The curious case of LEGO colors

This post explores the difficulty of defining the exact LEGO color palette. I discuss the various lists, conversions and color systems.

UPDATE: My new book entitled “The Unofficial LEGO Color Guide” is now available. Here is a short video introduction:

LEGO’s color’s palette continues to be mystery to LEGO fans. The Bricks Magazine (#14) dedicated several articles to the topic and several AFOLs had a go at cataloging and understanding the LEGO color spectrum. New Elementary wrote a good post and several collectors attempted to find at least one brick of every LEGO color (Ryan Howerter, Jeremy Moody). LEGO itself seemed to have published its palette in 2010 and 2016. The LEGO Digital Designer also comes with its own color palette:


There are several lists available that catalog LEGO colors and Ryan Horwerter’s seems to be the most complete but certainly not the only one:

But here comes the catch. All of these lists, including the official ones from LEGO, disagree on the actual RGB value for every color! Lets take the example of Brick Yellow (Tan). The different websites and color palettes define it as:

Source Red Green Blue Color
LEGO Palette 2010 217 187 123
LEGO Plaette 2016 221 196 142
LEGO LDD 176 160 111
Peeron 215 197 153
Ryan Horwerter 176 160 111
Bricklink 222 198 156
Ldraw 228 205 158
Clark Stephen 215 197 153
Brickowl 222 198 156
Linus Bohman 176 160 111
Panatone 467 C 211 188 141

The first time Peeron acquired information about the Official LEGO Color Palette they also listed Pantone codes (PMS). This is no surprise since Pantone has been the market leader with their color matching system. It allowed designers to specify the color of the desired product using a fan of 1,114 spot colors that could be mixed using Pantone’s 14 pigments. Notice that the Pantone color space goes way beyond what can be achieved with CMYK, which also contributed to its popularity. Pantone comes from the printing world and they only slowly adopted to the needs of digital media. They did not bother with translating their 1,114 spot colors to RGB for a long time. You might think that using PMS colors should be the end of the problem, but that is unfortunately not true. Peeron has listed the wrong RGB values for the Pantone 467 C.

Brick Yellow is defined as Pantone 467 C, which is officially 211-188-141 or #d3bc8d in hex:

pantone 467 c definition

So lets compare the official Pantone 467 C to an actual brick:


One might argue that the bricks I have are a little bit closer to 468 C, but that might be a personal impression. When you select this PMS color in Illustrator and check its RGB value you get yet a different result:

pms 467 c illustrator rgb problem

Even worse, if you enter the CMYK values for the color you get a different RGB value from what Pantone defined:

pantone 467 c cmyk values

So where does this leave us? In utmost confusion! There does not seem to be a clear path to convert PMS to RGB or CMYK. We also need to consider that LEGO might be using at least two color systems, one for its bricks and one for its print and media products. For the bricks they could be using the Pantone Color Matching Tools for Plastics while they could or could not use Pantone colors for their print and media products. But even then, converting the PMS color to RGB or CMYK is not straight forward and LEGO has been inconsistent themselves.

I will try to confront LEGO with these results and maybe, just maybe, will we get an answer from them that go beyond what they already shared.

In the meantime, you might find the LEGO 2016 Color Palette for Adobe Swatches useful. You may also consider this table of Pantone based LEGO colors useful. I limited to the colors to solid colors. The RGB values are based on what Pantone defines as its official values. Given that LEGO probably started out with Pantone colors, this might be a good guess at the colors.

