Shades of Yellow

Shades of Yellow – Dive Into the Wonders of Yellow Colors

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Yellow colors are warm, bright, and happy. Yellow can help with feelings of encouragement and is an inviting color. There are many shades of yellow, some of them very popular and well-known, for example, lemon yellow, bananas, yellow roses, pineapples, and yellow forms part of a rainbow. Yellow shades are everywhere, from light yellow to dark and everything in-between.  We will be mentioning a few of the more popular yellow names that can be used in art, design, and marketing.



Shades of Yellow: A Brief History

As with your other primary colors, the yellow color has quite a history from at least 17 000 years ago in France, where a yellow ochre painting of a horse was discovered in what is known as the Lascaux cave. Yellow ochre, a natural earth pigment, was readily available and easy to use. Over the years, this pigment was discovered in Egyptian tombs, where it was used to display gold and skin colors in paintings. The yellow ochre was also discovered in Roman villas, where they were used in murals. Today, many use an artificial substitute that was first created in the 1920s. The word yellow in English was first recorded in the Epinal Glossary in 700 AC, according to the Oxford English dictionary.

Bright Yellow Shades

The gods of Ancient Rome and Greece were also often illustrated with yellow or “golden” hair. The sun was also seen as yellow, and many associated yellows with the sun gods known as Apollo and Helios. Clearly, this is where we get the color sunshine yellow. In those ancient days in Greece, it was very popular for women and men to then bleach or dye their hair yellow. Even though yellow has been a symbol of purity and light and has represented certain religions. However, it has also been seen as something negative and used to brand or separate people. Heretics had to wear yellow tunics during the Spanish inquisition, many of whom were burned at the stake for their beliefs and practices.

Many religious paintings of Judas Iscariot, show him wearing yellow, which also represents deceit. This may also be why yellow can also be seen as cowardly, which has also developed into the well-known term of “yellow-belly”.  However, when the Christian church was still young, yellow was associated with the Pope. Unfortunately, later in the 20th century, during World War, the Jews were forced to wear a yellow star to identify them.

In China, yellow is an esteemed color and is a representation of earth and good luck. In Imperial China, the yellow color could only be worn by the emperor and those in his household, and any guests in the palace were welcomed using a yellow carpet.

Yellow shades are also well-regarded in Buddhism as it is a representation of freedom. Monks wear yellow garments, and there are yellow elements that can be found within Buddhist temples. Chinese Buddhists also see yellow as a color for mourning. Unlike in the western culture, where yellow can be seen as representing cowardice, in many Chinese or Eastern cultures, it is seen as a symbol of heroism. In India, yellow is often seen as the color of knowledge and learning, as well as the color for merchants. In Hinduism, it is the color of purity and chastity.

An interesting side note: in China yellow is also associated with royalty as well as respect. Also, during the 1800s, the best quality graphite came from China. So, when American pencil manufacturers wanted to announce that their pencils contained only the best graphite, they decided to make the pencils yellow, which made them seem “regal” and unique. Although today these pencils have become quite common.

Van Gogh Yellow ShadesSunflowers (1853-1890) by Vincent van Gogh; Vincent van Gogh, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Yellow has also played an important role in art over the years. For example, Van Gogh used vibrant colors including yellow in his paintings. Consider his Sunflowers (1853 – 1890) paintings, or The Yellow House (1888). Many other artists like Picasso and Renoir used yellow to add contrast and highlights to their paintings. For example, The Skiff (1875) by Renoir. As mentioned, yellow ochre was obtained from a natural earth pigment, but yellow was also obtained from other substances like cow urine and arsenic. These traditional yellow pigments were later replaced by synthetic pigments that are mostly used today, like royal yellow and Indian yellow.

Today, there are still many cultural and useful ways to use the yellow color. The color yellow stands out, which is why it is sometimes used for emergency vehicles, other warning signs, and taxis. Yellow is also used in other areas, even sports, where a yellow card can be given to a football player who has committed a penalty.

In Western society, yellow is not as popular as in some cultures, however, it is used in many different areas of design and marketing.



