Understanding the structure-function relationships of pigment-based nanostructures can provide insight into the molecular mechanisms behind biological signaling, camouflage, or communication experienced in many species. In squid Doryteuthis pealeii, combinations of phenoxazone-based pigments are identified as the source of visible color within the nanostructured granules that populate dermal chromatophore organs. In the absence of the pigments, granules experience a reduction in diameter with the loss of visible color, suggesting important structural and functional features. Energy gaps are estimated from electronic absorption spectra, revealing highest occupied molecular orbital (HOMO)-lowest unoccupied molecular orbital (LUMO) energies that are dependent upon the varying carboxylated states of the pigment. These results implicate a hierarchical mechanism for the bulk coloration in cephalopods originating from the molecular components confined within in the nanostructured granules of chromatophore organs.