Harness the power of pastel colors Alex Bigman by Alex Bigman 6 years ago 6 min read Build a business Grow an agency Learn design Design basics Graphic design trends Web & digital design Logos, websites, book covers & more…Get a design Spring is in the air. Lamb is on the table. The eggs are colored in pastel hues. That is to say, everything is as it should be. Yet graphic designers may want to pause and give the season’s designated color scheme a second look. Pastels are definitely “in” again. We at 99designs, for one, just lightened up our own brand, and we weren’t the only ones to get the memo. Pastel palettes are popping up everywhere—they’re not just for confectioners and greeting card companies anymore. Just what is the power of pastel?
What emotional connotations does it carry, and what is its history in the world of art and design? These questions might help you think through your next project. To find the answers, let’s first figure out exactly what pastels are and how they got linked up with this particular time of year. Pastel basics flat-tint A pastel color is defined as any hue with a high value (lightness) and low to special leads saturation (the purity or intensity of the color). That is in fact a pretty wide breadth, meaning more colors are technically pastels than you might have thought. In practice, however, when people say “pastel” they usually refer to a more limited palette including mint green, mauve, coral, and robin’s egg blue. But why? Is the designation completely arbitrary?
"Dancer Onstage with a Bouquet" by Edgar Degas“Dancer Onstage with a Bouquet” by Edgar DegasIt is, in fact, somewhat arbitrary, but not completely so. Remember that before “pastel” referred to colors, it referred to an artistic medium, as in a pastel sketch. Sharing the same root as the word “paste,” pastels consisted of raw pigment—any color, including dark ones—suspended in a mixture of water and a binder, usually gum arabic, that was dried and formed into a stick. They were invented in the 15th century, became popular for portraiture in the 18th, and reached new expressive heights at the end of the 19th in the hands of Impressionist masters like Edgar Degas.