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Shades and Tones of Purple and Mauve

I am in love with the amazing world of colour, and particularly colour creation in TV and computer monitors



Frequently in opinion polls, the colour purple is rated as one of the most popular of all hues. It can be deep and luxurious in tone, and indeed for more than a thousand years was considered to be the most imperial of colours - a colour which signified in a very real sense, great affluence and power. And yet in its many pastel forms of mauve, this can also be a subtle and calming hue, as evidenced by some of our best loved flowers.

In a series of pages, I am looking at all the different colours we know and love, and how these can all be created using just the three primary colours of light - red, green and blue. In this page I concentrate on the colour purple in all its manifestations, I look at the varied tones of mauve, and the flowers which display them to best effect, such as orchid and lavender and lilac. I look at the history and origins of purple in Roman times. And I look at two special spectral colours, indigo and violet.

  • This series of pages is entitled 'Shades and Tones of Colour'. Three other pages have so far been completed. There is also a home page to this series which is referenced below. Links to other pages in the series can be found towards the foot of this page.


Unless otherwise indicated, all images on this page have been created by the author using 'Paint' or 'Photoshop' programmes. All can be generated in a matter of seconds

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Some tones and shades of purple and mauve of course do have very specific names, because they can be likened to the colour of an object (usually a flower) of which we are all familiar. The very best known of the purplish and mauvish hues, including violet and indigo, orchid and plum, lavender and lilac, will be considered in their own separate sections, and will be illustrated with the nearest approximations of these colours. In these sections I shall also describe their history and their colour composition.

A number of other colours will be grouped together under the titles 'SHADES OF PURPLE' and 'TONES OF PURPLE', and a variety of lighter hues will be grouped together under the title 'SHADES OF MAUVE', and in these sections the emphasis will be on showing how changes in the intensities and the proportions of red and blue light, or the introduction of green light, may alter the final hue quite appreciably.


Unfortunately there are considerable difficulties with laying down hard and fast rules for colour shades. For a start, different colour processes will create shades which just don't match exactly. A good example of this is the matching of shades produced by light in visual display units, (typically the RGB model described below) to the shades produced by ink on paper (typically the CMYK model). Different monitors, different printers and different inks also vary in the colour rendition they produce. What's more, anyone can name a colour whatever they like, and particular shades may be given one name by, for example, one paint manufacturer, and quite a different name by another. The same name may also be applied to different shades or tones.

For example, the term 'amethyst' may be used for one shade by one authority, whilst another may use an entirely different name, or they may apply amethyst to a subtly different tone (Not perhaps too surprising as amethysts themselves vary greatly in tone). In this short page, only one method of creating colour is used, and this will be the RGB system as readers will be viewing on a visual display unit. Hopefully colour reproduction will be faithful on the monitor you are using.


Shades and Tones of Colour - Colour Creation using the RGB Code, CYMK, Pigments and Dyes

Shades and Tones of Colour

This is the Home Page for this 'Shades and Tones' series. On this page I explain the spectrum of light, and the history of colour production using pigments. I also describe in more detail the RGB system, and I explain much of the colour coding used in this series. I also look at colour charts and how the names of colours may vary with different sources. Finally I explain the terminology of shades and tones.


On this page I can only give the briefest of explanations of the RGB system and the colour codes which are employed as an integral part of describing how the different shades and tones of Purple and Mauve are produced.

If you wish to understand exactly how the huge range of different intensities of red, blue and green light may be manipulated to produce all different colours in a visual display unit, I refer you to my Home Page opposite. My thanks.

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This 'Shades Of' page is for Jo Evans, a friend and frequent reader of these pages, because she likes the colour purple. Not sure though which shade of purple she likes, or whether she likes them all equally, or some more than others. Or maybe it's really a mauve tone she likes? Or violet? Or possibly magenta, which I would say isn't really purple at all? Maybe she'll tell me after she reads this page. Whatever, I hope she likes the page.


