10 Fresh, FREE, Fantastic Rainbow Color Palettes

10 Fresh, FREE, Fantastic Rainbow Color Palettes

Rainbows symbolize optimism, positivity, and diversity in popular culture. Try these fresh takes on the classic rainbow palette.

With Apple having just released a rainbow-tinted range of new iMac models, an optimistic and ultra-colorful approach to branding and graphics is set to be a huge trend in 2021. Here, you’ll learn more about the fascinating symbology and science behind rainbow color schemes, and discover ten contemporary rainbow palettes to use in your designs. 

Color Powder SplashImage via agsandrew.

What Is a Rainbow Color Palette?

Rainbows are an optical illusion, a result of the reflection, refraction, and dispersion of light in water droplets. A multicolored arc appears in the sky, showcasing a breathtaking spectrum of colored light.

While a rainbow features the whole spectrum of color in a smooth graduation, to the human eye, a rainbow appears to be made up of bands of color. The most commonly cited sequence of colors are the seven hues identified by Isaac Newton—red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet­—made memorable by the mnemonic Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain (ROYGBIV).

Rainbow Rising from a WaterfallImage by contributor Maridav.

While traditional rainbow color schemes follow this seven-color sequence, you can also apply the rainbow principle to a variety of different palettes, giving a fresh twist on multicolored, sequential schemes.

Alternative rainbow palettes generally range from warm to cool colors, building a graduating rather than contrasting sequence. Rainbow palettes also usually incorporate more colors than a standard scheme, to achieve a completely multicolored effect.  

Discover 100s of color combinations with Shutterstock’s Color Spectrum.

Scroll down to discover ten palettes that offer a new twist on the traditional rainbow scheme—from sugar-sweet iridescents to tropical and Modernist-inspired rainbow palettes.

What Is the Symbolism Behind Rainbow Schemes?

Rainbow color palettes have been highly symbolic throughout recent history, from the rainbow icon adopted by supporters of the National Health Service in the UK during the pandemic, to the “rainbow nation” slogan given by Nelson Mandela to the newly democratic South Africa. 

Little Girl Showing Her Rainbow <span class=Painting" class="wp-image-169004" />Image by contributor New Africa.

Famously adopted by the LGBTQ+ community as a symbol of diversity in the 1970s, rainbow palettes are now omnipresent during gay pride events worldwide. With each color symbolic of an aspect of the queer community, the Pride rainbow flag uses six colors—red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet.

Couple Relaxing in a Window Shaded by Rainbow Pride FlagImage via Shutterstock’s Stand Up for Pride Collection.

In the design world, the optimistic appeal of rainbows has led many businesses to adopt a multicolored approach in their branding and products. Apple’s first incarnation of its iconic logo featured a rainbow palette, chosen for the fact that the Apple II (released in 1977) could display color images, a rarity for the time. Apple has revisited its multicolored past with the recent release of the new twenty-four inch iMac in seven colors.

Other brands that have used rainbow palettes in their brand identities include NBC, IBM, Polaroid, and (of course) Skittles, who use the slogan “Taste the Rainbow” in their marketing and advertising.

Rainbow SkittlesImage by contributor Tai Dundua.

10 Fresh Rainbow Palettes

Multicolored sequences can lend a fun and friendly feel to a variety of projects, from packaging design to children’s branding. Below, discover ten palettes that give a contemporary spin on rainbow schemes, from retro-inspired, dusky hues to eye-popping neons.

Flying a Rainbow Flag in a Spacious FieldImage via Shutterstock’s Stand Up for Pride Collection.

Of course, the edit wouldn’t be complete without a classic seven-color rainbow scheme. For authentic rainbow styling for illustrations, logos, packaging, or websites, look no further than the first palette.

Save your favorite palettes to Pinterest, use in Shutterstock Editor, or save to your computer for using in future projects.

1. Classic Rainbow

This palette is taken from the seven-color rainbow sequence that can be perceived by the human eye. This graduating scheme moves from red through the warm area of the spectrum, ending in cooler hues of blue, indigo, and violet. This versatile palette can inject positivity and creativity into any project.

Rainbow Color PaletteImages via GudrunHalldoraphotography, optimarc, and fullempty.

Rainbow Color PaletteImage via lazyllama.

2. Neon Rainbow

A high-octane take on the conventional rainbow palette, these ultra-bright neon hues will help to enliven web projects. Contrast with inky black backgrounds for an atmospheric, immersive feel.

