For aspiring graffiti artists, determining the ideal graffiti colors to employ can prove to be a challenging task. Nonetheless, it ultimately boils down to the artist’s personal style. Since graffiti is an art form without strict rules, it is up to the artist to conceptualize the most captivating color schemes for their pieces. However, there are certain strategies that can help make your graffiti stand out. In addition to factors like letter structure and can control, the colors you select play a significant role in creating an impactful piece. Whether you seek inspiration for your next creation or simply have an interest in the color choices of graffiti artists, we present to you 7 classic graffiti color combinations. Additionally, we offer a selection of common questions and essential tips for choosing graffiti colors.
What colors are commonly used in graffiti?
The choice of colors in graffiti art primarily depends on the artist’s style and the availability of paint. In essence, any color can be used for graffiti. Nowadays, graffiti artists have an extensive range of spray paint colors at their disposal. With renowned brands like Montana Black offering over 180 color shades, the possibilities for graffiti color combinations are limitless.
A brief history of graffiti colors
In the early days of graffiti, before specialized spray paint was available, artists had to make do with whatever paint they could obtain. Color options were limited as they often resorted to using brands like Krylon and Rust-Oleum, commonly stolen from do-it-yourself stores in the US. Consequently, the color choices were less vibrant, given that these paints were designed for home improvement rather than artistic purposes. However, with the emergence of professional spray paint brands such as Molotow in Europe, graffiti colors began to evolve. These premium paint formulas offered increased vibrancy and greater resistance to weather conditions compared to cheaper alternatives. Although professional spray paint is now the preferred choice for most graffiti artists, the limited color range of the early days, especially white and black shades, continues to influence the graffiti scene today.
7 Timeless Graffiti Color Combinations
Although graffiti color schemes have evolved over time, many classic combinations still remain popular to this day. Here are seven enduring graffiti color combinations that will make your artwork shine:
1. Black and White
Black and white spray paint were the most accessible colors during the early days of graffiti, before professional brands entered the scene. Consequently, they became two of the most popular colors in graffiti, a distinction they still hold to this day. The contrasting nature of black and white creates an ideal palette for large and bold letters. Whether it’s a throw-up or a straight letter piece, combining black and white is a foolproof choice that imparts a timeless graffiti aesthetic.
2. Chrome and Black
Chrome and black form another iconic graffiti color combination, particularly when artists need to work quickly. Graffiti writers realized that chrome spray paint, combined with a fat cap, allowed them to cover large areas rapidly. As a result, chrome became an immensely popular color choice for graffiti. Furthermore, the formula for chrome spray paint has continuously improved over the years. Brands like Molotow now produce 600ml Burner Chrome action cans, specifically designed for maximum coverage. Pairing this with a deep black spray paint enables artists to create large-scale pieces with remarkable speed. London, in particular, has embraced this color scheme, to the extent that the city’s most renowned graffiti store is named Chrome & Black.
3. White and Red
White and red represent another classic combination born out of the scarcity of spray paint when graffiti started gaining popularity on the US East Coast. Due to their accessibility compared to more complex shades, white and red color schemes found their way onto walls worldwide. Even today, this color combination remains incredibly popular, especially for quick throw-ups.
4. Yellow and Black
Similar to the reasons behind the popularity of black and white, yellow and black emerged as a classic graffiti color combination due to the ease of obtaining these colors and their strong contrast. This combination allows yellow and black pieces to stand out amidst the visual chaos, lending a bold and vibrant feel to various graffiti styles. However, it’s worth noting that yellow spray paint is notorious for its low coverage compared to other colors. Spray paint brands have struggled for years to create a highly opaque and vibrant yellow, so keep this in mind if you choose this color combination. You might need to apply an additional layer of yellow to make it truly stand out. Alternatively, using just one layer can achieve the fast-paced, classic graffiti bombing look.
5. Gold and Black
Much like its sibling chrome, the metallic nature of gold spray paint allows graffiti artists to cover large areas quickly, making it an excellent color choice for speedy painting. When combined with a thick black outline, gold creates a striking and long-lasting color combination. For this colorway, we recommend Molotow’s 600ml Burner Gold for its exceptional coverage and vibrant gold hue.
6. Tonal Color Combinations
Pairing tonal colors together is an excellent option for various graffiti styles. Tonal graffiti colors enable artists to blend and merge shades, resulting in a more intricate appearance compared to using single colors. To maximize the impact of tonal color combinations, it’s advisable to incorporate a contrasting color for the outline or background. This technique enhances the visual impact of the tonal colors, surpassing the effect of using similar shades alone.
7. Fluorescent Color Combinations
For creating attention-grabbing graffiti, fluorescent colors offer a unique advantage that regular colors cannot match. Fluorescent colors represent a more modern graffiti color choice since they were not available during the art form’s early days. Artists today can utilize paints from specialized brands like Montana, which offer a range of Infra Fluorescent colors. These vibrant shades add an extra dimension to graffiti pieces, making them stand out. However, caution must be exercised when using fluorescent colors to avoid overdoing it. Excessive use of these colors can result in a cheap-looking piece that strains the viewer’s eyes. Instead, it is advisable to use fluorescent colors for small details that enhance the overall composition.
Which colors complement each other in graffiti?
While the choice of graffiti colors ultimately lies with the artist, colors that complement each other typically involve contrasting tones. Opting for a fill color that starkly contrasts with the outline creates bold and easily readable letters. As the primary goal is to have your name noticed by as many people as possible, using graffiti colors that stand out is the ideal approach. For graffiti artists aiming to cover areas swiftly, silver chrome and gold are the go-to colors. Coupled with a dark outline color such as black or navy, this color combination guarantees swift and effective results.
Essential tips for selecting graffiti colors
While there are no strict rules for choosing graffiti colors, here are a few tips to consider when making your decision:
1. Use contrasting fill and outline colors
By employing a light color for filling your letters and a dark color for outlining them (or vice versa), your letters will be more easily discernible. This contrast will also allow them to stand out significantly, especially in busy locations.
2. Opt for high-coverage colors for quick work
If speed is of the essence, opt for colors that provide excellent coverage. This way, you will only need to apply a single layer for opacity. The best colors for rapid work include silver chrome, black, and gold. Additionally, most high-pressure professional spray paints in dark shades offer exceptional coverage when used with a fat cap.
3. Choose colors based on your style
When it comes to graffiti colors, there is no right or wrong choice. Select colors that resonate with your personal preferences and experiment until you find the color combinations that best suit your style. For further guidance, refer to our article on discovering your unique graffiti style.
4. Practice using a blackbook
To refine your color combinations without investing in paint, use a blackbook for practice. This cost-effective method allows you to ascertain which color combinations work well together. Moreover, it offers an opportunity to practice letter structures and overall artistic style. If you require assistance selecting the perfect markers for your blackbook, consult our comprehensive guide on blackbook markers for graffiti.
What’s your favorite graffiti color combination? Share your thoughts in the comments below.