Tawny Color

Tawny Color – Explore the Sophisticated Warm Shades of Brown

There are many colors in the world, most of which you have probably never even heard of. Even the color brown has a variety of different shades with many different names. One of these colors is tawny. To gain more insight into what color tawny is, let us take a closer look. 



What Color Is Tawny?

Tawny can be described as a brown-orange color and is also considered a light shade of brown. Below is the web version of the tawny color, and as you can see, it can also be seen as quite a strong orange color. Is terracotta the same as tawny? The tawny orange color has an obvious orange undertone, while the terracotta has a softer red undertone.

What Color is Tawny

Tawny ShadeTawny Hex CodeCMYK Tawny Color Code (%)RGB Tawny Color CodeTawny Color
Tawny#cd57000, 58, 100, 20205, 87, 0 
Terracotta#e2725b0, 50, 60, 11226, 114, 91 


Tawny Color: A Brief History

The color brown itself has a long history, however, the tawny color has a bit more of an obscure history. The tawny color has been mentioned in the Color Standards and Color Nomenclature (1912) book by Robert Ridgway, who took it upon himself to standardize and name over one thousand colors. Tawny is also known as tenné, which in heraldry or blazonry is a “color stain” of a tawny orange color, used in designs for armorial bearings.

The tawny word may also be derived from the Anglo-Norman word taune, which means “tan-colored”.

Tawny Orange Color

The name comes from the color of tanned leather, which also comes from the Old French word tané, which can also be traced to the Medieval Latin word tannare that is from tannum and means “crushed oak bark”, which was used in leather tanning.  When using the word as an adjective, there is the Tawny Owl, which has similar color feathers. There is also a tawny port, the alcoholic beverage is matured for long periods in wooden casks and comes out a reddish or tawny orange color.


Meaning of the Tawny Color

Most shades of brown, including tawny, offer warmth and are seen as colors that provide strength and dependability. Tawny is a stable and grounding color that is closely linked to nature and earth tones. The tawny color also offers security, and reassurance, and is often linked with the idea of family and home. Since it is a shade of light brown, it can also be associated with honesty, health, and friendliness.

This color may also have some negative associations, for example, it can become boring and predictable.

What Colors go with Tawny

Too much of the color can also seem empty and stark. Tawny is a versatile color, but in many cases, it must be used properly. For example, the tawny color can be associated with strength, but it lacks a certain energy other colors can provide.



Shades of the Tawny Color

Many other colors might be confused with tawny, as each of these colors is quite close in appearance. However, all web colors can be identified by a hex code, making them separate colors. Each of these colors can be distinguished by its composition, which is represented by the various color codes for web design and printing.



The actual caramel is a confectionary product that is created by heating sugar in a process known as caramelization. The color can range from more yellowish to darker brown varieties. So, you might find different shades of caramel when looking for this color, besides the one displayed below in the table.

Light Tawny Color

Tawny ShadeTawny Hex CodeCMYK Tawny Color Code (%)RGB Tawny Color CodeTawny Color
Tawny#cd57000, 58, 100, 20205, 87, 0 
Caramel#bc7a3d0, 35, 68, 26188, 122, 61 


Light Brown

Light brown can also be described as a strong orange and is very close to tawny, but with slight variations. The light brown appears more brown than tawny, and the orange undertone is more subtle. There are also varieties of this particular color like the pale brown color below in the table.

Dark Tawny Color

Tawny ShadeTawny Hex CodeCMYK Tawny Color Code (%)RGB Tawny Color CodeTawny Color
Tawny#cd57000, 58, 100, 20205, 87, 0 
Light Brown#b5651d0, 44, 84, 29181, 101, 29 
Pale Brown#c4a4840, 16, 33, 23196, 164, 132 



This particular color is also known as fallow, desert, or lion. This is a more desaturated shade of orange, that is softer than the tawny color. The camel color appears to have a more yellowish undertone and resembles the hair color found on a camel.

Tawny Color Tints

Tawny ShadeTawny Hex CodeCMYK Tawny Color Code (%)RGB Tawny Color CodeTawny Color
Tawny#cd57000, 58, 100, 20205, 87, 0 
Camel#c19a6b0, 20, 45, 24193, 154, 107 



What Colors Go With Tawny?

The various shades of brown are all quite versatile and easy to work with when compared to some other colors. Tawny can be classified as a neutral color and will work well with other neutral colors like white, beige, gray, and black. To understand what colors go with tawny, you should learn about color theory and how colors interact with each other. Below are some of the color combinations you can consider.


Complementary Tawny Colors

Color theory involves the color wheel, which is an image of all colors in a wheel form. Brown is not a color that appears on the color wheel; however, all the different types or shades of brown have various undertones. These undertones will determine your color combinations. So, since tawny has an orange undertone, its complementary color, which is located on the opposite side, will be blue.

These colors create contrast and work well if you want colors to “pop” or be more noticeable.

Tawny Color Shades

ShadeHex CodeCMYK Color Code (%)RGB Color CodeColor
Tawny#cd57000, 58, 100, 20205, 87, 0 
Blue#0076cd100, 42, 0, 200, 118, 205 


Analogous Tawny Colors

Analogous colors all share common straits and are all located close to each other. Unlike complementary colors, these colors appear to work harmoniously and are visually pleasing. When it comes to the tawny color, these are your reds and yellows.

