Typical Cartoon Animal Colors
Many cartoon animals have coloration that's consistent across works, even by different animators, but which is not typical of them in Real Life
. This has the effect of making identifying the animal as belonging to to a particular species easier for the audience, for instance if a farmyard bird with webbed feet is grey, it's a goose; but if it's yellow, it's a duck. This trope also can also be the result of The Coconut Effect
in action where realistic markings or colorings seem off to the viewer
, but more often it's a case of Color-Coded for Your Convenience
Typical Animal Colors, Markings, and Patterns in Animated Works in General:
- Crows and Ravens: Shiny black feathers with yellow beaks and feet (real crows and ravens have beaks and feet that are black. The all-black feathered corvid that has a yellow beak in Real Life is a chough.)
- Alligators and Crocodiles: Bright or dull green scales all over their bodies in cartoons. In Real Life, most species are brownish, grayish, blackish, dark-grayish, or brown- or grey-green.
- Wolves: Black with white or cream-colored slipper-like marked hindfeet, white or cream-colored facial "masks," and sometimes a white or cream-colored tail tip was common in The Golden Age of Animation. In more recent works, they are often grey with lighter grey chests, bellies, and muzzles or facial "masks" which is more realistic.
- Frogs and Toads: Generally always green in cartoons (especially frogs) even though real frogs and toads can have any kind of color, markings, or pattern depending on the species.
- Whales and Dolphins: Are usually blue or grey all over (with or without white bellies) in cartoons.
- Canaries: Yellow feathers all over their bodies.
- Goldfish: Usually just either golden yellow, yellow orange, or orange in cartoons (hence the name).
- Reptiles: Most are green, even though real reptiles come in a wide variety of colors and patterns.
- Parrots: Most often green in cartoons- partially Truth in Television, as a great number of real life parrot species are green. Scarlet macaws are also fairly common.
- Crabs and Lobsters: Usually red. In real life, there are only a couple of species, mostly crab species, that are red when they're alive. Most only turn red when they're cooked.
- Pigs: Usually pink, although in cartoons of the late 1920s and early 1930s, they may also be black with white facial "masks" and hooves.
- Sheep: Usually all have black, white, or tan faces and feet and white wool all over their bodies. A sheep that is black stands out from the rest of the crowd or is otherwise special.
- Goats: Usually tan, grey, white or brown.
- Gorillas and Chimpanzees: Usually brown furred with lighter skin on their hands, feet and faces. In real life the fur may just as well be black as brown and more likely to be black, and unless it's very young, the bare skin will be black or dark grey.
- Monkeys: Like apes, almost always brown-furred with tan hands, feet, and faces.
- Domestic Geese: Yellow-orange bills and feet and all-grey or all-white feathers
- Cattle: Cows are usually either white with black or brown blotches or all-brown and bulls are usually all-black in cartoons.
- Rabbits: Often all-white, brown, or grey, although media targeted at younger audiences may also have rabbits in pink- especially when said rabbit character is female. Anthropomorphised rabbits tend to have a white oval belly patch and slipper marked feet. In Japanese media, many rabbits tend to have black tipped ears.
- Ducks: All-yellow or all-white feathers, or mallard coloration if they're wild ducks. Usually sport a yellow-orange bill even if male.
- Horses tend to be solid or pinto. Solid brown, solid black, grey, and pure white are the most common. A pinto will be white and brown.
- Donkeys: Usually brownish or grayish with a lighter colored muzzle, chest, belly, and lighter colored areas around both eyes.
- Mice and rats: Brown, grey, or white fur with pink ears and noses and bare tails. Mice in cartoons often sport a white or lighter colored belly, a slightly furred tail, and a black or dark colored nose.
- Swans: White. When a swan in black, it will be to indicate something special about the animal.
- Skunks: Tend to have white bellies and/or muzzles or facial "masks," as well as the characteristic white stripe(s) on their back.
- Domestic Cats: They often have white tail tips in animation even though white tail tips are rather uncommon on Real Life cats. Black and other solid colored cats, especially those with white paws, bellies, and/or muzzles or facial "masks," and all-white female cats are quite prevalent. Tabbies often have stripes on their heads, back, and tail while omitting the leg stripes that real life tabbies usually have.
