Pantone recently announced its Color of the Year, Living Coral. Here’s a rundown on why this vibrant color is so impactful, as well as a quick tutorial on how to employ it in upcoming designs.

Pantone have announced PANTONE 16-1546 Living Coral as their 2019 color of the year. While 2018 was the year of Millennial Pink, this year is set to be the year of Living Coral—expect to see peach and soft orange tones splashed across graphics, photography, products, cosmetics, and interiors.

Described by Pantone as “an animating and life-affirming coral hue with a golden undertone,” here we’ll look at five ways you can integrate Living Coral into your graphic and web designs.

Skip to the end of the article to discover a mini tutorial for creating a Living Coral business card design in Adobe InDesign.

How to Use Living Coral, Pantone’s Color of the Year, in Your Designs — InDesign

1. Embrace the Nature Theme

How to Use Living Coral, Pantone’s Color of the Year, in Your Designs — Nature Theme
Image by contributor Alexei Zatevakhin

According to Pantone’s color experts, Living Coral “emits the desired, familiar, and energizing aspects of color found in nature.” Inspired by the vibrant color of coral beds, this is a color that reflects nature at its most lively, magical, and tropical.

As a result, Living Coral makes for a logical pairing with designs and images inspired by organic and natural forms. Try teaming a coral palette with botanical illustrations, for example, like in these brand designs for BLOOM Flower Boutique by graphic designer Kay Trinh.

How to Use Living Coral, Pantone’s Color of the Year, in Your Designs — Botanical Designs
How to Use Living Coral, Pantone’s Color of the Year, in Your Designs — Floral Imagery

Living Coral works beautifully with floral imagery, and you can play up its warm-weather associations by pairing it with images of succulents, palm trees, and tropical birds to inject instant feel-good vibes to posters or flyers.

2. Develop the Color Theme Through Patterns and Textures

How to Use Living Coral, Pantone’s Color of the Year, in Your Designs — Textures
Image by contributor Efetova Anna

Living Coral doesn’t need to be used in your designs as a simple color swatch. You can also inject the color into your designs through patterns and photo filters.

The image of a stone wall, pictured above, by contributor Efetova Anna is a great example of how photos can be enlivened with a wash of coral color. Apply a Multiply or Overlay transparency effect to a coral shape over your images in Photoshop or InDesign to achieve the effect.

These optical illusion vectors by illustrator John Harman demonstrate how Living Coral can bring a retro, trippy edge to patterns and backgrounds. Follow John’s lead and team a coral swatch with black and white for optimum contrast, to create an immersive, eye-catching effect.

How to Use Living Coral, Pantone’s Color of the Year, in Your Designs — Retro Patterns

3. Use Living Coral in Web and App Design to Improve User Response

How to Use Living Coral, Pantone’s Color of the Year, in Your Designs — Improve User Response

Pantone considers its choice for color of the year very carefully. What’s more, the winner is often inspired by larger design trends and cultural movements. Living Coral might be lifted from nature, but it has the potential to make designs and products more saleable and attractive in 2019 because it reflects well on wider cultural trends.

Pantone put forward that Living Coral is a reaction to the onslaught of digital technology and social media, and that people “are seeking authentic and immersive experiences that enable connection and intimacy.”

With this in mind, it makes good business sense to integrate Living Coral into your digital designs, to counteract growing negative sentiments in the media about some aspects of social media and online interaction. The theory goes that you can make users of a site or app feel more optimistic about your design, and more responsive to what is being offered to them, simply by using Living Coral as part of your design.

Websites and apps will benefit from a dose of coral on backgrounds, titling, and icons. Look to this example layout by web designer Ulvin Omerov for inspiration.

4. Embrace Your Romantic Side

With a blend of warm oranges and soft pinks, coral shades are unabashedly romantic. With a more vibrant, energetic vibe than sickly sweet pastels, Living Coral is an edgier alternative to traditional romantic and feminine colors like peach and pink.

In 2019 we’ll see coral being used across wedding and event stationery. Team a Living Coral swatch with neutral tones of cream, white and icy blue to anchor the design and keep invitations looking elegant. These wedding stationery designs by Refine Studio strike the perfect balance.

