Sunsets are some of the world’s most magnificent sights. They might inspire a sense of wonder or a feeling of calm at the end of a beautiful day, and they can illuminate the landscape in ways you’ve never seen before.
The setting sun (along with the otherworldly colors it so often brings) has inspired artists and writers for centuries. Maybe it can give you some creative ideas, too.
Sunset Color Palettes
Prepare to be inspired by these beautiful sunset color palettes. Hex codes are included if you want to use the colors in your next design.
1. Sea and Sky
Names: Princeton orange, School bus yellow, Puce, Thulian pink, Glaucous
Hex Codes: #FF900E, #FCDD2D, #D58FAA, #C47DA0, #6779B9
Some sunsets are more vivid than others. This one is so bright and varied in color that it almost doesn’t look real!
You can capture some of that sunset’s energy with this striking color palette. And if you want to make sure your design is as striking as the photo, you can let the example design inspire you when it comes to color placement.
Try putting ultra-bright Princeton Orange and School Bus yellow at the center of the design to really draw the audience’s eye. When you surround these shades with Puce, Thulian Pink, and Glaucous, you can create a vignette-like effect. And if you want to expand that palette a little further, consider including the bright, turquoise-like blue of the ocean — you can see a hint of it at the bottom left of the example image.
Names: Ultra violet, China rose, Cool gray, Jonquil, Burnt sienna
Hex Codes: #63507E, #AB6A81, #9096BA, #FFCD00, #F46A43
As you may have guessed, many sunset-inspired palettes lean much more warm than cool. While this one technically includes more warm colors than cool shades, the depth of Ultra Violet and the dustiness of China Rose mean that it has a cooler energy overall.
Depending on the type of project you’re working on, you might find that bright, fiery colors do best when paired with grounding shades. Ultra Violet helps keep this palette grounded, but if you need a little more, consider adding a deep shade of blue-gray.
Names: Earth yellow, Jasmine, Flax, Azure, Polynesian blue
Hex Codes: #FFB45B, #FDD684, #FFF9A1, #007BEF, #084596
Not all sunsets are intensely fiery. Some, like the one in the example image, have more of a soft glow. And because the picture shows a sunset as it just begins, the wonderfully deep blue of the sky is still present.
When viewed out of context, this color palette might not make your audience think of a sunset. But the dramatic pairing of deep blues and bright yellows makes it a high-energy combo perfect for summer-inspired designs.
4. Pink Ash
Names: Pomp and power, Blush, Rose pompadour, Uranian blue, Silver lake blue
Hex Codes: #825389, #DA5380, #E187A8, #A9D4F6, #6B8CC3
Large volumes of volcanic ash in the air can give the sky a purplish tint. That tint is especially noticeable when the sun sets, and this striking photo captures that phenomenon perfectly. The combination of the rosy glow with smoky blue and shadowy purple makes for a lovely, dreamlike design. If you want to expand this color palette, try incorporating a warm, pink-tinted gray like you see on the mountains.
Names: Flame, Cocoa brown, Spanish orange, Princeton orange, Xanthous
Hex Codes: #D3602B, #D8682C, #EA6B20, #FB9739, #FFB42A
This fantastic image looks like something out of The Lion King. It’s one of the warmest color palettes on the list, and it’s ideal if you’re working on an attention-grabbing, monochromatic design.
However, most designers would tell you to be wary of orange. This is especially true in the world of interior design, where even experienced designers hesitate to go near it. If you do use this palette, it helps to have a darker shade as a counterbalance. The example image does this well — the large amount of black prevents the orange from overwhelming your audience, and it also keeps the whole design grounded.
6. Day’s End
Names: Cerulean, Bondi blue, Naples yellow, Atomic tangerine, Coquelicot
Hex Codes: #3B7794, #2F88A8, #FEE161, #FE9347, #FB502B
As the sun sinks in the sky, it sometimes bathes the surrounding landscape in fantastical colors. This example image shows you the striking shades of the sky itself, but it also captures the hazy, purple glow covering the ground. That color isn’t included in the palette, but if you want to cool down its vivid colors a bit, you can always add it in.
As it stands, this image’s color palette is varied enough to help you create striking designs. It’s a perfect choice for colorblocking — try including stripes of Naples Yellow, Atomic Tangerine, and Coquelicot on a background of Cerulean and/or Bondi Blue.
