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A Writer's List of Descriptive Colors

Author:

I have many interests and an inability to make up my mind about which one to focus on. That's how I came up with my name: ControlledChaos1.

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

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. It can be used in a wide variety of ways to create very interesting visuals.

  • Associated with fear, the unknown and often has a negative connotation.
  • Black clothes can make you look thinner.
  • A black background diminishes readability of type.

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

 

 

list-of-colors

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

Pthalo 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.

Brown or Tan

The color brown is closely tied to the working class because it matches the color of dirt. It's 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

Dark Sienna

Light Chocolate

Gray or Silver

The colors gray and silver walk a fine line with each other and can actually be used to deceive people. A dull and lackluster silver color can often be mistaken as gray and vice / versa when mixed in with similar colors.

  • Lighter grays are often thought of as more feminine while darker grays more masculine.
  • Gray is considered by many to be a neutral color; the perfect balance between light and dark / good and evil.
  • Pop up the lighter grays and add a little shine to it, and thought immediately turns to silver, which correlates to wealth.

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

 

 

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.
  • Dark green is often associated with ambition and green.
  • 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

Fern Green

 

Great Uses of Color In Movies

Mixed Colors or Unique Blends

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)

 

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

 

 

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.
  • Light purple usually brings up romantic or nostalgic feelings; while a darker shade can make you feel gloomy or sad.

Lavender

Purple Haze

Grape

Eggplant Purple

Plum

Violet

Orchid

Psychedelic Purple

Amethyst

Lilac

Boysenberry

Mulberry

Wisteria

Maximum Purple

Purple Heart

Bruised Plum

Indigo

Mauve

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

Magenta

English Vermilion

Mahogany

 

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

 

 

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.

  • Warming effect which stimulates body and mind.
  • Gold is associated with the highest of luxury.
  • Bright yellow when used with black is one of the easiest color combinations to see from long distances; not so easy to see when used with lighter colors.
  • Yellow ribbons are worn as a symbol of hope and used quite often to welcome home loved ones.

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!

Don (author) from Tennessee on August 19, 2020:

The colors of sunrise and sunset can vary widely depending on where you're looking at them from. I don't know if readers would know what color you're talking about if you use those as descriptors. It could describe intensity, though.

Izzy B. on August 18, 2020:

This is fantastic! But I keep thinking that sunset/sunrise is an iconic color combination that isn't listed. Is it because it's never really the same exact colors every time, and it could get confusing to pinpoint the exact colors?

Sapphirezzz on December 22, 2019:

Thanks! By the way, I think Fairydust (yellowish blueish green with silver & gold sparkles) would be awesome as a crayon as well!

Don (author) from Tennessee on December 22, 2019:

Stormcloud Gray would make an excellent crayon color.

Sapphirezzz on December 19, 2019:

Hm, I enjoy this. A lot.

Sapphirezzz on December 18, 2019:

Whoops! It's been used! Maybe.....Sunburn?

Sapphirezzz on December 18, 2019:

Maybe.... Stormcloud Gray? Or Blush? (reddish pink)

DHWebb from United Kingdom on December 14, 2019:

This is great. I’m doing a lot of writing, and just recently started fiction short stories. This is a really useful list. Thank you!

Ni'mah Mustapha on October 30, 2019:

Wow,exactly what i was searching for

unknown on October 06, 2019:

Thx so much, exactly what i needed

Poppy from Enoshima, Japan on December 15, 2018:

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

Dawn Tynewg on November 04, 2018:

Awesome. Exactly what I was looking for.