A Writer's List of Descriptive Colors

Updated on June 4, 2019
Source

How to Describe Colors in Creative Writing

The list of colors found below is one that is specifically geared toward writers rather than those in the visual medium. What I mean by that statement is that I have not put color swatches along with the names. There is nothing more boring than looking at squares with color examples in them; I am more moved by looking at an object with color than looking at a color.

As writers, it's easy to use the simplest words when describing a color, but with a little thought, we can exchange a one-word description with one that your reader can imagine. I often highlight colors so I can come back to them during subsequent drafts and add a little bit more color to the color. Never have I rewritten more than a few sentences, and the changes always makes the work a bit stronger. Vivid color language makes you think more about your description.

Now that I've got that out of the way, I'd like to thank you for giving the article a chance and I really do hope that you get some use out of it. Keep on writing.

A List of Colors Perfect for Writers

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Black

A magnificent color that if you ask people about, you'll get a wide range of thoughts on. These thoughts will likely be based on their past experiences and things that might have happened at night.

  • Associated with fear, the unknown and often has a negative connotation.
  • Black clothes can make you look thinner.

 
 
 
Shadow Black
Dusk
Midnight
Blackbird
Blackberry
Ebony
Black Honey
Darkness
Jet Black
Ink Black
Soot
Onyx
Licorice
Ivory Black
Pitch
Char
Gloom
Outer Space
Creosote Black
Melanite
Goth Black
Gunpowder
 
 
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Blue

Darker blues are almost indistinguishable from black which is why it is an excellent color (if black isn't available) to choose when blending in with the shadows.

  • People who find someone very loyal an faithful are often called "true blue".
  • Blue is often considered to be more masculine which is why it is often the color of choice when choosing a suit.
  • Lighter blues are associated with tranquility, softness and healing.
  • Darker blues are associated with power, knowledge and seriousness.
  • Actually shown to suppress appetites.

 
 
 
Blueberry
Sapphire Blue Metallic
Tiffany Blue
Cobalt Blue
Denim
Aquamarine
Turquoise
Sky Blue
Topaz
Ultramarine Blue
Azure
Cerulean
Oxford Blue
Periwinkle
Electric Blue
Baby Boy Blue
 
 

Color Names That Need A Little Bit Of An Explanation

  • Asphalt: The fresher it is the blacker it is; as it ages it turns more of a grey. As a side note, many places are starting to use colored asphalt more and more to give places a different kind of look.
  • Bastard Amber: A color used a lot in theaters on a spotlight to recreate sunlight. It has a pink or peach-like hue.
  • Minion Yellow: From the movie Despicable Me.

Source

Brown or Tan

A color closely tied to the working class, because it matches the color of dirt. Used as a color of choice in many prominent brands who provide clothes to construction workers, contractors and such.

  • Brown is a color that is related to traits such as simplicity, practicality, common sense and hard work.
  • Can also be associated with those that are frugal and not too flashy.

 
 
 
Mud Brown
Beaver
Caramel
Rust
Macaroon
Toasty Brown
Coffee
Sh*t Brown
Sandy Tan
Cocoa
Honey
Chocolate
Burnt Sienna
Mocha
Seashell
Antique Brass
Bronze
Brown Sugar
Chestnut Brown
Taupe
UPS Brown
Burnt Umber
Khaki
 

Gray or Silver

 
 
 
Stone Gray
Ash
Metallic Silver
Platinum
Smoke
Concrete Gray
Mercury
Steel Gray
Mist
Titanium
Charcoal
Slate
Sterling Silver
Tungsten
Old Coin Gray
Iron Gray
Chrome
Magnesium
Overcast
 
 

Color Change Example

The silver-like creature slowly made its way to where I could see it more clearly.

....................................................................................

The creature slowly made its way to where I could see it more clearly. It was the color of mercury; shiny, slick and reflective. The eyes were of a similar color, only slightly more dull. We both took each other in with admiration.

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Green

Green is, in fact, particularly versatile color as it can be used to portray a variety of emotions, but is best known for being associated with nature and growth.

  • A color that is very easy on the eyes.
  • Suggests stability, safety and hope.
  • At the same time, may denote a lack of experience in a particular field.

 
 
 
Leafy Green
Olive
Moss Green
Jade
Lime
Sour Apple Green
Emerald Green
Mint
Kiwi Green
Phthalo Green
Praying Mantis Green
Viridian
Greenback
Shamrock
Sap Green
Chartreuse
Sea Green
Pistachio
John Deere Green
Teal
Bamboo
Sea Salt
Celadon Green
Celery
Asparagus Green
 
 

Great Uses of Color In Movies

Unique Blends or Mixed Colors

There are certain mixed colors that people just resonate with. Most of them are memorable because they appear in nature as something we see a lot of. This is part of the reason why certain companies use bold color combinations along with commercial advertising to make you buy their products.