Black BackgroundsImages via Galina Timofeeva and Zamurovic Brothers.

Black BackgroundsImage via Fluieras Ana-Cristina.

3. Retro Rainbow

Multicolored palettes were a hallmark of 1970s design, with muted, earthy tones instead of brighter primary colors. This palette pays tribute to the trippy, groovy color schemes favored during the Summer of Love. Plus, it’s perfect for summer branding projects or vintage-infused illustrations.

Vintage Color PaletteImages via pavlep, Cerama_ama, and svekloid.

Vintage Color PaletteImage via svekloid.

4. Iridescent Rainbow

Inspired by surfaces that reflect a multitude of colors, creating a mesmerizing iridescent effect, this palette is a soft and ethereal take on a rainbow scheme. These colors look particularly effective when blended into a gradient design, and can give a dreamlike effect to packaging, stationery, or social media posts.

Pastel Color PaletteImages via Fevziie, BillyBlakkr, and Kanea.

Pastel Color PaletteImage via popcorner.

5. Modernist Rainbow

If you prefer bold color-blocking to a traditional rainbow palette, this scheme blends the two approaches together, creating a bold and painterly effect that wouldn’t look out of place on a Bauhaus poster. Limit your hues to just this bold group of four to achieve more contrast and, therefore, a stronger color-block effect.

Bold Color BlockingImages via DAndreev and eversummerphoto.

Bold Color BlockingImage via Veja.

6. TV Rainbow

Although color technology has developed in leaps and bounds over the past few decades, at its core is the simple use of red, green, and blue light, combined to create a full color spectrum. This palette is inspired by the TV-friendly colors that characterized the style of the 1980s. Punchy, graphic, and rich, these have a more contemporary edge when teamed with black or white.

Color TechnologyImages via Tamara Midonova and nishalikefisha.

Color TechnologyImage via 977_ReX_977.

7. Sunset Rainbow

Perhaps you’re looking for a more chilled-out alternative to a high-octane rainbow palette. This dusky, sunset-inspired scheme combines a graduation of cool and warm hues, but the colors are deeper and richer. This is an atmospheric palette that would work well for social media, events branding, or cosmetics packaging.

Atmospheric PaletteImages via vvvita, ArtDesign Illustration, and Master1305.

Atmospheric PaletteImage via TSN52.

8. Pastel Rainbow

Sugar-sweet and surprisingly modern, pastel rainbows don’t have to be limited to children’s branding alone. A rainbow of pastel tones combines an innocent, nostalgic mood with the upbeat personality of multicolored palettes. Although this candy-hued scheme would be a natural fit for children’s designs, it would also be an effective palette for summer-themed marketing.

Rainbow Color PaletteImages via LEGRAN and Chamille White.

Pastel TonesImage via rathshiki.

9. Getaway Rainbow

Many individuals associate rainbow color schemes with childhood, with one reason being that colorful palettes are often the backdrop to summer vacations and family resorts. When teamed with crisp white, pastel pink, red, orange, golden yellow, and turquoise blue are reminiscent of happy, sun-filled days by the pool or at the beach. This palette would be a cheerful scheme for tourism businesses, cafés, or holiday activities.

Rainbow Color PaletteImages via Jelena Yukka and Alexey Burakov.

Rainbow Color PaletteImage via Zamurovic Brothers.

10. Tropical Rainbow

The tropics are where rainbow schemes are realized on the forest floor—from multicolored macaws to resplendent quetzals. A tropical rainbow scheme incorporates more green and jade tones, with a sharp burst of yellow and red, mimicking the bright coloring of birds of paradise. This palette is summery and soothing, and would make a lovely match for nature-inspired designs or eco branding.

Tropical PaletteImages via Ondrej Prosicky and KRIACHKO OLEKSII.

Tropical PaletteImage via Ondrej Prosicky.

Seeking more color inspiration? Color can be so transformative in projects, from website layouts to packaging designs. Below, discover more cutting-edge palettes for design projects, as well as amazing insights into the psychology and history of some of our most beloved colors.

The Colors of Dutch Culture Go Way Past OrangeDiscover the 2021 Color TrendsEmerging Color Trends in Children’s DesignSpring Color Palettes 2021: 10 Color Trends to Spark Joy and CreativityDiscover the 2021 Color Trends: Tidewater Green

Cover image by contributor KRIACHKO OLEKSII.

The post 10 Fresh, FREE, Fantastic Rainbow Color Palettes appeared first on The Shutterstock Blog.

Read more: shutterstock.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *