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Pantone Color(s) of the Year 2021: Ultimate Gray & Illuminating

Here's how to incorporate the 2021 Pantone Color(s) of the Year – Ultimate Gray & Illuminating – into your next creative project.

Posted 10 Dec 2020
Pantone Color of the Year 2021

Color us happy, because the most wonderful time of the year is finally here… Forget about Christmas for a moment, because it’s time to unwrap the Pantone Color of the Year for 2021! 🎉

Just announced by the Pantone Color Institute, the Pantone Color(s) of the Year 2021 are… *drum roll*… PANTONE 17-5104 Ultimate Gray + PANTONE 13-0647 Illuminating!  

While they may have kept us waiting, Pantone has more than made up for it this year by delivering not one, but two Colors of the Year for 2021. Described as a color story that conveys a message of strength and hopefulness, we think that Ultimate Gray & Illuminating will be the perfect pair to help us leave the turmoil of 2020 behind and start afresh next year.

Ready to brush up on 2021’s trendiest colors? Here’s how to incorporate PANTONE 17-5104 Ultimate Gray + PANTONE 13-0647 Illuminating – the 2021 Pantone Colors of the Year – into your creative work…

What Is the Pantone Color of the Year 2021?

Move over Pantone 19-4052 Classic Blue, 17-5104 Ultimate Gray + 13-0647 Illuminating are the new Pantone Colors of the Year!

A color palette that is practical, solid and optimistic, the union of Ultimate Gray & Illuminating is one of strength and positivity. It tells a story that is both enduring and uplifting, encapsulating toughness and resilience with the promise of something sunny and hopeful moving forward into 2021. 

A bright and beautiful yellow sparkling with vivacity, PANTONE 13-0647 Illuminating is a warm and luminous yellow shade – which is just what we all need to lead us out of the darkness of 2020.

The color of flowers, fruits and sunlight, yellow is a color of hope, creativity and new ideas. Being the lightest hue of the spectrum, yellow is uplifting and illuminating, and evokes feelings of happiness, cheerfulness and fun.

On the other hand, PANTONE 17-5104 Ultimate Gray is solid and dependable, representing a firm foundation on which to rebuild. The color of mountains on the horizon, pebbles on the beach and natural elements that have stood the test of time, Ultimate Gray evokes feelings of composure, steadiness and resilience.

The middle man between black and white, gray represents neutrality, consistency and balance – something that many of us are craving right now.

The Pantone Color Institute’s Executive Director Leatrice Eiseman explains, “The union of enduring Ultimate Gray with the vibrant yellow of Illuminating expresses a message of positivity supported by fortitude. Practical and rock solid but at the same time warming and optimistic, this is a color combination that gives us resilience and hope. We need to feel encouraged and uplifted; this is essential to the human spirit.”

Envato’s content specialist for graphic design Kate McInnes agrees: “I was guessing that the 2021 Pantone colour of the year would be a dusty pastel colour to convey a soft and reflective mood. Instead, we got two colours, Ultimate Grey and Illuminating Yellow. I think that this pairing makes sense. The two colours used together sets a mood that is reflective and optimistic. I think it’s a good choice. Grey and Yellow work well for a variety of styles and designs too, most designers will find a way to add these two colors to their creations.”

As we all continue to navigate the uncertainty of 2020, we feel that these colors perfectly represent the idea of a brighter and steadier future.

A marriage of happiness and luminosity supported by strength and dependability, the combination of PANTONE 17-5104 Ultimate Gray + PANTONE 13-0647 Illuminating is the perfect aspirational color story to bring us hope and stability in the new year. 

If you want to incorporate this uplifting color combination into your designs or creative projects, try out these Gray Instagram Posts & Stories by sagesmask, these Soleil Flowers by Webvilla, Grayscale by Boris_Cupac and yellow by twenty20photos.

And there you have it! While we’re at it, let’s take a stroll down memory lane and revisit some of the previous Pantone Colors of the Year…

Classic Blue: The Pantone Color of the Year 2020

Chosen because of its comforting, familiar shade, PANTONE 19-4052 Classic Blue turned out to be just what we all needed in 2020 – one of the craziest years in modern history. One of the three primary colors, blue is known to evoke a sense of calm and ease. Vice president of The Pantone Color Institute Laurie Pressman said that the color offers stability and connections. “It’s a reassuring presence,” she told The Associated Press.

Overall, Blue was the 5th most popular color searched for on Envato in 2020, up 37% year on year. And among our fastest growing color terms searched for we saw Dark Blue–which is suitably related to Classic Blue–achieve 96% year on year growth, as well as Azure and Indigo

At the start of the century, Cerulean, another blue color, was selected as the color of 2000. With Cerulean being the color of the sky when the sun is shining, and Classic Blue emulating the hue of the sky as the day ends, we think that Classic Blue was the perfect shade to kick off a brand new decade and bring us all a sense of calm and comfort during the year that was 2020. 

If you’re a designer, artist or creative, you can incorporate Classic Blue into your designs with these decorative invitations, this indigo classic keynote, the Shore typeface or these floral watercolor clip art patterns and flat and outline illustration design. For more inspo, check out our ‘Classic Blue’ Pinterest board, featuring more items to download from Envato Elements.

Living Coral: The Pantone Color of the Year 2019

A bolder, more vibrant color than the cool and comforting Classic Blue, PANTONE 16-1546 Living Coral was the Pantone Color of the Year 2019. In addition to coral playsuits on the catwalk and coral statement crockery in kitchens, Living Coral was an absolute hit on social media. This is because it evokes a zesty, positive and high-spirited feel, and even has a connection to nature and the environment. Giving a nod to the coral reefs which support a quarter of all marine species and half a billion people around the world, Living Coral is bright, playful and effervescent.

If you’re still loving Living Coral, you can incorporate it into your social designs with these Coral Instagram story templates by vuuuds, this Watercolor Texture Living Coral by cornercrof, these Living Coral Google Slides by Jumsoft, or even this 28 page Minimal Portfolio Brochure template

Ultra Violet: The Pantone Color of the Year 2018

Described as a ‘dramatically provocative and thoughtful purple shade,’ Ultra Violet 18-3838 was Pantone’s pick for 2018. The pantone color of 2018 represented ingenuity, creativity and a pioneering vision that pointed to the future.

With designers flocking to find Ultra Violet assets as soon as the color of 2018 was announced, the abstract nature of Ultra Violet can add an enigmatic aura to any artwork, making it great for a range of different designs. 

Greenery: The Pantone Color of the Year 2017

The Pantone Color of the Year 2017, Greenery 15-0343, was all about fresh, clean design. A green-yellow shade known as nature’s neutral, Greenery was prevalent in everything from plant-lined office spaces to morning smoothies, and made designs appear more natural and organic. Bearing a striking resemblance to Envato’s own logo, needless to say we were very fond of 2017’s color of the year. 

To go green with Greenery, check out this Green Tea Pattern by Purple-Bird, this Green Leaves Pattern by gertot1967 or this Green Seamless Pattern with Plants and Bird by Artness. For marketers, this Greenes – Organic Keynote Template by StringLabs made presentations seem fresh and exciting.

Here’s to the new color of the year! Need more color inspiration? Check out Pantone’s Color Trends for Fall 2020, as well as our Color Trends for Designers 2021

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