Visible light is effectively a continuous band or spectrum of electromagnetic wavelengths which we perceive as different colours. In the RGB colour creation method, it has been found that by combining emissions of just three of these wavelengths - those of Red and Green and Blue (RGB) - in different proportions, and different intensities, all the thousands of tones and shades that we can distinguish with the human eye, can be created.

So in visual display units which use RGB, thousands of pixels are utilised in which red, green and blue light can each be emitted at different intensities to create all these colours - we of course can not detect the individual pixels; we just perceive as a new tone or shade, the end product of the proportions of red, green and blue light emitted.

In my pages the proportions of red, green and blue in the finished tone is described by the percentage intensity of each colour in the final tone. Under this system, maximum intensity of each wavelength is 100% and minimum intensity is 0%. The higher the intensity of light makes the finished colour lighter and brighter, whilst lower intensities of colour makes the final colour darker. Purple is essentially the result of combining the two primary colours red and blue and varying the proportions will vary the tone of purple produced.

Under this coding system, these are a few selected values, and how we perceive them:

  • 0% (R) : 0% (G) : 0% (B) - A total absence of any light is BLACK
  • 100% (R) : 100% (G) : 100% (B) - Combined emission of maximum intensity red, green and blue light is WHITE
  • 100% (R) : 0% (G) : 0% (B) - This will be the BRIGHTEST PURE RED
  • 0% (R) : 0% (G) : 100% (B) - This will be the BRIGHTEST PURE BLUE

These examples are clear enough, but as soon as the proportions of red and blue light are varied, or some green light is added to the mix, so a whole vast range of tones can be created. The introduction of green light may give the final hue a slightly greyish tone, but as the contribution of all three primary colours increases, so the shade gets lighter and lighter as we move closer to the pure white of 100% red, 100% green and 100% blue. So when both red and blue light are of high intensity, and green light is also of significant intensity, the resultant range of colours are rather lighter than purple and may generically be described as mauve. I have used percentages of RGB intensity which seem to me to give the colour rendition which is most closely associated with a particular tone. It is by no means definitive, but I think that these descriptions of shade and tone could be generally accepted.

RGB MAGENTA 100% (R) : 0% (G) : 100% (B) Magenta may be described as purplish pink, or pinkish purple, as opposed to true Purple

RGB MAGENTA 100% (R) : 0% (G) : 100% (B) Magenta may be described as purplish pink, or pinkish purple, as opposed to true Purple

CMYK MAGENTA 100% (R) 0% (G) 56% (B) Magenta may be described as purplish pink, or pinkish purple, as opposed to true Purple

CMYK MAGENTA 100% (R) 0% (G) 56% (B) Magenta may be described as purplish pink, or pinkish purple, as opposed to true Purple


Before we commence the discussion of hues which all can agree are shades and tones of purple and mauve, I think we should discuss Magenta. If purples are defined simply as combinations of predominantly red and blue light, then strictly speaking Magenta could be considered a shade of purple. Magenta in the RGB system is composed of pixels emitting maximum intensity of both red and blue light. However, this renders the final shade as very bright and light, and irrespective of the two component colours, I would suggest most would consider Magenta to be rather closer to a deep bright pink, than to purple. Magenta is also one of the primary colours of ink in the CMYK colour model, and although this ink is rather different in tone from the hue created in the RGB system, it still approximates more to an idea of pink than to purple. A typical approximation of CMYK Magenta ink (AKA Printer's Magenta) is shown here with RGB Magenta for comparison.

LIGHT PURPLE 70% (R) : 0% (G) : 70% (B)

LIGHT PURPLE 70% (R) : 0% (G) : 70% (B)

MID PURPLE 50% (R) : 0% (G) : 50% (B)

MID PURPLE 50% (R) : 0% (G) : 50% (B)

DARK PURPLE 35% (R) : 0% (G) : 35% (B)

DARK PURPLE 35% (R) : 0% (G) : 35% (B)


Having considered Magenta, we will now look at three shades which - like Magenta - comprise equal proportions of red and blue light, but at reduced intensities of emission. This reduction in intensity means that the resultant shade is rather darker. These shades therefore, very definitely fall into the realm of the purples.

