Earth Tone Color Palette - Creating and Using Earthy Colors (2023)

An earth tone color palette is quite a popular choice for those looking for a more natural interior design for their homes. However, earth tones are also important when creating a beautiful painting, or earth colors might even be someone’s first choice when it comes to nail polish. Earthy colors are all around us and are more than simply shades of brown. So, to gain a better understanding, let us discuss further what earth tones are and how you can use them.

Table of Contents

  • 1 What Are the Earth Colors?
    • 1.1 The Meaning of Earth Tones
  • 2 Popular Earth Tone Shades
    • 2.1 Dirt Brown
    • 2.2 Chocolate Brown
    • 2.3 Terra Cotta
    • 2.4 Espresso
    • 2.5 Clay Color
    • 2.6 Khaki Color
    • 2.7 Taupe Color
    • 2.8 Brown Gray
    • 2.9 Drab Green Color
    • 2.10 Rust Color
  • 3 Best Earth Tone Color Palette Combinations
    • 3.1 Complementary Colors
    • 3.2 Analogous Colors
    • 3.3 Monochromatic Colors
    • 3.4 Triadic Colors
  • 4 How to Mix Earth Colors With Acrylics
  • 5 Earth Tone Color Schemes for the Home
    • 5.1 Gray and Burnt Orange
    • 5.2 Clay Colors
    • 5.3 Taupe and Natural Elements
    • 5.4 Tips for Working With Earthy Tones in the Home
  • 6 Frequently Asked Questions
    • 6.1 What Are the Earth Colors?
    • 6.2 Are Neutral Tones Also Earthy Colors?
    • 6.3 Will Earth Tones Ever Go Out of Style?

What Are the Earth Colors?

The first color one thinks of when mentioning earth colors, are shades of brown. Brown can be found almost everywhere in nature from different kinds of food, and trees to the soil or earth they are planted in. In the modern world, brown can also be found in fashion, cosmetics, as an earth tone color scheme for the home, or even various skin tones.

Earth Tone Color Palette - Creating and Using Earthy Colors (1)

Earth tones can also be associated with natural colors, and this means more than simply brow, it includes green leaves, blue or gray skies as well as oranges, yellows, and reds, and think beautiful sunset. This type of color palette is generally warm, inviting, and nature orientated. However, many of the specific earth tones come from clay earth pigments, for example, umber, sienna, and ochre.

ShadeHex CodeCMYK Color Code (%)RGB Color CodeColor
Umber#6351470, 18, 28, 6199, 81, 71
Sienna#882d170, 67, 83, 47136, 45, 23
Ochre#cc77220, 42, 83, 20204, 119, 34
Brown#a52a2a0, 75, 75, 35165, 42, 42

Earth tones can also fall under the term “neutral colors”, which include black, white, brown, tan, beige, taupe, gray, and cream. Ultimately, an earth tone color palette is anything inspired by all things natural in nature. All colors found naturally outside can be considered a part of an earth tone color palette.

However, brown can be seen as the bases of your earth tone color scheme. Many consider earth colors as any of the natural colors blended with gray, which forms muted earth tones. As tones always have white or black, or both mixed in.

So, some might say the brighter or more vibrant reds, greens, and other colors may not reflect the true nature of earth tones.

Color theory also states that there are warm colors and cool colors. The division of these colors can be seen on the color wheel, where the warm colors are on one side, while cool colors fill up the opposite side of the color wheel. We have already mentioned earth tones are generally warm, as they contain red, orange, and yellow. However, the cooler earth tones involve more of your blue, green, and gray tones.

The Meaning of Earth Tones

Every color has a meaning and can have a psychological effect on people, which is why interior decorators find the connection so interesting and use it to create specific color palettes. Colors can affect the atmosphere of a room, and some may even be able to elicit a physical response, for example, improving appetite.

Earth Tone Color Palette - Creating and Using Earthy Colors (2)

Colors have both positive and negative attributes, so you have to use them wisely, not only for interior design but also for things like marketing and advertising. Colors can play a role in affecting mood and behavior; however, this is in general, and the experience may differ from person to person.

When considering earthy colors, they are generally seen as friendly, warm, reassuring, comforting, and welcoming.

(Video) Mixing Earth Tones - Student Exercise - Scenic Art

Muted earth tones seem to have more of a calming effect as they are easy on the eyes. Earth tones are also seen as versatile and can pair well with any color. As we have mentioned, when thinking of earth colors, we gravitate towards shades of brown, which are warm as they usually have red, yellow, or orange undertones.