Names: Magenta haze, Fandango, Cerise, Folly, Safety orange
Hex Codes: #9F3379, #A7408B, #C83C63, #F34C5E, #FF8120
Many sunsets include various shades of yellow and orange. But some of them also include incredibly vivid pinks and reds. This palette’s example image captures a bright, distinctive ombre that goes from Safety Orange to Magenta Haze.
Even the cooler shades in this palette have a lot of energy, so this palette would do well with a cooler neutral shade to add balance. For example, if your design includes a pattern of these colors in various shapes, you might consider adding a background of deep charcoal gray.
8. Stillwater Skies
Names: Salmon, Atomic tangerine, Peach, Lavender pink, Vista blue
Hex Codes: #FC9077, #FE9E7B, #FFCB9A, #FDBFDE, #7595D7
If you like the look of pink and orange sunsets but find their colors too intense for your designs, you might appreciate this softer color palette. Its collection of pastel-like colors is ideal for calming designs or those that need to showcase text or another element. When viewed together, these colors look almost dreamlike, so you might consider designs that swirl them together.
Names: China rose, Fuchsia rose, Indian red, Orange (web), Persimmon
Hex Codes: #AC536D, #BB5B7C, #DF5C69, #FBA500, #EE560E
Lavender is one of the world’s most soothing aromas. And if you’ve ever seen fields of lavender, you may have found the sight of those long stretches of deep purple to be calming, too.
In this example image, those fields of lavender serve another purpose — they add just enough cool influence to offset the rosy glow of the sky. The beautiful balance of this image also might give you a design idea. When you situate Web Orange and Persimmon at the center of the image and let them fade into pink and purple, you can achieve a sunburst-like effect that draws your audience’s eye to the center of the image.
Names: Puce, Rose pompadour, Vanilla, Salmon, Glaucous
Hex Codes: #C67F9E, #F27D8E, #FDE59F, #FE8E78, #6086D0
The still waters of wetlands have a particular peace about them. But when you see a soft-colored sunset reflected in their mirror-like surface, they become almost magical.
Even if your current project has nothing to do with nature, this calming palette is sure to resonate with your audience. If you want to make it lean a little cooler, consider adding a bit of cool gray, too.
11. Sunset Flame
Names: Persian indigo, Byzantium, Sunglow, Orange peel, Safety orange
Hex Codes: #352389, #793068, #FFCC25, #FE9C14, #FF7B0D
This palette’s example image depicts the quintessential fiery sunset. Flame-like Orange Peel and Safety Orange can give any design an uplifting and optimistic energy.
A design made up of just Sunglow, Orange Peel, and Safety Orange might be a little overwhelming, but the cool depth of Persian Indigo and Byzantium is enough to bring things back into balance.
Names: English violet, Redwood, Sandy brown, Orange (wheel), Midnight green
Hex Codes: #5F4D63, #9F484F, #FD9951, #FF8B3E, #024A62
This striking collection of colors captures the shadowy, smoky look of a sunset fading into night. Dusky English Violet and Midnight Green keep this palette a little more grounded than some of the others on the list.
Depending on the mood you’re going for, you can adjust the balance of colors. Use more Sandy Brown (which is really more of an orange shade) and Wheel Orange for a higher-energy design, or bring in more English Violet and Midnight Green for a calmer look.
13. Desert Dream
Names: Coral, Orange (crayola), Cinereous, Old rose, Slate gray
Hex Codes: #F27A4A, #FF793F, #988C80, #CA827B, #7E8991
When most of us think of the desert, we picture bold sunsets and tall saguaro cacti. This color palette captures both the beauty of the sunset and the ruggedness of the desert landscape. If you want to expand it a bit, you might add in a cool green to complement the sagebrush-like Cinereous.
Names: Chinese violet, Indian red, Atomic tangerine, Earth yellow, Air force blue
Hex Codes: #81586A, #DF625C, #F79D75, #FEC376, #6C8EA7
Cool white snow looks especially striking against a bold sunset. And when you add cool blue water to the mix, you can achieve a beautifully balanced bouquet of shades.
Even without white, this color palette is fairly well-balanced. Although its shades are muted, it includes nearly every color of the rainbow. Despite the wide range of shades, this group does well in ombre-style designs (like the blend of sky and clouds in the photo).
