How to Make Pink? (and Purple) Colour Mixing with Acrylics

How to make pink?

It seems straightforward.

Two colours, red and white make pink. Simple.

But why does your colour mixing look wrong? or your pink looks salmon and not hot pink?

How to make a bright pink colour?

A quick look at the undertone of a few red paints can show you how mixing the perfect pink can easily elude you.

Cadmium won’t allow you to make a hot pink; this video will show you how.

This is not due to a lack of mixing ability, just the wrong red paint colour for the desired result.

Mixing a bright purple?

The right choice of red will influence your ability to make a bright purple, and Part 2 of this video (at the end of this post) will show you how easily purple can go muted and grey rather than bright and vibrant.

This is due to the ‘muting down‘ effect of complementary colours.

It’s all to do with the colour bias of the pigment hidden in paints…

How to mix paint paint – video transcript

Morning class, I’m Will Kemp from Will Kemp Art School, and today I’m going to show you how to mix the perfect pink with the perfect pigments.

Then, I’m also going to show you how to make the perfect purple using those reds..okay, let’s get started!

So here we’ve got a selection of reds you’ll most usually come across:

  • Cadmium Red Light
  • Alizarin Crimson
  • Permanent Alizarin Crimson
  • Quinacridone Red

Pro tip: In artist quality, the Cadmium Red is very expensive. It’s a Seris 9 because the raw ingredients of Cadmium are very expensive. You can read about the differences between student vs artist quality paints.

Let’s lay them out and look at what happens in their raw state and then when we add white.

So here we’ve got the Cadmium Red Light, Permanent Alizarin Crimson, Alizarin Crimson, Quinacridone Red (I also add Cadmium Red Medium)

This is the lighter one (Cadmium Red Light). It goes slightly more orange than the plain Cadmium Red.

You see how this (Cadmium Red Light) goes very, very salmon colour when you start to add white to it rather than a bright, vibrant pinky pink.

This is a Cadmium Red Medium.

With this Alizarin Crimson Permanent, you don’t expect it to go this pink, having such a dark mass tone.

Compared to this red (Cadmium Red Light), you think, “oh this is going to go a really really bright pink” but suddenly this one has gone a lot pinker.

This one (Alizarin Crimson) starts to go more towards purple, especially if you look at it in comparison to that cadmium red.

Okay, look at this bad boy.

This is super bright pink (Quinacridone Red)

So you can easily start to see how when you add white to a colour, it always brings out the pinkness or always goes towards blue.

Because the Cadmium Red has an orange bias, when you add the white, which will go towards blue, it kind of tones it down a bit.

This is a lot more muted, whereas, in this one, the quinacridone is really quite clean still.

So to try and get a bright purple, you’ve just got to look at these with white and see okay, which is the closest one. This one is going to make a really bright purple.

So let’s have a look when we mix them with a blue.

How to mix a bright purple

In this video, I explain how to mix a bright purple with acrylic paint; the same principles apply with oil paint.

The colours used are:

Ultramarine Blue & Phthalo Blue (Green) both from Golden Acrylics

The reds are:

  • Cadmium Red Light (Golden Acrylics)
  • Permanent Alizarin Crimson (Winsor & Newton)
  • Alizarin Crimson (Hue) – Golden Acrylics
  • Quinacridone Red (Golden fluid acrylic)

Cobalt Violet (hue) premixed purple.

Pro Tip: If you are experimenting with a limited palette, a  good complementary colour for this is Cadmium Yellow Light, they make some lovely tones mixed, a lot nicer than you actually think they would be.

If you understand the basics of colour bias then you could skip to 1 minute into the video where I start mixing the purples.

Before that, I briefly explain the colour bias of the two blues.

If you’s like to learn more about mixing thr perfect pink (alongside all the other colours!) you might enjoy my Beginners Colour Mixing Course


1. Golden Acrylic paints
2. Winsor & Newton Artists’ Acrylic
3. Will Kemp Art School acrylic painting techniques Youtube channel


This Post Has 30 Comments

  1. Michael De Greef

    This is a revelation to me! I’ve been having so much problems with getting powerful mixed colours trying to mix them on my own. (I even thought that mixing would basically mean loss of value)

    Thank you so much for this post (And ‘The hidden hues of colour mixing’ post)!

    I’ve been looking around your site all day and I’m loving it all so far :)! You bring your videos and blog posts in a way that it’s informative, friendly and understandable and I’m especially impressed of how you present it all :). When looking at things like markup in blogposts, choice of fonts, subtle music in videos, the way you record your videos, clarity of voice, it’s just awesome.

    Thank you for sharing your wisdom and experiences, I’ve learned alot thusfar and will keep checking in regularly :).

    PS: I’ll definitely be recommending this to my classmates :).