Popular Earth Tone Shades

Most of these earth tones belong to the brown family, but we have also included one or two yellow and green varieties. Many of these colors are also well-known, for example, chocolate brown, terra cotta, and khaki color.

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Dirt Brown

The name is self-explanatory, the color of dirt or a shade of dark, moderate orange to be exact. This has a warm undertone and should work wonderfully with similar shades of blue, as orange and blue are complementary colors.

These are colors located opposite each other on the visual color wheel.

ShadeHex CodeCMYK Color Code (%)RGB Color CodeColor
Dirt Brown#8365390, 23, 56, 49131, 101, 57

Chocolate Brown

There are various shades of chocolate brown, and below you have a lighter shade and a darker shade. In reality, chocolate can be categorized into three main colors, dark, middle, and white, which rely on the cocoa solids for the color variations.

ShadeHex CodeCMYK Color Code (%)RGB Color CodeColor
Chocolate#7b3f000, 49, 100, 52123, 63, 0
Dark Chocolate#4902060, 97, 92, 7173, 2, 6

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Terra Cotta

This color is a well-known earth tone and many associate it with it being a deeper burnt orange and brow. As with most colors, however, you can get various shades that range from red or pink undertones to peachy, tan, and gray undertones.

The terra cotta web color below can be described as being a soft red.

ShadeHex CodeCMYK Color Code (%)RGB Color CodeColor
Terra Cotta#e2725b0, 50, 60, 11226, 114, 91


Espresso, as you can see, is an extremely dark red or brown color that is associated with black coffee. The color can be said to be between dark brown and black and many find it difficult to discern if it is black or brown. This color can be somewhat described as a cool color even though it has a red undertone, as there is a noticeable contrast when placed next to more vibrant warm colors.

ShadeHex CodeCMYK Color Code (%)RGB Color CodeColor
Espresso#3c22180, 43, 60, 7660, 34, 24

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Clay Color

There is a variety of clay types and also different colors. Below is an example of a gray variety, which is a warm, grayish red, and the potter’s clay, which is more of a darker orange color.

Both are considered earthy colors.

ShadeHex CodeCMYK Color Code (%)RGB Color CodeColor
Clay#6b6867107, 104, 103107, 104, 103
Potter’s Clay#8756320, 36, 63, 47135, 86, 50

Khaki Color

This is the specific web color that can be described as a desaturated orange-brown. The color name, khaki, was first recorded in 1848, so it has been around for many years. Now it is a well-known color for clothing, especially khaki or cargo pants.

(Video) Warm Minimalism | Neutral and Earthy Color Palette Ideas | Interior Design

ShadeHex CodeCMYK Color Code (%)RGB Color CodeColor
Khaki#c3b0910, 10, 26, 24195, 176, 145

Earth Tone Color Palette - Creating and Using Earthy Colors (6)

Taupe Color

Taupe is a color that can be seen as being a type of brown and gray, and below is an example of a dark taupe or dark grayish-orange.

The light taupe is simply a more desaturated and lighter shade of orange.

ShadeHex CodeCMYK Color Code (%)RGB Color CodeColor
Dark Taupe#483c320, 17, 31, 7272, 60, 50
Light Taupe#b38B6d0, 22, 39, 30179, 139, 109

Brown Gray

All the shades of gray are also seen as neutral as well as natural colors and can also fall under the category of earth tones. In this case, the brown-gray has yellow undertones, making this a warm gray color.

ShadeHex CodeCMYK Color Code (%)RGB Color CodeColor
Brown Gray#8d84680, 6, 26, 45141, 132, 104

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Drab Green Color

Green and nature are synonymous and so it can be categorized as an earth tone. Green is often associated with being calming, healing, and soothing.

The color below is more of a moderate green that has more of a slight red undertone.

ShadeHex CodeCMYK Color Code (%)RGB Color CodeColor
Drab Green#74955122, 0, 46, 42116, 149, 81

Rust Color

This color can be described as being reddish-brown, or a strong orange as in the example below. However, it can also be reddish-yellow but is the color that most represents iron oxide or the rust that forms on metal.

ShadeHex CodeCMYK Color Code (%)RGB Color CodeColor
Rust#b7410e0, 64, 92, 28183, 65, 14

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Best Earth Tone Color Palette Combinations

When trying to work out what colors work well together, the best way to do this would be to look at a color wheel. This visual representation will help you figure out what colors go well with each other. However, brown in itself cannot be found on a traditional color wheel that is often used by painters using pigment colors.

