Ben Barnhart

February 4, 2021
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How to Use Pantone’s 2021 Colors of the Year in Your Designs

Pantone, the company most famous for its widely-used color-matching system, has chosen a Color of the Year for over two decades now. 

This color is chosen by a secret committee of representatives from many different nations, and is meant to represent and reflect the character and mood of the upcoming year.

February 4, 2021
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What is the Pantone Color of the Year?

The Pantone Color of the Year has many wide-ranging influences, including fashion, home furnishings, and industrial design, as well as product packaging and graphic design.

There are a lot of factors that go into their decision each year.

What are the 2021 Pantone Colors of the Year?

Image Source: Pantone

This year, Pantone has two colors of the year, PANTONE 17-5104 Ultimate Gray and PANTONE 13-0647 Illuminating. This has only happened once before, in 2016, when the committee picked the colors Rose Quartz and Serenity to reflect the nature of that year.

The first of the 2021’s chosen colors, Ultimate Gray, is meant to express feelings of practicality and solidity, while the second color, Illuminating, is meant to bring a feeling of warmth and optimism to the year.

Together, Pantone intends for the combination to bring a message of “happiness supported by fortitude” to this upcoming year. Pantone’s full explanation of this year’s colors can be found here.

How can the Pantone Colors of the Year be Used?

But how can these colors be used in your designs? Beyond just importing the colors themselves into your color palette, how can these colors be used in a way that harmonizes with Pantone's vision?

Here are a few examples of how designers have been using them so far this year:

This artist used the two base colors in her illustration, but also included complementary shades to give her piece a sense of depth.


L’Occitane used a similar yellow in their packaging, providing a vibrant background for their embossed illustrated lines.

Image Source: L'Occitane

Huge Inc. created these mugs that mimic the look of an iconic Pantone color swatch.

Image Source: Huge Inc.

Vogue Magazine showcased how to integrate the colors into your wardrobe.

Image Source: Vogue

This designer decided to experiment by overlapping the colors; exploring diffused gradients between them.

Image Source: Dmitry Ochakov

This designer used Ultimate Gray as the backdrop for their Illuminating 3D Couches.

Image Source: Abad Kass

This artist used the colors as inspiration for this two-tone photography series.

Image Source: M B

This designer took inspiration from Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan's 2019 art piece and integrated it with this year's colors.

Image Source: Jurandyr Brito

This artist used the colors to create a surreal sense of space in this piece.

Image Source: Iryna Pakhomova

This photographer took notice of where the colors already existed in the world around them.

Image Source: Gisely K. B. Soares

This fashion design concept shows how the colors could be integrated into a clothing line.

Image Source: Мария Перекопская

This fashion designer used the colors boldly in these garment designs.

Image Source: Kércia Evelyn

It's clear that the applications and uses for these Colors of the Year are nearly endless. Will you be using these colors in your upcoming designs? If you do, use the hashtag #vectornator to let us know!

Also, check out our new blog article about how to make watercolor clipart.

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