Each year Pantone selects a Color of the Year based on extensive research of trends and new color influences. The selection has a powerful and far-reaching impact on graphic design, industrial design, product packaging, fashion, home decor, and other industries. For 2021, Pantone has selected the combination of Ultimate Gray and Illuminating, a vibrant yellow, as Color of the Year.

Color of the Year

Pantone’s Color of the Year (source).

Colors have a profound effect on us in everyday life by impacting our moods, feelings, and emotions. The colors of the walls in our homes and offices, the colors of the clothes we wear, and the colors of the products that we purchase can affect us in many different ways.

For designers and creatives, the use of color and the color schemes that are selected will be a major factor in a project’s effectiveness. Colors and color combinations can be used strategically to impact viewers in specific ways. Brands use certain colors in logos and other messaging to position themselves based on impressions that are made.  Even the colors in photos and videos used in marketing and communication will have an influence.

The selection of Ultimate Gray and Illuminating is exceedingly appropriate based on the context surrounding us as we enter 2021. The challenges of 2020 have led us to seek stability as well as hope for a brighter future. Ultimate Gray produces a feeling of strength and security while Illuminating sparks joy and energy. The combination is perfect for invoking confidence and positivity, which is essential during challenging times.

“The union of an enduring Ultimate Gray with the vibrant yellow Illuminating expresses a message of positivity supported by fortitude. Practical and rock solid but at the same time warming and optimistic, this is a color combination that gives us resilience and hope. We need to feel encouraged and uplifted; this is essential to the human spirit.”

– Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of The Pantone Color Institute

Incorporating These Colors Into Your Work

One option for incorporating these colors into your designs is to make use of existing resources that already feature the colors. Here at Vecteezy, we have many vectors and stock photos ready to be downloaded and incorporated into your designs. You’ll see a few of them below, and you can get access to more in this Color of the Year Collection.

More Color Trends for 2021

While Ultimate Gray and Illuminating have been named Color of the Year, we don’t advise you to lean on only two colors for an entire year of design projects — and here are the colors we see trending into 2021. You’ll see images from Vecteezy that feature these colors (click on any of the images and you’ll be led to the download page).


The color lavender gets its name from the flowering plant that blooms in this shade of light purple. It pairs well with other colors that appear in nature, as well as other shades of purple. Lavender and purple often produce feelings of luxury or romance.

Midnight Blue

Midnight Blue is a very dark shade of blue and can be used as an alternative to black. Blue often produces a peaceful or tranquil mood for viewers. Since midnight blue is so close to black, it may also have the same impact as black, which includes feelings of authority and power.

Blue Spruce

Blue Spruce is a blue-green color named after the tree that produces needles of this color. The pale or muted color could be an excellent choice for your designs in 2021 since it may be associated with awakening or renewal.

Burnt Sienna

This warm, earthy shade can be combined with many colors for different purposes. Use it with blues and greens for a natural feel or with other warm colors for an intense color scheme. Burnt Sienna may produce feelings of security and comfort, and warmer shades can create a mood of excitement and enthusiasm.

Sage Green

Sage green is a muted green with gray undertones. It can be used for designs when you want a natural color palette featuring a desaturated green instead of a shade that’s more vibrant. Sage green can be calming and optimistic.


Cream is a highly versatile neutral color that can be used with just about any other color or shade, making it a great base for your designs. Like most of the others mentioned here, it’s a muted earthy color that appears in nature.


This vibrant warm shade is a bit darker and more orangey than Illuminating, but could serve a similar role or purpose in your designs. In terms of mood and emotions, honey can be soothing and increase confidence.


As you consider color schemes and palettes to use in 2021, keep these colors in mind. Regardless of the colors you choose, you’ll find plenty of images at Vecteezy that can be incorporated into your design.