Vincent Van Gogh loved sunshine yellow. Paul Gauguin adored vermilion red. Claude Monet once claimed that he admired violet because it was the color of “fresh air.” Great artists have passionate love affairs with colors, and the hues they choose often follow them through life, evolving over time.
Summer, with its fiery sunsets and vibrant pool floats, is a great time to explore using new eye-catching colors. We asked fourteen talented illustrators, designers, lettering artists, and animators from around the world to tell us about the colors they’re most passionate about this season. Read on for fourteen trendy and unexpected colors (and color combinations) that you might just fall in love with, too.
Pink was one of the most frequently mentioned colors among the artists we interviewed. “I’ve seen a strong revival in the color pink, and I love it,” Diana Peredo (@di.peredo), an illustrator based in Mexico, tells us. “In combination with blues, yellows, and white, it feels soft but also so fresh. I’m trying to include it more on my work!” Wondering which pink you should try to use first? Pantone’s Pressed Rose is a good place to start.
Each month, Atlanta-based graphic designer Gia Graham (@iamgiagraham) gives herself a brand new color palette for personal work. “My June palette will include pretty pinks as well as corals,” she tells us. “‘Living Coral’ is Pantone’s color of the year for 2019, so this combination is definitely on trend. Plus, there’s just something about coral that evokes a cheerful, happy feeling that’s perfect for summer.”
Jaye Kang (@jcomik) is an illustrator and art director from Chongqing. “In addition to colors like navy and French rose, I anticipate using pineapple a lot in my summer creations,” he tells us. “Pineapple isn’t as aggressive as lemon and regular yellow, so it fits in with other colors easily, while still grabbing your attention quickly.”
This pale violet shade is perfect for the warmer months. “I’m head over heels with spring lilacs, and I would love to combine this color with some vibrant reds or rusty oranges to spice things up in summer,” illustrator Vhox Nihilis (@vhoxnihilis) explains. “It’s a perfect match for summer because of its energy.” If you want to go pinker, try out Pantone’s Sweet Lilac.
Blues are a focal point for several of the artists we interviewed, including Magda Azab (@magdaazab), an illustrator based in Malta. “Living on a sunny island, I immediately associate summer with the blue of the sea,” she tells us. Try Pantone’s popular Princess Blue to start.
Azab plans to pair this cool hue with warmer shades of yellow, orange, and pink. “I like to match really bright and saturated colors to less saturated and more neutral tones in order to keep a good contrast,” she explains.
Delicate rose pink is lovely, but so are brighter shades. “For this summer season, I’d love to explore more hot reds and pinks,” Brazilian illustrator Julia Mello (@sailorjubs) explains. “It will be winter where I am, so it’ll be nice to stay warm with these colors. I’d also love to combine them with bright yellows and baby blues. These hues remind me of the heat of summer and playing at the beach when I was younger.” Check out Pantone’s Pink Peacock for reference.
Here’s another yellow that made the list. While you might associate this shade with Van Gogh’s autumn leaves, it’s also appropriate for summer sunlight. “Ochre yellow is warm and eye-catching,” animator Danni Fisher-Shin (@dannifs) tells us. “Along with a mid-tone orange-red like Pantone’s Fiesta, this color is definitely a summer staple for me.”
Take those rose and yellow colors to the next level by adding a metallic sheen. Samy Halim (@waawstudio) has worked as an illustrator for twenty years, and he’s best known for incorporating deep blue shades. Recently, he’s also been using bright gold accents in Procreate to add a fun new layer to his work.
Black or Midnight Blue
“I’ve been embracing bold color combinations more than ever,” UK artist Claudine O’Sullivan (@claudine_os) admits. “At the same time, I’ve also been playing around with darker backgrounds for a change, which have really made those bright palettes pop.” Try Pantone’s Eclipse for a fun twist.
Green + Yellow
“I’m looking forward to a lot of greens and yellows,” illustrator and Skillshare teacher Jarom Vogel says. “I love drawing plants, so I’m always on the lookout for different shades of green that will work well together and have high contrast. I’m thinking about nature and sunshine a lot.” This color combination will work with both lighter and darker shades, including Pantone’s popular Pepper Stem or Terrarium Moss.
Blue + Orange
“When I think of the word ‘summer,’ plenty of color palettes come to my mind,” Ontario-based digital artist Poopikat (@poopikat) admits. “I love playing with complementary colors, and summer is a great excuse to use them. I immediately think of blue skies and bright orange drinks.”
These color combination is a classic, so for a fresh take, try mixing it up. Poopikat sometimes likes adding a touch of yellow to her oranges, like Pantone’s Mango Mojito.
Lemon + Lavender
Designer Natasya Ray (@dokidokinatnat) plans to put a refreshing summer twist on complementary colors yellow and purple. Follow her lead, and try shades of lavender with Pantone’s popular Lemon Verbena.
Pink + Yellow + Blue Green
Combine three of this season’s hottest colors for a dazzling effect. “In my opinion, pink and yellow are the ‘trendy’ colors for this summer,” Austrian illustrator Jill Goritschnig (@jill_gori) explains. “I think these colors go well with blue, turquoise and bluish green.” She recommends using coolors.co, a quick online color scheme generator, to come up with interesting palettes.
“Often I use very saturated and contrasting colors, which are impactful but sometimes a bit too much,” Nick Liefhebber (@nick_liefhebber), a designer and illustrator based in the Netherlands, says. “I like vibrant images which almost feel like stained glass with small patches of bright color next to each other. I’ve been making some much lighter, less contrasty works with fresh earthy pastel colors lately. They’re a bit easier on the eye, and hopefully, they’ll feel refreshing in the hot summer sun.”
Want to learn more about how to use color to bring your art to life? Check out Victo Ngai’s Color Masterclass: Simple Steps to Create Vivid Art, now on Skillshare!
Cover image by Jill Goritschnig. For more information on Feature Shoot, click here.