Color makes a design come alive.
It can attract attention, set a mood, and even influence our emotions and perceptions.
But sometimes it can be hard to know where to start when choosing a color palette for your design project — so if you’re in need of some inspiration, you’ve come to the right place. Browse through the 100 color combinations below, which are inspired by photography from four categories: nature, food & drink, travel, and everyday items.
Fresh greenery and colorful blossoms make springtime a welcome sight after a long winter. This color palette features bright shades of green and coral that will make your design pop. These types of colors might be used for a spring- or summer-season event poster or perhaps an advertisement that wants to come across as fresh and youthful.
Red and blue are some of the most common colors that businesses use for branding, and for good reason. Red says “confident and powerful,” while blue says “calming and trustworthy.” This palette offers a little bit of both, with slightly desaturated shades that aren’t overpowering. To the conservative blue and gray hues, the brick red shade adds a burst of extra color that is still professional. This would work well in any corporate context or for a more “serious” design project.
Desert landscapes are full of dramatic contrasts, and so is this color scheme. For an unexpected color combination that is more toned down than bright and garish, try this pairing featuring shades of plum and reddish-orange.
Iceland’s natural beauty is legendary, and this palette tries to capture its dramatic contrasts. The warm, grayish undertones of the top two colors contrast nicely with the cooler greens. A range of lighter and darker shades makes it easy to combine any two or three of the colors and have them still complement each other.
Monochromatic color schemes (made up of the various tints, tones, or shades of one color) are extremely versatile. While this palette may not qualify as monochromatic according to the technical definition, for visual purposes, it creates a similar effect. With a color as multipurpose as blue, this combination could be used just about anywhere.
If you have a brand or need a design that emphasizes natural or “green” qualities, a color palette featuring greens and browns is a logical choice. Rather than your typical dull shades, this palette brightens things up with a splash of lime green.
Crisp turquoise hues set off bright yellow and bubblegum pink for a palette almost reminiscent of Easter candy. If the pink makes the palette too “girly” for your design’s purposes, just leave it out and opt for the top two aqua shades plus the yellow for a bright, clean combination.
The bluish shades at the top and bottom of this selection have gray undertones, which makes them almost neutral — a great foundation for playing with more daring tones like the lime green.
The almost neon shades of blue and green balance out the other two more conservative colors and add a bright freshness that gives the combination some kick. This kind of scheme might work well for a fitness brand or any design that needs to balance a businesslike feel with an energetic vibe.
This landscape features both warm and cool colors in both bright and subdued shades. The beachy, mellow color palette inspired by it draws from those contrasts for a combination that brings to mind relaxing island vacations — just one example of how we can associate color with certain places, moods, or emotions.
Contrasting warm grays with cool, glacial blues makes for a dynamic color scheme that’s more visually interesting than your average combination of drab blues and grays. If you’re in need of a palette that’s more restrained, instead of opting for navy and dark gray, try these lighter, brighter hues.
The muted shades of this color scheme have a vintage vibe, with the light aqua and gold particularly being colors that were popular in the 1950s and 60s. But that doesn’t mean this combination looks dated. These colors (and the mid-century modern aesthetic in general) have seen a resurgence in popularity and still look stylish.
This combination has an outdoor feel to it, like a summer baseball game: you have the red dirt of the baseball diamond, the green grass in the outfield, the bright sun in a blue sky overhead. However, it’s more subtle (and has more variety of color) than, say, the more obvious greens and browns in #6.
Pairing black and white with bright, crisp shades of green makes for a modern palette that is sophisticated without being too serious. Instead of pairing red or blue with your black and white, freshen things up with some green.
Neutral colors like the shades of gray and tan here are very versatile and can be paired with almost anything. A color scheme of all neutrals, however, can be quite nice, too. Depending on how you apply it to a design, it can be upscale and sophisticated (think branding for a luxury hotel) or calming and comfortable (think the décor of a favorite neighborhood coffee shop).
Calming, spa-like greens and blue — great by themselves — look a little more lively with a splash of raspberry as an accent color. Adding a brighter or bolder accent color to a more restrained selection is a nice technique to liven up a color palette and give it a little extra interest.