Psychology and Meaning of Yellow Colors

There is an abundance of yellow colors in nature from autumn leaves to canaries, fruit, and flowers. When it comes to sunrises or sunsets, yellow or shades of yellow can be seen on the horizon and clouds. In many cultures, yellow is linked to divinity, and many associate yellows with the following positive emotions:

  • Happiness
  • Creativity
  • Positivity
  • Spontaneity
  • Humor
  • Amusement
  • Knowledge and wisdom
  • Spring

Yellow, unfortunately, also has a negative side, and many people associate the color with cowardliness, jealousy, duplicity, sickness, betrayal, and egoism. Too much yellow can also cause irritation and nervousness. However, yellow can also have positive physical effects, it is stimulating, and helps to improve memory and communication. When used in a room, it can help to encourage social interaction. Yellow can also bolster confidence and help to stimulate the nervous system. On the other hand, if yellow is used too excessively, it can cause a loss of concentration and focus.

Bright Yellow Color

A vibrant yellow is attention-grabbing, so when combined with black, it creates easy colors that can be seen from distances. Taxi’s, school buses and other traffic signs have these colors for precisely this reason. The color yellow is also used to represent causes or bring awareness to certain issues. Yellow ribbons can be seen to show support for army troops, also for those missing in action, or who are prisoners of war. Yellow also represents certain diseases like bladder cancer and is associated with suicide prevention.



Why Understanding Color Theory Is Important in Art and Design

Yellow forms part of the three primary colors, which are used for painting. Also, yellow is a primary color when it comes to printing, which is known as the cyan, yellow, magenta, and black (CMYK) color model. Yellow is a secondary color in the red, green, and blue (RGB) color model, which is used for computer and television screens. As you can see, yellow plays an important role, wherever it is placed.

When painting or designing, you have to have a basic knowledge of color theory, and how yellow interacts with all other colors. If you are painting, and you want to create various tints and shades, you will need to know how to lighten or darken colors. An essential tool you can use to help you know how colors work together is called the color wheel. This circle of colors contains your primary, secondary, tertiary as well as all your intermediary colors.

Yellow Shades Names

Yellow is a pure color and cannot be created like many of the other colors. Yellow should sit between your other primary colors of blue and red, and also sit between your orange and green. By looking at these colors and where they are situated, you can see if they will work well together. For example, colors that sit close to each other like yellow and green should go well together. These are also known as analogous colors.

If you are looking for contrast or colors that make each other stand out, you should consider complementary colors. These colors are situated on opposite sides, for example, purple is the complementary color for yellow. Colors can also be warm or cool, meaning they will have a color bias. So, a cool yellow will have a green bias. Another example is your monochromatic colors, these are all the different shades of yellow you can get.

Understanding color theory helps you create better art pieces and will help to create balance in any design project.



Exploring Different Shades of Yellow Color

Yellow can be light or dark, and there are so many different yellow shades names. Below is a shortlist of a few of the more common shades of yellow names as well as their yellow hex codes and other relevant codes you might need. You will notice that many yellow colors have earthy or natural names, like sand, maize yellow, and earth yellow, while others have more utilitarian names like chrome yellow.

Yellow Hex Codes


Lemon Yellow

This yellow color represents the color of the outer skin on the lemon citrus fruit. The lemon color was first used in the English language during the late 1500s. The color is used in marketing, specifically for packaging and products that are lemon flavored. The color can vary from light yellow shades to medium yellow shades. Lemon yellow may seem difficult to wear, but when used correctly can be eye-catching.

The color pairs well with black and white as well as certain browns and silver.

Yellow ShadeYellow Hex CodeCMYK Yellow Color CodeRGB Yellow Color CodeYellow Color
Lemon Yellow#fff44f0, 4, 69, 0255, 244, 79
Banana Yellow#ffe1350, 12, 79, 0255, 225, 53
Laser Lemon#fefe220, 0, 87, 0254, 254, 34


Canary Yellow

This is a bright yellow color that is a little lighter than your bright yellow and comes from the bird with the same name and feathers. The color is pleasant and vibrant and can be considered a positive and confident color, which has a bold and light presence. Canary yellow was first used in 1789 and was connected to the marketing of fashion items and furnishings. The printing color model based its color on canary yellow, also known as process yellow.