Brown is a blend of primary as well as secondary colors, and on a modern color wheel, it is described as a dark red or deep shade of orange.

Earth tones work well with each other, so your browns and greens and reds and blues, as well as white, gray, black, and other neutral colors, should form good color combinations. Gray is another color that is not on the color wheel, but most gray colors have undertones, which means that it could be reddish-gray or blue-gray. This means you can still find the color combination on the color wheel. Simply follow the principles of color theory, as seen in the few examples below.

Complementary Colors

So, you have all your primary, secondary as well as all other colors on a color wheel. Finding the best combinations depends on where these colors are positioned. For example, if the brown color is described as a dark red, then one of the popular combinations, known as complementary colors, would be dark red and a dark cyan color, which sits opposite the red hue.

Earth Tone Color Palette - Creating and Using Earthy Colors (9)

(Video) Earth Tone Decor Ideas and Inspiration. Decorate Home with Earth Tones.

This works the same for all colors. Complementary colors are colors that help each other stand out, there is a contrast. When dealing with two or more of such colors in a design, it is best to select a single main color from your color palette and then use the other colors as accents, which means you use them sparingly. This helps to prevent colors from competing with each other and becoming overwhelming.

ShadeHex CodeCMYK Color Code (%)RGB Color CodeColor
Brown#a52a2a0, 75, 75, 35165, 42, 42
Cyan#2aa5a575, 0, 0, 3542, 165, 165

Analogous Colors

This is another color combination that works and involves using colors that are located close together on the color wheel. These colors tend to work harmoniously and are easy on the eyes. In general cases, this usually involves three colors.

However, you can also go up to four or five colors within this category.

ShadeHex CodeCMYK Color Code (%)RGB Color CodeColor
Dark Pink#a52a680, 75, 37, 35165, 42, 104
Brown#a52a2a0, 75, 75, 35165, 42, 42
Dark Orange#a5682a0, 37, 75, 35165, 104, 42

Monochromatic Colors

This color combination is also easy on the eyes as the colors work harmoniously and do not fight each other to get your attention. This color combination works from a single color, and from this color you have variations of hue.

ShadeHex CodeCMYK Color Code (%)RGB Color CodeColor
Very Dark Red#681a1a0, 75, 75, 59104, 26, 26
Brown#a52a2a0, 75, 75, 35165, 42, 42
Moderate Red#d14a4a0, 65, 65, 18209, 74, 74

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Triadic Colors

Triadic colors are similar to your complementary colors and form a contrast. In this case, the colors can be located by choosing your main color and then finding the colors that are equally spaced from it, forming a triangle shape.

ShadeHex CodeCMYK Color Code (%)RGB Color CodeColor
Dark Blue#2a2aa575, 75, 0, 3542, 42, 165
Brown#a52a2a0, 75, 75, 35165, 42, 42
Dark Lime Green#2aa52a75, 0, 75, 3542, 165, 42

How to Mix Earth Colors With Acrylics

When working with paints, you can achieve an earth tone by blending one of the primary colors with its complementary color. For example, yellow and purple or green and red. So, green, and red should produce a muddy type of brown, by adding in a little redder, you can create a deeper brown color. You can also mix all of the primary colors, which include blue, red as well as yellow. This should give you a dark brown, almost black color.

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It is always a good idea to experiment when blending colors and to create your own color palette reference as you work. This is so you can achieve the exact colors you blend when you are busy painting again sometime in the future.

Many artists prefer to blend their colors from scratch, which includes earth colors. However, there are many earthy paint colors available in a tube. Using these can save you time from having to mix colors from the beginning. Some of these colors you can purchase include:

  • Raw sienna
  • Yellow ochre
  • Burnt umber
  • Vandyke brown
  • Sepia
  • Venetian red
  • Indian red

Sepia is an extremely dark brown and you can easily mix this color by adding very small amounts of ultramarine blue or black to burnt umber or burnt sienna. Another way to create a dark and rich brown is to mix burnt umber with a permanent rose. You could also try burnt sienna and ultramarine blue.

You can experiment with the ratios when blending your own earth colors, this will help you to understand color theory better than if you simply used earth tone paints.

Earth Tone Color Schemes for the Home

As we have learned, there is a wide array of earth tones from terra cotta and shades of brown to gray, blue, and green color varieties. When working with earth tones for interior design, the best tip is to include plenty of texture and contrast. Earth tones, when used correctly, can be both modern as well as elegant.