Tawny Color Combination

ShadeHex CodeCMYK Color Code (%)RGB Color CodeColor
Tawny#cd57000, 58, 100, 20205, 87, 0 
Red#cd00100, 100, 92, 20205, 0, 16 
Yellow #cdbe000, 7, 100, 20205, 190, 0 


Monochromatic Tawny Colors

All the various shades and tints of tawny fall into the monochromatic color combination category. This means creating a variety of tawny shades from a single color. You will get a variety of darker and lighter shades as seen below in the table.

Shades of Tawny Color

ShadeHex CodeCMYK Color Code (%)RGB Color CodeColor
Tawny#cd57000, 58, 100, 20205, 87, 0 
Dark Tawny#8137000, 57, 100, 49129, 55, 0 
Light Tawny#ff7b1b0, 52, 89, 0255, 123, 27 


Triadic Tawny Colors

Triadic colors have more in common with complementary colors, as both these combinations create contrast. These three colors can be seen as an even-sided triangular shape when viewing a color wheel. This also means various shades of violet, purple, and green can go with tawny.

Tints of Tawny Color

ShadeHex CodeCMYK Color Code (%)RGB Color CodeColor
Tawny#cd57000, 58, 100, 20205, 87, 0 
Violet#5700cd58, 100, 0, 2087, 0, 205 
Cyan#00cd57100, 0, 58, 200, 205, 87 



Working With the Tawny Color

Tawny is a lighter shade of brown that has an orange undertone, and as it is part of the brown family, it tends to be a bit more flexible in its use as it is an earthy tone. The tawny color can come in handy when painting, especially landscapes, and is quite popular as a fashion and interior design choice.


Mixing Tawny Color Paint

When mixing pigment colors, in color theory, you will learn that combining all three primary colors will produce a darkish brown color. So, by adjusting this three-color combination, you can achieve a tawny color. You can simply mix all three primary colors as mentioned, experiment with the proportions, and maybe include a small amount of white to finally achieve a tawny color.

Remember to always keep a color chart of your mixing experiments, so that you can go back and see what proportions you used to get that specific color.

You can also try mixing an orange paint color light blue and a little white. Another method is to mix yellow, red, and green. Combine yellow and red to create a nice orange color, then include a tiny amount of green and add in a little more red and yellow to finally achieve a tawny brown color. You can consider the below paint colors for this method.

Tawny Color Palette

ShadeHex CodeCMYK Color Code (%)RGB Color CodeColor
Lemon Yellow#fff44f0, 4, 69, 0255, 244, 79 
Crimson Red#9900000, 100, 100, 40153, 0, 0 
Sap Green#507d2a36, 0, 66, 5180, 125, 42 


Designing With the Tawny Color

Any brown color is timeless and sophisticated and easily be worn as coats, or boots or used to create a warm and inviting interior design. The tawny color can be worn as a dress skirt, or all shades of brown are popular as trousers or chinos. Even tawny sweaters, leggings, and shorts are popular. You can also simply wear a tawny scarf or carry along a tawny color handbag. Tawny pairs perfectly with white, black, and beige.

In the home, the tawny color can be used in beautiful furnishings and accessories like throws, couches, and cushions. This color can bring in warmth as a wall color and pairs well with other shades of brown, or even natural elements like wood.

Tawny Color Paint

Remember, there are always lighter or darker shades of tawny you can choose from. A darker shade might work nicely as an accent wall, while lighter shades can be used on all the walls without being too overwhelming. Add in pops of blue or green to create a more balanced look. You can also bring more depth and life to the shade of brown by bringing in patterns and texture.


As a shade of brown, the tawny color does have its own distinguishing characteristics. Not only is it a useful color, but it can also be used in a variety of ways from creating fashionable clothing to producing a welcoming and warm atmosphere in the home.




Frequently Asked Questions


What Color Is Tawny?

The tawny color is part of the brown family and can be described as being a brownish-orange color. So, tawny is a warm color that can also be defined as being a lighter shade of brown.


Is Tawny a Neutral Color?

Since tawny is part of the brown family, you can consider it a neutral color. Since it is a neutral color, it goes well with colors like white, beige, gray, and black. Tawny is also an earth tone, so it also goes well with other shades of brown, yellow, orange, green, and blue.


What Color Is Considered Close to Tawny?

The closest color that is similar to tawny is burnt orange, with the hex number #cc5500. The only difference between each color is a slight variation in their color composition.


Cite this Article

Charlene, Lewis, “Tawny Color – Explore the Sophisticated Warm Shades of Brown.” Art in Context. September 20, 2023. URL: https://artincontext.org/tawny-color/

Lewis, C. (2023, 20 September). Tawny Color – Explore the Sophisticated Warm Shades of Brown. Art in Context. https://artincontext.org/tawny-color/

Lewis, Charlene. “Tawny Color – Explore the Sophisticated Warm Shades of Brown.” Art in Context, September 20, 2023. https://artincontext.org/tawny-color/.

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