Canary Yellow Color

Yellow ShadeYellow Hex CodeCMYK Yellow Color CodeRGB Yellow Color CodeYellow Color
Canary Yellow#ffef000, 6, 100, 0255, 239, 0


Golden Yellow

Since gold is a valued commodity, the color also symbolizes prosperity as well as wealth. Golden yellow is quite versatile in fashion and became popular in the 1960s and was first used as a name in English in 1597. Golden yellow can be worn as a beautiful dress or to add some color as an accessory. In interior design, color can be used to reduce stress and create a modern look in a room. Although, the color should not be used too excessively. The color will produce a clean and bright look to a bedroom, without being too bright, reminding us of a beautiful warm sunrise.

Golden yellow is also the color used in the United States Airforce.

Yellow ShadeYellow Hex CodeCMYK Yellow Color CodeRGB Yellow Color CodeYellow Color
Golden Yellow#ffdf000, 13, 100, 0255, 223, 0


Saffron Yellow

The color saffron yellow is derived from the flower with a similar name. This particular color can range from yellow-orange color to a more medium gold-yellow. The color is sacred in Hinduism and is said to represent purity. Ancient Persian emperors wore saffron-colored robes, similar to the Buddhist monks. In India, the color also has spiritual significance and represents divinity, as well as inner peace. Today, saffron yellow can be paired nicely with navy blue for a nice pop of color, or it can also be paired with more neutral tones.

Saffron Yellow Color

Yellow ShadeYellow Hex CodeCMYK Yellow Color CodeRGB Yellow Color CodeYellow Color
Saffron Yellow#f4c4300, 20, 80, 4244, 196, 48


Citrine Yellow

This yellow color is close to a golden shade with a hint of green as an undertone. The color is named after the citrine gemstone, which is yellow crystalline quartz and has become popular as a jewelry gemstone. The stone itself is associated with positivity and optimism, most probably because of its color.

Some animals have a similar color including the Citrine Wagtail.

Yellow ShadeYellow Hex CodeCMYK Yellow Color CodeRGB Yellow Color CodeYellow Color
Citrine Yellow#e4d00a0, 9, 96, 11228, 208, 10
Cadmium Yellow#fff6000, 4, 100, 0255, 246, 0


Mustard Yellow

This color can be described as a darker form of the color yellow and is quite distinctive in color. Mustard is associated with the condiments that many people put on their fries. You either like the color or not, maybe due to some associations or memories connected to the color you might have. However, it can be used to help make a room seem more relaxing and comfortable if used correctly. This shade of yellow like all of them stands out and can add color to any outfit. Wearing mustard yellow can seem daring and is a color that can set you apart. Overall, mustard can be a warm and comforting color, but it can also become excessive.

Mustard Yellow Hex Codes

Yellow ShadeYellow Hex CodeCMYK Yellow Color CodeRGB Yellow Color CodeYellow Color
Mustard Yellow#ffdb580, 14, 65, 0255, 219, 88


Safety Yellow

As the name indicates, it is a color that gets your attention and can be seen as a warning sign. This is why many emergency vehicles and warning signs are this color. The color should make you pause to consider what it means, as it is a sign of caution.

School buses need to stand out, which is why this color is perfect for the job.

Yellow ShadeYellow Hex CodeCMYK Yellow Color CodeRGB Yellow Color CodeYellow Color
Safety Yellow#eed2020, 12, 99, 7238, 210, 2
Neon Yellow#ffff000, 0, 100, 0255, 255, 0


Sunflower Yellow

When thinking of a field of sunflowers, how does this make you feel? Hopefully, it inspires a feeling of warmth, joy, and happiness, which is exactly what this warm to dark shade of yellow does. Sunflower yellow is also associated with intelligence and vitality.

