How to identify different shades of red

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Roses are red, but crimson, pink and burgundy are also reds.

When it comes to home décor, basic colors like red, blue and yellow will give us the general hue, but when we think of the red of a fire engine and red wine, those are two different types of red. So do how we identify colors of the different reds to get the precise shade that we want?

For reference, color codes have been added so you can replicate this color for your computer for a website or a graphics program like Adobe Photoshop.

Here we will go over how to distinguish different reds by explaining what other colors are mixed with those reds to get the hues that you want for your own decor:

RGB Red

In computers, “RGB Red” is the brightest possible red that can be displayed on a computer screen. However it is important to keep in mind that this may not translate directly to colors such as paints so you need to check with the manufacturer of that paint. In Pantone colors, they designate this as “Pantone Color 2347 C”, which differs from the notation because things appear different when painted on a wall than when displayed with the backlight of the monitor. So it’s important to know that different manufacturers will translate this color differently with custom names, but most will understand the hex triplet or RGB reference, so they are provided here in this post.

Fire Engine Red

This bright red is familiar with most people because they are associated with emergencies and caution. To most human eyes, red catches our attention first, most likely stemming from being the color of blood and injury so it’s a color recognition important to human survival. This red is built to get attention and I would not be surprised if this is the color that people think of when they think of the “brightest red.”

Burgundy

Named after the color of burgundy wine from the Burgundy (Bourgogne) region of France so it is a color associated with red wine. It is red that has purple in it, which is done by adding blue to that color. Because of its association with wine, this reddish color is often associated with sophistication and luxury.

Maroon

Half of the band name, Maroon 5, maroon is the French word for “chestnut” and is sometimes confused with burgundy. However, maroon is red mixed with brown, rather than purple. This is accomplished by adding a bit of green, red’s complementary color on the color wheel. However, for computer displays, you create maroon by putting the red channel halfway between red and black. Marron is both sophisticated and warm to people.

Pink

Pink is a popular color and some say this is its own hue while others think of it as a lighter tint of red. It is effectively both. Pink is created by lightening red with white and is ascribed as a feminine color, more popularized in the past 20 years in baby room décor and gender reveal parties. However as far back as the 1920s, the reverse happened where pink was considered a more masculine color because it was a version of red, which was considered a bolder color than blue.

Crimson

Crimson is popularly considered the “color of blood,” but was also the color of several nobles and university school colors. Crimson is created by adding a little bit of purple but should appear with more red than burgundy. The word “crimson” is related to “carmine,” a bright red pigment produced by extracting them from scaled insects.

Scarlet

Scarlet is a bright red with a mixture of red with a little bit of orange. Historically, it is a rich dye that is associated with nobility and cardinals of the Catholic Church and at the same time, the color of immorality and sin. The book, The Scarlet Letter, plays on this association, as well as Miss Scarlet, in the movie, Clue.

Rust

Rust is the color of oxidized iron and is signified by a red-orange that leans towards brown. This shade of red is generally not confused for scarlet, despite that they use similar colors, but rust has significantly more yellow to create an orange and a little bit of black for a darker color. Many people consider rust more of an orange color than red, but historically, the word “rust” has the same origins as the word “ruddy” which means a “healthy reddish color”

Magenta

Magenta is a red mixed with equal parts of purple and in computers, you make magenta by turning the red and the blue channels all the way up and making the green channel completely absent. The color, fuschia, named after the flower for its distinctive hue, is considered the same color as magenta for computer purposes. In fact, the color was historically named “fuschine” first but then renamed “magenta” after the French won a battle near the Italian city of Magenta to commemorate that victory.

Rose

While rose flowers can be any color, “rose” as a color is traditionally closer to red that is closer to pink. When creating colors on the computer, this color is halfway between RGB red and magenta by putting the blue channel halfway between these two colors. For some, the color “rose” is more “pink” than pink is and this hue reads as a bold color on its own.

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