321Dark Azur153

Dark Azure/td>

2170 C5F9BC695155198

LEGO ID LEGO Name Bricklink ID Bricklink Name Pantone Pantone HEX Red Green Blue
1 White 1 White CoolGray 1 C D9D9D6 217 217 214
2 Grey 9 Light Gray 422 C 9EA2A2 158 162 162
3 Light Yellow 33 Light Yellow 1215 C FBD872 251 216 114
4 Brick Red 106 Fabuland Brown 7416 C E56A54 229 106 84
5 Brick Yellow 2 Tan* 467 C D3BC8D 211 188 141
6 Light Green 38 Light Green 351 C A2E4B8 162 228 184
7 Orange 715 C F68D2E 246 141 46
9 Light Reddish Violet 23 Pink* 203 C ECB3CB 236 179 203
11 Pastel Blue 72 Maersk Blue 277 C ABCAE9 171 202 233
12 Light Orange Brown 29 Earth Orange 1385 C D57800 213 120 0
13 Red Orange 151 C FF8200 255 130 0
15 Lemon 395 C ECE81A 236 232 26
18 Nougat 28 Flesh 472 C E59E6D 229 158 109
19 Light Brown 160 Fabuland Orange 7564 C DB8A06 219 138 6
21 Bright Red 5 Red Red 032 C EF3340 239 51 64
22 Medium Reddish Violet 47 Dark Pink* 2375 C E277CD 226 119 205
23 Bright Blue 7 Blue 293 C 003DA5 0 61 165
24 Bright Yellow 3 Yellow 116 C FFCD00 255 205 0
25 Earth Orange 8 Brown 469 C 693F23 105 63 35
26 Black 11 Black Process Black C 27251F 39 37 31
27 Dark Grey 10 Dark Gray 418 C 51534A 81 83 74
28 Dark Green 6 Green 348 C 00843D 0 132 61
29 Medium Green 37 Medium Green 353 C 80E0A7 128 224 167
36 Light Yellowish Orange 96 Very Light Orange 148 C FECB8B 254 203 139
37 Bright Green 36 Bright Green 355 C 9639 0 150 57
38 Dark Orange 68 Dark Orange 471 C B86125 184 97 37
39 Light Bluish Violet 44 Light Violet 2706 C CBD3EB 203 211 235
45 Light Blue 62 Light Blue 545 C C6DAE7 198 218 231
100 Light Red 26 Light Salmon 169 C FFB3AB 255 179 171
101 Medium Red 25 Salmon 170 C FF8674 255 134 116
102 Medium Blue 42 Medium Blue 284 C 6CACE4 108 172 228
103 Light Grey 49 Very Light Gray 421 C B2B4B2 178 180 178
104 Bright Violet 24 Purple 2592 C 9B26B6 155 38 182
105 Bright Yellowish Orange 31 Medium Orange 137 C FFA300 255 163 0
106 Bright Orange 4 Orange 151 C FF8200 255 130 0
107 Bright Bluish Green 39 Dark Turquoise 327 C 8675 0 134 117
108 Earth Yellow 1405 C 6E4C1E 110 76 30
110 Bright Bluish Violet 43 Violet 2736 C 1E22AA 30 34 170
112 Medium Bluish Violet 73 Medium Violet* 2726 C 485CC7 72 92 199
115 Medium Yellowish Green 76 Medium Lime 381 C CEDC00 206 220 0
116 Medium Bluish Green 40 Light Turquoise 326 C 00B2A9 0 178 169
118 Light Bluish Green 41 Aqua 324 C 9CDBD9 156 219 217
119 Bright Yellowish Green 34 Lime 390 C B5BD00 181 189 0
120 Light Yellowish Green 35 Light Lime 365 C C2E189 194 225 137
121 Medium Yellowish Orange 32 Light Orange 1365 C FFB549 255 181 73
123 Bright Reddish Orange 165 C FF671F 255 103 31
124 Bright Reddish Violet 71 Magenta 241 C AF1685 175 22 133
125 Light Orange 1555 C FFB990 255 185 144