Sunflower Yellow Color

Yellow ShadeYellow Hex CodeCMYK Yellow Color CodeRGB Yellow Color CodeYellow Color
Sunflower Yellow#ffda030, 15, 99, 0255, 218, 3
School Bus Yellow#ffd8000, 15, 100, 0255, 216, 0


Yellow Chartreuse

The name and color are a bit different from the usual yellow colors and are more greenish-yellow. Chartreuse is a color that encourages individuality and was named in 1764 after a French liqueur with the same name and color. An optimistic and encouraging color, it can also be associated with jealousy and insecurity because it is a greenish yellow shade.

As with many of the unique shades of yellow, it is recommended you use it in small amounts.

Yellow ShadeYellow Hex CodeCMYK Yellow Color CodeRGB Yellow Color CodeYellow Color
Yellow Chartreuse#dfff0013, 0, 100, 0223, 255, 0
Green Yellow#adff2f32, 0, 82, 0173, 255, 47



Goldenrod is also a flower, which is where the color originated from. The color is associated with feelings of warmth, peacefulness, positivity, support, and hope. The color is a rich yellow, almost golden color, and can also have meanings connected to grace, royalty, and pride. A lighter version of this color, also named Goldenrod, was developed for Crayola in 1958. To make the color with paint, simply mix the same amount of yellow and brown. You can then adjust the color by adding in small amounts of yellow, red, blue, or white until it reaches the color you want.

Gold Yellow Names

Yellow ShadeYellow Hex CodeCMYK Yellow Color CodeRGB Yellow Color CodeYellow Color
Goldenrod#daa5200, 24, 85, 15218, 165, 32
Pale Goldenrod#e6be8a0, 17, 40, 10230, 190, 138
Arylide Yellow#e9d66b0, 8, 54, 9233, 214, 107



Yellow Shades in Design

As you can see there is an abundance of yellow names that provide everything from light yellow shades to dark yellow shades, and all with their yellow hex codes. So, it is easy to look up a color for any design you choose for marketing purposes, interior design, or for any other creative purpose. Even if you are painting, it is helpful to create a yellow color palette with all the various yellow shades, so you can paint more accurately and efficiently.

Shades of Yellow Names


Yellow Colors for Interior Design

As we have learned, most selective yellow is an uplifting, bright, warm, and sunny color. When using yellow for interior design, it can create an atmosphere of warmth and comfort. Not only that but it can also energize, stimulate, lift the mood, and create a space where communication feels comfortable.

However, using too much or the wrong color can overstimulate. For example, a bright and vibrant yellow can be too stimulating in a bedroom.

A more toned-down shade of yellow, something like a pale yellow would be better suited. You could then add in brighter colors through the various accessories like pillows or a rug. So, it is important to choose the right shade of yellow for a specific room and use it in correct proportions to avoid any negative effects the color might eventually have. It has even been said that yellow rooms can influence babies and make them cry more. Although, this has not been proven and is more of a myth.

Yellow can also be a great accent color for a wall, surrounded by more neutral colors like white, gray, and beige. Remember to incorporate brighter yellow colors carefully and in moderation, and not to go overboard with a bright yellow color theme. Excessive yellow can produce feelings of irritation and nervousness. Below are various ideas using shades of yellow you can try out.

  • Softer yellows are great for painting the walls of smaller and darker rooms that will not overpower a room.
  • You can add in a bit of warmth in a neutral color room by including yellow décor items.
  • To create a yellow color scheme, select two shades of yellow, which are to be used as accents. Also, choose a darker neutral color and white to balance out the color scheme.
  • A popular combination of colors includes more vibrant yellow colors combined with gray, white, or cream. You can also add in some accent colors like red and blue, and even black.

Light Yellow Shades

  • Navy blue or purple work well as contrasting colors with yellow.
  • Consider a mustard yellow and teal color combination.
  • You can also try using pastel shades of pink and yellow, or various proportions of red and yellow.
  • Various shades of yellow and green can also work well together.