Earthy colors are a popular choice for any room in the home, but to provide a welcoming feeling, they are commonly used in living areas, where most people gather and entertain. Earth tones can also provide an uplifting atmosphere to a space. Earthy colors are also safe to use and will never go out of fashion and are perfect for those who wish to complement their surrounding environment. These colors are ideal, particularly if you want to use earth tones on the outside of your house.

(Video) Mixing Earth Tones Quick and Easy From a Limited Palette. Watercolor Painting.

Earth Tone Color Palette - Creating and Using Earthy Colors (12)

You could go with various shades of brown as your color scheme. You can choose anything from chocolate brown to latte and almond to create a cozy and natural look. If you do use various shades of brown, you should consider keeping the same temperatures with different undertones. The different undertones proved a more layered look. You can also include a hint of green or blue to create more contrast.

If you are not a fan of the brown family of colors, blue is a favorite color for many, as it is calming and soothing. You also have various shades of blue that can also include hints of green. Many would recommend using muted earth tones for this color scheme that possesses a grayish undertone. Cool gray-green tones can be another option. Whatever color palette you want to use, whenever decorating with any color, always consider choosing a main or base color, and to this add your accent colors.

Below are a few examples of earth tone color schemes.

Gray and Burnt Orange

Muted earth tones are popular and create a feeling of warmth, inviting people into the space. The warmer color can work well with the cool grays and bright whites. For example, consider a gray couch with burnt orange cushions and white walls. You can further bring in warmth with wooden floors and tables. Think about adding in a textured and patterned gray rug.

ShadeHex CodeCMYK Color Code (%)RGB Color CodeColor
Cool Gray#b8bccc10, 8, 0, 20184, 188, 204
Burnt Orange#a350150, 51, 87, 36163, 80, 21

Earth Tone Color Palette - Creating and Using Earthy Colors (13)

Clay Colors

Clay colors are a favorite amongst many and bring in a spicy and warm feeling. These colors are usually muted earth tones that are less bright than your vibrant reds and oranges. These colors contain a hint of brown that helps make them feel cozy and inviting. Colors like terra cotta or rust can be brought in in many ways, for example, how about flooring tiles?

Not only will it bring in some warmth, but it can also add a Spanish or Mediterranean feel to a space.

These colors also make great paints for walls, however, you can also bring touches of color in, if you are not overly fond of too many of these colors. For example, tables, terracotta pots, patterned rugs, or wall tiles. Nature can easily provide you with many ideas, for example, the earthy tones work well with shades of blue. These colors can work throughout the house but are an especially nice addition to bathrooms and bedrooms.

ShadeHex CodeCMYK Color Code (%)RGB Color CodeColor
Terra Cotta#e2725b0, 50, 60, 11226, 114, 91
Muted Blue-Gray#83a1cd36, 21, 0, 20131, 161, 205

Taupe and Natural Elements

Taupe is quite a popular natural color and is perfect for walls. The taupe color can work wonderfully as your base color, from which you can include white, shades of blue, greens, and other neutral colors. Taupe is also great for using with natural elements like wooden tables chairs or floors, wicker items, and plants.

ShadeHex CodeCMYK Color Code (%)RGB Color CodeColor
Taupe#a08a770, 14, 26, 37160, 138, 119
Soft Blue#778da026, 12, 0, 37119, 141, 160

Tips for Working With Earthy Tones in the Home

Earth tones are relatively easy to work with when compared to other more vibrant colors in the home. However, some ideas can make it even easier, so here are a few to get you started, try them out the next time you are using an earth tone color scheme.

  • When choosing the main color, consider a neutral earth tone, one that works well with almost everything. For example, a shade of beige with gray undertones.
  • Make use of texture in a room by adding in other natural elements. For example, you can choose leather couches or wooden window blinds.
  • Add textiles, this is also another way to include texture. For example, a beautiful rug or curtains.

Earth Tone Color Palette - Creating and Using Earthy Colors (14)

  • Accessories can also have an earthy feel to them, for example, including a terra cotta vase or other ceramic items. You can also add in glassware of various natural colors.
  • Use vases to bring in nature, by including plants and other greenery. Hanging plants are also a great idea.
  • If you want artwork, you can choose something that is nature inspired. For example, a photograph of a forest or a painting of mountains. You can take these elements and create your design around them.
  • Lighting in a room is important and can make a big difference. This is especially so with darker tones, so make sure you have enough natural light and other sources of light. Consider adding mirrors to help.

