Cyan Color: Meaning, Shades, and Color Codes

We’ve all wondered at least once: is cyan blue? Here’s everything you need to know about the cyan color, including its meaning, shades, and color codes.

Cyan is essential in printing, as it is one of the primary colors of the subtractive color model. 

When it comes to light, cyan is a secondary color created by overlaying green and blue light at maximum intensity (255).

So, what color is cyan? Is it blue or green? It’s more like a mix of both.

Today you’ll find out what color cyan is, or cyan blue as it was called in the late 1800s.

What Color is Cyan?

Cyan is a vibrant greenish-blue that sits between blue and green on the colors wheel. It’s also one of the primary colors in the subtractive (CMY) color model used in color printing. The cyan hex code is #00FFFF. Cyan goes well with red, its complementary color.

Cyan is a primary color in the CMY color model, along with yellow and magenta. The first record of the color’s name in English dates from 1879, when it was called ‘cyan blue.’

The name of the cyan color comes from the Ancient Greek “kyanos,” which means “deep blue.” This word was used to describe the color of lapis lazuli, a semi-precious stone. This most likely derives from the word “kuwanna” – from Hittite, the oldest Indo-European language – meaning “copper blue.” [1]

What does the color cyan look like?

teal vs. cyan vs. turquoise

Also known as cyan blue, this color is close to turquoise, aquamarine, and teal. However, there are some differences between them.

Cyan is a light, vibrant mixture between blue and green. It’s similar to the color of a clear sky on a sunny day but with a bit more green tone to it. 

It might also be compared to the color of clear tropical ocean waters, which appear light, bright blue-green.

So, is cyan blue or green?

If you’re wondering if cyan is blue or green, find out that it’s a mixture of both that leans more towards blue than green. So it can be considered a greenish-blue. That’s why this color is also known as cyan blue.

Cyan versus Turquoise

cyan vs turquoise

Cyan is a bright greenish-blue, while turquoise is a less intense bluish-green. Moreover, turquoise has more green than blue, as opposed to cyan.

When it comes to the color spectrum, cyan has a wavelength that ranges between 500 and 560 nm, while turquoise sits between 490 and 520 nm.

In addition, cyan is one of the primary colors in the subtractive color model. It is a pure, spectral color. Turquoise, on the other hand, is named after the gemstone turquoise and is often associated with the color of this stone.

However, both colors sit between blue and green on the color spectrum.

Cyan versus Teal

Cyan vs. Teal

Cyan and teal are similar, meaning both are combinations of green and blue. However, they are not the same.

Cyan is a light, vibrant greenish-blue, while teal is a medium to dark greenish-blue color. Thus, teal is darker and more muted than cyan, which means it has a lower saturation. 

The name teal comes from the colored area around the eyes of the common teal, also known as the Eurasian teal.

Are Cyan and Aqua the Same?

Cyan and aqua are often used interchangeably in light (RGB), including web design and computer graphics. So, in the additive model, both are made from the same amount of blue and green. That’s why they have the same hex code: #00FFFF.

When it comes to printing, both colors use 100% cyan, with no other subtractive colors added.

Aqua, which gets its name from the Latin word for water, is a color name used to describe cyan – the secondary additive color. 

It is secondary in the additive color model (RGB) because RGB and CMY models work hand in hand, meaning that the primary colors of one are the secondary colors of the other.

Cyan Color Codes

cyan hex code

The cyan RGB values are 0, 255, 255, meaning it is a combination of green and blue light at maximum intensity. Its hex code is #00FFFF.

In the CMYK model, cyan is represented by C: 100, M: 0, Y: 0, K: 0, meaning it consists of only one color, with no added magenta, yellow or black.

RGB Percentage0, 100, 100rgb(0%, 100%, 100%)
RGB Decimal0, 255, 255rgb(0,255,255)
CMYK100, 0, 0, 0
HSV180°, 100, 100
HSL180°, 100, 50hsl(180°, 100%, 50%)

Cyan Color Meaning

Cyan is associated with relaxation, youth, and energy. It is a lively, revitalizing, and inspiring color. Moreover, as a mixture of blue and green, cyan combines the freshness of green and the tranquility of blue.

Here are all the meanings of the color cyan.


Cyan is reminiscent of clear, tropical waters and bright, sunny skies, which often evoke feelings of calm, peace, and tranquility.

As a cool color, cyan is linked to feelings of calm and relaxation. Moreover, its brightness contributes to its serenity.


The color cyan is associated with clear waters, which symbolize clarity, cleanliness, and freshness.

Cyan also resembles a bright sky, symbolizing openness, freedom, and clarity of thought.

Moreover, cyan’s calming and peaceful nature contributes to a sense of mental clarity and calmness, reducing chaos and confusion.


In some cultures, cyan is associated with health and healing due to its refreshing and calming qualities. 

Cyan also represents balance and harmony since it sits between green (the color of nature and harmony) and blue (the color of peace and relaxation) on the color wheel.


As a bright and vibrant color, cyan is associated with energy, youth, and liveliness.

If you want something more subtle, combine cyan with cool grays and whites.

Shades of Cyan

The most popular shades of cyan include celeste, turquoise, aqua blue, electric blue, and ice blue. They are all mixtures of blue and green. Here’s a list of cyan shades, including their name, CMYK, RGB, and Hex codes.