    1. Will Kemp

      Thanks for your kind words, so glad you’re enjoying the site

  2. Micki

    Hi Will,
    May I first express my deep euphoria over your web-site?! THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU SO MUCH for sharing!!!!!!
    In July I will participate in a week-long plein-air workshop here in Munich, and I found your web-site just in time to help me practice quick-painting, trying to reach the level of feeling comfortable and confident with my acrylics. I would hate to sit in town with a bunch of bystanders and struggle with basics :)
    Since I play the Uke a little, I adore watchin and listening to your videos as well. They always make me smile.
    That brings me to the second reason I’m writing you today: the video of mixing pink cannot be viewed in Germany , seemingly because of copyright laws. The message sais: “…….video, which contains music by UMG, cannot ……..”. As far as I can tell it only concerns this video, I can let you know if I find any other.
    Have a colorful day,

    1. Will Kemp

      Hi Micki,

      Thanks for dropping by, and so pleased you’re finding the website helpful in your painting progress. Thanks for the heads up about the video, I think it is due to a slight Nick Drake obsession!

      Enjoy the site and your plein-air workshop.


  3. Ayesha

    Thank you from Australia! Wonderful stuff Will! I live on a farm in gorgeous inspiring countryside and I could not get my purples right. Wonderful web site and thank you for helping creatives on the other side of the globe. Bless you and happy creating. xxx

    1. Will Kemp

      You’re welcome Ayesha, so pleased you’ve found the videos helpful in your paintings.

  4. Tyler Jones

    I’m using Golden Heavy Body titanium white and Liquitex Heavy Body alizarin crimson permanent and not getting nearly the bright pinks you got with the Winsor & Newton brand. I didn’t know color quality could vary so much between brands.

    1. Will Kemp

      Hey Tyler, yes there can be quite a range from brand to brand, even if they have names the colours exactly the same. You can boost the brightness of the crimson by adding a touch of Quinacridone red.

      Hope this helps.

  5. Menchie

    I have to watch this video again, I’m trying to paint bright pink peonies and this color mixing is soooo terribly helpful! Thanks.

    1. Will Kemp

      Great to hear it Menchie, really pleased you’re finding the colour mixing video helpful.

  6. Ghada

    I always had a problem with pinks. All your videos are a resolution. I love your tutorials!

    1. Will Kemp

      Great to hear it Ghada,

  7. Steve Barnes

    Hi Will, who’s the lady singing on the mixing purple video?

      1. Steve Barnes

        Thanks Will!

  8. Logan

    Awesome videos, super helpful. I’m pretty new to painting and need a bright pink so i was fairly confident with the “Quinacridone Red” and then I stumbled upon a photo that had 3 shades of this colour that had been mixed with 3 different whites and it has me stumped. The colour i want (the same colour from your video) says it was mixed with “Titanium White (dark)” and next to it is a much more bland colour that was mixed with “Titanium White (light)”, i had no idea there were different kinds of titanium whites and now have no idea what i am supposed to buy hahaha. If you have any idea i would absolutely love some assistance.


    1. Will Kemp

      Hi Logan, you usually have a Titanium white (opaque white) or a zinc white (transparent white), you can see the differences here.

  9. Thully

    hi will i want to know if are there any schools on how to mixpaint im intrested in that course

  10. M

    A big thank you
    Need to find a shop open that sells the “quinacridone red” here in Brittany France on a Sunday I’m guessing none lol need patience

    1. Will Kemp

      Pleased you found it helpful Marianne, quinacridone red (and magenta) can be such handy colours.

  11. Susen

    Hi Will,
    I’m having the devil of a time trying to mix maroon. I keep getting more of a burgundy leaning brown. I got closest by mixing quinacridone red with ultramarine blue. I tried adding a tiny bit of yellow and it all went to hell in a handcart. Where am I going wrong?
    Thank you!

    1. Will Kemp

      Hi Susen, have you got any crimson, like alizarin crimson? that mixed with a little ultramarine blue and white will give a lovely maroon. When you add a yellow to a purple it will mute down and neutralize the purple.

      1. Susen

        Thank you for your reply, Will. I do have alizarin crimson and ultramarine blue. But, when I mix them and add white, I just get purple. Is it my ratio? My painting requires a purple, a bright pink, and a deep maroon. Thanks to your videos on mixing the perfect pink and purple, I’ve got those colours. But, my maroon is just a deep brown with a purple bias.

        1. Will Kemp

          Hi Susen, if you start with some alizarin crimson, then add a tiny about of ultramarine blue. Then add a tiny amount of titanium white to light the value slightly (it will look purple) then add a tiny amount of cadmium yellow. The yellow will take down the purple and warm up the colour.


          1. Susen

            I’ll try that, Will. *FINGERS CROSSED* I’ve never had such difficulty mixing a particular colour. This one’s just had me stumped for the last 3 days.

            THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!!


          2. Will Kemp

            Good one Susen, hope it goes well!

          3. Susen

            Thank you, Will. I shall let you know how I get on.

  12. Bob

    Hello Will,

    So old thread but it looks like Golden quinacridone crimson has been discontinued. Is there an alternative to get that beautiful hot pink or is Alizarin Crimson Permanent permanent the best that’s available?

    1. Will Kemp

      Hi Bob, yes, the Permanent Alizarin Crimson from W & N will give you a more saturated brighter pink. Quinacridone Red (from Golden) will also great a lovely pink but it is more transparent (excellent for glazing) so the Permanent Alizarin Crimson can work as a nice allrounder.


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