Names: Princeton orange, Xanthous, Jasmine, Pale dogwood, Peach
Hex Codes: #FE9D37, #FDC566, #FFE69B, #F7D6C4, #F9C9A3
When you take a look at this photo, you can almost feel the fresh air. The associated color palette does a great job of capturing the orange-tinged glow of the sun’s falling light. You can use this color grouping alone if you’re making a monochromatic design. But as you can see in the photo, these shades also do well in combination with various shades of blue and green.
Names: Glaucous, African violet, Puce, Rose pompadour, Thulian pink
Hex Codes: #7C8DBE, #B283A6, #D998AC, #EA8599, #D6789C
The image of a lighthouse on a rocky outcrop is an iconic one. But it’s especially beautiful if it’s against the backdrop of a pink sunset. This striking color palette captures the magic of one of these sunsets, and it’s perfect for using in blue-purple-pink gradients.
This color palette is also well-suited to floral designs. The faintly dusty cast of some of the shades in the palette makes it a great choice for a vintage-style floral pattern on a background of ivory or cream.
17. Fly South
Names: Lapis lazuli, Air superiority blue, Flax, Peach, Princeton orange
Hex Codes: #1C6387, #6F9BB4, #FFEE95, #F9C397, #FE9E38
You might not expect sunsets to include complementary colors. But when the orangish shade of the setting sun fades into a blue sky, the contrast is truly remarkable.
If you love the colors of sunsets but also want to make sure your design includes plenty of contrast, you might find that this color palette is just right. Blue and orange are complementary, and thanks to the color gradations of this palette, it includes two complementary color pairings: Lapis Lazuli/Princeton Orange and Air Superiority Blue/Peach. The soft, sun-like Flax adds just enough variety.
18. Sun Shower
Names: Dark orange (web), Xanthous, Light blue, Uranian blue, Jordy blue
Hex Codes: #FE9335, #FFBD55, #A6BEC4, #ACD3F4, #8CC4FE
This color palette captures the colors of the sky right as the sun begins to set. But it’s also reminiscent of a sudden shower on a sunny day. Uranian Blue and Jordy Blue are the colors of a bright blue sky, and the shadowy Light Blue looks a lot like rain clouds rolling in.
If you choose to use this color palette, you might consider creating a cool, calming backdrop with Light Blue, Uranian Blue, and Jordy Blue. From there, try adding bright bursts of Web Dark Orange and Xanthous. If you’re in advertising or otherwise need to grab your audience’s attention, this bright, high-contrast combo might be just what you need.
Names: Polynesian blue, True blue, Sandy brown, Pomp and power, Mulberry
Hex Codes: #0651A3, #3863B6, #FFAF5C, #8B6799, #AE5581
This palette’s example image looks like a painting! That’s largely thanks to the way Sandy Brown blends into Mulberry, Pomp and Power, True Blue, and Polynesian Blue. If you really want your design to stand out, try creating a similar ombre effect. For a broader collection of colors, try adding the reddish color of the soil and the various shades of green desert shrubbery.
Names: Caramel, Orange peel, Mikado yellow, Indigo dye, Prussian blue
Hex Codes: #DC7B2C, #FF9F11, #FFC537, #2B4F6A, #143446
There’s something special about sunsets over water — no matter how often you see them, they never seem to get old! This palette brings together the warm energy of the setting sun and the cool depth of still water. Thanks to the very high contrast here, this is a great palette for colorblocking or creating logos. Try taking Caramel, Orange Peel, or Mikado Yellow and creating a design over a Prussian Blue backdrop.
Names: Tropical indigo, Pomp and power, Fairy tale, UT orange, Orange (crayola)
Hex Codes: #7981FD, #7B6EA3, #F8C8E1, #FF8F3B, #FD6C2D
Sunsets are mesmerizingly beautiful on their own. But they also make striking backdrops for black (or near-black) text and/or designs. This example image shows you how effective a bright orange (or mostly orange) background can be — if you were working on a text-based design, you could simply add black text next to the cowboy silhouette.
Without the context of the image, this color palette might seem somewhat disjointed. You might try combining these shades in a watercolor-like swirl. You could also create a design made up of mostly Tropical Indigo, Pomp and Power, and Fairy Tale, then add accents of UT Orange and Crayola Orange.