The purpose of this section is not to name different shades of purple, but rather it is to demonstrate how subtle changes in the intensity of red and blue light can radically change the end hue.


'Purple' comes from the Latin 'purpura' and referred originally to a dye made from the mucus of the Murex brandaris snail, (the Spiny Dye-Murex), and other related marine species. Extraction of this dye dates back c2000 BC to the Phoenician civilisation. Because of the difficulty of processing quantities of this dye, Purple was extremely expensive, and indeed in ancient times usage was largely confined to the affluent and powerful - hence the association of Purple with royalty and the robes of Roman emperors. Even for such people however, the dye was almost prohibitively expensive - The Roman Emperor Aurelian apparently refused his wife some Purple garments due to the cost! The colour obtained from these snail secretions was known as Tyrian Purple, and was rather more reddish than Purple as we know it today, more akin to Burgundy. The Reddish Purple shown below is the closest approximation on this page. After the fall of the Roman Empire, Purple also declined significantly.

REDDISH PURPLE 55% (R) :  0% (G):  45% (B)

REDDISH PURPLE 55% (R) : 0% (G): 45% (B)

MID PURPLE 50% (R) : 0% (G) : 50% (B)

MID PURPLE 50% (R) : 0% (G) : 50% (B)

BLUISH PURPLE 45% (R) : 0% (G) :  55% (B)

BLUISH PURPLE 45% (R) : 0% (G) : 55% (B)


In this section we look at two tones of purple in which intensities of red and blue emission are approximately those of Mid-Purple as illustrated above (between 45% and 55%). However, the proportions of red and blue emission are slightly different.

So again the purpose of this section is not to name different tones of purple, but rather it is to demonstrate how subtle changes in the proportions of red and blue light can change the end hue.


The word 'Purple' first appeared in English in 975 AD. For many centuries, production of Purple remained small scale due to the difficulty of obtaining the dye. The process was also pretty disgusting! It involved rotting the flesh of various sea snails in urine for several days, mixing it in a barrel treading it underfoot - the smell must have been overpowering. Cheaper vegetable dyes were available, though rotten snail secretions remained the luxury option! In the 15th century, Purple was largely replaced as the colour of prestige and power by cardinal, crimson and scarlet reds obtained from crushed insects. It was not until the 19th century that synthetic Purple dyes began to be introduced - notably mauveine, described below - and with today's chemical industry of course, there is no special luxury connected to the processing of any colour. Yet even today in many peoples' eyes, the colour Purple retains a regal bearing.

Spiny dye-murex - the shell of the Mollusc responsible for the original purple dye known to the ancient Romans as purpura

Spiny dye-murex - the shell of the Mollusc responsible for the original purple dye known to the ancient Romans as purpura


The visible spectrum of light as we perceive it in nature is a small band of wavelengths within the vast spectrum of ectromagnetic radiation which includes radio and microwaves, gamma and X-rays. And the most famous manifestation of this visible spectrum is the rainbow, which our eyes and brains traditionally delineate into seven bands of gradually changing colour. It was Isaac Newton who first categorised the colours of the visible spectrum as red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet in sequence according to their wavelengths.

It is immediately apparent that red does not lie adjacent to blue in the visible spectrum, and therefore there is no band of wavelengths which equates as an intermediary between red and blue, as we would understand purple to be. Therefore almost all of the shades and tones described here are for the most part 'extra-spectral' colours - that is to say - they do not exist naturally in the spectrum. They can only be created by combining relatively long wave red light and relatively short wave blue light, either directly or in pigments and dyes.

Two colours are different however. Indigo and Violet may be considered as tones related to purple, yet these are spectral colours represented by specific wavebands of visible light, and they are of even shorter wavelength than blue light. (Of course in the RGB system which only utilises the wavelengths of red, green and blue, even Indigo and Violet must be artificially created as accurately as possible by combining red and blue light, and these are described next).

