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COLORING "I dont get it"

Printed From: Pixel Joint
Category: The Lounge
Forum Name: Resources and Support
Forum Discription: Help your fellow pixel artists out with links to good tutorials, other forums, software, fonts, etc. Bugs and support issues should go here as well.
Printed Date: 02 July 2022 at 1:18am

Topic: COLORING "I dont get it"
Posted By: tetra
Subject: COLORING "I dont get it"
Date Posted: 22 July 2010 at 1:27pm
I DONT GET THE COLOR THEORY!!!!! doesnt make sense :(

PJ EDIT and thread hijack:
Colors are subjective and nothing beats experimentation that is backed up with all the information you can get.
This thread contains analysis of other's colors and work and individual PJer methods.

Note 7-25-14:
You may notice that any post with images and links may have a PJ Mod edit. We do this to backup images and stuff to our own imagehost to prevent lost images.
If you notice a post you made is edited this way then you no longer need to keep the image in your imagehost.

Posted By: Pragz
Date Posted: 23 July 2010 at 12:16pm
It's simple:

Pixel art likes low color counts. With a finite amount of colors, you have to choose ones that will play well off of each other and be usable in the most situations.

Whereas in regular CG art a thousand shades of blue can be used across the entire piece with only 1 color shifts, you need to minimize these to one. But, let's say you're reducing colors and find the blue and violet you're using aren't too different and not extensively used. Taking a shade between these two reduces the color count without effectively changing the piece.

Color theory is hard to explain in such a small paragraph, as it is basically unique to each situation. If you want more, go Googling for more in-depth answers.

Hello - I'm new here. :)

Posted By: cure
Date Posted: 05 August 2010 at 4:58pm
color theory  is just an integral aspect of all art that utilizes color. make or buy a color wheel. learn about complimentary palettes, split-complementary palettes, triadic palettes, monochrome, etc. color theory includes lightness, saturation and hue as well. it includes color temperature and how that affects the viewer.

in addition to google, the wikipedia article is pretty informative.

Posted By: jalonso
Date Posted: 04 September 2010 at 6:28pm
In all media, color is an important aspect for any artist. In pixelart nothing is more intricate and complex than color and is especially important. Regardless of your experience or skill level ALL of us struggle with it all the time on every piece. Even those who garner the respect of others and seem to be experts struggle with color.
It is important to understand that color will always remain mysterious and even frustrating. Achieving a certain level of comfort, even minimally, with colors when creating pixelart frees you to be creative.
You need to know the most basic color theory knowledge...start - HERE or - HERE ...there's plenty of other in-depth sites with more advanced articles for you to read and study. In pixelart where trying to use the least amount of colors then it can seem even more daunting but it really isn't. When it comes down to it...Does it look right is all you need?

Finding and developing your own neutral ramp is a very valuable thing. Once armed with this valuable tool your mind is free to create and express yourself. Staring with your own base freely allows you to color and adjust, shift, add and refine as you work without getting all stressed about color which is often the main reason a piece ends up in the forgotten/dump pile. - fool is highly admired by all so studying his color use should be helpful.
Notice how he basically uses one ramp in all his work (first panel). This ramp is always changing depending on the lighting, mood and the scene. When looking at fool's work, black plays a crucial part even when he uses no black. He tends to start at the darkest color (panel 2) of his ramp and flows to the lightest color in whatever color direction he needs to go. This makes his pieces have a level of contrast that is prominent even when very little darks are used. Whatever color ramp he works on there is always at least one neutralizer from the basic ramp (panel 3) to seam it all together.

skamocore, made an average of all the colors in fool's gallery: updated version of Fool's averages: *mysteriously small*

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Posted By: jalonso
Date Posted: 04 September 2010 at 7:01pm
Everyone is unique and there is no right way or wrong way, just your way. Below are two artists who use color in very effective and opposite ways. - syosa uses ONE color and everything stems from there. Most people that use the single color method normally do so with the mid-tone but syosa uses the shadow color and almost always the very same shade.

In ../2009/10/03/2938/Pixel_Artist_-_Syosa.htm - syosa's feature article he admits to always growing a palette organically (I use this method, always have and always will)

syosa: I find many pixel artists develop very rigid and linear color ramps when developing their palettes. I try to find more organic and dynamic ways of creating my palettes. Hopefully the image below explains this better than my words can.

Proving we all have our own way and that nothing is wrong below is - Kaiseto , someone who uses color in strict linear ramps and just finds a place to jump from ramp to ramp without neutralizers at all. It is interesting to note that both of these artists have their neutral ramp to begin with, like fool does, we all need it :) syosa has a one color neutral ramp and kaiseto has a basic one that leans to blue.

