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What is the color tone of salmon?

Salmon is a light pinkish-orange color that is named after the flesh of the salmon fish. The color tone of salmon can range from a very pale, peachy pink to a brighter orange-pink depending on the species of salmon and whether it is wild or farm-raised.

What causes the color of salmon flesh?

Salmon get their distinctive flesh color from carotenoid pigments in their diet of krill, shrimp, and other small shellfish. The most common carotenoids are astaxanthin and canthaxanthin, which are responsible for the pink to red-orange tones. Salmon farms often add synthetic versions of these pigments to feeds to achieve the desired salmon color in the fillets.

In the wild, salmon color can vary based on their local environment and food sources. For example, sockeye salmon develop a deeper red-orange tone as they return from the ocean to spawn in freshwater lakes and streams. Chinook salmon have a more copper to orange tone. Coho salmon, farmed Atlantic salmon, and steelhead trout tend toward the lighter pink end of the salmon color spectrum.

How do interior designers describe the tones of salmon?

Interior designers may reference specific shades of paint or fabric to pinpoint a salmon tone. For example:

  • Benjamin Moore First Light – A pale peachy pink
  • Sherwin Williams Exuberant Pink – A bright watermelon pink
  • Pantone Salmon – A soft muted pink
  • Pantone Coral Pink – A bolder reddish pink
  • Pantone Melon – A cantaloupe-colored orange pink

Fabric designers may also refer to shades like ballet slipper pink, sea coral, melon, and champagne when trying to convey a tone of salmon.

How do color wheel hues describe salmon tones?

On a traditional color wheel, salmon tones fall somewhere between red and orange, skewing toward red-violet. Here are some specific hue references:

Hue Family Specific Hues
Reds Rose, coral, melon, salmon
Oranges Coral, melon, salmon, peach
Yellow-oranges Peach, melon
Violets Mauve

These hue names help place salmon on the color wheel between reddish and orangey tones.

How do RGB and hex codes define salmon?

On the RGB color model, salmon is created by combining high amounts of red and green with smaller amounts of blue. Here are some common RGB values for salmon tones:

Name RGB Code
Light Salmon RGB(255, 160, 122)
Dark Salmon RGB(233, 150, 122)
Salmon Pink RGB(255, 145, 164)
Peach RGB(255, 229, 180)

Hex codes provide a 6-digit condensed way to represent these RGB values. For example, the hex code for light salmon is #FFA07A.

How do other color coding systems define salmon?

In the CMYK color model used for print, salmon is made by mixing small amounts of cyan with larger amounts of magenta and yellow. Common CMYK values are:

  • Light Salmon: CMYK(0, 47, 33, 0)
  • Dark Salmon: CMYK(0, 53, 42, 8)

In the HSL and HSV models, salmon is defined by moderate to high saturation and lightness with hue angles in the red-orange range of 0-40 degrees.

Pantone has two official salmon color swatches in its matching system – PMS 711 (salmon) and PMS 712 (coral pink).

How do people perceive or describe the color salmon?

Salmon color has many positive associations in color psychology. It is seen as warm, welcoming, and energetic. Light peachy-pink salmon shades evoke femininity, romance, and youth. Deeper orange salmon shades convey confidence, passion, creativity, and health.

Words commonly used to describe various tones of salmon include:

  • Warm
  • Vibrant
  • Radiant
  • Inviting
  • Nurturing
  • Soothing
  • Cheerful
  • Calming
  • Delicate
  • Innocent

Marketers leverage these associations to use salmon tones in products targeting women, children, healthcare, hospitality, and self-care.

How is salmon used in design?

Salmon is a versatile color used across many design fields:

  • Interior design: Wall paint, furniture upholstery, pillows, rugs
  • Graphic design: Websites, social media, logos, marketing materials
  • Fashion: Clothing, shoes, accessories
  • Product design: Housewares, electronics, toys, cars
  • Food: Salmon-colored fruits and vegetables, protein powders, recipes

Salmon complements both warm colors like yellow, orange, red, and green and cool colors like blues and purples. It works especially well with teal, lime green, and deep reds.


In summary, salmon is a versatile color with tones ranging from soft pink to bright orange-red. Interior designers, color specialists, and graphic artists have numerous ways of specifying salmon shades from industry color standards like Benjamin Moore, Pantone, RGB codes, and more. Salmon evokes warmth, energy, cheer, and vibrancy. It is widely used across design disciplines to complement both warm and cool palettes.

Understanding all the nuances of the color salmon – from technical specifications to psychological associations – allows designers to make informed choices about when and how to use this color to evoke desired moods, themes, and styles.