- Dogs: Solid colored dogs are quite common in animation (brown, yellow, black, and white are the main colors), as are white or yellow dogs with black ears, tails, and/or "saddle" markings.
- Bears (except polar bears and pandas): Brown with a lighter brown or tan colored muzzle and/or belly. In Japanese media bears often have a white "crescent moon" mark on their chest. Bears in Golden Age Cartoons can have a lighter brown or tan facial "mask."
- Foxes: Always red foxes, with their coats frequently leaning more towards pure red/reddish orange in Western works and nearly yellow in Japanese media.
- Lions: Manes on males will almost always be brown. Cubs are almost always yellow, with no sign of the rosettes (spots) present on real life lion cubs.
- Elephants, Rhinos, and Hippos: Are mostly grey.
- Tigers: Black stripes on orange or yellow fur. Their muzzles, cheeks, paws, and undersides will be either be white like in real life or simply the same color as the rest of their bodies. White tigers are also fairly common. Don't expect to see golden tabby, black, or maltese tigers though.
- Kangaroos and Wallabees: They are mostly brown or grey.
- Koalas: Are grey or grey and white.
- Ostriches: Always black and white. Including the females, despite being brown or gray in real life. Their necks and legs would either be pink or gray.
- Beavers: Mostly brown fur with white teeth (real beavers have orange or yellow teeth). Their tails will always be either gray or brown.
- Raccoons: Usually gray or brown, with black facial "masks" and black rings around their tails.
- Zebras: Are black and white. Their muzzles may be black like in real life, but will also be gray or beige or white.
- Giraffes: Yellow or orange with brown spots. Their tongues will always be pink, even though real giraffes have black or purple tongues. Older works have orange giraffes with black spots.
- Piranhas: Mostly green, pink, red, blue, or gray. Red-bellied piranhas are quite common.
- Chickens: Often yellow, red, brown, brownish red, reddish brown, white, or white with a red or brown head, neck, and tail feathers. Usually sport a yellow-orange bill and feet and red comb. Roosters can have orange necks and heads and dark green bodies and tail feathers. Chicks are yellow.
- Hawks: Brown feathers all over.
Compare and contrast Amazing Technicolor Wildlife
, where animals are colored freely. White Bunny
is a subtrope. Stock Object Colors
is a Super Trope
- Sebastian from The Little Mermaid is the type of bright red crab that is standard to cartoons.
- The picture book Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? features a brown bear, a red bird, a yellow duck, a green frog, a white dog, a black sheep, and a goldfish.
- Jungle Junction features a red crab (Taxicrab), a green toad (Toadhog), a pink pig (Zooter), and a green crocodile (Crocker).
- Tweety from Looney Tunes is yellow like a typical cartoon canary.
- WordWorld has a brown dog, a yellow duck, a pink pig, a green frog, a white sheep, and a brown bear.
Typical Animal Colors, Markings, and Patterns Specific to Certain Animated Works
- All the mice in Disney's Cinderella are either tan or light-brown furred all over and have brick red noses, pink ears, and black, threadlike tails.
- All the weasels in Disney adaptation of The Wind in the Willows and Disney's The Prince and the Pauper are brown furred with tan colored muzzles, either with or without tan colored chins. Some of them have tan fur on the undersides of their necks, some of them don't.
- The rats in Ratatouille all have pink noses, ears, tails, and paws, bluish, grayish, grayish green, brownish, or reddish brown fur, and lighter colored bellies.
- The weasels in Who Framed Roger Rabbit have more variation in fur color, but they all have base colored fur (usually brown) with lighter colored muzzles with lighter colored chins (except Smartass, whose chin is left the base color of his fur), undersides of necks, chests, bellies, and soles of feet.
- Frank in The Rescuers Down Under is green, unlike real frilled lizards which are brown.
- All the elephants in Tarzan are red.
- All the pigs in Home on the Range are pink with black ears and darker pink backs.
- Most rabbits in Looney Tunes and Tiny Toon Adventures have base color fur with white cheeks and muzzle, front sides of their necks, chests, bellies, undersides of their tails, and slipper-like hindfoot markings.
- Also, most skunks have base color (often black) fur with a white facial "mask", front sides of their necks, chest, and belly as well as the characteristic white stripe on their back and tail (with or without a base colored stripe in the middle).
