Colour Theory is not in itself an aesthetic but rather a tool to help give you the right terminology and guidance about the use of colour in aesthetic.

Color Theory Colour theory is a concept to help guide one in the use of colour and has terminology that helps the the person understand how colours work together. There are three parts of colour, saturation (how bright the colour is, how much pigment is used), value (how dark or light the colour is, colloquially referee to as shade), and hue (the colour, or wavelength of light you are seeing). As the colour wheel focuses on hue that is what will be next.

Hue Based /Colour Wheel Based palettes

Color wheel: The color wheel is a starting concept of color theory. Primary colors are colors that can be mixed to create all other colors. For paint, these colors are Red, Blue, and Yellow. For light the primary colors are Red Blue and Green. In Printing, They use the subtractive color model, using the secondaries from light, which are Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow.

This article will focus on the RYB color model. When mixed with each other they create the secondary colors. Red+ Yellow= Orange. Yellow+ Blue= Green. Blue+ Red= Violet. If these colors are mixed you get Tertiary colors.

Colors that work together have different classifications:

The colour wheel (basic)

Complementary colors

colors that are positioned opposite each other on the colour wheel these are: red-green, blue orange, and yellow-purple. These colours contrast with each other, which, full saturation like Slimepunk, can be an eyestrain. At low saturation, however, can make certain elements in the image pop. These colour schemes/palettes often require that one colour be the focal point.

Split complementary colours take two colours on one side of the colour wheel (for ex: red+orange) and pair them with a colour opposing them on the colour wheel (in this example: blue) This creates a sense of unity and a sense of energy (but is more complicated than either complimentary or analogous). FallenCore uses one of these.

analogous, colours that are positioned beside each other on the colour wheel: for example red, orange and yellow. These go together harmoniously, creating a sense of unity with the colour palette. However it can also seem more artificial if done improperly, or have no focal point in an image. An example of an analogous colour palette would be Light Academia, Red, or Traumacore, or YamiKawaii.

triads, are three colours at equal distance from each other on the colour wheel. These are usually red ,blue, and yellow or green, orange and purple like in Halloweencore. The Art Hoe aesthetic uses a mainly triad based colour scheme.

However there are colour palettes whose primary principal is not guided by hue, these are :


High saturation means brighter colours, lower saturation means greyer colours

Saturation uses a low to high scale, where is 1 is grey and 10 is the brightest version of the hue imaginable. This can make something apear light or dark, but it doesn't actually mean it is- for that see value. Saturation can be great for a focal point, but if an image is highly saturated all over, it can visual illusions, worsen headaches and seem chaotic. Desaturated (low saturation in a colour) colours are easier to unify but they are also less of a focal point and are more likely to seem tired or old.

Neon Colours or Fluorescent Colours: neon used colours used at their fullest saturation this causes a sense of chaos, disquiet, discomfort, and if some cases visual illusions and eye strain. Aesthetics that use this are Psychedelica ,neon colours are often used separately from one another in aesthetics such as separating Scene from Emo. Cyberpunk and vapour wave to prevent too much discomfort but also to copy the imagery of neon lighting and other artificial light sources

Pastels are colours that have had white added to them, making them tints, these colours also have a high value (meaning they are closer to white than they are black) . pastels often refer to colours such as baby blue, pink, mint, and lavender or lilac. It's often used to create a differing aesthetic from the previous aesthetic such as Bubble Goth, Pastel Goth soft grunge, Pastel Punk, etc. They are also used to symbolism femininity, such as in Lolita or Mori Kei, sweetness and happiness like in Cottagecore and Light Academia, child-like qualities as in Kidcore, or innocence and purity (like in Angelcore Fairycore.)

Earth tones, are destaturated colours of any value in a way that makes them seem like a part of nature. This especially includes browns, yellows, greens and blues. They can symbolise life , the woods such as in Naturecore, adventuring such as in Adventurecore, and nature such as in Art Nouveau.

Bright Colours (saturated colours) Are colours of high saturation, but of any hue. These often seem childish and can be hard to style together. However they are also bold and create a statement by themselves or in a group. These are often associated with the 70 and 80s, and then younger 90s -2000 fashion. Retro, Nostalgiacore, and Art Hoe. Wormcore also use it.

Value scale


Value is about how much white or black is added to a colour. If black is added, its a shade, and if only white is used it is a tint. Value is about how light or dark something is. A high value is a tint because its closer to white and a darker value is a shade because it is closer to black. Darker values are considered more serious,though not necessarily masculine (think of the "little black dress"), however, tints are often associated with purity (just as white is) and femininity. Here are a few colour schemes that rely on value to unify them.

