Last Updated on May 25, 2023
Glaucous is not a word that will easily roll off your tongue. It turns out that the name isn’t just hard to pronounce. It’s also fairly difficult to describe. If you’ve been considering adding the glaucous color to your palette but don’t really know what it looks like, this article is for you.
Read below as we expound on what glaucous is and the emotions it can imbue into your designs. We will also go over the illustrious history of this amazing color and offer a short procedure on how to prepare it using other pigments.
Glaucous is a moderate grayish-blue color with the hexadecimal code #6082B6. This light shade of blue is so muted that it almost looks like a neutral tone.
However, as already indicated, glaucous can be quite difficult to describe. While the generally accepted definition is a ‘moderate grayish-blue color,’ there are no standard guidelines on the amount of blue and gray a color should have to constitute glaucous.
In fact, there’s no consensus on whether glaucous is actually a grayish-blue color as its composition can vary depending on the color identification system in question. In most cases, the color’s description is left to the discretion of artists and graphic designers.
Glaucous’ definition gets fuzzier when you consider that some publications describe it as a blue-gray, blue-green, or pale-gray color. Even worse is the fact that the word is also an adjective describing botanicals whose leaves are covered in bluish, grayish, or whitish coating that can easily be rubbed off.
But for the avoidance of confusion, this article will focus on the widely accepted definition of glaucous – a moderate grayish-blue color.
Individual Colors in Glaucous
Blue and gray are the two dominant colors in glaucous. That said, remember that glaucous may feature hints of other colors. Besides, the individual pigments making up glaucous vary by the color identification model in question.
In the RGB (red, green, and blue) color model, glaucous comprises 71.4% blue, 51% green, and 37.6% red. That’s in contrast to the CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, and key (black) color model, where glaucous comprises 47.3% cyan, 28.6% magenta, 28.6% black, and 0% yellow.
Etymological Origin of the Glaucous Term
The name “glaucous” derives from the Latin word ‘glaucus,’ which further derives from the Ancient Greek word γλαυκός (glaukós), meaning blue-green or blue-gray.
“Glaucous” traces its origin way back to Classical antiquity, where Greek poet Homer frequently used the word ‘glaukos’ botanically. The term was initially applied to describe the pale bluish, grayish, or whitish appearance of the surfaces of some plants. It especially denoted hints of color that could be rubbed off, such as glaukos leaves.
Homer also used the term ‘glaukos’ to describe the color of honey, the color of water, and the color of the eyes. Besides describing various colors, the word more accurately translated to ‘gleaming.’ This means its application was less about the specific pigment the said objects appeared in but rather their reflective properties.
Glaucous was later adopted into the animal kingdom as a reference to several bird species. These include the glaucous gull (Larus hyperboreus), glaucous-winged gull (Larus glaucescens), glaucous tanager (Thraupis glaucocolpa), and the glaucous macaw (Anodorhynchus glaucus).
The first documented use of the term “glaucous” as a color name in English was in the mid-1600s. That’s interesting considering how ambiguous the color’s definition has been through the years.
History of the Glaucous Color
The blue color has been around for millions of years. However, ancient Greeks were unable to distinguish between blue and green. They called both colors “glaukos.” This confusion is consistent across many other cultures and languages.
When “glaukos” first entered the English language, the word maintained its Greek application. Old and Middle English widely used the word ‘glas’ to denote both blue and green. The same was true for ancient Japanese who used the word ‘ao’ to describe the two colors.
Vietnamese and Korean speakers still use the same words while describing blue and green. They only add modifiers to the root word to specify the shades. The Himba tribe of northern Namibia have no specific words translating to “blue” or “green.” Instead, they use different words to describe various shades of green.
The long confusion between blue and green stems from the fact that it’s difficult to specify where one color ends and the other begins on a color spectrum. Besides, the Greeks did not assign any specific meanings to either color. It was actually unclear whether glaucous was a color or a term merely denoting an object’s reflective properties.
The glaucous color became somewhat more clearly defined during the Hellenistic period. The term was now used to describe bluish, grayish, and greenish hues which appeared so muted that they bordered on neutrals.
Since many English words were borrowed from Greek and Latin, it’s understandable why the word “glaucous” is equally difficult to define in English. That’s despite the fact that the English language has developed numerous terms for various shades of blue and green.
But while its definition has remained elusive over time, the glaucous color has been widely acknowledged throughout history. The color has received more recognition in poetry and science than it has in the artistic world.