INDIGO 29% (R) : 0% (G) : 51% (B)

INDIGO 29% (R) : 0% (G) : 51% (B)


Indigo is traditionally regarded as one of the seven colours of the rainbow, lying between blue and violet, and therefore the colour Indigo is regarded as being a very bluish purple or bluish violet. In the visible spectrum, Indigo represents wavelengths of about 420-460nm in length. There is actually evidence that Isaac Newton himself interpreted the spectrum somewhat differently to modern thinking, and perhaps his 'blue' referred to a cyan tone of light green-blue, and his 'Indigo' referred to a tone we would describe as dark blue. Certainly there are different representations of Indigo in pigment and in RGB colours, and many may regard the tone depicted here as dark blue rather than purple.

Originally the colour Indigo as a dye was obtained from the plant Indigofere tinctoria, and was first recorded in the English language in the 13th century.



VIOLET 58% (R) : 0% (G) : 83% (B)

VIOLET 58% (R) : 0% (G) : 83% (B)


In the traditional rainbow spectrum, Violet is the final colour beyond Blue and Indigo, and has a wavelength of about 380-420nm. In terms of pigment production, and RGB light emissions, Violet - like all the colour tones on this page - is a combination of blue and red, but with blue in the ascendency, though again there are different interpretations as to the precise tone of violet. In the illustration shown here, the best representation utilises 50-60% intensity red light and 80-90% intensity blue light.

How best to represent Violet? Well of course the name for this colour derives from flowers of the genus Viola. Even wild violets will vary greatly in deepness of shade according to the species, but here is where one should look for the truest representation of the colour.

ORCHID 69% (R) : 19% (G) : 85% (B)

ORCHID 69% (R) : 19% (G) : 85% (B)


All of the colours so far illustrated on this page show tones created purely from the two primary colours red and blue. All the remaining colours are created by adding varying intensities of green light in the mix.

The tone illustrated here is the best representation of the colour known as Orchid. 'Orchid' of course comes from the flower of the same name, though there are many thousands of species of orchids and a large proportion of these are purplish in colour, Many of the species and cultivated hybrids are similar in tone to that illustrated here, rendered slightly more pinkish reddish than the Violet tone above, because the intensity of red is slightly higher. Orchid was first used as a colour tonal name in 1915.

PLUM 56% (R) : 27% (G) : 52% (B)

PLUM 56% (R) : 27% (G) : 52% (B)


First used as a colour name in 1805, Plum of course refers to the colour of the fruit of the same name, and the tone which represents this colour is shown opposite. It can immediately be seen from the RGB code that there is proportionately less blue in the mix than in Orchid or other colours so far illustrated. Plum is similar to many of the more reddish shades of purple, but with a slight yet distinct greyish tinge due to the introduction of some green.

LAVENDER 60% (R) : 40% (G) : 80% (B)

LAVENDER 60% (R) : 40% (G) : 80% (B)

AMETHYST 58% (R) : 44% (G) : 86% (B)

AMETHYST 58% (R) : 44% (G) : 86% (B)


We now move on to shades which are rather paler than traditional purples, and indeed all the remaining colours could be considered as mauves. Two which are fairly similar in tone to each other, are Lavender and Amethyst. Lavender of course is named for the flower and Amethyst is named for the semi-precious stone. Of course these days hybrid lavenders are available in a range of shades and amethyst stones are of a range of shades according to the degree of impurity which creates the colour.

In both these, there is more blue light than red, and so a bluish colour predominates. The intensity and proportions of red and blue light are indeed similar to those of Violet, but the overall colour is rather paler than any we have looked at so far. How is this so? the answer lies in the increasing level of green light in the final hue. In Violet there is no green contribution to the RGB model, but we are now seeing 40%+ intensity of green light, and as we have seen, increasing the intensity of all three components of RGB light makes the shade paler and moves us closer to white.

