AuthorTopic: Feature 05 - Generic 16 color palette  (Read 137578 times)

Offline Arne

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Feature 05 - Generic 16 color palette

on: June 18, 2007, 04:36:54 pm
I've been working on a general purpose 16 color palette. I got some nice feedback on IRC, and I'm at version 11 currently.

The main philosophy is to (if possible) have:

-Pleasant common colors, like sky blue, vegetation, skin tones, etc.
-Cold-Warm ramps
-Cross color ramps (Red-Orange-Yellow etc.)

I had to sacrifice full white, but I think it's working. Full white is kind of obnoxious and dull temperature-wise.

The red is a bit dark, but I've found it to be useful that way. It can be worked up in value by using some of the lighter colors.

The most recent change is the dark brown. I needed a dark color for background stuff, but brown seem to be a good choice since it can ramp with a lot of colors (green, yellow, red, purple).

I'm doing a few mockups to see how it works in practice. Samus and her friend is ported from my mini Metroid project (which is 32 colors). The platform mockup is kind of uninspired.


Jet Set Willy II Speccy screen PO. I need to play that game some. The Speccy version seems superior, otherwise I often prefer C64 versions of old games.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2008, 11:44:36 pm by ptoing »

Offline Helm

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Re: Generic 16 color palette

Reply #1 on: June 18, 2007, 05:15:53 pm
Yeah Ptoing showed me the version before this one on msn and I was thinking 'perhaps he shouldn't have pure grays' but then again my c64 instincts stopped me, when I considered how absolutely useful pure grays are there to bridge other hues.

However if you went that way with the dark brown, just give a subtle tint to the second darkest gray too perhaps.

I am not lamenting the loss of pure white too much.

Otherwise this palette is excellent and very adaptable. Good job. I might use it for something or another.

Offline Arne

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Re: Generic 16 color palette

Reply #2 on: June 18, 2007, 05:57:06 pm
I'll have to sleep on it. I think with such few colors, there'll always be something which irks me. The two darks are a bit problematic yes. Maybe they should be in reverse order.

Noodling around.


Quick and dirty reversed darks.


Edit: ref: http://www.mobygames.com/game/zx-spectrum/jet-set-willy-ii-the-final-frontier/screenshots/gameShotId,132010/

I'm leaning towards reversing now maybe... With a brighter dark warm I can do more stuff with the earth colors, and a cold extra dark does feel less intrusive.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2008, 11:45:18 pm by ptoing »

Offline Helm

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Re: Generic 16 color palette

Reply #3 on: June 18, 2007, 06:28:57 pm
I'd say yes, cooler darks are better in this case, especially since night-time blue-to-black is such a prevailent theme in 8-bit games. The coppery warm brown won't be as useful.

Offline Conzeit

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Re: Generic 16 color palette

Reply #4 on: June 18, 2007, 07:10:36 pm
hmm interesting.The most similar to this I've tried is messing with GBC pallete...it IS really challenging to make a pallete that works on games with completly diferent uses of contrast.
I'll show u my archive of GBC screens, maybe you can use that to test urs..in HALFS! because they're just 8 color screens XD...who knows.


Maybe u should grab a bunch of c64 screenshots instead

hrm, I think you're limiting yourself trying to keep pure skin tones there. best illustration artists always say there are no skin tones, it's all about how you surround them.

boy, I'm really missing some purples in there. You'd be amazed at how much of an ambigous bastard purple is :p. the only other neutral color in WARM vs COLD is green, and it's not nearly as easy to use for bridging...in my experience.

I'm not really sure but...I think you should atleast try putting a purple in there sneaked as a skintone.

Sorry, might be self important to post this, but eh...I dont know, it's a fast take on what I'd do for a generic 16 color pallete...maybe it can give u some..ideas?



hehe, I sure like my purples dont I? C_____C
« Last Edit: February 28, 2008, 11:46:20 pm by ptoing »

Offline ptoing

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Re: Generic 16 color palette

Reply #5 on: June 19, 2007, 01:36:37 am
Eww wtf camus, really. Those GB ones are horrible. If there are only 4 colours for bg and 4 for sprites you can not make an global palette with colours like that and think it will work. I have to say I find those combinations rather pukey. I would rather just go with 2 different colourramps for the bg and fg. both quite greyish, sprites a bit warmer than bg, and only slight tint and not hugely different colours.