Common Things That Have The Glaucous Color
There are several things that are glaucous in appearance if we go by the word’s definition of ‘a moderate bluish-gray color.’
The epicuticular wax coating on mature plum fruits is one of the most noticeable instances of glaucous occurrence in the natural environment. The color is also visible in the common grape genus Vitis vinifera.
Certain cacti species also have a glaucous coating on their stems. These stems are hydrophobic – water-repellent. They help the plants secreting them to prevent possible moisture damage during the wet seasons. They also ward off insects and climbing plants.
Lastly, as already mentioned, several bird species are naturally glaucous in color.
The Psychological Meaning and Emotional Attributes of Glaucous
Glaucous brings together blue’s calming properties and gray’s balancing effects. This pale shade of blue is what you need to imbue a sense of serenity into your environment. The color’s muted appearance makes it easy to use in just about any setting. It’s easier on the eyes compared to other vivid blues, such as royal blue.
In terms of its balancing effects, you could use glaucous right between two overpowering colors. Due to its paler tone, glaucous can absorb the brilliance of other dazzling shades used beside it, helping balance out their effects.
Glaucous may also represent sophistication. That’s mainly because the color is quite difficult to define. You could use this variation of blue to add a little mystery to your designs. Unless someone is a color connoisseur, they’ll not be able to immediately tell whether your creations are grayish-blue or greenish-blue.
Glaucous’ ambiguity also makes it one of the most fascinating blue pigments. The color can add a touch of elegance to your artwork when combined with matching tones.
Glaucous connotes timelessness. That’s for the simple reason that the pigment has been around for millennia. The color may not receive as much attention as other shades of blue. But adding it to your palette is a creative way to give your creations a classic feel.
Although not exactly similar to water colors like aqua, glaucous’ appearance resonates with water. The color can, therefore, conjure the same rejuvenating feelings associated with water. Besides, it can bring up imagery of the pristine oceans, making it a great choice for beach-themed designs.
Lastly, glaucous has a spiritual side. The Greeks who’re credited for popularizing the color actually had a god called Glaucus. The god was named in reference to the glaucous color of the sea. He’s portrayed as having bristly eyebrows, a dripping beard, and a merman tail.
Although he was born mortal, Glaucus lost his mortality after consuming a magical herb known as “dog’s eyebrows.” Due to its spiritual connotations, glaucous may be a perfect fit for projects with supernatural themes, such as paranormal novels and films.
How To Prepare and Blend Glaucous
Glaucous is a mixture of blue and gray. Therefore, the easiest way to prepare the color is by using blue and gray paints.
i. Purchase blue and gray paints from your local art store or hardware, depending on the amount of glaucous you want to prepare.
You’ll also need other essential art supplies, such as a mixing bowl and palette knife.
ii. Add blue paint to your color mixing bowl.
iii. Introduce small amounts of gray to the blue paint, stirring gently until you achieve a perfect glaucous color.
iv. Make any necessary adjustments.
For instance, more blue will deepen the glaucous while more gray will lighten it.
You could also prepare glaucous using cyan and magenta.
i. Start by mixing equal amounts of cyan and magenta.
ii. Stir gently until you achieve a vivid blue color.
iii. Introduce small amounts of gray to the color, stirring gently until you obtain glaucous.
After preparing glaucous, the next (and most important) step is pairing it up with the right color. The good news is that like other lighter shades of blue, glaucous can blend well with most colors.
Mix glaucous with red to create an eye-catching palette. This combination would best suit glamorous events like weddings. To make the most of a red-glaucous palette, consider using glaucous as the background color.
You can then add pops of red to inject energy and elegance into the design. For even more stunning visuals, you should consider using deep crimson with an icy shade of glaucous.
Glaucous can also blend with yellow or other golden hues to create a refreshing and cheerful look. Note that glaucous is soothing while yellow is energizing. So, the two colors will effortlessly cancel each other out, inducing mental relaxation while still giving you enough impetus to get things done.
If properly done, a yellow-glaucous combination can recreate the surreal beauty of the sun dipping beneath the horizon. It can also conjure images of the tranquil sea.
Due to its grayish undertones, you could pretty much combine glaucous with most other warm colors, including orange and pink. Glaucous will even go well with purple.
If you’ve been wondering what constitutes glaucous, we hope this article was able to put your doubts to rest. Remember that like any color, glaucous will only bring out the best in your creations if combined with other complementing hues.