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What color is the same as cobalt blue?

What color is the same as cobalt blue?

Cobalt blue is a rich, vivid shade of blue that has been used by artists and designers for centuries. It gets its name from the element cobalt, which has been used since ancient times to produce brilliant blue colored glass and ceramics. Cobalt blue sits between ultramarine and cerulean on the color wheel, deeper than sky blue but brighter than navy. It’s a bold, eye-catching color that has symbolism of steadfastness, beauty, and mystery. Determining what other colors match or are similar to cobalt blue depends on the specific shade and intensity. While no color is exactly the same, there are a few good color equivalents and substitutes for cobalt blue across different color systems and models.

Defining Cobalt Blue

Cobalt blue refers to a range of shades rather than one uniform color. It was first produced in France in the 19th century and was called “Thenard’s Blue” after the chemist who created it. Cobalt had been used for centuries to tint glass blue, but Thenard’s modern pigment allowed for consistent mass production of the vibrant cobalt pigment for paints and dyes. Cobalt blue sits between ultramarine and cerulean blue on the color wheel. It is darker and more vivid than primary blue. The specific hex code for cobalt blue is #0047AB.

Closest Equivalents in Color Models

While no other color perfectly matches cobalt blue, there are a few shades that come very close across different color models:

Color Model Closest Match to Cobalt Blue
RGB R = 0, G = 71, B = 171
CMYK C = 100, M = 70, Y = 0, K = 10
Pantone Pantone 2728 C
RAL RAL 5017
NCS NCS S 2060-R90B

As seen above, in different color spaces and systems, the closest equivalents to cobalt blue are shades with high amounts of blue, moderate amounts of green and cyan, low amounts of yellow, and very low amounts of red or magenta.

Alternatives in Blue and Blue-Violet

While no color is an exact replacement, there are some great alternatives in the blue and blue-violet family:

Royal Blue – Just slightly lighter and brighter than cobalt blue. Works well when you want a very similar blue that pops a bit more. Hex code #4169E1.

French Blue – Duller and slightly grayer than cobalt, but still a rich mid-range blue. Hex code #0072BB.

Egyptian Blue – Deeper and slightly greener hue than cobalt. Has an ancient, mystical vibe. Hex code #1034A6.

Sapphire – More purple undertones than cobalt blue, but similarly vivid and eyecatching. Hex code #082567.

Lapis Lazuli – Grayish blue named after the vivid blue stone. Slightly desaturated alternative to cobalt. Hex code #26619C.

Blue-Violet – A vivid blend between blue and violet, can replace cobalt in some uses. Hex code #8A2BE2.

Color Psychology and Symbolism

Part of selecting an alternate color is making sure it evokes similar feelings or symbolism. Here is some of the meaning behind cobalt blue:

– Stability and Loyalty – Cobalt conveys a sense of steadiness and dependability. It does not appear to shift or change.

– Mystery – The depth of cobalt blue evokes a sense of the unknown or mystical. It hints at something beneath the surface.

– Tranquility – As a cool, mid-range blue, cobalt blue is associated with calmness, relaxation, and peace.

– Expensive – The difficulty of creating cobalt blue pigments historically meant it signaled luxury and status.

Uses and Applications

Knowing how cobalt blue is used can also guide color selection:

– Painting – Cobalt has been a popular pigment for painters wishing to capture vivid blues. Alternatives like French ultramarine can fill this artistic need.

– Textiles – Cobalt dyes and pigments have been used for centuries to color clothing, tapestries, and other textiles. Royal blue or sapphire may be suitable substitutes.

– Glass and Ceramics – The vibrant blue color has long been used in colored glass and glazes. Blue-violet offers the same eye-catching effect.

– Web Design – Cobalt blue pops against black text and white backgrounds online. Blue-violet is readable alternative.

– Logos and Branding – Cobalt’s stability makes it effective for branding. Sapphire or lapis lazuli offer similar impact.

Matching Cobalt Blue in Other Media

When trying to match an existing cobalt blue, having physical swatches or samples to compare against is key for an accurate match. Here are some tips for matching cobalt blue:

– For paint, having a paint swatch deck with cobalt blue can help identify the closest matching premixed paint. A blue paint mixing system allows custom mixing to match cobalt more precisely.

– For digital design, using an eyedropper tool to sample cobalt blue onscreen can give its RGB or hex code, which can be precisely matched.

– For print design, consult Pantone swatches to find the closest matching Pantone-numbered ink. Pantone 2728 C is the closest standard swatch.

– For dyes, textile dye systems like Dylon let you mix custom dye formulas to match swatches. Mixing blue and purple dyes can match cobalt.

– For glazes and finishes, commercial glaze manufacturers can custom mix or help identify the closest matching premixed glaze color.

Having a sample of the exact cobalt blue you wish to match ensures the closest color replication no matter what medium you are working in. Matching cobalt precisely provides design consistency across different materials and finishes.


Cobalt blue is a vibrant, mysterious shade with timeless appeal. While no single color is an exact replacement, alternatives like royal blue, sapphire, and blue-violet come close in different contexts. Factors like symbolism, use case, and compatibility across media should guide cobalt blue substitutions. With swatches or samples to match against, near-perfect cobalt blue reproductions can be achieved through careful color selection and mixing. Whether in art, design, or decor, cobalt blue’s striking visual impact can be mimicked by shades that evoke a similar sense of beauty and intrigue.