This happy blend of colors doesn’t take itself too seriously. Have a summer party invitation to design? Maybe a children’s event poster or advertisement? A palette like this one will make it clear where the fun is at.
Shades ranging from light to dark make it easy to apply this color palette to a design. There’s enough contrast that you can choose a background color, a text color, and an accent color or two just from these four.
Applications for a pastel palette will be somewhat limited — designs having to do with Easter, spring, babies, or tea parties are pretty safe choices. Pastel colors generally come across as pretty and delicate, so you’ll want to make sure your design calls for a similar mood if you want to use a color combination like this one.
Red and green is one of three pairs of complementary (or opposite) colors on the traditional color wheel; others include orange/blue and violet/yellow. When combined, these colors make a striking, high-contrast impression that can be a little jarring if you don’t use them carefully. That’s why, for this palette, the reds and greens have been balanced and toned down (not full saturation like the red and green you see on Christmas decorations) for a fresher twist on a complementary color palette.
Warm grays with a pop of golden yellow is a combination you’ll see sometimes in interior design and home décor contexts. It’s primarily neutral (and the warmness of the grays feels calming and inviting) but the yellow adds some cheerfulness and energy for an overall palette that’s refined but not stuffy.
Reminiscent of winter berries and bare branches against a snowy sky, this combination of colors would make a great alternative to your traditional Christmas or holiday palettes. The rich reds paired with violet-tinged grays feel festive, but sophisticated.
Who says brown has to be boring? Add some red and violet undertones, and you have a full, rich color palette that — like these chocolate cupcakes — feels a little decadent.
White, black (or in this case, very dark navy), red, and yellow is a very common combination. But with these saturated shades, it certainly isn’t boring. If you’re looking for a bold palette that doesn’t mess around with unusual colors but that still makes a strong, eye-catching statement in your design, this type of color scheme is an easy one to apply.
Many cliff-hugging villages along the Mediterranean coast are painted in warm pastels. You can replicate that sunny, carefree look with this selection of shades and bring a little of the Italian dolce vita to your design, creating a warm and welcoming effect.
These vibrant hues look like they belong in a candy store, and they’re sure to give a design some youthful energy. Just make sure that it’s okay that the overall effect of the design is a little “loud,” because like the graffiti they’re inspired by, these colors certainly aren’t quiet; they’re out to make a statement.
It’s hard to replicate a metallic effect with just flat color, but dark blue and gold is a timeless combination that you’ll see on everything from swanky party invitations to the official colors of elite schools and sports teams. To add a little class to a design, try some combination of the two colors. (If you can manage to get your design printed with gold foil accents, even better!)
The ink colors that all printers use (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black; abbreviated CMYK) make a striking combination on their own, similar to the neon and illuminated signs of a big city at night.
Blue and gray always work nicely together (and you could certainly use the bottom three selections of this palette by themselves) — but the addition of a light coral pink, along with the brighter blues, gives this combination a little extra sparkle.
Lunch at an Italian restaurant, anyone? Some of the things most often associated with Italian cuisine — wine, rich tomato sauce, fresh handmade pasta — all make an appearance in this color scheme. Try it out to add some warmth and flavor to a design. The inclusion of a creamy neutral shade balances out the more colorful selections; you can use it as a background or base color and one or more of the others as tasteful accents.
Black, gray, and white are always acceptable, usable colors. But add some cobalt blue, and those run-of-the-mill neutral shades become a backdrop for a modern, attractive palette that could work for any design style, from corporate to trendy.
Red or blue might be common pairings for basic black and white, but here, a deeper red along with a brighter turquoise blue gives a fresh twist to a familiar combination.
Reminiscent of colors you might see decorating a beach house, this palette is slightly nautical, slightly faded and vintage, but the hues included here won’t box you into a certain style. They’re pretty versatile and subtle, and won’t overwhelm your design.
Dark wood, leather, old books — things you might find in an English pub or one of those gentlemen’s clubs you see in old movies. If your design could use some suave sophistication, try out this combination of rich browns plus a lighter, smoky neutral shade.