An earth tone color palette contains colors that bring us closer to a more natural look when designing with them. The colors are versatile and are a popular choice, so you can never go wrong when choosing an earth tone color scheme.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are the Earth Colors?

Earth colors can be a few ideas, the most obvious one being that these are earth colors or colors that have brown within them. Earth tones can also be all colors found in nature, including blue, green, gray, red, and orange colors.

(Video) Quick Tip 211- Working with Earth Tones

Are Neutral Tones Also Earthy Colors?

Neutral colors, which include black, gray, white, beige, brown, tan, taupe, and cream, amongst others, can also fall under the category of earth colors. All these colors should work quite well together.

Will Earth Tones Ever Go Out of Style?

Some trends come and go, and this includes designing with certain colors. A color can trend for some time but then goes out of style. When it comes to earth colors, they seem to be more constant as many designs are grounded with neutral or earth tones. So, earthy colors remain in style, no matter what season.


What is earthy color palette? ›

Earth tones refer to any colors containing some brownish hue that resembles the color of earth or soil. It can also refer to natural colors such as brown soil, green leaf, cloudy sky, and red sun. Think rust, marigold, deep navy, burnt sienna brown, terracotta, sage, turmeric, and turmeric.

What colors go good with earth tones? ›

Earth tones work well with each other, so your browns and greens and reds and blues, as well as white, gray, black, and other neutral colors, should form good color combinations.

How do you describe the tone of the earth? ›

What Are Earth Tones? Earth tones are most often defined as the naturally-occurring colors found in dirt, grass and rocks. However, some designers and color experts expand the definition to include sky, water, flowers and other (more colorful) elements.

How many earth tone colors are there? ›

An earth tone is a color that is commonly observed in nature such as sea, sky, vegetation and land. Any tint or shade commonly found in nature can be considered an earth tone including browns, greens, reds, yellows, oranges, greys, whites and shades of black.

What colors are warm earth tones? ›

Earth tones like chocolate brown, terracotta, and mustard are all shades that are rooted in nature. They are soothing, relaxing, and instantly bring a warm vibe to any space.

What is an earthy look? ›

“When we can bring in nature with colors and materials, it's peaceful, serene and calming. We need that right now.” The firm's designers draw on organic materials, natural finishes, and shades of greens, neutrals and wood tones to create the earthy look.

What color is earth known for? ›

From space, Earth looks like a blue marble with white swirls. Some parts are brown, yellow, green and white. The blue part is water. Water covers most of Earth.

Are earthy colors warm or cool? ›

These colors create warmth in every room. The trend of such shades can strive to create an energetic and natural palette, especially because their neutrality keeps things relaxing at the same time. It is quite easy to combine different kinds of decor and elements in the room with earthy colors.

How do you make earth pigments? ›

  1. Mix 2 Tbsp. casein powder with 5 oz. warm water, and let sit overnight.
  2. Discard the water that accumulates on the surface.
  3. Mix 1 Tbsp. borax with 4 oz. ...
  4. Mix a spoonful of the casein mix with pigment in a glass bowl or on your palette.
  5. Paint on wood, paper, or canvas. Add water if you want a watercolor effect.

How are earth pigments made? ›

Most simply, earth pigments are naturally colored soil: clay and minerals dug up and ground into a fine powder. They are then added to any multitude of liquid “binders” to make paint and art supplies.

How do we get earth pigments? ›

Seek out spaces that lack grass and moss coverage. Often, these are areas near water banks, quarries, road cuts, or forests. Also, consider searching for natural earth pigments in places like corners, ridges, and edges that may exist in your local community. Natural earth pigments are often found in the form of rocks.

What colors can you mix to make skin tone? ›

While all skin tones are different, a blend of the colors red, yellow, brown, and white will result in a suitable foundation color. Some skin tones will require more red, while others will require more white and so on. But for most subjects, a mixture of these four colors works nicely.


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2. Acrylic earth tone color mixing lesson.
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3. Create your color palette: for WARM skin undertones ǀ CAPSULE WARDROBE GUIDE ǀ Justine Leconte
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4. More Earth Tones Using Only 4 Colors! A Watercolor Study in Browns.
(The Mind of Watercolor)
5. 9 Simple Ways for Men to Look Better in Earth Tones
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6. How to Create a Color Scheme: All-Year Capsule Wardrobe Colors | Wear Colors You Love!
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