Regular colors vs Muted colors


What are muted colors? How do I create muted colours? How do I convert standard colors to muted colors? Why do muted colours look the way they do? Why are they different?

Here is a bunch of colors what I call 'standard colors'.
"#ff0000", "#ffaa00", "#aaff00", "#00ff00", "#00ffaa", "#00aaff", "#0000ff", "#aa00ff", "#ff00aa"

regular colors

And here are a bunch of so called 'muted colors'.
"#f9b5b2", "#f36e4b", "#f69431", "#f1dd40", "#c6c752", "#b1cc9f", "#a5dad2", "#a2a18f", "#c8b384"

muted colors

I would appreciate responses from those with knowledge on color theory or experience with colors.

Muted colors by Meg Biram (

11/7/2015 11:36:00 AM

Accepted Answer

There's no exact value that says, "this is muted" but "this is not muted."

If I were to come up with one on the spot as a general starting point I'd say use the HSB color spectrum and lower your colors S (saturation) to less than 50.

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Or using your example image all I did was lower the Saturation which brought the S value of all of them down to around 52%:

enter image description here

But its not exact in that 52% could look muted depending on all sorts of factors. Some key ones are the viewing surface, the lighting, and the surrounding colors.

11/6/2015 4:59:00 PM