There are no ugly colours, only ugly combinations of colours.

Offline Conzeit

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Re: Generic 16 color palette

Reply #6 on: June 19, 2007, 02:01:19 am
well, I'm not saying go and copy everything I did...it's just a suggestion, if you work your own pallete with your own mockshots you tend to do what you think the pallete should do, and well...I think the whole point is to make the pallete more versatile. I thought maybe some screenshot from various gb games would be of use.

I happen to like the crazy combination of colors when I play on GBC...for whatever reason...the point was to give him screens from various games with various senses of contrast, I'm not saying hey look at my awesome colors, I'm just giving him those screenshots in case they can be of use. who knows.

Offline Arne

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Re: Generic 16 color palette

Reply #7 on: June 19, 2007, 04:12:10 am
Thanks for the replies.

I think the reason blue would work better as a far BG color in general is because the sky is blue, and the sky is always far away, so it's hardwired into us. The question remains just how brown to make the darker grey now... Should I go for a ramp with the earth colors (brownish) or a ramp with the grey?

As for skin tones, my guess is that there'll be 2 common environments. Black background and Sky blue background. I tailored the skin purple for the sky background as there'll be cool ambiance. Black can be considered neutral. With just 16 colors I'd rather cover the most average situations first, meaning warm light, cool shadows. The character will also move between so many environments that an average skin color would be result. My palette is based on the C64 one by the way.

I made this 3d cube histogram based on a few hundred thumbnails. Some time ago I made a 64 color palette based on it. You can see the popular colors stretching along the grey from corner to corner. The white highlight is the histogram and the color pixels are any color with a hit. Only 256 colors out of 16777216 are grey. Of course with games you'd have to push the saturation a bit to make the elements read clearly.
http://www.greatgamesexperiment.com/slideshow/user/arne/6812/6

« Last Edit: June 19, 2007, 04:16:44 am by Arne »

Offline Sherman Gill

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Re: Generic 16 color palette

Reply #8 on: June 19, 2007, 04:48:21 am
Ah, did not know you had an account here Prometheus  :-*.

Anyways, here's something made using the pallete. Well, version 7 of the pallete. Was too lazy to update it to a newer version.
Oh yes naked women are beautiful
But I like shrimps more haha ;)

Offline Arne

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Re: Generic 16 color palette

Reply #9 on: June 19, 2007, 06:05:18 am
A c64 pal comparison. My green is the same, and the blue was just changed a tad.




I noticed I have some of the palette histogram project pics online, so here they are. I had to compress pretty hard to save bandwidth/space.

256 source pics, I just googled various things, took the decent pics and scaled down with nearest neighbour. (fullsize is 1024)


Here's a HSV cylinder plot, 16 slices (meaning I had to compress the plot to 16 values). Distance from the center is saturation.. I think I plotted random colors to make the color part, i.e. the colors you see are the RGB 3D Cube existing in a HSV cylinder dimension! You can see the histogram being rather diagonal.

If you wonder why the high value (white) tip is skew, it's because some hues are darker. Yellow kind of goes off like a wedge there cuz it's brighter.


1/4th of my source was pron... because 1/4th of the internet is. Lots of skin tones here...


RGB cube. I plotted /4 here to make 64 pixel squares, but here I scaled down further. It's just to give you an idea what the cube is about.


Finally, my 16 color palette. I faded the spectrum and added the histogram as reference. Hard jpg compression, sorry.
As you can see I dare venture out a bit outside the safe/popular colors just to get some range. If I were to pick the most popular colors only, I'd end up with 16 greys. Again note that is is /4 to make a 64 pix cube so there has been some compression.


C64 palette. Note thatthe black and white are in the corners.


I once tried to make a 64 color palette based on this data, but I never arrived at anything conclusive.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2008, 11:48:39 pm by ptoing »