LILAC 80% (R) : 60% (G) : 100% (B)

LILAC 80% (R) : 60% (G) : 100% (B)


In this section we see an escalation in the intensity of green light to 60%, and this - together with higher intensities of red and blue light - creates the palest shade so far. We can call this tone Lilac. Lilac is yet another tone named for a flower which typically displays this colour in its petals (though of course the Lilac Tree Syringa vulgaris is now available in many varieties - some darker and some lighter than traditional Lilac). Lilac was first used as a colour name in 1775.

DARK MAUVE 70% (R) : 55% (G) : 70% (B)

DARK MAUVE 70% (R) : 55% (G) : 70% (B)

MID MAUVE 80% (R) : 60% (G) : 80% (B)

MID MAUVE 80% (R) : 60% (G) : 80% (B)

PALE MAUVE 88% (R) : 69% (G) : 100% (B)

PALE MAUVE 88% (R) : 69% (G) : 100% (B)


Although there is no clear definition of colour ranges, I think most readers would regard darker tones of red-blue as being purple, and lighter shades as being Mauve. Lavender, Amethyst and Lilac could all be considered as types of Mauve, but in this section the term Mauve is used for a variety of non-specific tones characterised by quite high intensities of green light in the final mix. As a result, these tones tend to be rather greyer and/or paler than those mentioned previously on this page.

The colour is named after the French for mallow (another flower), and has been variously described as a pale Lavender or a bluish pink.

Mauve was first extracted in 1856 by the chemist William Henry Perkin as a by-product residue whilst attempting to create artificial quinine, an antimalarial drug. The residue was initially called mauveine, but this was soon shortened to Mauve. The commercial prospects of this pale purplish substance were soon recognised, and Mauve became one of the first synthetic dyes. Interestingly, the colour Mauve as understood today is lighter than Perkin's initial mauveine, because the pigment he discovered faded rapidly.



Shades of purple have been among the most potent of all colours throughout history for as far into the past as one cares to look, even to the Roman Emperors in their purple robes. The colour has all the richness of bright reds and yellows, but is a little less 'in your face' and 'gaudy'. Purple and mauve include many shades and tones associated with some of our best loved flowers and other natural sights, and as such have a special place in the affections of many.



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  • Greensleeves Hubs on HubPages
    Please visit my many other pages on which I write about topics such as travel, film reviews, astronomy, linguistics and creative writing
  • Shades and Tones of Colour - Colour Creation
    Home page to my 'shades and tones series' describing the nature of the visible spectrum, and how colour can be created
  • Red
    We have many words in English for different shades of red - scarlet, ruby, crimson, cerise, and so on. But what are all these shades? And where do these evocative names come from?
  • Green
    Green is perhaps the most tranquil, most passive, and the easiest on the eye of the three primary colours of light. In this page I look at shades of green in the RGB colour system
  • Yellow and Orange
    Of all the spectral colours, yellow and orange are two of the most vivid. How can these two bright colours be created, and what is their history?
  • Grey, White and Black
    This page looks at the creation of the colour grey (gray) in electronic devices. What exactly is grey? And its associated hues of black and white? Are they true colours? Or shades? Or what?

Please feel free to quote limited text from this article on condition that an active link back to this page is included.



Yoleen Lucas from Big Island of Hawaii on June 08, 2016:

Purple is my favorite color. Black (ultraviolet) light is purple, and makes all the other colors look wild. I love black light!

Greensleeves Hubs (author) from Essex, UK on January 01, 2014:

Alex; Many thanks for your visit. That's an interesting observation you make, regarding 'mauve'. I have always grouped the majority of the red-blue mixes together as purple (dark) or mauve (pale), and used other terms such as lilac or violet for more specific, narrowly defined tones.

I can't answer your question, but given that there are no precise definitions of colour tones and shades, it may be that terminology does change with the generations. However, there is such a big difference between the darkest purples and the palest shades, to describe them all as 'purple' wouldn't be particularly helpful, so I totally agree that it would be a big shame if the term 'mauve' were to be discarded by the younger generation - I shall have to test for myself how different age groups describe these colours!

