The Color Cobalt Blue and How Is It Used in Publishing

Cobalt is a silvery, bluish-gray metal ore. When cobalt salts and aluminum oxide are mixed, you get a beautiful shade of blue. The color cobalt or cobalt blue is a medium blue, lighter than navy but bluer than the lighter sky blue color. In pottery, porcelain, tiles, and glassmaking, the cobalt blue color comes from the addition of cobalt salts. With the addition of varying amounts of other metals or minerals, cobalt can be more magenta or more purple.

Cobalt blue color swatches with Hex #s
Lifewire / Mary McLain 

Meanings and History of Cobalt Blue

Cobalt is a cool color with a connection to nature, sky, and water. It is considered friendly, authoritative and trustworthy. Cobalt blue color is soothing and peaceful. It can suggest richness. Like azure and other medium blues, its qualities include stability and calmness.

Cobalt blue has a history of use in Chinese porcelain and other ceramics and in stained glass. In the world of art, cobalt blue was used by Renoir, Monet, and Van Gogh. More recently, Maxfield Parrish, an American painter in the early 20th century had a cobalt blue color named after him — Parrish Blue. He was known for his saturated hues.

Using Cobalt Blue in Design Files

Cobalt blue is liked by men and women alike. Combine the cool cobalt blue color with a warm color like red, orange or yellow for emphasis in design. Combine it with green for a watery palette or use it with gray for a sophisticated look.

If your design will print in ink on paper, use the CMYK breakdown (or spot colors) in your page layout files. If you design for screen presentations, use the RGB formulations. Designers who work with HTML and CSS should use the Hex codes.

  • Cobalt Blue (Parrish Blue): Hex #0047ab | RGB 0,71,171 | CMYK 100,58,0,33
  • Dark Cobalt Blue: Hex #3d59ab | RGB 61,89,171 | CMYK 64,48,0,33 
  • Light Cobalt Blue: Hex #6666ff | RGB 102,102,255 | CMYK 60,60,0,0
  • Stained Glass Blue: Hex #2e37fe | RGB 46,55,254 | CMYK 82,78,0,0

Spot Colors Close to Cobalt Blue

If you are designing a one- or two-color job for print, using solid ink colors — not CMYK — is a more economical way to go. Most commercial printers use the Pantone Matching System, which is the most widely recognized spot color system in the U.S. The Pantone color matches to the cobalt colors mentioned in this article are:

  • Cobalt Blue (Parrish Blue): Pantone Solid Coated 2369 C
  • Dark Cobalt Blue: Pantone Solid Coated 2367 C
  • Light Cobalt Blue: Pantone Solid Coated 2088 C
  • Stained Glass Blue: Pantone Solid Coated 2097 C

Other Cobalt Colors

Although we usually think of cobalt as blue, there are other cobalt color pigments found in oil and watercolor paints that are not blue, such as:

  • Cobalt Yellow 
  • Cobalt Turquoise
  • Cobalt Violet (RGB: 145,33,158) 
  • Cobalt Green (RGB: 61,145,64)
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