Understanding Cerulean and How It Is Made

Cool cerulean and shades of green create a comforting color palette

Described as sky blue, cerulean represents many shades of the blue skies, sometimes with a hint of green. —Jacci Howard Bear's Desktop Publishing Colors and Color Meanings

In 1999, Pantone named pale cerulean the color of the new millennium. The company described it as "the color of the sky on a serene, crystal-clear day" and at the end of the century considered it to be an excellent choice for designers who were producing work in our stress-filled and high-tech times. The color blue is a global favorite with mass appeal. The tranquil, unisex color can be used for almost any product.

Colors identified as cerulean blue range include the medium blue of cerulean blue pigment, the bright cerulean color of Crayola crayons, and the sky blue Pantone color called cerulean. Light and medium shades of blue or turquoise with some green are considered cerulean.

The Meaning of Cerulean Color

Cerulean blue is a soothing, calming color that evokes feelings of peace and confidence. Some of the mixed attributes of light shades of turquoise can be attributed to cerulean including femininity and an association with the American Southwest. Use cerulean blue when you want to symbolize a clear, blue sky. 

Various cerulean color swatches
Lifewire / Hilary Allison

Using Cerulean Color in Design Files

Cerulean is a cool color symbol. If your design is too cool—too calming—heat things up by using a warm color like red or orange as an accent. Combine sky blue, cerulean shades with green grass shades for a comforting palette that invokes nature. 

When you are selecting colors for a design project that will print in ink on paper, use CMYK versions of cerulean in your page layout software or choose a Pantone spot color. If you are working on a design that will be viewed on a computer monitor, use RGB color percentages. Use Hex codes when you are working with HTML, CSS, and SVG. A selection of cerulean colors includes:

  • Cerulean (Pantone Color of the Century): Hex #98b4d4 | RGB 152,180,212 | CMYK 28,15,0,17
  • Pantone Cerulean Blue: Hex #9bc4e2 | RGB 155,196,226 | CMYK 31,13,0,11
  • Crayola Cerulean | Hex #1dacd6 | RGB 29,172,214 | CMYK 86,20,0,16
  • Cerulean Blue | Hex #2a52be | RGB 42,82,190 | CMYK 78,57,0,25
  • Sky Blue | Hex #87ceeb | RGB 135,206,235 | CMYK 43,12,0,8
  • Light Sky Blue | Hex #87cefa | RGB 135,206,250 | CMYK 24,18,0,2

Choosing Pantone Colors Closest to Cerulean

Sometimes a solid color ink, rather than a CMYK mix, is a more economical choice when you are working with designs that will be printed on paper. The Pantone Matching System is the most widely recognized spot color system among commercial printers. Here are the best Pantone color matches to the cerulean colors listed in this article.

  • Cerulean (Pantone Color of the Century): Pantone Solid Coated 651 C
  • Pantone Cerulean Blue: Pantone Solid Coated 543 C
  • Crayola Cerulean: Pantone Solid Coated 298 C
  • Cerulean Blue: Pantone Solid Coated 2368 C
  • Sky Blue: Pantone Solid Coated 2905 C
  • Light Sky Blue: Pantone Solid Coated 291 C
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