128 Dark Nougat 471 C B86125 184 97 37
133 Neon Orange 165 C FF671F 255 103 31
134 Neon Green 374 C C5E86C 197 232 108
135 Sand Blue 55 Sand Blue 5415 C 5B7F95 91 127 149
136 Sand Violet 54 Sand Purple 666 C A192B2 161 146 178
137 Medium Orange 1575 C FF7F32 255 127 50
138 Sand Yellow 69 Dark Tan 451 C 9B945F 155 148 95
140 Earth Blue 63 Dark Blue 2955 C 3865 0 56 101
141 Earth Green 80 Dark Green 350 C 2C5234 44 82 52
144 Dark Army Green 5487 C 5D7975 93 121 117
151 Sand Green 48 Sand Green 624 C 789F90 120 159 144
153 Sand Red 58 Sand Red 4995 C 9C6169 156 97 105
154 (New) Dark Red 59 Dark Red 194 C 9B2743 155 39 67
180 Curry 161 Dark Yellow 131 C CC8A00 204 138 0
190 Fire Yellow Yellow 012 C FFD700 255 215 0
191 Flame Yellowish Orange 110 Bright Light Orange 137 C FFA300 255 163 0
192 Reddish Brown 88 Reddish Brown 499 C 7A3E3A 122 62 58
193 Flame Reddish Orange 173 C CF4520 207 69 32
194 Medium Stone Grey 86 Light Bluish Gray 429 C A2AAAD 162 170 173
195 Royal Blue 97 Blue-Violet 2728 C 0047BB 0 71 187
196 Dark Royal Blue 109 Dark Blue-Violet 286 C 0033A0 0 51 160
198 Bright Reddish Lilac 93 Light Purple 254 C 981D97 152 29 151
199 Dark Stone Grey 85 Dark Bluish Gray 431 C 5B6770 91 103 112
208 Light Stone Grey 99 Very Light Bluish Gray 428 C C1C6C8 193 198 200
209 Dark Curry 118 C AC8400 172 132 0
210 Faded Green 364 C 4A7729 74 119 41
211 Turquoise 3255 C 2CD5C4 44 213 196
212 Light Royal Blue 105 Bright Light Blue 292 C 69B3E7 105 179 231
213 Medium Royal Blue 2727 C 307FE2 48 127 226
216 Rust 174 C 963821 150 56 33
217 Brown 91 Dark Flesh 161 C 603D20 96 61 32
218 Reddish Lilac 2573 C B884CB 184 132 203
219 Lilac 73 Medium Violet* 2725 C 685BC7 104 91 199
220 Light Lilac 2716 C 9FAEE5 159 174 229
221 Bright Purple 47 Dark Pink* 232 C E93CAC 233 60 172
222 Light Purple 104 Bright Pink 236 C F1A7DC 241 167 220
223 Light Pink 183 C FC9BB3 252 155 179
224 Light Brick Yellow 7501 C D9C89E 217 200 158
225 Warm Yellowish Orange 713 C FDBE87 253 190 135
226 Cool Yellow 103 Bright Light Yellow 120 C FBDB65 251 219 101
232 Dove Blue 87 Sky Blue 311 C 05C3DE 5 195 222
268 Medium Lilac 89 Dark Purple 2685 C 330072 51 0 114
269 Tiny-Medium Blue 7459 C 4298B5 66 152 181
283 Light Nougat 90 Light Flesh 712 C FCC89B 252 200 155
308 Dark Brown 120 Dark Brown Black 4 C 31261D 49 38 29
322 Medium Azur 156 Medium Azure 297 C 71C5E8 113 197 232
323 Aqua 152 Light Aqua 566 C B9DCD2 185 220 210
324 Medium Lavender 157 Medium Lavender 2583 C A05EB5 160 94 181
325 Lavender 154 Lavender 529 C CAA2DD 202 162 221
326 Spring Yellowish Green 158 Yellowish Green 372 C D4EB8E 212 235 142
330 Olive Green 155 Olive Green 5763 C 737B4C 115 123 76
56 Light Pink 7436 C EEDAEA 238 218 234


