AuthorTopic: Tips/Help with Creating Balanced Color Palettes?  (Read 2630 times)

Offline jackal27

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Tips/Help with Creating Balanced Color Palettes?

on: October 19, 2010, 07:00:02 pm
Man, this is such a noob post, but I've been trying to search for an answer on these forums (and the rest of the internet) for about a week now.

Here's the deal. I've been working on a game called Driftwood for about a year now. We have a lot of programming and music finished, but I've been slouching in the graphics department. My main problem is that I just cannot nail a decent, limited color palette to use. For a while I was using Arne's 16 color palette because it was so simple, but Driftwood's graphics are more of a 16-bit Super Nintendo style and Arne's palette just doesn't lend itself too well to fairly large, detailed sprites.

I've also attempted to create my own palette based on his and others as well. No luck... I've always been good at drawing and I've been working with pixel art for about a year, but I've never been able to nail down a color palette that I can sort of base my game's graphics around. So, what usually ends up happening is that some sprites are too dark, others are too pastel, and if I attempt to find a happy medium, those colors may work well for one sprite, but they look out of place on another. I want something that feels earthy and organic, but everything I make ends up looking either too pastel or too... solid for lack of a better term. Like... It doesn't look natural. The colors just go from light to dark. Does that make sense?

I know this is all pretty hard to describe through words and I probably sound like a total noob, but I've tried figuring this out on my own. I can't be the only person who struggles with balancing color or shadows/midtones/highlights like this. Maybe I'm just a perfectionist. Either way, can anyone give me some tips, or point me towards something that could help me out?
« Last Edit: October 19, 2010, 07:21:57 pm by jackal27 »

Offline ptoing

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Re: Tips/Help with Creating Balanced Color Palettes?

Reply #1 on: October 19, 2010, 08:13:41 pm
Welcome to Pixelation :)

Why don't you post some of your sprites in the Pixel Art section?
There are no ugly colours, only ugly combinations of colours.

Offline jackal27

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Re: Tips/Help with Creating Balanced Color Palettes?

Reply #2 on: October 19, 2010, 08:49:17 pm
Well, I did post one sprite a while back and I got some great tips. I suppose should do that more. I'm just a total perfectionist and I hate to show people something I'm not satisfied with, haha.

Offline SwapBrain

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Re: Tips/Help with Creating Balanced Color Palettes?

Reply #3 on: October 19, 2010, 10:52:00 pm
There are a heap of good threads in the forum of course, and the featured threads are nice - one place that I found some pretty good discussion of this was over at the interviews on PJ which include two regulars from hereabouts, Adarias and iLkke:

http://www.pixeljoint.com/2008/01/05/2408/Pixel_Artist_-_Adarias.htm
http://www.pixeljoint.com/2009/02/20/2758/Pixel_Artist_-_iLKke.htm
http://www.pixeljoint.com/2009/10/03/2938/Pixel_Artist_-_Syosa.htm

all three talk about their philosophy of palette picking and unification, and if you squint hard enough, they are all talking about very similar prnciples.

also, of course:

http://www.wayofthepixel.net/pixelation/index.php?topic=922.0

Also I recently picked up "Interaction of Colors" by Joseph Albers, and it is blowing my mind. I will post more substantively about that when I can.

Offline jackal27

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Re: Tips/Help with Creating Balanced Color Palettes?

Reply #4 on: October 22, 2010, 04:17:04 pm
Sweet! Those are some good resources! I'll read over them some more. Anyone else have anything?

Offline ptoing

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Re: Tips/Help with Creating Balanced Color Palettes?

Reply #5 on: October 27, 2010, 12:37:54 pm
I find that in general it is a good idea to work with lower bitdepth as a form of practise and it makes it impossible to pick super close colours.

Examples would be Amiga 500 style 12 bit where you only have 4096 total colours. Every RGB channel has only 16 possible settings, 00, 11, 22, 33, 44 ... FF so you can have some colour be 4488AA or something.
Or Atari ST / Sega Megadrive style 9 bit with only 512 colours. The Atari ST one also is unstretched, meaning that you do not get the full brightness range and your hex values are 00, 20, 40, 60, 80, A0, C0 and E0.

Try it, it helps :)
There are no ugly colours, only ugly combinations of colours.