What do the Easter Bunny, prep school chic attire, and your latest iPhone case all have in common? They all pay tribute to the almighty pastel color palette. A mellowed-out color palette with something for everyone, pastel hues are one of the biggest color trends of the last few years.
While it was once the case that pretty pastel colors signified the tidings of Spring, the conversion of art from hand-drawn to handheld has made pastel colors a far more prolific palette with so many different uses. In some settings, pastel colors can be soothing and mellow. In others, quirky and rebellious (take the #PastelGoth phenomenon). There’s even pastel red, commonly used by web developers and designers due to its soft look. In this article, we’re going to find out how pastel colors are made, learn the most famous pastel color codes, look at a few examples, and then try our hand at using them in the PicsArt app!
What Are Pastel Hues & How Are They Made?
If you want to understand pastel colors, you have to first understand the concept of tinting and shading. Pastel colors are not normally visible on the traditional painter’s wheel, which typically feature only primary, secondary, or tertiary colors.
Pastel hues can be achieved through a process of tinting. In color theory, a tint is any combination of colors that mix with white to decrease the darkness of the original color. Alternatively, shading is the same thing, but instead of white, you mix colors with black to increase the darkness of the original color. Therefore, pastels are colors that have been tinted and mixed with white to be pale and soft.
It is also worth mentioning that the term pastel also refers to an art medium that resembles a kind of chalk stick. The process, born in the 15th century, includes mixing water, and a binder like gum arabic, which is then dried and formed into a stick. Pastels often had a lower saturation of pigment than oil paintings, so that’s likely why the term went from describing the medium to an array of light, soft colors.
7 of Your Favorite Pastel Hues (Hex Codes Included)
1. Baby Blue (B2CEfE)
They don’t call it ‘baby’ for nothing. This tint may play a starring role in junior’s new wallpaper, but it could also make a great backdrop for some fantastical pastel backgrounds. It oozes youth, vitality, and playfulness. By adding white to blue, you can create other favorite blue-inspired colors like sky blue, powder blue, and light blue.
- Pastel blue is a combination of primary color blue, tinted with white.
2. Baby Pink (FFD1DC)
Think cotton candy! Pastel pink is having a major moment that doesn’t seem to be dying down anytime soon, and we’re not mad about it. This shade of pastel pink is as delicious as it looks. Traditionally associated with the nurseries of little girls, it’s acquired new associations in the modern era, and you’ll just as likely find prep school boys flaunting their polos in this cute, perky tone.
- Pastel pink is a combination of primary color red, tinted with white.
3. Coral (FDA487)
Coral is the color that evokes days lounging at the pool eating popsicles that were, let’s be real, way too sweet. This tone is cheerful and warm, kind of like a summer’s day!
- Coral is a combination of primary colors yellow and red, mixed with white.
4. Lilac (C8A2C8)
There is no color more perfect for Easter egg-making than lilac or pastel purple. It is a dreamy, soothing tone, also often referred to as lavender. Synesthetes (folks for whom the stimulation of one sense, like sight, activates another, like smell) may argue the connection between lavender the scent and lavender the color is a strong one. It is, after all, one of the most calming plant oils!
- Lilac is a combination of primary colors red and blue with a big splash of white.
5. Mauve (B784A7)
Mauve makes for an excellent lipstick, in case you were wondering. It’s unique in the pastel repertoire because it’s got a bit of a sultry edge (something pastels are not typically known for), depending on how it’s used.
- Mauve is a combination of blue with a little bit of red and a bit of white.
This shade of pale green is so dreamy. It’s reminiscent of vintage jewelry, as a color commonly used in the forties, fifties, and sixties. There are also associations with this shade from the fantastical movie Wizard of Oz’s Emerald Isle.
- Mint green is a combination of blue, yellow, and a splash of white.
7. Lemon (FDFD96)
Pucker up! Lemon is the primary color yellow, tinted with white, and it evokes a sense of mirth and joy, much like sunshine on a beautiful Spring day! Great for giving your photos a tinge of brightness.
- Pastel yellow is a combination of yellow and white.
Pastel Color Palette Inspiration
- Monet Magnifique: Evocative of watercolor and the classic styles of impressionist French painters like Monet, this color palette will give any project you’re working on a sophisticated look.
- The Ides of March: It’s no secret that we often associate pastels with the start of springtime. This is because the sun is coming out after a dark winter, so lighter tones are appropriate. Yellows represent the sunshine. Pinks represent new floral growth, and green, of course, represents the bounty of the earth. This is a great palette if you’re hoping to evoke a sense of freshness and new beginnings.
- Sunflower Satisfaction: Sunflowers are also associated with spring, but they have a very distinct color palette of their own that is earthy and charming. It will offer your projects an outdoorsy zing!
- Dahlia Delight: Flowers are a wonderful expression of the pastel color scheme in nature. The soft, pale color of petalled flowers like dahlias and peonies are evocative of weddings and baby showers. You might use this palette for your next one!
- Cotton Candy Craze: Nothing beats the luxurious tie-dye swirl of cotton candy — in taste or in appearance. This is the funkier side of the pastel color scheme, which is often associated with color-based trends like pastel goth.
How to Edit a Pastel Photo for Social Media
Are you convinced of the power of pastels yet? If so, you’re in luck. It has never been easier to infuse your social media with these dreamy tints.
- Open the PicsArt app and tap on the plus sign at the bottom of your screen to upload an image you’d like to edit.
- At the bottom of the menu, select the Effects tool.
- On the menu at the bottom of the screen, scroll to the right until you see the Magic effects category. From there, you have a few options. You can select the Pastel effect, of course. But Flora will also transform your image into something right out of Monet’s canvas!
- Click the checkmark to apply.
- When finished, post your image!
Pro tip: You can even create a color palette from an image on PicsArt.
To use PicsArt on web:
- Open PicsArt web on your browser and click the Upload button to upload an image you’d like to edit.
- Apply the Pastel effect, or experiment with any number of awesome effects.
- Download your image and enjoy!
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