Vintage styles and color palettes are always making a comeback. Transform the look and feel of your designs with these 25 free retro color combinations.

Cover image via Chamille White

Vintage and retro elements always seem to make a comeback in the creative world, and for good reason, too. Throwbacks to the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s in marketing designs, product packaging, fashion, and more evokes nostalgia, a positive emotional response that brings consumers back to “the good ol’ days” (even if they weren’t technically alive during that time). Society’s warm thoughts about the past means that brands successfully hinting at retro authenticity reap the benefits of better brand recognition and even increased sales.

While retro elements continuously cycle through design trends, there is always a modern interpretation when it’s applied to campaigns and designs. From vintage filters on minimalist images to retro text effects overlaid with modern typefaces and desaturated color palettes, you’ll always notice a subtle spin that keeps vintage imagery looking fresh.

You can create a subtle yet effective retro feel in your designs by simply changing the color palette. Each of these 25 palettes is inspired by vintage imagery from Shutterstock and can be applied to anything from a pattern to brand elements. For quick color updates, download the swatch file below to bring them into Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, or InDesign with ease. In design programs such as Shutterstock Editor, you can type in the six-digit hex code in the Stroke or Fill Color menus within the Custom tab.

Looking to save one of these images for color inspiration down the road? Be sure to pin it to your Pinterest boards for easy reference.


1. Surf & Sunsets

Free Swatch Download: 25 Retro Color Palettes – Surf and Sun Vintage Color Palette
Image via Kanchana P

Call attention to your group or club meetings with this minimal template from Shutterstock Editor. Customize background elements and insert images for that personal touch.

2. Vintage Lens

Free Swatch Download: 25 Retro Color Palettes – Vintage Lens Color Palette
Image via Valentina_G

3. Lustrous Lamps

Free Swatch Download: 25 Retro Color Palettes – Edison Lightbulb Vintage Color Palette
Image via Pushish Images

Warm orange tones paired with cooler hues guarantees retro vibes. Use this color palette in your next design to introduce subtle hints of the past.

4. Kayak Crew

Free Swatch Download: 25 Retro Color Palettes – Kayak Crew Vintage Color Palette
Image via Nejron Photo

5. Antique Armchair

Free Swatch Download: 25 Retro Color Palettes – Antique Armchair Vintage Color Palette
Image via Khaled ElAdawy.

6. Retro Charm

Free Swatch Download: 25 Retro Color Palettes – Retro Charm Vintage Color Palette
Image via Photographee.eu.

Alert customers of new home decor trends and direct them to your website with this customizable template from Editor.

7. Tiled Texture

Free Swatch Download: 25 Retro Color Palettes – Tiled Texture Vintage Color Palette
Image via SOMMAI

8. Subdued Swirls

Free Swatch Download: 25 Retro Color Palettes – Swirls Color Palette
Image via LanaN

9. Nostalgic Autumn

Free Swatch Download: 25 Retro Color Palettes – Autumn Color Palette
Image via jakkapan

Attract viewers with nostalgic elements such as vintage cameras and polaroids, paired with eye-catching palettes, in your next marketing design.

10. Tropical Palms

Free Swatch Download: 25 Retro Color Palettes – Tropical Color Palette

Image via Svetlana Klementyeva.

11. World Traveler

Free Swatch Download: 25 Retro Color Palettes – World Traveler Color Palette
Image via Annette Shaff.

Promote your next sales event to potential customers with this bold template in Shutterstock Editor.

12. Bright Bicycle

Free Swatch Download: 25 Retro Color Palettes – Bicycle Color Palette
Image via Superlime

13. Vast Voyages

Free Swatch Download: 25 Retro Color Palettes – Vast Voyages Color Palette
Image via jakkapan.

Evoke an adventurous journey to the beach with vintage coastal color palettes; apply this combination to a badge or t-shirt graphic for a classic retro look.

14. Mountainous Trek

Free Swatch Download: 25 Retro Color Palettes – Mountainous Trek Color Palette

Image via Vectorpocket.

15. Weekend Getaway

Free Swatch Download: 25 Retro Color Palettes – Weekend Trek Color Palette
Image via Poprotskiy Alexey

16. Scenic Elevations

Free Swatch Download: 25 Retro Color Palettes – Scenic Mountains Vintage Color Palette
Image via Evgeny Bakharev.

Impress viewers with striking views of the mountaintops using this effortless Shutterstock Editor template.

17. Tranquil Trails

Free Swatch Download: 25 Retro Color Palettes – Nature Photo Vintage Color Palette
Image via stockfotoart

18. Vinyl Grooves

Free Swatch Download: 25 Retro Color Palettes – Vinyl Record Vintage Color Palette
Image via tomertu

19. Audio Waves

Free Swatch Download: 25 Retro Color Palettes – Cassette Tape Vintage Color Palette
Image via Cerberoff.

Channel the not-so-distant past in your logo or badge with muted color palettes sampled from vintage cassettes.

20. Wild Wanderlust

Free Swatch Download: 25 Retro Color Palettes – Wanderlust Vintage Color Palette
Image via Red monkey

21. Sunset Beach

Free Swatch Download: 25 Retro Color Palettes – Surfing Vintage Color Palette
Image via iMoved Studio

Share your adventurous trip to the beach with this breezy template in Shutterstock Editor.

22. Retro Rides

Free Swatch Download: 25 Retro Color Palettes – Retro Car Vintage Color Palette
Image via Nejron Photo

23. Cruising Convertible

Free Swatch Download: 25 Retro Color Palettes – Convertible Vintage Color Palette
Image via EpicStockMedia

Share summer vibes and dreamy sunset drives with this warm-toned color palette.

24. Pin-Ups & Piers

Free Swatch Download: 25 Retro Color Palettes – Piers Vintage Color Palette
Image via sergey causelove

25. Roller Rink

Free Swatch Download: 25 Retro Color Palettes – Roller Rink Vintage Color Palette
Image via Pao Laroid

Complementary and subdued hues make for a versatile retro palette; add this palette to logos or badges for a blast from the past.


Download Swatch Files

Download these 25 free swatch palettes by clicking the link below. Each of these swatches is available in the RGB color profile, ideal for both online and web designs.

Download Now

Swatch files allow you to quickly apply color to any design element in your document with ease.These swatch files can be opened in Adobe design programs in just a few clicks. In other design applications, you can easily type the six-digit hex codes found on each color swatch in the palettes above.

 How to Use Your Free Swatches in Adobe Illustrator

Free Swatch Download: 25 Retro Color Palettes – How to Use Swatch Files in Adobe Illustrator

Click the hamburger dropdown in the Swatches panel and select Open Swatch Library > Other Library and select one of the swatch files.

How to Use Your Free Swatches in Adobe Photoshop and InDesign

Free Swatch Download: 25 Retro Color Palettes – How to Use Swatch Files in Adobe Photoshop and InDesign

In the Swatches panel, select the hamburger dropdown menu and click Load Swatches and select an individual swatch file to see it pop up within the panel.


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