Muted Tones, are destaturaed colours with a low value (meaning they are closer to black then they are to white). This is used to make things seem old and official in Dark Academia or Dolly Kei, to fit a certain eras photos aesthetic such as in CyrptidCore. They can also seem dull and lifeless such as in Ocean Grunge.

grey scale or monochromatic colours are not actually colours, but now colour with different variations in value (white and black, and saturation), An example of this might be Poolcore. However, you can also see it others like Purple.

High Contrast ;While most colour palettes in this section rely on having the same value, a high contrast palette is a limited colour scheme that relies on the contrast of black, dark greys and white to achieve is effect. Many goth outfits use this Vampire, for example, uses it, as does Cybergoth.


Some of these colour palettes do not fall into the other three categories, they usually have another unifying factor or could still techincally fit into one of the other categories, even though that's not why they were put together in the first place.

Jewel Tones , were originally based offof crystals and precious stones. Their a low to medium value of Purple, Tuquoise, Aqua,Emerald Green, Yellow, and Red. This is often seen as a trend in the fall (in America and the West) so its no surprise its in Autumn. Other examples are Fractal art, Ethereal, and Crystalcore

Metallic Are the colour palette of a palette that rely on metals, They are sliver like in Y2K, gold like in Wabi-Sabi, or bronze, chrome, steel, and copper. Other examples are Crowcore and Cyberprep. You could also argue Holosexual is one too.

Cool Colors: Are either colours that are cool toned (like Crimson red, ultramarine blue,) and therefore make a different feeling colour wheel than warm toned and will make better purples and blacks when painting, or they are colours associated with winter or water. Two examples are Seapunk and Icepunk.

Warm Colours are either colours that are warm toned (in this case Cadimun red, Cerulean blue, and Cadimun yellow) and will make better oranges, or are colours associated with warmth, summer, or food. Coffee house, Warmcore, Tropical and Golden hour are all examples of warm colours.

Finding Your Aesthetics Colour Palette:

Of course this all begs the question, Do an aesthetic need a colour scheme or palette? The short answer is not always neither Cleancore or Goblincore have one listed at this time (04/08/2020). A colour scheme is a great unifying tool but it sometimes becomes too restrictive. However it does allow lot more people to see and identify your aesthetic visually. A colour palette or scheme can also serve a vital function of defining your aesthetic and its message from another aesthetic, as well as creating nuanced meaning to your aesthetic, such as in things such as Vaporwave.

how to do I create a colour palette? This article will now take you through three methods of choosing your own colour palette using an example: Fallencore.

Decide what your colour scheme needs to do: is it separating your punk from another aesthetic like sea punk? Is it just something to make everything cohesive? Or is it adding onto a meaning or symbolism, or changing the meaning? Pastels with children’s toys would enforce the meaning, but deep blue would change the image. Colours can change the meaning or look of something very quickly. If you want to use the colour scheme to create a difference between your aesthetic and another one, see what the first aesthetics colour scheme is, then go for the opposite.

  • For example if you took Angel core but wanted to make a similar aesthetic surrounding a darker version of angels (lets call it Fallen Core) you would look at Angelcores colour scheme and go for the opposite. Angel core has pastels, so Fallen Core needs more shades.

Look through this list, see the aesthetics you’re inspired by and go off of them. See what you would like to keep or throw away.

Colour picking off of my pininterest board, to narrow down my colour options.

photo picking

Photo picking means taking one or more images and taking the eye dropper tool, and seeing what colours are contained in them. You take bits from all the image, not just the focal point. the example to the right, there's a lot of low value colours, quite a few dark browns, but definite pops of gold, blue, aqua, and red-orange.

You can also just eyeball it, but using the eye dropper tool will give you the most unbiased results.

I did this for my FallenCore and got a lot of options: as you can see to the left. Blues, aqua, black brown. Red, orange etc.

Creating a new colour scheme: with this you need to take the fundamental principals from the colour wheel , Saturation, and Value. Take those concepts and use them to either polish up your colour palette or to find your ideal colours.

  • to use Fallen core again, I still had too many colours around so I decided to go for a split complimentary (Red-Orange, and Yellow +Blue). I still wanted to keep darker shades, but this allowed me the high contrast pops of colour I needed to fit the images I had.

Try to have fun with it. References:

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