17 thoughts on “The curious case of LEGO colors”

  1. Do you have the Pantone information for Lego’s Dark Azur, Lego ID 321? I can’t find info for it anywhere. Any help would be appreciated!

  2. Great article, thank you. Should Medium Nougat/Medium Dark Flesh be somewhere around there?

  3. Hi,
    Pantone colors in Illustrator are NOT accurate on screen. When printed professionally it will match the book.

  4. Hello! I need the color codes abaout Medium Nougat/Dark Flesh too…
    I can’t find them nowhere!
    Thank you very much, great article!

  5. Your observations are astute, there is considerable disagreement between online sources listing colors. In addition to the complexity, there are two additional points that you might not have considered:

    1) Lego is changing their color pallet w/o telling us. As they are changing the chemical composition of their bricks to make them less brittle, stronger, more durable, cheaper, more light-fast, and an number of other properties, they are altering the colors that are produced, intentionally or incidentally.

    2) Lego bricks are affected by UV light. Even if everybody measured their colors with a perfect tool right out of the box, there is no way to know how much UV light they were exposed to before being put in the packaging.

    3) Some colors are very hard to correctly mix in a consistent fashion. If you compare new purples from the same set, you will find a noticeable variance in the bricks.

    Trying to nail down a single ‘true’ color is a interesting goal, but it might not be entirely reasonable.

  6. Only just reached your site. I’ve been trying to map the RGB values for LEGO colours across Peeron Color List, Howerter Color List, Bricklink Colour Guide, LDraw Colour Definition, and (via Howerter -) the Pantone Color site. Most LEGO > Consumer communication these days is via the web, and HTML rendering is the standard. Already concluded, as you do, that it’s inconsistent.
    Question: Why the assumption that Pantone is the standard color system?
    Given that LEGO is Danish, and they are in the top 5 buyers of BASF ABS plastics (and collaborate closely with BASF in production), surely it is more probable that they communicate using the European/German RAL colour standard? OTOH, when they specify colours to the Chinese factories … what do they use then?
    Oh heck, does anybody REALLY know?


  7. You can’t accurately represent the visual properties of real Lego parts with Pantone colours. There are Pantone colours for coated paper and uncoated paper, but I have never come across Pantone ABS.

    By definition, many Pantone colours can’t be expressed accurately as RGB or CMYK, if they could, then you wouldn’t need Pantone colours. Any ‘official’ Adobe or Pantone translations you see are just educated guesses. Other guesses may be just as good, especially with ‘dirty’ colours (ones that combine all four of C, M, Y and K).

    Adobe doesn’t really understand colour repro in any case. Try converting any photograph with lots of black on it from RGB to CMYK in Photoshop and grit your teeth in frustration.

    It is futile trying to express CMYK colours to second digit accuracy. I am reliably told by Doug Rose, who has spent his whole working life with colour repro, that there isn’t a litho press in the world that can print at that level of accuracy. Expressing the last digit as anything other than 5 or 0 is just wishful thinking.

  8. Color Science in general is a very deep rabbit hole, full of “best guesses,” “educated guesses,” “lucky guesses,” and Just Plain Magic. I worked on an RGB-to-photomaterials (film, paper) product from 1988 to 1997, the intended market being the ability to produce a single, color-accurate, proof print showing what a CMYK image printed in newspaper/magazine halftone would look like, without actually having to tool up a gigantic CMYK press and run hundreds of feet of paper just for test purposes. This obviously drastically improved digital-image-workstation tweak-and-print cycle time!

    The problem is that trying to match the colors of *any* two objects is a very subtle challenge, because you’re talking about *human-perceived* color, which is affected by all sorts of things, including but not limited to: illumination type (incandescent, fluorescent, daylight — and, I’m sure, now also LEDs of probably multiple different sets of properties), dye set (film vs ink) or display phosphors/filters (CRT, LCD, etc.) and the resulting “color gamut” (set of colors that can be produced at all, let alone matched to anything else), and of course the specific biochemistry of the observer’s eyes’ rods-and-cones! (The “standard” human retina is trichromatic, with sensors that detect with varying sensitivity a range of light frequencies/wavelengths that only rather loosely correspond to what we *think we see* as “red, green, and blue,” but even then, there are occasional rare individuals who are *tetra*chromats, and have a *fourth* sensor and therefore see color entirely differently than the rest of us, in ways that, of course, are difficult or impossible to meaningfully describe, one to the other.

