Ben Barnhart

Ben Barnhart

July 23, 2021
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July 23, 2021
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If there is one thing that characterizes most of Wes Anderson’s movies, it's his use of pastel color palettes. 

Sure, a Wes Anderson movie cannot be called a typical Wes Anderson movie if it doesn’t include symmetry and thematic fashion. Oh, and a couple of his frequent collaborators, a.k.a. Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, and Tilda Swinton. 

But the use of pastel color palettes is something that most Anderson fans can’t help but notice and associate with Wes Anderson films. 

Here are the pastel colors of Mendl's in The Grand Budapest Hotel:

And here are the pastel colors of the French Dispatch:

But, enough about Wes Anderson. Let’s focus on what we are actually here: pastel color palettes. This article will talk about the history behind pastel colors and the different uses of pastel colors palette. We will also include a few pastel color palette examples to get your inspiration juices going. 

If you go back to the first time you wrote on a blackboard with chalk, what color was the chalk? White, right? Then colored chalks, or as we called them, ‘the fun chalks,’ entered the picture. These colored chalks did not have bold colors but a bit of color in them. 

They were mainly used to draw something on the blackboard or highlight something important. For many of us, these colored chalks might have been our first introduction to pastel colors.

What are Pastel Colors?

Pastel colors or pastels are relatively pale colors compared to their bold counterparts. Thanks to the white mix in them, they have a high value and low saturation when it comes to the HSV color space.

What is HSV?

If you are a graphic designer, you might have noticed HSV in the color picker of the design programs you use. HSV stands for Hue, Saturation, and Value. Unlike the RGB range of colors (red, green, blue) and CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, key), HSV is closer to the neutral colors that we, as humans, perceive colors in real life. 

The HSV color space describes the hue colors regarding their saturation (or the amount of gray they contain) and their brightness value. 

Are HSV and HSB the Same Thing?

To avoid confusion, we should mention that HSV is sometimes called HSB. HSB stands for hue, saturation, and brightness instead of value. If you have noticed HSB in the Adobe Photoshop color picker or any other graphic design service that you use, know that HSB refers to the same thing as HSV, meaning the same color model.

When it comes to pastel colors, they have a high brightness value but a low saturation, meaning they contain less gray than other colors. 

Since pastel colors are less saturated, they are often associated with calming and peaceful vibes. Pastel colors have a soft look that is soothing and easier on the eyes. 

What is a Pastel Color Palette?

A pastel palette or pastel color scheme combines two or more pastel colors that go together and are in sync with one another. Different sequences of pastel colors that go perfectly well together are used in home decor, fashion, photography, branding, and more. But we will come back to this later.  

What are Some of the Primary Pastel Colors?

The most popular collection of pastels are millennial pink, baby blue, whimsy yellow, peach, lavender, mauve, and mint green. The millennial pink, a color in the soft pinks category, has muted tones compared to bold pink. The baby blue or pastel blue has muted pastel tones compared to bold and bright blue and so on. 

The candy minimal movement and the rise of pastel colors popularity

If you are an avid Instagram user, you might already know how important it is to keep a clean Insta feed and have each post-match with the other posts already live on your feed. 

Using pastel color palettes for your Instagram posts can ensure that all the posts will match quite well with one another. 

Have you heard of the candy minimal movement? 

The candy minimal movement was a minimalist photography movement on Instagram that aimed to popularize pastel color palettes. It involved the use of pastel colors mixed with vibrant neons to make the posts pop on your Instagram feed. Here are some examples from the official candy minimal page: 

Doesn’t this last one remind you a bit of the Grand Budapest Hotel movie? Someone, please tell Wes Anderson that this place exists.

What are the Uses of the Pastel Color Palette?

Pastel colors have become a massive design trend in the past few years. So much so that Apple has taken advantage of the pastel color trend and introduced several pastel colors for its latest iPhone cases:

Who can blame them? Pastel colors are beautiful to look at, and they emit this soothing aura that makes us feel like we can’t get enough of these soft colors. And who doesn’t appreciate delicate pastel hues? Compared to bright and highly saturated colors, pastel colors preserve the natural beauty of raw colors without being too hard on the eyes. 

That is why pastel colors are becoming more and more popular. When used well, the combination of several pastel colors can be heavenly. We will give you a few examples that work well together and can be used for several purposes. 

Below we have compiled a list of some uses of a pastel color palette. 

Branding

Brands worldwide use pastel color schemes for their products and services. Some brands use one color, some use several bold colors that contrast with one another, and others use a pastel branding scheme. Neutral palettes are also perfect for business cards and business card template examples. You can also use them for social media graphics or to create pastel logos. 

If you want to use pastel colors for branding, you have to make sure that the colors you pick make sense for the products and services that you offer. And yes, you can still make a bold brand statement with pastel colors. 