22. By the Sea
Names: Orange (crayola), Sandy brown, Xanthous, Vanilla, Cadet gray
Hex Codes: #EB854C, #FFAD4F, #FFC260, #FFECA9, #849EAD
Sunsets are beautiful enough as-is. But when you see the sun’s reflection rippling over the surface of the ocean, it’s a sight you won’t forget. It’s no wonder so many postcards feature coastal sunsets!
Even if your design isn’t at all rooted in realism, this collection of colors just might remind your audience of the sun reflected over the water. And even though four out of this palette’s five colors are warm, it doesn’t run the risk of becoming overly warm — Sandy Brown, Xanthous, and Vanilla are all fairly soft shades, and the calming blue undertones of Cadet Gray help cool them down.
23. Route 66
Names: Fire engine red, Tomato, Sunglow, Glaucous, Finn
Hex Codes: #C91F26, #EC5F4C, #FFC929, #597FD2, #6A4477
Many sunset-inspired color palettes on our list include soft shades. But if you’re looking for a super-saturated, high-energy group of colors to use in your next design, this is a great selection. As you can see, Fire Engine Red, Tomato, and Sunglow are intense enough that you should use them with caution.
The example image gives you a good idea of how to incorporate these powerful shades while still keeping the rest of the design in balance. Make sure you incorporate a healthy dose of both Glaucous and Finn! If need be, you can add some black, dark gray, or another cool neutral.
24. Pink Sands
Names: Ultra violet, Pomp and power, Wisteria, Mimi pink, Atomic tangerine
Hex Codes: #6C4786, #A3619F, #C7A7D9, #FBDFEB, #FDA47E
Thanks to the still water and the setting sun, the picture above is bathed in lilac-tinted light. This soft shade might not be one that you usually associate with sunsets, so this particular palette is a standout on the list! The gradient between Ultra Violet and Mimi Pink gives you the opportunity to add real depth, especially in floral designs. Atomic Tangerine brings in some lively contrast, but if you’d prefer a more monochromatic look, you can always just use the other four.
25. Out West
Names: Fire engine red, Aerospace orange, Sunglow, Wenge, Indigo dye
Hex Codes: #CB2426, #FE5002, #FDCA56, #62555C, #25455F
When many people talk about red sunsets, they really mean that the sky is a shade of deep pink. But as this example image shows you, sometimes a red sky really is red!
If you want to re-create that intense glow, you can use a blend of Fire Engine Red and Aerospace Orange. Keep in mind that even a tiny touch of these shades will go a long way! Just as the example image illustrates, a splash of these colors is enough to draw the eye without overwhelming your audience.
26. Low Tide
Names: Burnt sienna, Coral, Atomic tangerine, Sunset, Cadet gray
Hex Codes: #EA6F45, #FD7242, #FF8F44, #FFD793, #9FB5C2
The striking clouds in this example image illustrate how you can use Cadet Gray and various shades of orange to achieve a 3D effect. The closer you look, the more intricate it gets! Thanks to the several shades of orange in this palette, you can create a similar effect in your own design.
If you’re working on a design that needs a quieter palette, you also might consider using the trio of Atomic Tangerine, Sunset, and Cadet Gray. The juxtaposition of orange (or yellow) with gray is very on-trend, so this combination is perfect for more modern designs!
27. Mountain Stream
Names: Cyclamen, Wisteria, Earth yellow, Powder blue, Cornflower blue
Hex Codes: #FE7BAF, #B8A8E7, #FEBB6C, #A4B3ED, #6593E2
This sunset-inspired palette manages to look light, cheerful, and springlike. The cool, laid-back vibe of Wisteria, Powder Blue, and Cornflower Blue meets the bright glow of Cyclamen and Earth Yellow. These colors make a complete palette on their own, but if you want to bring in another color (and a burst of nature-inspired energy), consider the vivid, grassy green shown in the example image!
28. Golden Hour
Names: Giants orange, Sandy brown, Salmon, Atomic tangerine, Maize
Hex Codes: #F26734, #FDA44A, #F4957A, #FAA27D, #FFF285
When the sun begins to set, it often bathes the world in golden light. This color palette captures some of that surreal glow. Even though all five colors are warm, most of them are pale enough that they can be used together without overwhelming the rest of your design.
