Earth tone

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Earth tone is a term used to describe a palette of colors that are similar to natural materials and landscapes. These colors are inspired by the earth's natural hues, including browns, greens, grays, and other warm and muted shades. The term earth tone first became popular in the 1970s during the environmental movement, as people sought to reconnect with nature and embrace more natural and organic lifestyles.[1]

People often connect earth tones with warmth, comfort, and steadiness, which is why they are commonly used in interior design, fashion, and graphic design. They are also versatile, making them suitable for a wide range of applications, from rustic and traditional to modern and minimalist.

Some of the most common earth tones include beige, taupe, khaki, olive, moss, and rust. These colors are often used together in a variety of combinations to create a connected and natural-looking palette. In interior design, earth tones can be used to create a calming and inviting ambiance,[2] while in fashion, they can add a touch of elegance and experience to any outfit.

While earth tones are often connected with nature, they can also be used in more urban and industrial settings to create a sense of harmony and balance. In recent years, earth tones have become increasingly popular in graphic design and branding, as companies seek to convey a sense of authenticity, sustainability, and environmental responsibility.


The practicality of earth tone lies in its versatility and ability to blend seamlessly with different colors and styles.

One of the main advantages of earth tone is that they create a calming and soothing atmosphere, making them a popular choice in interior design. They are also considered timeless and can give a sense of grounding and stability to a space. Earth tone are also practical in fashion, as they are easy to mix and match with other colors, and can be used to create a range of looks from casual to formal.

Color Palette[edit]

The color palette of earth tone typically includes warm and muted shades of brown, green, gray, and beige.

Other colors that may be included in the earth tone palette are muted shades of orange, red, and yellow. These colors are inspired by the colors of the earth and can be found in natural materials like clay, sandstone, and rusted metal. Overall, the earth tone palette is characterized by its warm, natural, and calming hues that are versatile and timeless in design.

The Physiological Effect of Natural Color[edit]

Cool color[edit]

The psychology of cool colors pertains to the effects of certain hues on human emotions and perceptions. Cool colors, such as blues, greens, and purples, have been found to recede from the eye, creating an illusion of depth and making a space appear larger and more open.[3] As a result, these colors are often used in smaller rooms to increase the perceived size of the area. Furthermore, cool colors have a calming effect on individuals, evoking feelings of relaxation and tranquility. Consequently, they are often utilized in spaces intended for rest and rejuvenation, such as bathrooms and bedrooms.

Warm Color[edit]

The psychology of warm colors concerns the impact of certain hues on human emotions and perceptions. Warm colors, such as reds, oranges, and yellows, are known to create a sense of warmth and comfort, and can even provide the illusion of heat. These colors have a tendency to advance toward the eye, making them particularly effective in larger spaces, as they can create a feeling of coziness and security.

Additionally, warm colors are often associated with stimulation and activity, evoking strong emotions and promoting movement. As such, these colors are well-suited for environments such as gyms and living rooms, where physical activity and social interactions are encouraged.[4]

Common Examples of Effect[edit]

Color psychology is the study of how different colors can affect human behavior, emotions, and mood. This field of study explores the way that color influences our thoughts and feelings, and how we respond to different colors in different contexts.

However, Color psychology is a complex and often subjective field, and there is no single "correct" way to use color to achieve a particular effect. Different individuals and cultures may have different associations with particular colors, and the same color may have different meanings in different contexts.


Red is a highly evocative color that has been used in a variety of contexts throughout history. It is a primary color, meaning that it cannot be formed by mixing other colors together. In the RGB color model, which is commonly used in digital applications, red is represented by a combination of 100% red, 0% green, and 0% blue.[5] This unique combination of wavelengths gives red its characteristic hue and makes it a particularly powerful color for conveying a range of emotions and messages. From the vibrant hues of a rainbow to the romantic connotations of Valentine's Day, red continues to be a prominent and influential color in our cultural landscape.


Green is a primary color that symbolizes our connection to nature. It is often associated with purity, health, and growth, and is commonly used by brands that promote productivity and vitality.[6] Green is also a relaxing and invigorating color that represents a connection to oneself, quiet moments, and nature. People often seek out nature to escape the stresses of modern life and reconnect with their primal roots. Green represents a return to inner peace and tranquility.


Blue is a calm and serene color, often associated with stillness and reflection. It has a calming effect on the body, resulting in lower heart rates and slower metabolisms.[7]


Brown is traditionally associated with seriousness, stability, and wisdom. It is often worn by people in positions of respect and authority, such as paternal figures or grandfathers. Brown is a color that represents stability and resourcefulness, which is important for families centered around the main male figure. People feel safe and secure around those wearing brown, as it represents reliability and support. Additionally, older individuals who wear brown exude a sense of stability, which is manifested in their accumulated life experience, possessions, and financial gain.[8]


Orange is a persuasive and energetic color that results from the combination of yellow and red. It has the power to enhance extraversion and encourages people to express themselves more freely by letting go of their inhibitions.[9]

Shades of Earth tone[edit]

