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What makes something teal?

What makes something teal?

Teal is a bluish-green color that takes its name from the common teal bird. It sits between green and blue on the color wheel and has been a popular color choice for centuries. But what exactly makes something teal? There are a few key factors that define this tranquil tone.

The Hue of Teal

The hue refers to where the color falls on the visible spectrum. Teal has a hue between blue and green, lending it properties of both colors. The exact hue can vary depending on the specific teal in question. Here are some defining hue ranges for teal:

Color System Teal Hue Range
RGB 120-180°
HSV 180-195°
CMYK 187-198°
Pantone 313-336°

As you can see, teal occupies a swath of hues between green and blue. This places it neatly between the two colors.

The Saturation of Teal

The saturation refers to the intensity or purity of the color. Highly saturated colors are vivid and bright, while less saturated colors are more muted and gray. Teal has moderate to high saturation, lending it a bright, rich appearance.

Here are typical saturation levels for teal:

Color System Saturation Range
RGB 28-100%
HSV 50-100%
CMYK 50-80%

These mid to high saturation ranges give teal its recognizable intensity. It sits between the more muted sea greens and the ultra-vibrant turquoises.

The Brightness of Teal

The brightness refers to how light or dark the color is. Brighter colors feel lighter, while darker colors feel heavier. Teal tends to have medium to high brightness. Here are typical brightness levels:

Color System Brightness Range
RGB 20-70%
HSV 70-100%
CMYK 50-70%

These ranges produce the recognizable mid-tone teal that isn’t too dark or too light. Darker teals can appear richer but heavier, while lighter teals look more airy and bright.

Unique Properties of Teal

Beyond the basics of hue, saturation, and brightness, teal has some other special properties that help define it:

  • It is considered a “cool” color, giving it a soothing, tranquil vibe.
  • It has elements of both watery blues and earthy greens.
  • It is associated with nature, renewal, and open communication.
  • It has decorative popularity in areas like fashion, interior design, and arts.
  • It is one of the only major colors named after a specific animal (the teal bird).

These unique traits set teal apart from other shades and give it its coveted character. Teal manages to be rich yet soft, bold yet calm. This makes it universally appealing.

Defining Teal in Design Systems

Teal gets technical definitions in major color coding systems used in design. Here’s how it is precisely defined:

RGB Values

The RGB color model uses mixes of red, green, and blue light to create colors. In the RGB system, teal is created by mixing moderate green with stronger blue. Here are some example RGB values for teal:

  • Medium Teal – R=0, G=128, B=128
  • Bright Teal – R=0, G=255, B=204
  • Blue Teal – R=0, G=153, B=204
  • Green Teal – R=0, G=204, B=153

HEX Codes

HEX color codes use hexadecimal numbers to specify mixes of red, green, and blue. Some example HEX codes for teal are:

  • #008080 – medium teal
  • #00FFCC – bright teal
  • #0099CC – blue teal
  • #00CC99 – green teal

CMYK Values

The CMYK model defines colors as mixes of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black ink. Teal is created by mixing high cyan with low black. For example:

  • C=85, M=5, Y=25, K=5 – a brighter teal
  • C=100, M=45, Y=40, K=20 – a darker teal

Pantone Colors

The Pantone Matching System identifies specific printed teal tones. Some examples are:

  • PANTONE 3272 CP – a light spring teal
  • PANTONE 3135 CP – a tropical teal
  • PANTONE 320 CP – a bright green teal

Using these color standards allows exact teal reproductions across any medium.

Natural Teal Pigments

In nature, teal pigments come from mineral compounds or organic sources. Here are some teal pigments found in the wild:

  • Chrysocolla – A blue-green copper mineral
  • Maldonite – A greenish mineral variety of azurite
  • Teal Feathers – Structural blue and green feather pigments
  • Cyanobacteria – Aquatic bacteria containing bluish phycoyanin pigments

Artists have historically used these natural sources to create teal paints and dyes.

Key Teal Tones

There are many varieties of teal with unique personalities. Here are some of the most popular teal shades:

Teal Variety Description
Bright Teal Vibrant mid-tone teal, leaning greenish
Seafoam Green Soft, pale, greenish teal
Dark Teal Deeper, richer teal verging on blue
Petrol Teal Dull, dusty, blue-gray teal

These popular varieties give teal versatility across many different aesthetics and moods.

Teal Color Harmonies

Teal pairs beautifully with many other colors to create harmonious palettes. Here are some examples of teal color harmonies:

Analogous – Teal with adjacent green and blue shades

  • Teal, sea green, blue-green

Complementary – Teal with red-orange

  • Teal, coral, salmon

Triadic – Teal with vibrant purple and orange

  • Teal, fuchsia, orange

Split Complementary – Teal with yellow-orange and blue-violet

  • Teal, ochre, periwinkle

Blending teal with other shades creates visually captivating combinations.

Teal in Culture and History

Teal has been an important color across world cultures since ancient times. Here are some significant examples:

  • Associated with the goddess Hera in ancient Greek culture
  • Used in art and decor during the Chinese Tang dynasty
  • Featured on traditional Ukrainian pysanka eggs
  • Used in Renaissance artworks by painters like Veronese
  • Symbol of feminine balance in Middle East and Asia
  • Used in 18th century ceramics like Chinese porcelain

From deities to dynasties, teal has long carried cultural meaning and significance.

Teal in Modern Life

Teal continues to be a ubiquitous color in contemporary life. Here are some of the many places you’ll spot this tranquil tone today:

  • Teal blue is one of the signature colors of Tiffany & Co.
  • Used in logos for companies like Porsche, Netflix, and Adobe
  • Often used in athletic team uniforms and equipment
  • One of the most popular colors for smartphones and electronics
  • Frequently used in home decor and interior design
  • A top color choice for fashion and apparel
  • Featured in art by modern painters like Henri Matisse

Teal is truly timeless – as sought-after now as it was centuries ago!

Teal in Nature

In the natural world, teal appears in bodies of water, gemstones, plants, and animals. Here are some of the most breathtaking examples of teal in nature:

  • Turquoise mineral rock formations
  • Tropical ocean waters
  • Peacock feathers
  • Amazonite gemstone
  • Orchid flowers
  • Tree duck feathers
  • Sea coral reefs
  • Tropical fish like betta and parrotfish

For millennia, nature has perfected beautiful teal tones through evolution and geology.

Psychology of Teal

In color psychology, teal is associated with balance, healing, and open communication. Here are some of the psychological effects of teal:

  • Promotes inner peace and spiritual grounding
  • Encourages free self-expression and sharing thoughts
  • Boosts mental clarity and focus
  • Elicits feelings of rejuvenation and refreshment
  • Fosters creative flow states and new perspectives

Teal is ideal for creating an inviting space to unwind, reconnect, and recharge.

Using Teal in Design

When using teal in design, consider the context to pick the right shade and intensity:

  • Light teals for a fresh, friendly brand image
  • Bright teals to grab attention and energize
  • Dark or muted teals for an elegant, traditional look
  • Saturated teals for high-impact graphic punch
  • Soft teals for a gentle, feminine ambiance

Teal is extremely versatile, working beautifully in logos, websites, packaging, apparel, home goods, and more.


Teal is truly a timeless treasure, cherished for its tranquil beauty. It embodies a harmony of green’s stability and blue’s fluidity. With the right hue, saturation, and brightness, teal can take on many faces – from earthy to electric. Its natural appeal and cultural history help explain why teal remains an eternal favorite. Embrace this soothing, expressive shade and see how it can invigorate your life and designs.