 
 
 
Candy Cane (red and white)
Zebra (black and white)
Chameleon (many different colors)
Ladybug (black and red)
Wildfire (yellow, orange and red)
Tiger (orange, black and white)
Yellow Jacket (black and yellow)
Christmas Lights (red, white and green)
Rainbow (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet)
Black Pepper (black and gray)
Leopard (spotted gold and black)
Creamsicle (orange and white)
Candy Corn (orange and white)
Iceberg (a bluish gray)
 
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Orange

Orange is an underused color that actually raises people's spirits. It is a combination of the energy of red and the happiness of yellow. In most cases if brings forth positive emotions such as creativity, attraction, encouragement and fascination.

  • Since orange is not as aggressive as red, it can actually stimulate brain activity.
  • Seems to be more accepted by younger people.

 
 
 
Pumpkin
Burnt Orange
Carrot
Sunset Orange
Tangerine
Persimmon
Salamander
Home Depot Orange
Tennessee Orange (Pantone 151)
Jack-o'-lantern Orange
Florida Orange
Summer Squash
Pale Daffodil
General Lee Orange (GM code 70)
Cheeto Orange
Safety Vest Orange
Smashed Pumpkin
Saffron
Autumn Orange
Macaroni and Cheese
Cadmium Orange

Pink

Pink has a dark history that many people don't know about. Before World War 2, pink was not necessarily associated with being "girly". It was only after Nazi Germany began forcing gay men to wear pink badges that everyone started to consider pink a non-masculine color. Thankfully, people have moved away from the harsher thoughts of pink and realized that this is a wonderful color that just begs for attention.

  • Certain shades of pink can limit aggression.
  • In this day and age pink is associated with unconditional love and caring.

 
 
 
Pink Flamingo
Neon Pink
Bubblegum Pink
Salmon
Peach
Fuscia
Cotton Candy Pink
Rose
Carnation
Thulian
Apricot
Atomic Pink
Barbie Pink
Hot Pink
Amaranth
Flushed
Baby Girl Pink
Glitter Pink
Flesh
 
 
Source

Purple

Purple conveys royalty, wealth, wisdom, dignity, mystery and magic. It is one of those colors that is somewhat rare in nature, which makes you wonder if there is something special about the color in particular.

  • A lot of young people will pick purple as their favorite color.

 
 
 
Lavender
Purple Haze
Grape
Eggplant Purple
Plum
Violet
Orchid
Psychedelic Purple
Amethyst
Lilac
Boysenberry
Mulberry
Wisteria
Maximum Purple
Purple Heart
Bruised Plum
 
 
Source

Red

If you take a list of colors and put them on a canvas, the one that seems to truly stand out no matter what other colors surround it is red. It is, in my opinion, one of the most useful colors there is in the whole color spectrum. As long as you don't overuse it, it's a way to draw people in to a certain area you want them to pay attention to. It's also a way to lead your audiences' eyes away from places you don't want them to pay too much attention to (by putting it on a moving object).

  • Stimulates the appetite.
  • An emotionally intense color associated with energy, danger, anger, passion and determination.

 
 
 
Blood Red
Copper
Maroon
Strawberry
Watermelon Red
Crimson
Candy Apple Red
Tomato
Brick Red
Scarlet
Cardinal Red
Cherry
Ruby Red
Coral
Sunburn
Hot Lava
Cadmium Red
Auburn
Blush
Alizarin Crimson
Fire Engine Red
Raspberry
Vermillion
Lipstick
Bright Red
Burgandy
 

White

I find it interesting that while white is a color that is associated with purity and honesty, it's very hard to keep clean. Any other color, no matter how small, stands out very clearly when using white as a background.

  • Usually has positive connotations when used and thought of as safe.
  • Associated a lot with healing, simplicity and sterility, which is why it's used in hospitals so much.

 
 
 
Dirty White
Albino
Chalk
Alabaster
Cotton
Titanium White
Vanilla
Bone White
Egg Shell
Marshmallow
Ivory
Pearl White
Almond
Champagne
Blond
Cream
Milky White
Cornsilk
Bleach
Navajo White
Ghost White
Light
 
 
Source

Yellow or Gold

Yellow is a great color if used in moderation as it is a great way to get people's attention, but if overused, it is known to have detrimental effects on emotions. If you've ever been in a room where all four walls have been painted yellow, you know what I'm talking about. It's interesting that yellow wasn't necessarily associated with cowardice until later in history.

  • Gold is associated with the highest of luxury.

 
 
 
Canary Yellow
Lemon
Banana
Egg Yolk Yellow
Mellow Yellow
Chanterelle
Mustard Yellow
Corn
Goldenrod
Amber
Pineapple
Metallic Gold
Cadmium Yellow
Wheat
Tuscan Sun
Butter
School Bus Yellow
Yellow Ochre
Citron
Dandelion
 

© 2018 Don

Share Your Unique Color Names With the World!

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    • poppyr profile image

      Poppy 

      6 months ago from Tokyo, Japan

      There are some excellent suggestions here! I'll be bookmarking this and coming back to it. Thank you for sharing these wonderful ideas.

    • profile image

      Dawn Tynewg 

      7 months ago

      Awesome. Exactly what I was looking for.

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