The Power of Pastel Colors in Designing

Mrignayni Pandey

Content strategist, and copywriter.
January 13, 2023

Pastel colors have seen a resurgence in recent years, with applications across marketing and UX designs. In this blog, we explore how you can make the most of pastel colors in your designs.

Pastel colors have traditionally been used in children's branding, but creative designers are now using them in packaging designs, interior design, and other forms of contemporary design. This is because pastel colors add vitality and freshness to designs.

But what exactly are pastel colors, and how do they function in packaging? Discover the answers to these questions and uncover pastel color schemes for your business in this article.

What are pastel colors?

Pastels (also known as "tints") are pale color tones created by incorporating a substantial amount of white into the original color (so, for example, a pastel yellow would be a paler shade of yellow). Technically, you can mix any color into a pastel with white—the more white you mix into the original color, the paler the pastel.

Pastel colors have a softer appearance than their brighter, more saturated counterparts and are commonly described with adjectives such as "soft," "washed out," "pale," "muted," and "light."

They're typically not present on a traditional color wheel as they're tints and not primary, secondary, or tertiary colors.

But on more detailed color wheels, pastel colors are depicted as shades of brighter colors on one side.

Image source: Ravennka

Are pastel shades warm or cool?

There are no such things as warm pastel colors or cold pastel colors. The amount of orange in a color determines its warmth, while the amount of blue in a color determines its coolness. So, according to this definition, pastel colors are neither warm nor cool. 

As mentioned earlier, pastel colors or pastel shades are created by adding white to other colors; for example, lavender is the pastel of purple, and peach is the pastel of orange.

Similarly, powder blue is a pastel of blue, and blush pink is a pastel of fuchsia pink. Peach (pastel orange) is warm, whereas baby blue (pastel blue) is cool.

Color psychology of pastel colors 

Many people equate pastel colors with being washed out and pale, but when done correctly, they can be aesthetically pleasing and liven up a design. They can also be used to communicate a specific message to your target audience.

So, what is the color psychology behind pastels? Here are some messages that pastel colors impart to your audience.

Types of pastel colors

The most commonly used pastel colors include: 

Which colors go well with pastels?

A pastel color will look good with a tint of the complementary primary or secondary color. Pastel blue, for example, will be complementary to pastel orange because blue's complementary color (the color opposite it on the color wheel) is orange.

Pastel red (pale pink) and pastel green are two other complementary pastel color combinations, as are pastel yellow and pastel purple.

What is a pastel color palette?

A pastel palette or pastel color theme consists of two or more pastel colors that complement and coordinate with one another. Pastel color sequences that complement each other are used in home decor, fashion, photography, branding, and packaging. In this section, let’s look at some of the most commonly used pastel color combinations.

Pastel pink combinations

The pastel pink and pale yellow color combinations in Courtney Askew’s personal logo reflect her design style — retro and cute, but also a little spooky — to attract similar customers.

Image source: Dribble

Pastel blue combinations

This fictitious bookstore app’s pastel blue theme gives a sense of peace, happiness, and comfort — all the positive emotions that will influence book lovers into exploring the app more. 

Source: Dribble

Pastel purple combinations

The pastel purple combinations and the 3D illustrations in this website amplify the adorableness of the kittens so the readers will be encouraged to adopt them. 

Image source: Dribble

Pastel peach combinations

This Popsugar article’s illustration made with pastel peach and other bright colors showcase the ingredients and illustrate the fact that the drinks will leave the readers buzzing with energy. 

Image source: Popsugar Fitness

Pastel yellow combinations

Pastel yellow, coral, and navy aren't typically thought to go together, but as this logo design demonstrates, they actually create a subtle (but impactful) color palette.

Image source: 99Designs

How to use pastel colors

Do you like the look of pastels and want to use them in your own designs? Here are a few pointers to get you started:

Wrapping up

Pastel colors bring freshness to your designs and carry positive emotional connotations. However, they should be used appropriately and be balanced with neutral colors or dark pastel colors to appear unique. 

About Artwork Flow:

Artwork Flow is a creative collaboration software that helps you collaborate seamlessly and simplify the creative process. 

To learn more about how it can help you, check out our case studies or contact us for a free demo. 

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