When it comes to design, finding the perfect color combination can be your winning secret to having an eye-catching creation. You could say, it’s one of the most important steps in creating a polished look.
The truth is, color makes a design come alive. It can attract attention, set a mood, and even influence our emotions and perceptions.
But without any design inspiration or design principles to follow, it can be hard to come up with a winning color combination from scratch.
After all, how are you meant to know if it really looks good, or helps communicate the purpose of your design? Whether you're designing a poster, logo or business card, the color combination plays a key role in how it's perceived.
So we’ve done the hard work for you—giving you 100 color combinations inspired by nature, food and drink, travel, and everyday items. But before we go into the designer-approved color combinations you should use, let's cover the basic color combinations most designers use.
Different color combinations evoke different moods or tones by using color theory and color psychology. Below are some of the most popular types of color combinations used.
Complementary color combinations are colors that sit opposite each other on the color circle. Complementary colors provide feels of energy and vitality to the viewer.
A triadic color combination is a combination that uses three colors. They are equidistant on the color circle, making the shape of a triangle. Using this type of color combination can create feelings of peace and harmony for the viewer of your design.
An analogous color combination is a combination of 2 to 5 colors that sit adjacent to each other on the color circle. It creates a smooth and pacifying feeling for the viewer and designers often opt to choose muted hues within these combinations.
The tetradic color combination is a scheme that includes one primary and two complementary colors. It also uses one additional color that highlights accents. All four colors are distributed evenly around the color wheel, causing there to be no clear dominance of one color.
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 color combination 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 color combination brightens things up with a splash of lime green.
Another winner for any brand looking to emphasize its eco-credentials. This moody combination of watery greens has a subtle sophistication.
Bright colors have undeniable eye-catching power. These primary colors are ever-so-slightly muted, giving the palette a unique touch.
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.
Need color inspiration for weddings? Read more about it: 25 perfect wedding color combinations.
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.
These earthy colors have a rustic realness to them, evoking woodsy images. This color combination would be perfect for anyone looking to add an authentic touch to their brand.
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.
This color palette brings to mind the first moments of Spring, and the newly emerging flowers, buds and berries.
This color combination is a perfect example of the power of contrast. The strong, bright hues of the yellow and orange are balanced by the indigo and navy tones, creating an overall effect that is powerful without being in-your-face.
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.
Nothing says "health" more than these varied citrus hues. Orange, yellow and lime green are the perfect choices if you want a color combination that suggests freshness and vitality.
The colors that are seen across the sky as the sun sets and moves towards twilight come in a wide range of peaches and blues, creating a sophisticated palette to make any design unique.
A color combination so tropical you can almost feel the warm breeze on your skin. These warm colors have a youthful energy and vitality.
Did you know that colors have meanings? Read more about it here: The history and psychology of colors.
Think of autumn and the various shades of brown, red, orange and green that the foliage turns into. Use these colors to create a design that is appealing and cozy.
This palette balances out colors from the red and brown spectrum with the yellow and green. It's booth bright and bold, but still soothing and fun.
This color 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.
A classic combination: neutral navy and ivory play off the red and peacock blue in this combination that brings to mind the ocean and boating.
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 of branding for a luxury hotel) or calming and comfortable (think the décor of a favorite neighborhood coffee shop).
Bold but not overly bright, these colors are eye-catching and sophisticated.
Orange is often associated with energy, and what's more energetic than these two complementary orange tones? The off-white and pear green colors balance the palette, creating a fresh feel.
This color combination is pure nostalgia. It evokes memories of warm summer afternoons, hanging out at the backyard and just enjoying the day.
An effective color combination doesn't need to use wildly different colors, as this palette demonstrates. The different shades of blue are perfectly balanced, and conjures the trustworthiness blue is often said to promote.
This cheerful palette of reds, oranges, and yellows will surely perk up any design you use it in. Though lemonade stands are mostly associated with summer, this palette also feels rather like autumn. You can get more autumn-inspired palettes through this article: 5 fall-inspired color palettes
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.
This warm and cozy color combination features muted oranges that won't overwhelm your audience.
Fun in the sun! This color combination is young and playful. The two blues balance the oranges, ensuring things don't get too crazy at this "pool party".
If you want a combination that says "tradition" or "trustworthiness", look no further. These classic hues, inspired by metallics, will add a touch of class to your design.
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 versatile and subtle: this color combination won’t overwhelm your design.
Here, the neon red plays off the earthy, muted towns of brown, slate and crepe. This color combination is perfect if you'd like to emphasise one color in particular, while letting the rest of the shades play supporting roles.
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.
Ready to take your designs to the next level? Here are some handy Canva tools to help you on your color journey
Want to know what colors look good together? Canva's Color Wheel makes color combinations easy.
Want a color scheme that perfectly matches your favorite images? With Canva’s color palette generator, you can create color combinations in seconds. Simply upload a photo, and we’ll use the hues in the photo to create your palette.
Looking for colors that are guaranteed to look good together? We've generated thousands of designer-approved palettes for you to use in your next design.
And if you're trying to come up with the best colors for your brand, check out Color meaning and symbolism: How to use the power of color in your branding.