It's also interesting that you mention gardening and flowers. These paler mauve colours do seem to be particularly common among flowers.

Your comment and observation is much appreciated Alex. Thanks.

Alex on January 01, 2014:

Great page - very informative. Many people in my life - particularly of the older generation - tend to favour the term 'mauve' as an umbrella term for the light-moderate shades, in the same way you do, leaving the term 'purple' reserved for the notably darker shades. However, I notice that the younger generation tend to use 'purple' to describe all shades in the family, from lilac to amethyst! This irritates me as I feel the word 'mauve' is becoming forgotten - in fact I occasionally receive odd looks when I use the term. Similarly, you get the ones who will try to correct you by saying 'that's not mauve, it's lilac' - the cheek! The only field 'mauve' seems to be used quite commonly is in relation to gardening and flowers.

Is there a reason why 'mauve' is fairly commonplace in older speakers' vocabulary, compared with the young who use the generic word 'purple'?

Holly Vaughn from Orono, Maine on September 26, 2013:

Oooh, a whole page on my hair coloring. What a neat idea. And somewhere on the page, you could discuss the color of my eyes. I took the best pictures I could just so I could post them to my Facebook to get opinions from my friends on what color they are. Nobody could agree on a certain color. (pics of my eyes: .

Wouldn't be so sure on the grey hair thing. I've seen some pretty sexy grey/silver hair styles. =) Just google "silver hair". I just did and there are a ton of them. Very gorgeous! =)

Greensleeves Hubs (author) from Essex, UK on September 23, 2013:

Hiya Holly - Having seen your blue and green styles as well as your purples, I think I could do a whole page comparing shades and tones just using the pictures of your hair colourings!

I've not done a blue page yet I'm sorry to say. My next page (due to be published in a few days time) is on 'Shades and Tones of Grey'. Somehow though, I don't think grey will be top of your list of hair colours to try next! Alun :-)

Holly Vaughn from Orono, Maine on September 18, 2013:

Hiya again, Alun! Sorry, I'm awful with remembering to follow up. I also don't know how to reply to someone's post.

Anyway, I've got some more (and better) pics of my hair when it was still purple. Two different shades. The darker shade was my very first bright hair color. And the lighter shade is the one I asked about originally but with better pics. Here's the link for those pics:

I've since changed to blues and greens though. I'll go find the blues page and post my new color there. =)

Greensleeves Hubs (author) from Essex, UK on July 11, 2013:

Holly; Hmmm. Yes, I'd say light to mid purple. I'll tell you what Holly, I'll keep your post here on condition you now experiment with every other shade in the entire purple range!! (Maybe all at the same time?) :-) Alun.

Holly on July 10, 2013:

My hair right now is comparable to what you've called Mid Purple. =) I uploaded some pics to my Photobucket account if anyone wants to see. Do you guys agree that it's closest to Mid Purple? Or would you call it one of the other colors?

Greensleeves Hubs (author) from Essex, UK on January 27, 2013:

Thank you Eamon. I appreciate your nice comment. Alun.

Eamon Armstrong on January 27, 2013:

Marvelous read! Thanks!

Greensleeves Hubs (author) from Essex, UK on November 28, 2012:

Thank you Violet (appropriate name). I find it difficult to choose a favourite too - so good that our brains are capable of differentiating so many subtle shades and tones. But don't allow it to cause your head to explode - it'd make quite a mess! :-)

Violet on November 28, 2012:

My name is related to purple, and purple is my fav color. What a coincidence! There are too many purples, a don't know if a have a fav tone of purple. I specifically like lavender/amethyst, but also indigo, lilac, bluish purple and dark purple. There are too many choices, I think my head is about to explode!!!! :)

Greensleeves Hubs (author) from Essex, UK on November 27, 2012:

JollyJumper; You're absolutely right about the association/similarity between Magenta and Fuchsia, (and perhaps I should have made mention of Fuchsia in this context on the page), but as with most of these colours, the name Fuchsia is applied to a range of shades and tones from shocking pink to reddish purple, so it's hard to give a definitive answer. Indeed, terms such as 'Fashion Fuchsia', 'Antique Fuchsia' and 'Neon Fuchsia' are sometimes used for different tones. However, the term 'Web Fuchsia' has been used as synonymous with RGB Magenta.

