Refresh everything from your home decor to your small business branding using 2021’s unconventional and inspirational Spring Color Palettes.
photography-projects-inspired-by-emerging-trends-on-the-fashion-runways-and-in-interior-and-product-design-as-well-as-our-data-driven-2021-color-trends-these-are-the-color-palettes-to-pin-now-and-enjoy-all-season-long">Spark joy in 2021 with these Spring color trends for your design and photography projects. Inspired by emerging trends on the fashion runways, and in interior and product design, as well as our data-driven 2021 Color Trends, these are the color palettes to Pin now and enjoy all season long.
Unconventional Spring palettes, including moody Tidewater Green, traffic sign red, and acid pastels, offer an unashamedly fun mood. Meanwhile fresh spring green, terracotta, and swimming pool blue hint at the promise of late Spring vacations.
Pantone’s contrasting Colors of the Year for 2021, Ultimate Gray and Illuminating—a vibrant sherbet yellow—have set the tone for an overarching theme of balance across the color board this year, with exuberant, maximalist colors finding perfect harmony alongside more subdued and classic hues. We’re also increasingly looking to color to boost our mood through our home décor and clothing, with many of our palettes themed on optimism, wellbeing, and self-expression.
Scroll down and spark joy!
2021 Spring Color Palettes: Inner Power and Self-Expression
No one needs to remind us how tough 2020 was (and 2021 continues to be). We’re all looking for strategies to combat low moods and improve our overall wellbeing. Color has been scientifically proven to have a significant effect on our mental and physical health. There’s even a term for color-specific therapy. Chromotherapy is the science of using colored light to adjust vibrations in the body to frequencies that are believed to result in improved health and harmony.
The emotional effect of specific colors also has a long and established history, with each color able to bring some (or all) of these psychological powers to a palette. For example, orange is able to boost energy and creativity, while green has healing and calming qualities (the reason why it is used almost ubiquitously across pharmaceutical branding).
In 2021, we could all do with a little boost, and color is an instant and effective way of not only improving our personal wellbeing, but also of leading consumers to feel more positively towards designs, brands, and marketing communications.
Instagram sensation Tika the Iggy knows about the mood-boosting power of color. Make a note and follow suit!
Read on to discover ten on-trend color palettes for Spring that can be used for a wide range of projects, from web design to products, photography to graphic design.
1. Moody March
Image by contributor WillemijnB.
A rich, jewel-toned palette that allows lovers of darker shades to keep using their beloved moody tones well into Spring. Here, Tidewater Green is teamed with hedgerow-inspired mulberry and plum. Pale dusky pink lends a lighter tone, giving this alternative Spring palette a fresh and vibrant feel.
While dark shades are not usually the conventional choice for Spring, they can make for exceptionally sophisticated, grown-up schemes. Bringing in a brighter pastel tone is a good way to update dark tones for the new year.
2. Retro Brights
Image by contributor FashionStock.com.
This cheering palette is inspired by Versace’s 2020 show, which took the 1970s and glam rock culture as a starting point, then dialed up the color to maximum. Deep orange and apricot make a nod to the era of flares and Bowie, while emerald green and azure blue bring nature-inspired freshness and boldness.
This scheme embraces an anything-goes approach, and will suit maximalist, vintage-themed designs. High-energy orange is balanced by soothing green and blue hues. Try this palette for branding and advertising that requires an open, creative approach.
3. Pantone + Monochrome
Image by contributor Nyvlt-art.
With Pantone’s Colors of the Year—Ultimate Gray and Illuminating—already reaching saturation point on social media posts, it’s time to give an altogether more chic spin on this contrasting pairing of gray and yellow.
Allow white to offer Spring-worthy purity and black to bring the edge. In this palette, Illuminating acts as the anchoring accent, and can be used in small doses to bring Springtime sunlight and vibrancy to an otherwise urban, somber scheme. This color palette was seen everywhere across the Spring/Summer 2021 runways, including Altuzarra, Off-White, and Prada.
4. Liquorice Sherbet
Image by contributor davecsmith.
This candy-hued palette, with pale blueberry, egg-yolk yellow and pale pink, is a no-brainer for Spring schemes, but the introduction of inky black anchors the palette, giving it a design-forward edge.
