101 brilliant color combinations

45 squares of various color gradients showing unique color combinations

When designing a new project — whether a logo, flyer, social media graphic, or marketing assets — choosing quality color combinations and staying on top of current color trends can make or break your creations. As a designer, it is your job to ensure your product is well-received and successful, and that process often starts with the color pairings you choose. But how do you choose the right colors? Color, and the emotions they evoke, help us to gain an understanding of what we’re feeling based on whatever we’re looking at. That is why choosing the correct color palette for your project is an essential step in making any design successful.

Before getting color inspiration from our list of 101 eye-catching color combinations, it’s important to first give a little background on basic color theory. Color theory is most simply defined as how specific color combinations make us feel — think color psychology. Remember the color wheel you learned about in elementary school? We’re taking it back to the basics and using that same color wheel to explain fundamental aspects of color theory by demonstrating some essential color combinations you should know.



Core four color combinations

There are many different types of color schemes you can utilize when creating your own design. However, understanding the core four types of color combinations is an important part of color theory, and a good place to get started when thinking about various color palettes.


If you want to keep your design simple and clean, consider using a monochromatic color combination. Monochromatic color schemes are created by using the same color in different shades and tones, such as varied shades of blue. If you want to keep your color scheme neat and simple, it is hard to go wrong with a monochromatic color combination.

A color wheel with three dots connecting various shades of blue
A color wheel with 4 dots connected in an arching line connecting green, yellow, light orange, and dark orange together


Analogous color combinations are made by choosing a group of 3-5 colors that sit next to each other on the color wheel. Analogous color combinations are often made up of tertiary colors, which are created when you mix a primary color with a neighboring secondary color (e.g., red-orange or blue-green). An analogous color palette could consist of different shades of yellow, orange, and red. Analogous color schemes communicate a linked or united feeling, which can be very visually appealing to your audience.


Complementary color schemes are made by choosing colors on opposing sides of the color wheel, like pairing orange with purple. Complementary color combinations are balanced yet surprising, which communicates a sense of energy and excitement to your audience.

A color wheel with two dots on opposite sides connecting light orange and purple with a line
A color wheel with three dots – one on yellow, blue, and red – connected by lines creating a triangle


Triadic color combinations are made from choosing three colors that are equidistant from each other on the color wheel, thereby creating a triangle. A triadic color combination could be the pairing of the primary colors: red, blue, and yellow. Triadic color palettes are visually striking and leave a lasting effect, although it may take some experimentation to find the right three colors or hues that work best for you.

Although we have outlined the four main color combinations, there are many more. Consider tetradic color combinations, which involves four colors in the form of two complementary color pairs (think about creating a square or rectangle on the color wheel).

Now that you know about basic color theory and the core four types of color combinations, continue for more inspiration from our list of 101 vibrant color combinations.

Muted pastels

Pastels and muted tones have a low hue saturation, meaning they are mixed with white to create softer versions of their brighter counterparts. Because of this mix, we experience them as understated and soothing. Think about a soft baby blue or a relaxing shade of teal. A pastel color palette made up of a few different colors can be used easily for large blocks of color in a design since they are inoffensive and don’t compete with each other for attention. Try using pastel color combos in your next card or invite creation.

Clean & modern

A muted color paired with a pop of brighter color makes for a modern, clean aesthetic. Think simple and minimalist graphic design with a little something eye-catching added in. By keeping a color palette neutral with a singular pop of color, your design will feel light and harmonious while staying bold and impactful. For example, consider creating a color palette with royal blue as the main event and pairing it with more muted or neutral colors. These color combinations work well when you want your message to take center stage.


Gold and silver — as they are precious metals — have historically been associated with wealth and luxury. Metallic color schemes can be utilized in multiple ways. Use variations of metallic tones to work with a full metallic gradient palette in your design. Or, starting with black or white, add a simple pop of metallic for more minimalist luxury. Thing about undertones – do you want to create a warm or cool palette? Either way, color harmony is easy when creating a metallic color palette. This color combo would be excellent for luxe lifestyle brands looking to get noticed using visually rich social media graphics.

Bright neons

With everything '90s back in full swing, so too go the neons. Neons can be incredibly effective in a design as they are instantly eye-catching. Infuse your designs with energy or brighten up a subdued color palette with a small pop of neon, or whip up a thrill with a full neon rainbow. Think high-contrast primary and secondary colors. Use this span of colors in everything from logo design to print products or photography. These colors are well suited for posters, flyers, or ads.