Overall, colors in earth tone are considered to be the colors of nature like sea, sky, land, and tree. Any color that is mixed with gray is considered an earth tone. Earth tone also includes any shade or tint color as well as brown, green, yellow, orange, or gray. For instance, earth tone colors are forest floor(#555142), forest night(#434237), dirt brown(#836539), desert yellow(#a29259), dusty yellow(#d4cc9a), straw yellow(#f0d696), musk dusk(#cfbfb9), prairie dusk(#cec5ad), brown gray(#8d8468), charcoal gray (#6e6969), charred clay(#885132), bistre(#3d2b1f), wood bark(#302621), earth brown(#4f1507), auburn(#712f2c), bear brown(#44382b), brown tumbleweed(#37290e), evergreen forest(#0e695f), forest(#0b5509), forest biome(#184a45), kelp forest(#448811), forest night(#002200), pine green(#0a481e), alpine green(#005f56), artichoke(#4b6d41), caribbean green(#00cc99), cedar(#5e6737), drab green(#749551), seagrass(#67ad83), moss garden(#99bb33), moss green(#638b27), watercress(#6e9377), white sulfur(#f1faea), blue lagoon(#00626f), irish clover(#53734c), peaslake(#8caa95), turtle lake(#73b7a5), rolling sea(#5a6d77), cod gray(#2d3032), dover gray(#848585), glacier gray(#c5c6c7), gray wolf(#9ca0a6), white smoke(#f5f5f5), canadian lake(#8f9aa4), dusk(#4e5481), waterway(#7eb7bf), waterfall(#3ab0a2), blue opal(#0f3b57), jasmine flower(#f4e8e1), english violet(#563d5d), burled redwood(#8f4c3a), charred brown(#3e0007), chestnut brown(#6d1008), orange lily(#be7249) and ocer(#bf9b0c).[10]

Apply in Design Practice[edit]

Nature always relates to humans both physically and mentally. That is the reason it is the inspiration for many designers to apply natural elements including earth tone (natural color palette), organic shape, and natural texture to design areas of practice.[11] The trend of natural design is influenced by the awareness of global warming and environmental problems.

Graphic Design[edit]

It is very usual in graphic design to apply an earth tone palette. Earth tone is effective for making the audience relate to a design naturally. To soften a solid design and make them more comfortable in appearance, an earth tone is used. Earth tone is related to modernity and minimalism. In brand identity design, earth tone is applied in many logos, websites, and brochures.[12]

Fashion design[edit]

According to WWD weekend, earth tone had become a fashion trend in Fall 2021 in RTW (Read-to-Wear) runway, including many famous fashion brands such as Versace, Undercover, Theopphilio, Sportmax, Simone Rocha, Schiaparelli, Roseatta Getty, Hermes, etc.[6] In your wardrobe, earth tone closets release the sense of from warm, cozy, simple to elegant and authoritative. Earth tone dresses compliment any skin color which can be mixed with a different color in earth tone palette.[13]


Earth tone is used by the architect to bring harmony between nature surrounding the building and the building together. The tone improves relaxation in the house and residence, and also, the atmosphere of cozy warm luxurious modern. Due to the fact that earth tone or natural color is comfortable and pleasing to the eye. Earth tone can complement natural light that shines into the architect by softening the light.

Apply in Art Practice[edit]


In painting, “brownness” defines earth tone. At the beginning of a painting, primitive painters used soil, animal fat, minerals, charcoal, and chalk combined to be a color around 40,000 years ago.[14] Therefore, the first group of colors was a natural palette by themselves. And earth tone palette was very handy to mix from scratch. There are many types of earth tone artists used. For example, burnt umber is an earthy shade that is a combination of phthalo blue and ultramarine, and a permanent rose. Additionally, Vandyke brown and sepia are similar in color to old photographs and can be useful for replicating vintage effects or a monochromatic look. [15]

Material and pigment[edit]

The composition of earth pigments generally involves three elements: a clay base, a mineral component (iron oxide), and a secondary coloring agent. Iron oxide, which is present in different forms and shades all across the earth, is the primary coloring agent for most earth pigments. The properties of iron oxide vary, and its color is determined by the type of iron oxide used. Iron and oxygen are the two primary components of these minerals and are present in different amounts. Additionally, a secondary coloring agent such as manganese oxide, calcium, carbon, organic material, silica, limestone, or rutile (titanium dioxide) can also be present. [16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Color Through the Decades: 1970s". Sherwin-Williams.
  2. ^ Story, The Design. "Natural and Earthy Tones to Make Trend in 2020?". The Design Story.
  3. ^ Braam, Hailey van (18 September 2018). "Warm and Cool Colors: What Are They, How They Are Used & Psychology". Color Psychology.
  4. ^ Braam, Hailey van (18 September 2018). "Warm and Cool Colors: What Are They, How They Are Used & Psychology". Color Psychology.
  5. ^ "Color Psychology 101: A Beginner's Guide to the Meaning of Colors". Color Psychology.
  6. ^ "Color Psychology 101: A Beginner's Guide to the Meaning of Colors". Color Psychology.
  7. ^ "Color Psychology 101: A Beginner's Guide to the Meaning of Colors". Color Psychology.
  8. ^ "Color Psychology 101: A Beginner's Guide to the Meaning of Colors". Color Psychology.
  9. ^ "Color Psychology 101: A Beginner's Guide to the Meaning of Colors". Color Psychology.
  10. ^ Spacey, John. "75 Types of Earth Tone". Simplicable.
  11. ^ Rimmer, Kelsie (5 August 2020). "Back to Basics: Organic Graphic Design Trends". Envato.
  12. ^ Rimmer, Kelsie (5 August 2020). "Back to Basics: Organic Graphic Design Trends". Envato.
  14. ^ Taggart, Emma (14 December 2022). "Unearth the Colorful History of Paint: From Natural Pigments to Synthetic Hues". My Modern Met.
  15. ^ "science of colour - Essential Earth Colours for Art".
  16. ^ "What are Earth Pigments? A Guide to Ochres, Oxides, and Minerals". Natural Earth Paint.