How to Use Crimson in Print and Web Design

Crimson refers to a bright red with a tinge of blue. It's often considered the color of fresh blood (blood red). Dark crimson is close to maroon and is a warm color, along with red, orange, and yellow. In nature, crimson is most often a ruby red color that occurs in birds, flowers, and insects. The bright red color of love known as crimson was originally a dye produced from an insect.

Using Crimson Color in Design Files

Crimson is a bright color that stands out prominently. Use it sparingly to draw attention to a phrase or element or as a colorful background to indicate danger, anger, or caution. Avoid using it in conjunction with black, as the two colors provide low color contrast. White provides a much better contrast with crimson. Crimson often appears in designs for Valentine's Day and at Christmas.

Crimson color swatches with Hex codes
Lifewire / Derek Abella

When planning a design project destined for commercial printing, use CMYK formulations for crimson in your page layout software. For display on a computer monitor, use RGB values. Use hexadecimal designations when working with HTML, CSS, and SVG. You can best achieve crimson shades with the following formulations:

  • Crimson (web color): Hex #DC143C | RGB 220, 20, 60 | CMYK 7,100, 78, 1
  • Alizarin Crimson: Hex #E32636 | RGB 227, 38, 54 | CMYK 5, 98, 85, 1
  • Razzmatazz (Crayola crayon; a rosy crimson): Hex #E3256B | RGB 227, 37, 107 | CMYK 5, 97, 35, 0
  • Raspberry (web color; a dark rosy crimson): Hex #872657 | RGB 135, 38, 87 | CMYK 42, 96, 41, 19
  • Electric Crimson: Hex #FF003F | RGB 255, 0, 63 | CMYK 0, 99, 72, 0
  • Spanish Crimson: Hex #E51A4C | RGB 229, 26, 76 | CMYK 4, 99, 64, 1
  • Crimson Glory: Hex #BE0032 | RGB 190, 0, 50 | CMYK 17, 100, 84, 8

Choosing Pantone Colors Closest to Crimson

When working with ink on paper, sometimes a solid color of crimson, rather than a CMYK mix, is a more economical choice. The Pantone Matching System is the most widely recognized spot color system in the world. Use it to specify a spot color in your page layout software. Here are the Pantone colors suggested as best matches to the crimson shades listed above.

  • Crimson (web color): Pantone Solid Coated 199 C
  • Alizarin Crimson: Pantone Solid Coated 1788 C
  • Razzmatazz (Crayola crayon; a rosy crimson): Pantone Solid Coated 213 C
  • Raspberry (web color; a dark rosy crimson): Pantone Solid Coated 7435 C
  • Electric Crimson: Pantone Solid Coated 192 C
  • Spanish Crimson: Pantone Solid Coated 1925 C
  • Crimson Glory: Pantone Solid Coated 200 C

Symbolism of Crimson

Crimson carries the symbolism of red as a power color and the color of love. It's also associated with the Christian church and its Bible. Various shades of crimson are associated with 30 U.S. colleges, including the University of Utah, Harvard University, the University of Oklahoma, and the University of Alabama — the Crimson Tide. People living in the Elizabethan era associated crimson with royalty, nobility, and others of high social standing. Only individuals designated by English law could wear the color.