Traditionally known as a photo effect, duotone is where two contrasting colors are superimposed on a black and white photo, replacing the black and white gradient with colors. For example, a bright yellow and dark pink palette would replace the highlights (yellow), midtones (orangey pink) and shadows (dark pink) of the photo, thereby creating a two-color version of the photo. For smoothed-out color palette ideas, look no further than duotone gradients. Monochromatic color schemes draw on variations of the same color to create harmonious color combinations. Consider a blue monochromatic color scheme that ranges from royal blue to teal with a few tints in between. What fun projects can you come up with that utilize these two-color looks?

Natural & earthy

Nature has inspired art since the beginning of time. Our natural environment is rich with diverse organic color palettes — think of the neutral warm colors of a desert, the light blue of the sky on a clear morning, or the powerful spread of a stunning red-orange sunrise. Colors like forest green and vivid sky blue remind us that there are gorgeous colors all around us. Try grounding your next design with one of these color schemes brought to you by the universe (and the team at Adobe Express). These color combos would work well for brands aiming to evoke calm and natural vibes, like a health and wellness blog, or social posts for an organic goods brand.

Retro style

Retro color palettes are reminiscent of vintage cars, fabric prints, and home decor. Transform the feel of your design and rewind the clock by using these nostalgic tones. Think about throwback color palettes utilizing yellow-greens and powder blues. Utilize these color combinations for photo filters, to create vintage patterns, update your branding, or just have fun and play around. Retro color combos are well suited for cards, posters, or trendy social posts.

Bold & modern

A common trend in graphic and web design is to create contrast and drama by using a dark yet neutral color, such as black or grey, for a background color and combining it with one or more bold accent colors, like a duchsia or royal blue. These color palettes are dynamic, vibrant, and punchy. They set the tone for your brand, and that tone is fearless. Bright colors can be used in large floods or minimally as accents.

'90s throwback

The '90s are known for two distinct pop cultural styles: 1. Bright jewel-toned palettes, as seen in Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Beverly Hills 90210, or Clueless. These colors – such as cyan, hot pink, electric blue, lime green, or magenta – communicate a fun, approachable, and playful demeanor; try using them for your next Snapchat or Instagram story. 2. Grungy, moody, more neutral color palettes, as seen in Daria, Twin Peaks, or early Friends episodes. These muted color combos are a great way to subtly throwback to that great decade while keeping your design subtle. How about layering some distressed icons on your design to add to the grunge aesthetic?

Moody & gothic

Think hunter green, mauve, navy and dark blues, blue-greens, and dusty pinks — deep jewel tones mixed with charcoal blacks — the kind of color schemes that would be at home in a Bronte novel or somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. Give your design gravitas or moodiness with these rich color palettes. These color combos would work well for event invites or social posts.

Multifaceted neutrals

Neutral colors, like shades of greys, tans, and browns, are versatile and pair well together. However, to make your color schemes a little more interesting, consider pairing neutral tones with subtle pops of cool colors. Color combinations of neutral shades and hues with low chroma — think muted or minimized saturation — can have either a upscale and modern feel or leave a more down-to-earth and comfortable impression.

Use a color palette generator

Can’t find your perfect color palette anywhere on this list? Try out the Adobe Express color palette generator for free. Create versatile color combinations for interior design projects, brand colors, and beyond.

We hope that these 101 color combinations have inspired you for your next project. When looking to design anything — whether that be a logo, banner, flyer, social media post, advertisement, or anything else you can think of — look no further than Adobe Express.

This post was updated on January 9, 2024.

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How to get creative with color in Adobe Express

Browse Intelligent Palettes
Adobe Express’ smart color algorithm can instantly hook you up with intelligent palettes, based on the content you start with. To try it out, open Adobe Express on the web or mobile. Create a new project, starting with a photo. Pick one from your camera roll or try searching the free photo or Adobe Stock library. Adobe Express will auto-generate palettes that work well with your photo so when you add text, shapes, or other design elements, you know you're working with colors that go well together. Easily tap through our options to transform your design in a single tap.
Adjust Hues with Color Strips
Once you’ve landed on a palette, you can refine further using the color strips that appear when you choose “Customize.” The top gradient strip refers to the color, while the bottom allows you to find the perfect shade by tweaking according to saturation and pigment. Move the strips until you land on the perfect shade. The hex value will automatically appear just below your chosen hue.
Choose Color from the Background Image
Achieve ultimate text-to-image cohesion by matching text color to a color from your background, using Adobe Express color picker. Choose "colors" from the editor to open the color swatches. Choose the color swatch you want to customize and then move the eyedropper symbol anywhere on your image to instantly find and match the color.
Apply a Specific Hex Value
Hex values are how we identify and name digital colors. If you have your heart set on a specific shade, get a perfect match by selecting the hex value for that shade. From the custom colors view, you can copy and paste the code in the bottom box or scroll through hex values.