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Posted By: jalonso
Date Posted: 04 September 2010 at 8:23pm
This was posted by member_profile.asp?PF=22100&FID=8 - onek on a recent WIP thread and is worth sharing here.

onek: ...a technique for nice, natural color ramps that I'm recently using, is to spice up the colors simply by putting some 10% opacity fill of (full!) blue, magenta, red and yellow, from dark to bright, the result then (because of the full tones) looks very comic-ish, (sometimes thats nice too...)... if I'm not satisfied, I pretty much try to edit the colors as I would do editing a photo, meaning 'color balance', 'hue/ saturation', contrast etc editing...
maybe this makes it more clear

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Posted By: Kaiseto
Date Posted: 04 September 2010 at 10:22pm
Well... you're right about how I do colors. I'm not sure I'd call it a good thing though. It's something I actually want to work on a lot. I strive to have tight interlocking ramps like Syosa but it rarely ends up that way. Basically, I develop general ramps for each color I expect to need, find places where they come close and interlock them. Here's a quick example of what a color ramp will usually look like while I'm working on a picture:

(Note: This isn't actually from something. I just threw it together in a minute to show an example).

I generally move around the saturation and hue slightly within a single ramp. Darker colors lose saturation and usually end up moving towards the blue/purple spectrum while brighter colors gain saturation and are shifted slightly more towards the greenish side of the hue wheel.

Color's never really been a strong point for me though. I never really understood neutralizing colors, and people like Syosa and Adarias always baffle me with how they can make a piece look so right by using colors you completely wouldn't expect to see when zoomed in. It's something I plan to work on for the future.


Posted By: jalonso
Date Posted: 04 September 2010 at 10:29pm
Neutralizers are the key to minimizing color count as one single shade can easily replace many others. Even the ones that don't make sense. Its key in great pixelart.

../p/3171.htm - Adarias has one of the best understanding of colors of anyone I know. He is far too intellectual for me to understand most of the time but in its simplest term, he lives and dies in 2 or 3 neutrals and expands from there always bringing his neutrals in most if not every ramp he uses.

Great insight by him is given in his ../2008/01/05/2408/Pixel_Artist_-_Adarias.htm - PJ feature :
Adarias: The important thing about neutralizing colors is that the added color (should) be the exact opposite hue as the color it is meant to kill. If you only use gray to neutralize, you won't ever achieve gray unless the piece is 100% gray. Neutralizing colors must be far enough away that they balance TO gray. If your second color is exactly opposite from the other, it should occupy 50% of the space (equal parts) because neutral gray will be exactly halfway. I made this quick visual to explain this.

Of course, if one or the other is highly saturated, you need far less of it (because it will dominate). Because computers are what they are, the fact that it says colors are opposite hue and same saturation doesn't mean it's telling the truth. From different angles these will turn all sorts of colors and are best seen on a perfectly calibrated CRT monitor. Of course you don't always want flat gray, and I certainly don't measure. Typically I just want to reduce contrast while increasing excitement.  I often go overboard on this :).  A good example of when I kept things under control is the bronze bust piece, which contains only 4 shades that could be considered bronzy, and relies on the other 11 colors to make the piece.  Because the bronzes were left and the other colors generally warm, instead of canceling out the color completely, I felt it created very active piece that is not nearly so saturated as most metal renderings. (Bronze pixel is shown above).
Lately, blue has been my color of choice for taking down while activating, although you can see that this blue is not the only color that may be used.  It's great for midtones or shadows, but sometimes it just doesn't belong. Occasionally, you will see reds in my shadows (to keep the sense of light/heat), or teals (which are calmer than blues), and lavenders mix into my highlights sometimes to make them a little less BAM (this is particularly true of soft objects like cloth, hair, and skin).
There are other applications of this thought too: Triadic blending (where the color wheel is split 3 ways instead of 2). The bronze bust is another good example of this, where green and purple move around orange. This is another example of where practice plays an important role in pixel art.  All of these concepts come straight out of experimenting with paint. My weakness for burning colors comes too from traditional paint too - paint is pigment, not light, and therefore wont 'burn' the way my pixel colors often do. Tetradic blending works theoretically, though often if I use more than 3 of the 6 generalized colors (primaries and secondaries), I'm using too many colors to count.

His simple explanation to me is:

*  a neutralizer is basically any color that would, if blended with another, bring the result closer to 0 saturation. For example, a brown in an orange ramp - is 'more' neutral. Or a green in a magenta ramp, because for that ramp to approach green, it would have to cross neutral (or more neutral) tones.