Fashion designer Lela Rose mixed these palatable hues in her cheerful, striped creations at her Spring/Summer 2020 show, and we’re seeing more of these pastel tones mixed with black coming through in interior design in 2021. Mixing cool, warm, and dark tones together gives this scheme an off-beat, fashion-forward feel. Use in branding projects or on app designs for something a little different.
5. Red on Red
Image by contributor SAMY SNOUSSI.
With 2020 thankfully behind use, we’re all looking forward to spending more time in the outside world. However, after a long period of uncertainty, color can be used as an empowering tool in our forays back into real life.
Consider this heady and powerful all-red palette your color armor for 2021. Street style regulars have been seen wearing a variety of shades of red from head to toe, making a statement in this powerfully feminine hue.
6. Spring Green
Image by contributor fotokop.
If you like your Spring palettes fresh, clean, and breezy, look no further. This soothing, nature-inspired scheme combines coffee-toned buff brown with rose pink, cocoa brown, and fresh, clean spring green.
Calming and grounding, this color palette is a contemporary take on traditional Spring schemes, and is a perfect fit for lifestyle or health brands, as well as soothing editorial designs for magazines or brochures.
7. Olive Morning
Image by contributor Photographee.eu.
On tentatively sunlit early Spring mornings, is there anything more comforting than the promise of coffee and a hearty breakfast? This color palette is inspired by trends in food branding and packaging. It combines a deeper olive green and navy blue with rich mustard yellow and gray-hued pink.
A comforting and homely color scheme, this palette can be used effectively on designs that aim to provide a friendly, cocooning feel. Restaurant menus and café signage will feel modern, yet welcoming, with this earthy palette.
8. Terracotta and Sky Blue
Image by contributor nvphoto.
This elegant color palette anticipates the summer months ahead, with a combination of earthy tones of terracotta, deep brown, and tan. Brightening sky blue provides the accent color, inspired by the pairing of terracotta-clad buildings with Mediterranean skies.
Architecture and interior designr Rina Lovko Studio used this ultra-desirable blue and terracotta scheme for an apartment in Kyiv, Ukraine, which demonstrates how this strikes the perfect balance between earthy and playful colors.
9. Acid Pastels
Image by contributor TierneyMJ.
We could all do with a bit more fun in our lives. Enter Acid Pastels—a high-octane, sugar-sweet palette inspired by retro candy and 1980s colors.
Not quite neons or pure pastels, these colors combine the freshness of pastel hues with the fizzing energy of neon tones. Parma violet, pale lime, bubblegum aqua, and candy pink make for a flagrantly fun and nostalgic scheme that brings playfulness to websites, brands, or 3D illustrations.
For an extra dose of 2021 on-trend style, seek out inkscapes with acid pastel tones, which make for impactful backgrounds on landing pages and social posts.
10. Fortuna Gold and Gray
Image by contributor CARACOLLA.
Fortuna Gold, one of our must-watch 2021 Color Trends, is a deep, antiquated shade of gold, bringing depth and glamor to any scheme. Gold, which is reminiscent of sunlight, is a natural choice for Spring-themed schemes. But here, concrete gray, ink black, and crisp white gives it an urban edge.
A sophisticated and elegant palette for interior design, it would also work beautifully for high-end brands, masculine fashion design, or home products. Make sure to introduce plenty of white to keep this palette fresh and appropriate for the new season.
Live Life in Color
Proven to improve our mental wellbeing, color can be an amazingly effective way to boost low moods and spark joy! The ten Spring color palettes above will bring optimism and energy to your design projects, helping to spread the joy to your clients, as well.
If you’re interested in discovering more trending color schemes, don’t miss Shutterstock’s 2021 Color Trend Report, which uses search data to identify which colors are desirable in photography, illustration, and graphics now, and for the year ahead.
Cover image via Alexander Raths.
Read more about color psychology and color trends in these unmissable articles:
Discover Shutterstock’s 2021 Color TrendsFrom Creamy Pastels to Luscious Greens: The Color Palettes of Inner LifeThe Meaning of Colors in Cultures Around the WorldCreating a One-of-a-Kind Portfolio: Color Branding for PhotographersWhat Does Vintage Really Mean in Pop Culture and Design?
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