One can only decide for oneself the most appropriate tone to be described by the general term Fuchsia. Ultimately of course, fuchsia is the colour of the flower fuchsia - but even fuchsia flowers vary in tone. However I think I would agree that RGB Magenta is probably the most similar hue on this page to the typical fuchsia flower. Alun.

JollyJumper on November 27, 2012:

Which color should be Fuchsia? I think maybe RGB Magenta is Fuchsia and CYMK Magenta is just Magenta. Or the other way around?

Greensleeves Hubs (author) from Essex, UK on August 22, 2012:

timdmackey; Thank you very much for that comment. It's especially pleasing to hear the articles have been useful. It makes it seem worthwhile writing them!

As you may be aware, I did experience a 'duplication' issue with HubPages which mean't that I could not include information necessary to all of the pages, on each and every page. (Such as outlining the difference between shades and tones, explanation of the RGB colour model etc). That made it difficult to continue with the series, and I thought then, I'd stop after just three colours.

However, these have actually been among my most popular hubs so I think I'm going to have to find a way round this issue. Maybe I'll have to move the info common to every page to another, introductory page. Anyway, I hope to continue the series in due course, when I find the best way to reorganise the info.

Despite this duplication issue timdmackey, the HubPages site has been a great place to write and publish web articles - I see you have only just joined, so I wish you all the best, and hope you enjoy being on this site.


Tim Mackey on August 22, 2012:

I love your articles on colors, they have been extremely useful to me in establishing different color names in my mind. Do you plan on doing any more? In particular, variations of yellow/gold and variations of blue/cyan would be really interesting.

Greensleeves Hubs (author) from Essex, UK on June 19, 2012:

joanveronica, that is a really nice comment of yours. Above all, I greatly appreciate all the sharing with other sites. Thank you so much. Alun.

Joan Veronica Robertson from Concepcion, Chile on June 19, 2012:

Hey, what a beautiful and original Hub! I love all these shades, so I couldn't vote! Used these in embroidery many times, also knitting and crochet, they all look fantastic! Voted Up, and more. Also shared all over: FB.Twitter, HP, Stumble, Digg, G+ Have a good day.

Greensleeves Hubs (author) from Essex, UK on June 18, 2012:

Thank you Christin. It's good to know that you liked this page, and I am grateful for your comment. Alun.

Ann-Christin from UK on June 18, 2012:

I love the colour purple so had to read this hub when I came across it. It has made a very interesting read and I've loved looking at all the different shades.

Greensleeves Hubs (author) from Essex, UK on June 05, 2012:

Thank you Randall. Nice to know that lavender is top of your list, as with many other people. All shades and tones have their own appeal from the rich deep purples to the subtle pastels of mauve.

As far as the names are concerned, when I started writing this and similar pages it surprised me what a rich source of different languages the names of colours are derived from, and how the English words came into being.

Randall Krause on June 04, 2012:

It is surprising to see that lavender, my personal favourite colour, is also the most popular in your poll. Thanks for the great rundown of the different shades and variations of purple. It's quite fascinating how this range of the spectrum has so many different English words to describe each perceptible hue.

Greensleeves Hubs (author) from Essex, UK on May 21, 2012:


Nice to hear from you. Thank you so much for your visit and generous comment. Purple is a very exotic colour and I found it interesting when writing this page to discover the rich and varied history to its production.

Not sure I'd want a purple living room though - I think it might give me a headache ! :-)


Sharilee Swaity from Canada on May 19, 2012:

Greensleeves, this was very interesting to read. This helped to understand this colour, and colours in general much better. I am going to remember this one when I go to pick out paint colour for my living room (yes, I want a shade of purple.)

