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Is ocean blue a shade of blue?

Is ocean blue a shade of blue?

Ocean blue is considered a shade of blue, specifically a medium-dark blue-green. The color is inspired by the hue of the ocean on a sunny day, which can range from a greenish-blue to a deeper blue depending on factors like the water depth and composition. While there are variations in ocean blue colors, they fall under the broad classification of blue shades.

What is a shade?

In color theory, a shade refers to a color that has been mixed with black to make it darker. Adding black reduces the saturation and brightness of the original color, creating a darker variant. For example, navy blue is a shade of blue, created by mixing the blue color with black. Tones are colors mixed with gray and tints are colors mixed with white.

Shades are useful for creating variations of a color and making a palette. Most colors have multiple shades ranging from light to dark that all fall under the umbrella of that hue. Ocean blue, which varies naturally, is generally considered a shade of blue since it stems from the blue color but is darker than primary blue.

The blue color spectrum

Blue is a primary color on the visible spectrum. The wavelength of pure blue light is between 450-495 nanometers. Blues contain more green than violet colors and lack the orange undertones of violet. On the RYB color model, blue is one of the three primary pigment colors along with red and yellow.

There are many shades of blue, often described by their French names. Some common shades of blue include:

  • Baby blue – Light sky blue
  • Azure – Pale blue
  • Cobalt blue – Medium blue
  • Navy blue – Dark blue
  • Royal blue – Rich medium blue
  • Sapphire – Saturated medium blue
  • Indigo – Deep violet-blue

While these blues have very different appearences, they all derive from the blue section of the visible spectrum of light. Ocean blue fits as a type of blue since its hue originates from the blue light wavelengths.

The ocean blue color

Ocean blue is a vague term for shades of blue-green, similar to the colors of the ocean. It sits between a pure blue and blue-green teal color. The exact hue of ocean blue changes subtly based on factors like:

  • Water depth – Deeper ocean water appears darker blue
  • Particles/sediments – Additional particles scatter light, making the water greener
  • Viewing angle – Ocean color shifts depending on angle/position of the observer
  • Time of day – The ocean appears more blue at midday when overhead sun reflects off the water

While variable, ocean blue is generally considered a medium-dark blue-green. It falls under the broad blue color family, but also contains green due to the ocean’s composition. Ocean blue got its name directly from its resemblance to ocean water colors.

Ocean blue as a shade of blue

Though ocean blue contains green hues, it is still classified as a type of blue for several reasons:

  • It appears more blue than green to the human eye
  • Blue wavelengths make up more of its light composition than green
  • It is much lower in saturation than pure green
  • Contextually, people associate it with blue rather than green

Additionally, ocean blue sits between blue and blue-green on the color wheel, indicating its blue leanings. Many shades like turquoise contain both blue and green hues. Since ocean blue derives directly from ocean water rather than green pigments, it maintains a blue classification.

Uses of ocean blue

Ocean blue is commonly used to represent bodies of water and aquatic themes. Some examples include:

  • Web design – Websites about oceans, sea life, beaches, etc. often incorporate ocean blues
  • Product branding – Companies that sell ocean or nautical themed products may use ocean blue in logos, packaging, and advertising
  • Apparel/home goods – Ocean blue is popular for clothes, accessories, towels, bedding in beach motifs
  • Paints/dyes – Many sea-inspired paint colors and dyes for fabrics fall under ocean blue hues
  • Crayons/colored pencils – “Ocean blue” is a common name for blue-green crayons and colored pencils

Ocean blue works well for these applications because it quickly conveys a nautical or aquatic theme. Using an ocean blue helps create strong associations with water in designs and products.

Ocean blue vs. other blues

Color Hue Shade
Navy blue Dark blue Dark shade of blue
Royal blue Medium-dark blue Darker shade of blue
Ocean blue Blue-green Medium-dark shade of blue
Turquoise Blue-green Lighter shade of blue-green

While ocean blue contains green tones, it is still distinctly a shade of blue rather than pure green. It sits between darker blues like navy and lighter blue-greens like turquoise in terms of shading. This table helps illustrate ocean blue’s position as a medium-dark shade of blue.


Ocean blue is widely considered a shade of blue, despite having some greenish qualities as well. It was named after ocean water colors which derive from blue light wavelengths that make up a larger portion of the hue than green wavelengths. Ocean blue sits on the blue side of the color spectrum between blue and blue-green, making it a darker shade of blue. It is commonly used to represent aquatic themes, aligning with blue rather than green color associations.