Bright Cyan
Hex #41FDFE
RGB 65, 253, 254
CMYK 74, 0, 0, 0

Hex #00FFFF
RGB 0, 255, 255
CMYK 100, 0, 0, 0

Greenish Cyan
Hex #2AFEB7
RGB 42, 254, 183
CMYK 83, 0, 28, 0

Light Brilliant Cyan
Hex #65FFFF
RGB 101, 255, 255
CMYK 60, 0, 0, 0

Very Light Cyan
RGB 172, 255, 252
CMYK 33, 0, 1, 0

Light Cyan
RGB 158, 255, 255
CMYK 38, 0, 0, 0

Very Pale Cyan
RGB 226, 255, 255
CMYK 11, 0, 0, 0

Dark Cyan
Hex #0A888A
RGB 10, 136, 138
CMYK 50, 1, 0, 46

Bright Turquoise
Hex #0FFEF9
RGB 15, 254, 249
CMYK 94, 0, 2, 0

Hex #30D5C8
RGB 48, 213, 200
CMYK 65, 0, 5, 16

Turquoise Blue
Hex #00FFEF
RGB 0, 255, 239
CMYK 100, 0, 6, 0

Aqua Blue
Hex #02D8E9
RGB 2, 216, 233
CMYK 91, 7, 0, 9

Bright Aqua
Hex #0BF9EA
RGB 11, 249, 234
CMYK 93, 0, 6, 2

Hex #7FFFD4
RGB 127, 255, 212
CMYK 50, 0, 17, 0

RGB 178, 255, 255
CMYK 30, 0, 0, 0

Hex #3AB09E
RGB 58, 176, 158
CMYK 46, 0, 7, 31

Electric Blue
Hex #7DF9FF
RGB 125, 249, 255
CMYK 51, 2, 0, 0

Blue Green
Hex #0D98BA
RGB 13, 152, 186
CMYK 68, 13, 0, 27

Bright Sky Blue
Hex #02CCFE
RGB 2, 204, 254
CMYK 99, 20, 0, 0

Ice Blue
RGB 215, 255, 254
CMYK 16, 0, 0, 0

Colors That Go with Cyan

Red is the complementary color of cyan. This combo offers great contrast while maintaining color harmony. Thus, it’s one of the best colors that go with cyan. 

If you want contrast, cyan works well with yellow, orange, fuchsia, and hot pink.

For a more conservative color scheme, combine cyan with cool shades of gray, deep blues, or cool whites.

Monochromatic Cyan Combination

shades of cyan

Monochromatic combinations use tints and shades of only one hue. Colors that go with cyan in a monochromatic scheme include Robin egg blue, light sea green, dark cyan, and teal. All these colors are darker variations of blue-green.

Analogous Cyan Combination

Analogous cyan color combination

Cyan also works well with its adjacent colors, with which it has close relationships on the color wheel. These are called analogous colors.

For example, you can pair cyan with aquamarine or spring green on one side, respectively sky blue or azure on the other.

Azure and spring green pair well with cyan because this combo is often seen in nature and is pleasing to the eye.

Moreover, this color scheme could evoke feelings of tranquility, freshness, and harmony, and it would work well for designs intended to be calming or natural.

Split-Complementary Cyan Combination

Orange and hot pink are colors that go well with cyan

If you want a strong contrast with bold colors, pair cyan with bright orange and hot pink.

This type of color scheme offers a high contrast but provides more balance compared to the traditional, complementary combination.

It’s great for creating bold, vibrant designs while maintaining harmony.

Triadic Cyan Combination

triadic cyan color palette

Cyan also goes well with yellow and magenta for a vibrant, high-contrast color scheme.

Cyan, yellow, and magenta (or fuchsia) form a triadic color scheme involving three colors equally spaced around the color wheel. This scheme is often balanced and harmonious while still providing great contrast.

As you can see, all these colors are bright and vibrant. However, to avoid getting too much energy, using only one dominant color and the other ones as accents is advisable.

Cyan Color Palette Ideas

Now that you know what colors go with cyan, we’ve prepared some cyan color palette ideas for your next design. They respect color harmony, so you don’t have to worry.

Dessert Landscape

This cyan color palette includes fawn and bittersweet. It resembles the colors of a desert at sunset.

It combines the warmth and earthiness of fawn, the freshness and tranquility of cyan, and the boldness and vibrancy of bittersweet.

cyan goes well with fawn

Serene Beachside Retreat

Light cyan goes well with teal, pastel pinks, and oranges.

This scheme evokes calming and natural hues in a coastal setting, with colors reminiscent of sand, seashells, tranquil waters, and fresh beachside vegetation.

It’s a harmonious and soothing palette, perfect for creating a sense of peace and relaxation.

relaxing cyan color scheme


This scheme combines pastel variations of cyan, aquamarine, mint, light pink, and lavender pink. It’s a peaceful and harmonious palette, evoking feelings of gentle warmth and tranquility.

Moreover, it is a balanced scheme with both warm and cool colors.

pastel cyan color palette

Last Words on Cyan Blue

Cyan, known as cyan blue in the late 1800s, is a bright greenish-blue, serving as one of the foundation blocks of the printing process.

It is a combination of green and blue, leaning more towards blue. It is known as one of the primary subtractive colors, along with yellow and magenta.

According to color psychology, cyan represents relaxation, liveliness, youth, and energy.

It goes well with deep blues, yellows, oranges, hot pinks, magenta, cool grays, whites, and teal.

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