What Color Is Crimson?

Use crimson to attract attention

Color Crimson shades
Shades of crimson from left to right: Alizarin Crimson, Crimson, Razzmatazz, Raspberry; © Jacci Howard Bear; licensed to About.com. | Cool, Calming Colors | Warm, Exciting Colors | Mixed Cool/Warm Colors | Unifying Neutral Colors

The bright red color of love known as crimson originally was a dye produced from a scale insect, the Kermes vermilio. The brilliant color was worn only by wealthy individuals. Crimson now refers to a bright red with a tinge of blue. It's often considered the color of fresh blood (blood red). Dark crimson is close to maroon and is a warm color, along with red, orange and yellow. In nature, crimson is most often a ruby red color that occurs in birds, flowers and insects.


Using Crimson Color in Design Files

Crimson is a bright color that stands out prominently. Use it sparingly to draw attention to a particular phrase or element or as a bright background to indicate danger or caution. Avoid using it in conjunction with black, as the two colors provide a low color contrast. White provides a much better contrast with crimson. Crimson often appears in designs for Valentine's Day and at Christmas.

When planning a design project destined for commercial printing, use CMYK formulations for crimson in your page layout software. For display on a computer monitor, use RGB values. You use Hex designations when working with HTML, CSS and SVG. Crimson shades are best achieved with the following:

  • Crimson (Web color): Hex #DC143C | RGB 220,20,60 | CMYK 0,200,160,34
  • Alizarin crimson: Hex #E32636 | RGB 227,38,54 | CMYK 0,83,76,11
  • Razzmatazz (Crayola crayon; a rosy crimson): Hex #E3256B | RGB 227,37,107 | CMYK 0,84,53,11
  • Raspberry (Web color; a dark rosy crimson): Hex #872657 | RGB 135,38,87 | CMYK 0,72,36,47 
  • Electric Crimson: Hex #FF003F | RGB 255,0,63 | CMYK 0,100.75.0
  • Spanish crimson: Hex #E51A4C | RGB 229,26,76 | CMYK 0,95,55,0
  • Crimson Glory: Hex #BE0032 | RGB 190,0,50 | CMYK 0,100,74,26

Choosing Pantone Colors Closest to Crimson

When working with printed pieces, sometimes a solid color crimson, rather than a CMYK mix, is a more economical choice.

The Pantone Matching System is the most widely recognized spot color system. Here are the Pantone colors suggested as best matches to crimson color.

  • Crimson (Web color): Pantone Solid Coated 199 C
  • Alizarin crimson: Pantone Solid Coated 1795 C
  • Razzmatazz (Crayola crayon; a rosy crimson): Pantone Solid Coated 213 C
  • Raspberry (Web color; a dark rosy crimson): Pantone Solid Coated 683 C
  • Electric crimson: Pantone Solid Coated 1787 C
  • Spanish crimson: Pantone Solid Coated 1925 C
  • Crimson Glory: Pantone Solid Coated 200 C

Symbolism of Crimson

Crimson carries the symbolism of red as a power color and the color of love. It's also associated with the Church and the Bible. Various shades of crimson are associated with 30 U.S. colleges, including The University of Utah, Harvard University, the University of Oklahoma and the University of Alabama (the Crimson Tide). In the Elizabethan era, crimson was associated with royalty, nobility and others of high social standing. Only individuals designated by English law could wear the color.