You just need to carefully select the ones that go perfectly well with one another when you mix and match for different branding purposes. You can also use pastel colors for packaging design and get creative with colors that represent your brand but also make your products stand out. 

Photography

Have you ever stumbled upon a photograph that uses soft pastel backgrounds and are not sure where the gentle quality is coming from? Pastel shades come with a unique delicacy. Great photographers try to photograph these shades in real life rather than edit them with their favorite photo editing software. 

How do they do that? 

The best time to photograph pastel colors is in soft and diffused light. Since bright sunlight might be too harsh for pastel colors’ tones, it is best to avoid sunlight falling onto these colors. Alternatively, you can pick a cloudy day to take the photographs. This way, you will prevent bright sunlight from “washing out” the pastel colors you wish to photograph. 

Interior Design

Besides being delicately beautiful, soft pastel colors are the perfect mood boosters. The subdued design makes you feel calm and at peace, perhaps due to some fascinating color psychology effects at play. At times, they may also make you feel inspired and positively affect your behavior.

Just like the colors of the rainbow evoke different emotions in us, pastel colors induce calmness and peace into our lives. That is why most people prefer to use pastel colors for their walls and furniture, sometimes even for paintings and other home decors. 

When you use pastel colors for your interior design, you can ensure that your home’s overall look and feel will be elevated and look more stylish. Nonetheless, you have to be careful with pastel color combinations and not overdo it to the point that the entire home design looks “pale.” The goal is to use a sequence of pastel colors that liven up your home or any interior place. 

Fashion

It’s no coincidence that pastel theme colors are found in many designer collections for 2020-2021 editions during fashion weeks. Versace Resort 2021 Fashion Show and the Dolce & Gabbana show titled #DGDigitalShow2: Power Pastel are great examples.

Pastel colors make you feel chic, elegant, stylish, and classy at the same time. Earthy tones and moderate colors have been trendy for decades. Now the time of pastel colors, be it earthy tones, be it cotton candy, has come, and we are here for it. 

As you can see, there is a wide range of options for pastel color palette usage. Now, the time has come to explore some excellent pastels color palette examples that will hopefully inspire you to use them for your creative project.  

Beach House Inspired Color Palette

Doesn’t it feel like these soft and warm colors invite you to spend a weekend at this beach house? The combination of earth tones with cotton candy hues is magical and perfect for branding, photography, and any other project where you plan to use a pastel color palette.

Beach Color Palette

Another beach-inspired color palette. Can you blame us? It is summer after all, and the beach is all we can think of right now. As you can see here, the pastel colors in this color palette are inspired by raw nature, in this case, the beach. 

Once again, the combination of turquoise water with sandy tones is refreshing. Turquoise is a beautiful color and can be combined well with bolder shades such as bold green. This color mix can be perfect for skin care products or any website about traveling to sandy beaches and clear turquoise seas. 

50's Diner Color Palette

All we can think of when looking at this gorgeous pastel color palette is 50’s diners and going to the movies. The magic of these warm and soft colors makes you travel back in time so that you can explore 50’s movie theaters and drink strawberry milkshakes. 

Sunset Color Palette

Before you judge us for associating summer only with sandy beaches, here is an excellent example of sunsets and mountains.

If you are a sunset lover who loves hiking and wants to incorporate those powerful sunset colors into anything you are designing, we recommend looking at the pastel colors used in this color palette. It does have more pink vibes than your average sunset, but you can work with it and mix and match those color shades. 

Door Color Palette

Who would have thought that purple tones work so well with earthy green and gray tones? The combination of these pastel colors is magnificent and can also be used in photography and branding. It is a beautiful fall color palette that can also be used by apparel brands.

Wrap Up

So there you have it! Even though pastel colors have lately become trendy, they have been around for several decades. From movie theaters in the 50s to fashion design in the 80s, pastel colors have always been around and always been loved. 

This time, it seems like pastel colors are here to stay, and we cannot wait to see how people use them in everything they design. 

We hope that this article has given you more insight into pastel colors and pastel color palettes. We also wish that the examples we showed at the end will inspire you to create unique color palettes using pastel colors and some of the combinations used in the pastel color palettes we included above. 

You can also get inspired by exploring the color picker tool to discover beautiful colors with Hex color codes and RGB values. Select a random color from the color panel (it can be a bright color) and adjust its hue and saturation until you are satisfied with the end result. 

Another way to get color palette inspiration is using a color palette generator to get color scheme ideas and select a color scheme option. Inspired to be creative with pastel colors or even create your own pastel color palette? You can get started right away with Vectornator

We can't wait to see what you come up with, so follow us on social media and tag us. We share the works of designers using Vectornator from time to time, so you might be one of the lucky ones. 

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