Dark Color Palette

May 28, 2023

Dark colors can be tricky. They can convey heavy feelings and serious tones, which is why they are often used for visuals of mystery, sadness, or evil. 

This directly contrasts the happiness and warmth radiated by bright colors. While famous for these moods, you can also use dark colors to emphasize visual hierarchy.

Since it is common for bright colors to attract attention, dark colors are usually used for portions of an image that are less important than the rest. 

You can significantly maximize your design's dark color palette's saturation, depth, and shadows. 

Read more for some valuable tips! 

What to Consider With Dark Color Schemes

If you want to maximize the potential of dark colors, you must play with various factors that affect how they blend with other visual elements.

When working with dark color schemes, consider the following aspects:


Contrary to popular belief, a dark color palette doesn't necessarily have dark shades only. 

Warm and bright colors can also be included against a dark background to infuse much-needed variety. 

The contrast between these dark and bright colors can prove that the intelligent use of colors can significantly affect how dynamic a design may be. 

For example, if you still want most website designs to be dark-colored you can use an accent color sparingly. 


In a dark color scheme, accessibility means ensuring that your chosen primary colors are accessible to your target audience, regardless of their platform. 

This aspect is more commonly applied to websites and other digital platforms. 

While it is undoubtedly fun to play with colors, you must consider web accessibility guidelines when designing your palette for websites. 

As much as possible, you would not want to sacrifice the quality of your content for your preferred aesthetics. 

Emotions and Mood

Looking at the bigger picture is vital in design, especially in crafting a color palette. 

Once you've decided which primary colors to use, remember the mood you want to convey and avoid colors that might go against it. 

For instance, if you want to convey elegance and power, stick to darker purple and black shades instead of more saturated colors. 


Balance among elements is hugely influenced by space, but it can also be affected by the choice of colors. 

Playing with the opacity of a deeper dark color palette can create dynamism for a photo so it won't appear too flat. 

To achieve balance, always consider how each color complements each other. This applies to the harmony among other visual elements as well. 


Regarding accessibility, you must also consider whether the colors you use in your palette are legible. The main rule is for text and image colors to contrast with their backgrounds. 

So, you must carefully consider using dark colors regarding readability. White is the most common primary color used against dark backgrounds.

But, for longer blocks of text, the visuals can be strained by white against a dark-colored background. In this case, the key is to play with gray components. 

8 Dark Color Palettes

If you're looking for color palette inspiration to add to your dark color scheme, there's always room for variations of these eight shades. 


Grey-blue is a color palette that has gained attention over the years and creates a calm, relaxing feel. 

The combination of desaturated grays and blues also radiates coolness often associated with the various depths of the ocean. 

Olive Green

To convey a positive mood, use an olive green color palette. Usually associated with nature, these colors exude a peaceful vibe, almost like you are standing in the middle of a lush green forest. 


Probably one of the easiest color palettes to combine with other hues, brown colors are always a welcome addition to almost any color scheme.

Despite being relatively dark, this color can still give warmth to whatever design it is used. It also adds nostalgia to its overall appeal. 

Inky Blue

If you're looking for a blue with just the slightest hint of gray, inky blue is the one for you. 

A more muted shade, the Inky Blue color palette looks more regal, so you can usually find it in interior and exterior wall paint. 

Dark Teal

Dark teal is another color palette designers explore for a sophisticated feel. It goes well with other darker tones but can complement peaches and oranges. 

Light Grey

Light grey can be the variation you are looking for a lighter hue in a dark color palette. 

It can convey an overall playful mood while still having the qualities of a dark shade when put side-by-side with lighter colors.

Dark Grey

Dark grey is a versatile color that can be used in various contexts. Its depth and subtlety can create a sense of sophistication and professionalism.

An example of a dark grey color palette is #161f21 paired with #dedfe4, #cdbba3, #eb8b35, and #a43604. 

This palette is not overly bright but quite natural, combining warm shades with the grounded darkness of grey. 

It's excellent for a business clothing style and helps establish a focused, productive mood, making it ideal for work environments and negotiations​.


Dark colors are not always blues, blacks, and grays. As a go-to color for luxury and prestige, burgundy must also be up there in your color scheme. 

While it is relatively dark, this shade can give warmth to the image without too much brightness. 


Of course, a dark color palette is not the same without black. It is a common design element for a reason - it is bold, heavy, and powerful. 

It is also easy to pair with almost any other color, making it a staple in most brand colors. 

Easy Tips for Dark Colors

Dark colors can make your design and photos stand out positively, but the result can also be a little negative if your dark color palette is not utilized correctly. 

Here are some easy tips for dark colors you could use!

Play With Tones

You will be surprised by how colors can change an image if you navigate around its tones. 

Adding gray to your base can make the palette look slightly darker, and removing some will give it additional light. 

Use Ombre for a Smooth Transition

While solid colors can appear firmer than gradients, it wouldn't hurt your design to use some ombres. 

This gradient can be the balance you want to achieve amidst a sea of dark and light tones. 

Maximize Natural Light

When designing a dark color palette, it is also helpful to consider how your image will look in the presence of natural light. 

To maximize this, play with the colors' position relative to the lighter shades. 

Blend With Earthy Shades

Dark color palettes are powerful enough as they are, but they can also blend well with earthy shades! Imagine how these browns will fit next to darker shades. 

Once you get the perfect blend, the product will be a breathtaking scene. 

Introduce Jewel Tones

You might have seen them on bags, clothes, and other bright-colored material designs, but do you know that jewel tones also mix well with dark color palettes? 

These colors can add a unique twist to an otherwise predictable dark palette.

FAQs: Dark Color Palette

What are dark colors called?

Dark colors are also often referred to as shades. This term is also used when color is made darker by adding black. 

What are 5 dark colors?

Among the most widely-used dark colors are charcoal black, deep purple, burgundy, brown, and dark green. 

What is the modern dark color code?

A modern dark color usually found in designs is black. Due to its total light absorption, its hex code is #000000. 

What goes with dark colors?

Dark colors can blend well, but if you're looking for variety, you can also infuse your image with white, blue, yellow, and gold colors. 

Conclusion: Dark Color Palette

Dark colors are also known for exuding royalty, style, and elegance. These colors' mystery adds to the overall appeal of the content, making it a widely used color palette. 

You can start playing with its tones and looking at how light affects the colors to maximize its power. 

It's normal not to get it right the first time, so be patient in dealing with a dark color palette. It's worth the effort! 

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