Great read! Purple is my favourite colour, too, so I especially loved learning more about my favourite. I have to confess that I will have to study this to get everything you included in this hub! Voted up and more.

Greensleeves Hubs (author) from Essex, UK on January 01, 2012:

Many thanks R Talloni for visiting and commenting on this hub. I appreciate your words.

RTalloni on December 31, 2011:

What a study in purple! Thanks for putting this together so well and sharing it with us. Checking out your other work...

Greensleeves Hubs (author) from Essex, UK on December 14, 2011:

Thanks so much snakeslane for your kind comments - one of the benefits I've found since joining HubPages, is that the research required to complete pages such as this, has introduced me to all kinds of interesting knowledge which I previously did not have.

Regarding the rarity of purple dye in ancient times, I guess that apart from the sea snails mentioned, and maybe a few berries, there's very little in nature from which a purple dye can be extracted - it makes one appreciate how lucky we are today to have access to so many different tones of colour which just didn't exist in the past.

Your visit is much appreciated. Cheers.

Verlie Burroughs from Canada on December 14, 2011:

Greensleeves, thank you so much for this informative and visually rich article on the colour purple. I didn't know purple was such a rare colour. The history you presented is really fascinating, I appreciate your thorough research, and pleasing presentation of the various shades of purple. The system you outline for creating these different shades is valuable information for any artist. Thank you so much for sharing. Regards, snakeslane

Greensleeves Hubs (author) from Essex, UK on December 13, 2011:

Thank you Evylyn for those really generous comments. Glad you liked the page. Thanks for visiting. (And thanks loads for the 'fan mail' you sent). Alun.

Evylyn Rose from Virginia, USA on December 12, 2011:

Awesome and informative hub! I love the color purple and having some history on the color and its many variations is great. Thanks for sharing!

Greensleeves Hubs (author) from Essex, UK on December 12, 2011:

Jo ! It was a pleasure to have written this page for you.(It would have got written one day anyway, but it might otherwise have been in several months time or even a year's time at the rate I write!)

Glad you liked it and thanks so much for voting in the poll, and for commenting. Very best wishes and hope to see you sometime soon.

So bluish purple is the one you like best. Now I know! Alun x

Greensleeves Hubs (author) from Essex, UK on December 12, 2011:

Thank you Derdriu. As ever your comments are so appreciated.

It wasn't the reason I originally started writing about colour shades, but since starting with 'red', I've found the way in which different colours combine to create new tones in the RGB system to be really intriguing.

I first learned the story of 'purple making' from a TV documentary series called 'The Worst Jobs in History' - this job certainly sounds pretty horrible!

Not sure what will come next Derdriu, because I write about 8 pages concurrently, but sometimes I get stuck on a particular aspect of a hub, even when it is close to completion, and then it gets delayed due to 'writer's block'. But currently I'm doing some astronomy hubs, a page about Democracy, a film review, and Shades of Green.

Anyway, thanks again for your latest visit. Appreciated. Alun.

Jo on December 12, 2011:

Thanks Alun this is great and much appreciated, as you know i love purple, bluish purple!!!

Derdriu on December 12, 2011:

Alun, What a clear, informative, precise, thorough discussion of the composition and impact of shades of purple! The examples, explanations and photos all help to get across the subtle details of blue, green and red in the interaction which produces purple. In particular, I appreciate the accounting for the difference between violet, lavender and amethyst. Of especially humorous interest is your history of purple-making: from fascinating in Roman times to technological now, with a disgusting interim.

Thank you for sharing, etc.,


P.S. Will there be more hubs, such as on animals, colors, flowers, movies, travels?

Greensleeves Hubs (author) from Essex, UK on December 12, 2011:

Thanks kschimmel. Glad you liked the page and the information!

Kimberly Schimmel from North Carolina, USA on December 12, 2011:

I love this! Wonderful historical and technical info on my favorite color.

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