- The mice in the Speedy Gonzales cartoons are all tan with black noses, black, threadlike tails, and black head hair.
- Most of the ducks in the Classic Disney Shorts, Disney Ducks Comic Universe, DuckTales (1987), and Darkwing Duck are all-white feathered with yellow-orange bills and feet. One notable exception to the all-white duck rule is Gosalyn, who is light-yellow feathered all over.
- Classic Disney Shorts, Mickey Mouse Comic Universe, and House of Mouse
- Top Cat is yellow with a white muzzle and Benny the Ball is blue with a peach colored facial "mask", but most cats in Top Cat have unpatterned (that is, not tabby), base color (except black) fur with peach colored muzzles and nearly all of them have black noses.
- Squirrels in Animaniacs are usually base colored (except black) with white or lighter colored white cheeks and muzzle, front sides of their necks, chest, belly, and undersides of their tails. Some of them have white or lighter colored areas around their eyes as well.
- Most mice in Pinky and the Brain are all-white furred with red noses and pink feet and tails.
- Salty and all the other seals in the Classic Disney Shorts are all-black with a flesh colored facial "mask" marking (like Mickey Mouse).
- Platypodes in Phineas and Ferb are generally all teal-furred with orange bills, feet, and tail, not just Perry.
- The ponies (earth pony, unicorn, and pegesi) in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic are Amazing Technicolor Wildlife with any one color for the base color, any (usually) one color for the mane and tail, and cutie marks that they earn. Oddly enough, the two donkeys (and one mule) we see are both brown with black manes and lack cutie marks.
Exceptions, Subversions, And Aversions
- The horses in Lucky Luke series are of a wider variety than usual, and almost all colourations seen correspond to real colours. Jolly Jumper (white with yellow legs and mane) would be perlino, and the occasional black, white-maned individuals silver dapple blacks for instance.
- Tekno from Sonic the Comic is a canary but she's not yellow. She's green, which is an actual canary color (though it looks more like yellow-green in real life).
- Averted with the chimps in Space Chimps because they have black fur like Real Life chimps.
- Subverted with the geese, pigs, and rabbits in Kung Fu Panda in that they come in at least a few colors other than white, or pink in the pigs' case.
- The lobster in the song "Under the Sea" from The Little Mermaid is colored blue.
- Blue lobsters exist, though they're a darker blue than that cartoon lobster. It's a rare mutation.
- The crows in Fritz the Cat have black beaks and legs.
- Almost averted in The Lion King with the cubs. Early concept art shows them with rosettes but in the final product they lack them
- Most of the pigs in the animated adaptation of Animal Farm are pink, but Napoleon is black with a lighter "saddle". In the book, he's a Berkshire (which are usually black with pink facial markings) and specifically stated to be the only pig of that breed on the farm.
- Pua the pig Moana is white with grey spots.
- Hanna-Barbera's character Huckleberry Hound is blue. According to Joe Barbera, the idea originated from an old folk song, "Ol' Blue, you good dog, you."
- Another Hanna-Barbera character The Great Grape Ape is purple instead of brown like many cartoon gorillas.
- The Tiny Toon Adventures canary, Sweetie, subverts this by being pink feathered all over.
- Which was also Tweetie's color in very early cartoons.
- The goose in one episode of Super Why! is gray feathered all over instead of having the all-white plumage that most cartoon geese have.
- In Staflik a Spagetka, there's a crow with a yellow beak, but this is subverted in that the crow is blue instead of black.
- Partially averted with the two crows, Jose and Miguel, from the two Looney Tunes cartoons, "The Crows From Tacos" and "Crows' Feat" have black feet and yellow beaks.
- Magpies, save for the yellow billed magpie, usually have black beaks. Heckle and Jeckle have yellow beaks.
- Santa's Little Helper from The Simpsons is a light brown rather than grey that's usually given to Greyhounds. In Real Life brown Greyhounds are exceedingly rare and almost always have white on them, though other non-grey Greyhound colors are quite common.
- Kion from The Lion Guard has rosettes, which lion cubs in fiction usually lack. He's the only cub in the franchise to have these thus far.
- Boss Beaver from Timon & Pumbaa has yellow teeth like a real-life beaver.
- Paw Patrol has the standard-colored pups.