For new graffiti artists, finding the right graffiti colors to use can be hard.
But the reality is, it’s completely down to the artist’s style. After all, there are no rules to graffiti – so it’s on the artist to come up with the best color schemes for their pieces.
However, there are some ways to make your graffiti stand out. And among other factors like having good letter structure and strong can control, the colors you choose also play a huge role.
So whether you’re looking for inspiration for your next piece or just interested in the colors graffiti artists use, here are 7 classic graffiti color combos.
Plus, a selection of common questions and top tips for picking graffiti colors.
- What colors are used for graffiti?
- A quick history of graffiti colors
- 7 Classic Graffiti Color Combos
- What colors go well together for graffiti?
- Top tips for choosing graffiti colors
What colors are used for graffiti?
The colors graffiti artists use depend mostly on their graffiti style and what paint they can get their hands on. But put simply, every color can be used for graffiti.
Nowadays, graffiti artists have a huge range of graffiti spray paint colors at their fingertips.
With some famous brands like Montana Black having over 180+ color shades, there are endless possibilities when it comes to graffiti color combos.
A quick history of graffiti colors
In the early days of graffiti, before specialised graffiti spray paint existed, graffiti writers would paint with anything they could get their hands on.
Writers couldn’t be picky with colors because there weren’t many options. In places like the US, graffiti writers used brands like Krylon and Ruse-Oleum which were commonly racked (stolen) from D.I.Y stores.
Colors were limited, however, as these paints were usually designed for D.I.Y and home improvement – not art.
This meant graffiti colors during the early days of graffiti in the 1960 – 1980s were less vibrant, with limited color combos to choose from.
As professional spray paint brands began to emerge such as Molotow over in Europe, graffiti colors started to improve. These high quality paint formulas were more vibrant and more weather-resistant compared to cheaper brands.
Although professional spray paint is now the most common choice for most graffiti artists, the limited colors (like white and black shades) we saw being used in the early days are still very influential today.
7 Classic Graffiti Color Combos
Despite graffiti colors evolving over the years, many of the classic colorways are still some of the most popular today.
Here are 7 classic graffiti color combos that’ll make your graffiti name pop:
1. Black and White
Black and white spray paint was the most readily available colors in the early days of graffiti before professional brands began producing every shade imaginable.
This made them two of the most popular colors for graffiti, which they still hold the title for to this day.
Black and white colors contrast together perfectly, which makes them ideal for creating big and bold letters.
From throw-ups to straight letter pieces, you can’t go wrong with combining black and white in a graffiti piece. Plus, it’ll give your work that classic graffiti look.
2. Chrome and Black
Chrome and black are another iconic graffiti color combo, especially in situations where graffiti writers need to paint fast.
When graffiti artists realised that chrome spray paint paired with a fat cap allowed them to cover big areas fast, chrome soon became an incredibly popular graffiti color.
Chrome spray paint formulas have only improved over the years too. Brands like Molotow produce 600ml Burner Chrome action cans, designed for maximum coverage. Pair this with deep black spray paint, and you can go super big with speed.
Although chrome and black is a popular graffiti color combo across the globe, London, in particular, has taken a liking to this color scheme. So much so, that London’s most well-known graffiti shop is named Chrome & Black.
3. White and Red
White and red is another classic combination of graffiti colors that was born out of a lack of spray paint when graffiti was becoming popular on the East Coast of the US.
With these colors being easier to get a hold of compared to more complex shades, white and red color schemes found their way onto walls and surfaces across the world.
Even to this day, this color combo still proves incredibly popular – especially for fast throw ups.
4. Yellow and Black
For similar reasons black and white became a classic graffiti colorway, yellow and black became popular as these colors are easy to get hold of and contrast very well.
This makes yellow and black pieces stand out amongst the noise, giving a big and bold feel to all types of graffiti styles.
A word of warning though – yellow spray paint is notorious for not covering as well as other colors.
Spray paint brands have struggled for years to make a super opaque and vibrant yellow, so it’s something to remember if you use this colorway. You might need to do an extra layer of yellow to make it pop.
Otherwise, stick to one layer to achieve the fast-paced, classic graffiti bombing look.
5. Gold and Black
Much like chrome, the metallic nature of gold spray paint allows graffiti artists to cover big areas with speed. This makes it a very good graffiti color for fast painting.
Use gold alongside a thick black to create a strong outline, and you’ve got yourself a vibrant and long-lasting color combo.
If you’re planning on using this colorway, we recommend choosing Molotow’s 600ml Burner Gold to fill with. This spray paint designed for fast action covers extremely well and produces a vibrant gold to give it that ‘money’ look.
6. Tonal color combos
Pairing tonal colors together is a good choice for every graffiti style.
Tonal graffiti colors allow artists to fade and merge colors together to give pieces a more complex look compared to single colors.
To get the most out of tonal colorways, however, it’s a good idea to use a contrasting color for your outline or background. This makes the tonal colors pop way more than just using similar shades – adding a 3rd dimension of color.
If you use shades that are too similar in your piece without a contrasting color, you’ll struggle to make your graffiti pop. It’s possible to make good graffiti this way, but it’s not easy for beginners.
7. Fluorescent color combos
For making unmissable graffiti, fluorescent colors allow pieces to stand out in a way that normal colors can’t.
Fluoresence colors are definitely a more modern graffiti colorway, as these colors weren’t around in the early days of graffiti.
Nowadays, artists can use paint from specialist brands like Montana, which make Infra Fluorescent colors. These are very visually striking and can add a whole new dimension to graffiti pieces.
Just be careful not to overdo it with fluorescent colors. Too much and your piece can look cheap and won’t be easy on the eye. Use them instead for small details to help bring a piece out.
What colors go well together for graffiti?
Although the colors used for graffiti are entirely down to the artist, colors that go good together are usually ones that contrast well.
A fill that contrasts well with an outline makes letters bold and easy to read. As the aim of the game is to get your name seen by as many people as possible, graffiti colors that stand out are the best to use.
For graffiti artists who want to cover areas as fast as possible, the best colors to use are silver chrome and gold. Pair these colors with a dark outline color like black or navy, and you’ve got yourself a fast and effective color combo.
Top tips for choosing graffiti colors
Although there are no hard and fast rules for choosing graffiti colors, here are a few tips that you might find useful when making your decision.
1. Use contrasting fill and outline colors
By using a light color to fill your letter and a dark color to outline them (or the other way around) your letters will be much easier to read.
This will also make them stand out a lot more among the noise – especially if it’s a busy spot.
2. Use high coverage colors for speed
Choose colors that cover well if you need to paint fast. This means you’ll only need to put down one layer for it to be opaque.
The best colors for speed include silver chrome, black and gold. However, most high pressure professional spray paints in a dark shade cover very well when paired with a fat cap.
3. Choose colors based on your style
There’s no right and wrong when it comes to graffiti colors. Choose colors that you like and roll with them.
Be creative and experiment with new color combos until you find what’s best for your style. Take a look at our article on finding your graffiti style to help.
4. Practice in your blackbook
Practising color combos in a blackbook is a cheap way to work out what looks good before you spend money on paint.
Plus, it’ll help you practice letter structures and your overall style.
Take a look at our guide to blackbook markers for graffiti if you need help deciding on which markers to choose.
What’s your favourite color combo for graffiti? Drop a comment and let me know.