown. Versus phthalo blue and cadmium red, which creates different tertiary colors. Now let's mix phthalo blue and permanent rose. Then ultramarine and permanent rose. The first two sets of primaries create a kind of brownish purple color. And the second two primaries create a more vibrant purple.
Here you can see these two mixes from light to dark. They're all very different colors though all are a mix of primary red and a primary blue. You might wonder why there's so much variation between the mixes. It's because cadmium red is closer to orange than the other primary reds. And ultramarine is closer to purple. Since orange and purple are complementary colors, they have a slight neutralizing or vibrancy reducing effect on each other.
To neutralize means to reduce the saturation or vibrancy of a color. Colors are neutralized in the following ways. Combining two or all three complementary colors. Combining all three primary colors. Mixing white into a color. Mixing black into a color. Or mixing two primaries that act as complements.
When combining permanent rose and ultramarine, or permanent rose and phthalo blue. Each creates a more vibrant purple than the first grouping of primaries. Although Phthalo Blue is slightly closer to green, and every so slightly neutralizes permanent rose. Ultramarine is a blue with no green quality, and thus creates a very vibrant purple for Permanent Rose. A distinctly more purple red than Cadmium Red. Thus the most vibrant purple is made from ultramarine and permanent rose.
Because there's no complementary reaction of any kind between these two colors. The best way to know what hues result from mixing different primary, secondary, and tertiary colors is to create a color chart. It doesn't matter if it's created traditionally or digitally. Learning what color results from adding two or more colors together. Comes from combining colors and creating a chart to remember the combinations, like this one. Referring to charts will help you remember the color recipe so you never get brown when you really want purple.
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