Still, if you do use this palette, it can be helpful to include darker neutrals and/or darker cool colors to keep everything in balance. You can see some darker colors being used in the example image — the shadows on the undersides of the trees and the few wispy, smoke-colored clouds add some welcome contrast.
Names: Egyptian blue, Ultra violet, Carrot orange, Flame, Sinopia
Hex Codes: #313B9A, #5E508D, #FA9C32, #E44C1D, #CF4322
Photos of the desert don’t get more classic than this one. The silhouettes of the cacti perfectly frame the sunset, which shows a magnificent array of colors. When you blend these energetic colors into one another like you see in the example image, you can bring a little bit of this sunset into your own design.
Of course, these colors might be too bold and saturated for some designs. If you like the palette but need to tone it down a bit, you can always use slightly more dilute versions of each.
Names: Lapis lazuli, Cerulean, Blue green, Mikado yellow, Dark orange (web)
Hex Codes: #3B5F7F, #457F9A, #4A99BA, #FCC40F, #F98A0C
This palette’s example image effectively shows two sunsets. One is the fiery burst of orange in the sky, and the other is its reflection in the water’s glass-like surface. The associated color palette includes the bright colors of the sunset, but the energy of those colors is tempered by the deep blue of Lapis Lazuli, Cerulean, and Blue Green.
The stark contrast between these three shades and Mikado Yellow and Web Dark Orange makes this palette a great one for creating logos, banner ads, and other designs that need to grab an audience’s attention. Too much yellow and orange can be overpowering, so in most cases, you’re better off creating a design that’s mostly blue with small accents of yellow and/or orange.
31. Santorini Skyline
Names: Rose taupe, Indian red, Burnt sienna, Cambridge blue, Moonstone
Hex Codes: #8A5E6F, #C4605A, #DB8053, #8CAAA8, #52A7BC
If you saw this color palette without the example image, you probably wouldn’t think that it was inspired by a sunset. But every so often, a hazy sky creates a sunset made of earth tones like these. Because of its earthy nature, this palette is a great fit for autumnal designs. It also lends itself to interiors. Try a room with Cambridge Blue walls, seal brown couches, and accents of Rose Taupe, Indian Red, Burnt Sienna, and Moonstone.
Using Sunset Colors in Your Design
If you’ve found yourself feeling uninspired lately, the magnificent colors of sunsets around the world just might be able to help. And as you saw above, sunsets include far more shades than you might expect. Here are some tips and suggestions to make these colors work for you.
Mirror the Sunset — Or Go Abstract
If your design includes an actual sunset, you shouldn’t have any trouble deciding how to implement the colors you choose. But you don’t need to include a literal sunset to make your audience think of one!
Sometimes, just including a palette of sunset-like colors is enough to help your audience make the association. If it’s very important to you for your audience to connect your design to a sunset (for instance, if you’re designing a logo or a website for an outdoors-focused company), try blending the colors into one another to form a gradient like you see in a typical sunset.
Harness the Power of Contrast
When most people think of sunset colors, they imagine shades of red, orange, and yellow. But as you saw in the above palettes, many sunsets also include shades of deep blue and purple.
You can use shades like this to create real dynamism in your designs in a couple of different ways. The blues and purples in the above palette are (more often than not) both dark and cool. That darkness helps to balance the warmer shades, and it also makes them seem to glow even brighter.
Sometimes, you’ll even have the opportunity to use complementary colors in sunset-inspired palettes. Blue and orange are complementary, and as you saw above, many of these palettes include shades of both orange and blue.
Don’t Be Afraid to Incorporate Neutrals
Choosing which sunset colors to include in your design can be a challenge. But during that selection process, don’t forget that neutrals can be great for adding depth and variety.
In many cases, darker, cool-leaning neutrals (like seal brown, dark charcoal, or even black) end up being best for this. They can keep the design grounded and prevent the expanse of warm color from overwhelming your audience.
Find Inspiration in the Skies
Every designer starts to feel uninspired from time to time. If you find yourself falling into that trap, it may just take a quick scroll through some of the palettes above to get you back on track. Of course, nothing beats the real thing — try stepping outside or simply looking out your window the next time the sun sets!