What Color Is Indigo? Meaning, Palette, Shades, and Applications

Indigo falls between blue and violet in the visible spectrum of light. It’s a deep, rich shade of blue with purple undertones. Indigo is one of the seven spectral colors and a color of the rainbow. 

What Is Indigo Color?

What color is indigo #4B0082

The indigo color is a shade of blue with slight purple undertones. Creating indigo involves mixing blue and red colors in different portions. Since red and blue also make violet, altering the ratios is necessary for indigo. Blue should be the dominant color in the mixture.

Background of Indigo

Indigo dates back to ancient times when people used natural dyes to color fabrics. Indigo dye, derived from plants of the genus Indigofera, was one of the earliest natural dyes.

The use of indigo dye has a long history in India, China, Egypt, and Greece. In India, indigo is highly valued and is used in coloring cotton. It played a significant role in the country’s textile industry.

Indigo’s Symbolic Meaning & Associations

Indigo’s association with spirituality and mysticism can be traced back to using indigo dye in ancient rituals and ceremonies. In some cultures, indigo is linked to psychic abilities, intuition, and spiritual awareness.

The color is associated with the Third Eye or the “seeing” chakra — the center of wisdom, intellect, and higher consciousness. An indigo aura indicates spiritual, intuitive, and compassionate traits.

According to The New Age concept, indigo children possess unique traits and often have psychic abilities. The concept originated in the 1970s and was popularized by authors Nancy Ann Tappe and Lee Carroll. Supporters of the indigo child concept suggest that these children are part of a new generation with an evolved consciousness.

Indigo as a Spectral Color

Indigo falls between blue and violet in the color spectrum. The color spectrum classifies colors according to their wavelengths, from the shortest to the longest. The concept derives from how white light disperses when passing through a prism.

When light passes through a prism, it refracts and separates into its component colors. It creates a continuous spectrum of colors. Seven spectral colors form the rainbow. Indigo is the sixth color. Other colors in the spectrum are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet.

Major Tones and Shades of Indigo

1. Deep Indigo

Deep indigo is a dark shade bordering on navy blue. It’s associated with mystery, sophistication, and moodiness.

2. Electric Indigo

Electric indigo is a vibrant, intense blue-purple shade. Its bright, electric, or neon-like hue resembles the vivid color of certain types of electric lights.

3. Classic Indigo

This deep, rich blue shade dyes textiles and creates blue pigments. Classic indigo has a purplish undertone, giving it a cooler hue than other shades of blue.

4. Light Indigo

Light indigo is a bright, pastel shade of blue-purple leaning towards the blue end of the spectrum. It can be described as a subdued or washed-out version of indigo, often evoking a sense of tranquility and serenity.

5. Indigo Violet

This color lies between the shades of indigo and violet, combining elements of both colors. It’s a deep and rich hue, predominantly blue but with strong purple undertones.

Indigo’s Color Schemes and Combinations

1. Complementary Colors to Indigo

A complementary color scheme comprises colors opposite each other on the color wheel. The result is a high-contrast and striking combination. Vibrant shades of green form the best contrast with indigo.

ShadeHex CodeCMYK Color Code (%)RGB Color Code
Indigo#4B008242, 100, 0, 4975, 0, 130
Lime Green#B4FF7D29, 0, 51, 0180, 255, 125
Vivid Chartreuse Green#74E70045, 0, 91, 9116, 231, 0

2. Analogous Colors to Indigo

Analogous colors sit next to each other on the color wheel. The analogous colors to indigo would be purple and blue-violet. These colors are harmonious with indigo and create a cohesive color scheme.

ShadeHex CodeCMYK Color Code (%)RGB Color Code
Blue-Violet#8A2BE263, 82, 0, 11138, 43, 226
Indigo#4B008242, 100, 0, 4975, 0, 130
Purple#8000800, 100, 0, 49128, 0, 128

3. Triadic Colors With Indigo

A triadic color scheme combines three colors that are evenly spaced around the color wheel. The three colors form an equilateral triangle on the color wheel. Indigo’s triadic colors include cyan and dark orange.

ShadeHex CodeCMYK Color Code (%)RGB Color Code
Indigo#4B008242, 100, 0, 4975, 0, 130
Cyan#00824B100, 0, 42, 490, 130, 75
Dark Orange#824B000, 42, 100, 49130, 75, 0

4. Monochromatic Variations of Indigo

Monochrome color pairings use different shades, tones, and tints of a single color to create depth. For instance, indigo’s monochromatic color scheme would comprise a light indigo and a dark indigo-blue color.

ShadeHex CodeCMYK Color Code (%)RGB Color Code
Indigo#4B008242, 100, 0, 4975, 0, 130
Light Indigo#8A2BE263, 82, 0, 11138, 43, 226
Dark Indigo#2E085445, 90, 0, 6746, 8, 84

Creating Indigo Paint Colors

Mixing Pigments to Achieve Indigo

Combine one part red pigment and two parts blue pigment to achieve a blue indigo hue. Alternatively, you can add a deep purple color, such as ultramarine violet, to a deep blue pigment.

Adjust the darkness and vibrancy by gradually mixing in black pigment. In contrast, adding white pigment creates a tint of indigo, such as Periwinkle.

Tips for Using Indigo Paint in Artwork

Using indigo paint in artwork can bring depth, richness, and a sense of mystery to your creations. Here are some tips when working with indigo paint:

  • Layering and Blending: Layering indigo with other colors adds depth and dimension to your artwork. Apply a transparent layer of indigo paint on the base color for a glazing effect.
  • Symbolism and Mood: Consider the symbolic meanings of indigo and how they reflect in your artwork. Use indigo paint to convey a sense of mystery and contemplation.

Indigo’s Uses and Applications

Fashion and Design

Denim jeans, jackets, and shirts are often dyed with indigo to achieve the classic blue color. Indigo-dyed denim is popular for its durability, versatility, and timeless appeal.

Indigo dye is also suitable for dyeing techniques, such as tie-dye, shibori, or batik. The dye creates intricate and eye-catching designs on fabrics.

Art and Creativity

  • Painting and mixed media: Indigo’s deep and mysterious nature can add depth, contrast, and emotion to paintings. It’s used in landscapes, abstract pieces, or portraiture.
  • Graphic design and digital media: Indigo conveys a sense of professionalism when used in a website or interface design. Its rich and deep nature can help graphics stand out and attract attention in crowded feeds.

Interior Design with Indigo

Indigo suits contemporary, eclectic, and bohemian interior design styles. There are various ways to blend the bold color into your home.

  • Incorporating indigo in home decor: Display artwork featuring indigo tones. You can opt for decorative items such as vases, bowls, or sculptures in indigo hues.
  • Indigo as an accent color: Use indigo accents through items like throw pillows, curtains, rugs, or blankets. Paint an accent wall in indigo to serve as a focal point while adding a touch of sophistication.
  • Creating harmonious color palettes with indigo: Since indigo is an intense color, it’s best used in moderation. Combine it with neutrals and complementary colors for a balanced and harmonious look.