Using Shades of Yellow for Marketing

Yellow is warm and welcoming, and many brands use the color because it is less aggressive than red colors but still grabs your attention. However, when it comes to web design, using too much yellow can overwhelm the senses and needs to be used with caution. Pale yellow shades tend to be more uplifting and more subtle.

Yellow colors tend to be associated quite often with food, and many products using yellow colors are aimed at children, like McDonalds, Lipton Tea, and Nesquik. Yellow is also seen as more of a childish color, so using it to advertise products to men might not be the best idea.

There are many yellow color palettes to choose from including a monochromatic look to a combination of yellows, pinks, and oranges, which you can find online. Always choose colors that you think will reflect your type of business best. In web design, yellow is best used as an accent color and preferably used in small amounts as not to cause too much visual stimulation.

Yellow Color in Marketing


Shades of Yellow in Fashion

Along with Ultimate Gray, Illuminating Yellow was announced as the color of the year for 2021 by Pantone. The bright yellow and gray colors provide a sense of stability, hope, and harmony. Gray in itself is a versatile color and can work with most colors, but when paired with yellow, it adds a nice zing of color to any ensemble.

Maybe you feel hesitant about wearing yellow, which is okay, you can simply add accents of colors through accessories like a handbag, scarf, or hat.

Skin tone will also depend on what type of yellow works best, so if you are unsure give a few shades of yellow a try to see what works. There are so many variations from lemon yellow to light yellow shades, there is bound to be a color for you. Here are some ideas to consider when incorporating yellow into your wardrobe.

  • Wear a simple yellow top, which should go wonderfully with white, black, or a pair of jeans.
  • Try wearing a striped, yellow top if you think solid yellow is not going to work for you. Tone it down even further by mixing it up with neutral colors.
  • You do not have to go for bright yellow colors, there are many more light yellow shades that can provide a more subtle look, like a light khaki or a mellow yellow.
  • Consider a beautiful yellow dress, and combine it with white, browns, and black or neutral colors. When it comes to a short yellow dress, many recommend black shoes to go with it. Wearing a light yellow dress can help you to look healthy and more youthful.

Yellow Shades in Fashion

  • Yellow blazers can add a pop of color to your outfit. Again, this can be combined with whites, neutrals, and blues. Wear it with jeans, pants or even a dress. You can also consider a yellow denim jacket instead of the traditional blue in place of a blazer for a more casual look.
  • Yellow is a warm color, so a sweater is a nice idea for those cooler evenings. Try pairing with dark jeans, navy blue, or black pants.
  • Think yellow pants, although this might not be for everyone, yellow pants can pair nicely with a white or black top, and other neutral colors so it does not overwhelm the senses. Try a pair of yellow jeans for a more casual look. If you do not want pants, consider a yellow skirt.
  • Adding a pair of yellow shoes can bring some fun and color into the outfit.


Yellow color can bring happiness, fun, and warmth to most situations. However, yellow should be used wisely as it can become overwhelming. Since there are so many shades of yellow, you should be able to find one that suits whatever project you are busy with.


View our Different Shades Of Yellow web story here.




Frequently Asked Questions


What Is the Meaning of the Color Yellow?

The positive associations of yellow colors include warmth, joy, happiness, and creativity. The color can be used to create an open space for communication. However, it also has negative associations including cowardice, caution, and deception. Physically, using too much yellow can cause irritation as well as nervousness.


What Color Compliments Yellow the Most?

Purple is the complementary color of yellow and helps to create contrast. However, navy blue, orange, green, gray, pinks, browns, and other neutral colors can work well with yellow.


Are There Many Shades of Yellow Color?

There are over 130 yellow shades names, each color varying in hue, tone, shade, intensity, and tint. Some of the more common and well-known yellow colors include lemon yellow, mustard yellow, and canary yellow.


Is Cream a Shade of Yellow?

Yes, the cream is simply a lighter shade of yellow, similar to pink being a lighter shade of red. When mixing paints, you simply combine yellow and white until you reach a cream color.

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