The real decider is whether the tone used 'behaves' ( ../p/2203.htm - helm ), meaning it 'stays in the ramp' or doesn't which will create its own distinct shape and stands out. If it doesn't behave, it will add busy-ness and break the form and doesn't neutralize anything -- in fact, it's more likely to polarize the two hues you are trying to neutralize. An example of this is the difference between dithering (a field) and ../2008/01/05/2408/Pixel_Artist_-_Adarias.htm - checkerboard (interlocking shapes seen above). Same idea, different scale - different effect.

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Posted By: mashimi
Date Posted: 04 September 2010 at 10:55pm
Originally posted by jalonso

Originally posted by mashimi

I have absolutely no idea why these color ramps are going off at different angles, jal please help. 

What do you mean by angles? Please explain that, or write it in your native language.

I mean, how the color starts at the middle and then other colors branch of that.

Posted By: jalonso
Date Posted: 05 September 2010 at 6:57am
@ mashimi, they go off like that because it seemed to make sense to show where ramps begin, end and have neutralizers within them. I don't think anyone does that with their palettes its just to illustrate my obvservations.
Most do (or should) be doing their colors like this

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Posted By: jalonso
Date Posted: 05 September 2010 at 9:22pm
Here's another method of color selection which seems like a truly liberating way to free your creativity. member_profile.asp?PF=2513&FID=10 - cure sometimes ignores colors alltogether and just pixels away. Once the pixelling is complete he'll step into experimentation in laying colors down.

According to someone(?) colors shouldn't be a huge concern early on, as they can easily be adjusted towards the end, but maintaining good jumps in value is important. so long as the values are more or less what you're going for, you know where to lay the pixel clusters, and their placement shouldn't be affected by the addition of color.

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Posted By: jalonso
Date Posted: 10 September 2010 at 2:16pm
This thread will assume you know/understand the very basic language of color and color theories. If not, these are some basic pages with visuals. - color wheel with color schemes, plus tint (addition of white) and shade (addition of black)
'nother - color wheel with a more interesting shape :P - more useful explanation of schemes/etc - color chart showing chroma/hue/value as 3d model - explanation of common terms - color temperature (should make a note that context matters, and "warm" colors can sometimes be "cool", and vice versa.
and - this , which explains several useful things and is a little interactive.
some interesting things - here too (ugly site)

Not specific to choosing colors alone but - this Pixelation thread is related enough and very, very informative. Must reading for all!!

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Posted By: grinningCat
Date Posted: 12 September 2010 at 5:29am
What I basically do now is pick a color for whatever it is I want to do.

If, say, I'm using white. What I do is that the next step of shading is -20 brightness to what I used as the normal shade.

This goes wonky with oranges, since what I do with oranges is make them more red on top of darkening them, or add more green (Making them yellower) on top of adding 20 brightness to lighten.

THEN, what I do is  that I anti-alias the rough parts of the shading.

Posted By: jalonso
Date Posted: 03 October 2010 at 3:28pm
This is ../pixels/profile.asp?fid=23684 - DawnBringer 's take on his palette, which may be helpful.
... This time I followed that old path of making well balanced palette suited for game-gfx. I sacrificed a bit of the dark register for some brighter colors. Tried to optimize for many smooth ramps and mixes while still having useful colors on their own.
Here's a handmade "ramp-scheme", and a Hue-Brightness plot + isometric colorspace-cubes made with scripts in Grafx2. (The brightness is perceptual according to my formula: sqr[(0.26*r)^2, (0.55*g)^2, (0.19*b)^2] , multiplying with 1.56905 normalizes to a scale of 0-255... it's better than Luma Y'601 according to my eyes at least).

And finally a little Mockup color test:

But...I notice that some aspects of the palette is not used to its full potential; esp. how the blue & greens can be used to interpolate the greys and even create new shades. So I made a little example to illustrate my intentions. I took the fredoom the redraw snippets from a few tiles...this is not in any way intended as critique, just examples of some possible AA/mixes/methods.

Working with colors in RGB-colorspace is not all that simple & intuitive. Looking at what's going is a bit clearer when viewing HSL/HSV colorspace, that is HUE, SATURATION and BRIGHTNESS (Lightness, Value, whatever...).
But it's pretty important that brightness is adjusted to the perception of the human eye (phenomena I'm exploring a lot). But  I don't recommend that you tweak individual colors using a HSL/HSV model; good 'ol RGB is more exact and probably more familiar.

Smaller and balanced palettes usually have colors of quite similar saturation, so you can focus on the two more important dimension: Hue & Brightness.

When observing the following example I think it's quite clear what a nice tool Hue-Brightness diagrams are for palette evaluation and optimization. (Note that Hue is cylindrical and wraps around).

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Posted By: jalonso
Date Posted: 15 May 2011 at 6:09am
Another WIP thread comment by member_profile.asp?PF=23684&FID=8 - DawnBringer
Here's a balanced, multipurpose, 32 color, 12bit palette (Amiga500). Maybe it could be a place to start? Feel free to adjust it to your needs.