How to Use Living Coral, Pantone’s Color of the Year, in Your Designs — Romantic Alternative

5. Team with Blue for Maximum Impact

How to Use Living Coral, Pantone’s Color of the Year, in Your Designs — Team with Blue
Image by contributor Efetova Anna

Warm and cool shades paired together always look beautifully balanced, and this year’s incarnation of this classic pairing is Living Coral teamed with blue. Opt for a pale, icy blue for a seriously stylish, design-forward approach, or look to bolder turquoise for a more youthful, tropical-inspired look.

In this mini tutorial, we’ll put together a quick and simple business card design using Adobe InDesign, and combine two colors from the Pantone library—Living Coral and Limpet Shell.

To create this card design, you’ll need to download the “Under the Sea” ASE color palette from the Pantone Living Coral Palette Exploration site.

How to Use Living Coral, Pantone’s Color of the Year, in Your Designs — Color Harmonies

You’ll also need to download and install these two free font files:

Step 1

Open Adobe InDesign and go to File > New > Document.

Choose Print from the options at the top of the New Document window.

Set the Width of the page to 3.5 in and Height to 2 in. Set the number of Pages to 2, and deselect Facing Pages.

Add Margins of 0.25 in and a Bleed of 0.125 in, before clicking Create.

How to Use Living Coral, Pantone’s Color of the Year, in Your Designs — New Document

Step 2

Expand the Swatches panel (Window > Color > Swatches) and choose Load Swatches from the panel’s main menu.

How to Use Living Coral, Pantone’s Color of the Year, in Your Designs — Load Swatches

Navigate to the ASE folder you downloaded earlier, then click on the “Under the Sea” palette and Open it.

 How to Use Living Coral, Pantone’s Color of the Year, in Your Designs — Open Palette

Step 3

Click on the PANTONE 16-1546 swatch, and choose New Color Swatch.

How to Use Living Coral, Pantone’s Color of the Year, in Your Designs — New Swatch

Switch the Color Mode to CMYK,  then click Add and OK.

How to Use Living Coral, Pantone’s Color of the Year, in Your Designs — Color Mode

Repeat the process for PANTONE 13-4810

How to Use Living Coral, Pantone’s Color of the Year, in Your Designs — Repeat

…and also PANTONE 19-3940, saving each as new CMYK swatches.

How to Use Living Coral, Pantone’s Color of the Year, in Your Designs — Blue Swatch

Step 4

Working on Page 1, use the Rectangle Tool (M) to create a shape across the whole page, extending the edges up to the bleed edge.

Set the Fill Color to the pale blue CMYK swatch.

How to Use Living Coral, Pantone’s Color of the Year, in Your Designs — Rectangle Tool

Edit > Copy the blue shape. Next, scroll down to Page 2 and Edit > Paste in Place, adjusting the Fill to the Living Coral CMYK swatch.

How to Use Living Coral, Pantone’s Color of the Year, in Your Designs — Fill Color

Step 5

Head back up to Page 1, and use the Type Tool (T) to create a small text frame across the top-left corner of the page.

Type in the name and from either the top Controls panel or the Character panel (Window > Type & Tables > Character) set the Font to This, Size 24 pt.

Set the Font Color to the Living Coral CMYK swatch.

How to Use Living Coral, Pantone’s Color of the Year, in Your Designs — Type Tool

Add another text frame below, typing in contact details and setting the Font to Clarika Geometric Medium, Size 8 pt. Set the top line in the dark blue CMYK swatch, and the remaining text in [Paper].

How to Use Living Coral, Pantone’s Color of the Year, in Your Designs — Change Fonts

Step 6

Copy the “name” text frame from Page 1 and Paste this onto Page 2.

Center the text frame and increase the Font Size to 67 pt and switch the text to Align Center. Adjust the text to read just the initials of the name.

How to Use Living Coral, Pantone’s Color of the Year, in Your Designs — Align Center

Your business card artwork is finished. Great job!

To export your business card for printing head up to File > Export, and choose Adobe PDF (Print) from the Format menu.

How to Use Living Coral, Pantone’s Color of the Year, in Your Designs — Save and Print

Craving more coral? Discover these 50 images inspired by Living Coral.


Looking for more design inspiration? Check out these articles:

Top image by contributor Efetova Anna.