    So, putting two color samples next to each other and concluding that “they’re the same” is a very tricky process: it may be true, “under the exact conditions here-and-now,” whatever they are, but may be completely, even drastically, *un*true at other places under other conditions.

    No two color monitors (screens) are quite exactly the same, either, and none of them are *at all* exactly the same as dye sets (in plastic bricks, Pantone color patches, printed manuals, photos, etc.). Certainly holding a LEGO brick up to a computer screen and adjusting RGB values until “they match” is going to be wildly error-prone and produce wildly different “right” RGB values between monitors, bricks, room lighting conditions, etc. etc. etc.!

    I have to wonder how much of the drastic differences among various individuals’ and organizations’ assessments of LEGO color RGB values is due to innocent ignorance of all this, and resulting failure to take the various factors into account. What needs to happen is that someone, somewhere, needs to first define all the parameters for a “standard” LEGO color measurement system: what kind of instrument will be used to measure the color, what its illumination light source shall be, what other conditions shall be ensured (brick age and time-since-rolling-off-the-assembly-line, etc.), etc. Once *that* is standardized, we might start to see better consistency among measurements taken at different places and times.

    Meanwhile, we have to hope that the various sources’ RGB values at least *cluster* more-or-less closely around some nebulous average value for each color. I plan to write a program to 3D plot the color database(s) such as I can find, and see for myself!

    In any case, I’m also interested in *why* we’re so interested in LEGO color RGB values. Are we building color-accurate models of real-world objects? Mosaic panels to reproduce photographs? Something else? For the vast majority of “sit down and have fun” LEGO purposes I’d think color exactitude would be a non-issue.

  9. Commenter Chiesa is on to something. There must be a shortcut.

    There is an existing scheme for translating between the measured light in a photographic scene and the reproduction of that scene using a display device such as a common video or computer display. The Academy Color Encoding System (ACES) provides a rigorous mathematical model for translation between “scene referred” color and “display referred” color, for a practically infinite combination of capture and display technologies. It has taken some time to catch on, but it is now an off-the-shelf exercise to translate images captured by an ACES-qualified camera to, for example, the sRGB color space which has been used in most Lego color surveys.

    Check the latest version of your video or image editor to see if ACES support is available. Google your camera model and “ACES” to find information about converting images from that device. Hints: the camera-to-ACES conversion is termed an “Input Device Transform” (IDT), the ACES-to-display conversion is termed an “Output Device Transform” (ODT).

    The work flow is: camera > convert camera-to-ACES > convert ACES-to-display > display

    By adopting an existing standardized color management system for commonly available input and output devices, the community can save time and avoid error and quickly learn to make apples-to-apples color surveys.

  10. Pardon my late comment, but there’s a gap of information here: from what source were the tabled Pantone colors derived? I’m not even sure from where the article’s definition of Brick Yellow as “467 C” is derived… Peeron? And how was that information validated?

    Plus the RGB values provided in the table don’t match those of the ASE Palette to which you’ve linked (at least none of the palette’s named colors), thus it seems that even an article pointing out the broader color definition variances has its own inconsistencies?

  11. Only the LEGO company knows what their exact colors are. There has never been an official and accurate source of information. Furthermore, the Pantone colors used for printing are unsuitable for plastic colors. The closest thing I could do was to measure the colors with a colorimeter. The RGB values produced is only half the equation. The other half is the color reproduction. How your screen or printer translates the RGB value is a not standardised. Only ICC profiles can help with it.

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