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Posted By: jalonso
Date Posted: 20 August 2011 at 5:23am
More hardcore palette play by Dawnbringer

From Topic: -
So, dear friends, I have wasted some time lately with my obsession for palettes. It's been tackled before but I felt there was (and is?) more work to be done with designing a great mutli-purpose 16 color palette (I'll avoid any talk of "perfect" or "ultimate" as there simply isn't such a thing for a limited palette).

Property wish-list:
* Archetypical colors common in games/pixelart
* Real world colors (RGB-space brightness-axis "colorcigarr")
* Good coverage of the spectrum
* Great coverage of the brightness range (a must for any useful palette)
* Max combinatory possibilities: Interpolations, simulations, dithers etc.
* ...and if possible; colors that may work as subtle varitations: rust, dirt, textures.

But as with all small palettes, some things had to be sacrificed: This palette is very weak in magentas (as that is a rarely used area). It also lack much in turquoise - but at least they can be simulated by combining the many blues & greens.

This is public version 1.0 (v9843.7 to me ;))

Some notes:
* The dark register is dominated by blue/violett commonly found in shadows/dark waters etc.
* The lower-medium register has the weight on green and browns; found in vegetation, wood etc.
* The upper-medium register has much blues and orange/pink to handle skies, sand and skin.
* The bright register has the lone yellow and the effective pink & cyan that  are complimentary colors that span around the spectrum and can be mixed to a very good grey!
* Red is slightly violett - I wanted a red that contrasted the other colors rather than being another shade of brown/orange. Still good enough to use in some skin-shades I hope.

Here's some mockups (shamelessly inspired by the Alien Breed games and various mockups found at PJ) testing the palette:

Outstanding issues:
* The optimal(?) global brightness/contrast level...these can be adjusted quite easily without affecting the internal relationships of the colors very much - so if you have any feelings about this lemme know.
* The dark register: is there a better combination/structure of colors here?

Comments & questions are welcome! :)

Here's the RGB-values:
20 12 28
68 36 52
48 52 109
78 74 78
133 76 48
52 101 36
208 70 72
117 113 97
89 125 206
210 125 44
133 149 161
109 170 44
210 170 153
109 194 202
218 212 94
222 238 214

And yeah...feel free to use this palette.
A whole thread with even more analysis on DB16 - DB's 16 Color Palette v1.0

A whole thread on the 32 color expansion pack - DB32 - DawnBringer's 32 Col Palette V1.0

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Posted By: jalonso
Date Posted: 20 August 2011 at 5:35am
grafx2 Palette Repository can be seen - HERE

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Posted By: DawnBringer
Date Posted: 23 August 2011 at 8:38am
Some things you should be aware of is that the most important aspect/dimension of any color is its brightness. And the the color-channels acts vastly different in this respect: Green is roughly twice as bright as Red, and Red is about twice as bright as Blue. This means that adding +5 in Blue may not produce a noticable change but +5 in Green could be a huge leap. So consistently adding X in your ramps might not produce a smooth/uniform look. Also, aestethically, it can sometimes be better to avoid strictly linear ramps.

Posted By: Hapiel
Date Posted: 20 September 2011 at 12:50pm
Hi Guys
I am going to abuse this thread and ask for some advice.

So, I start out by wanting to draw a carrot. Obviously I pick a shade of orange I like. A darker, lower saturated orange, two greens and eventually a yellow. See the lower palette of the two..
Looking at the palette it is very saturated. I really like the look of works like those of syosa, with very bright colors. Yet having every color in the saturated area does not seem to result in this. What is the key?

I created the yellow with the idea to be able to work both for the green and the orange, which it kinda does. Perhaps it should have been less saturated (I don't have software here that can edit palettes, only 7paint, I might try some things later). The darkest green was modified to suit the orange as well, pretty much everything that is now dark brown was dark green at first.

When I drew the chicken leg, I needed a darker color. Was adding a dark brown a good choice? Now that I had a brown I decided to replace the green on the carrot as it would not affect the number of colors anymore.

At last the picture seemed empty and I fit in the tomato, which became red. end of story.

What would you have done? What do you think of my palette and its creation process, and what shall I try next time?

Aside from these questions: I Read up all the stuff about neutralizers. Cool, I know now how to make them, and how to fit them inside your ramps.

But how do you use them? Why do you need grey in your pieces and where do you put them? It feels so awkward to give an object that is actually red the color green because it is standing in the shadow for example.. I would always blindly color it dark red or brown or purple... :/


Posted By: cure
Date Posted: 21 September 2011 at 3:47pm
syosa generally uses fairly desaturated palettes, they're just high in luminosity. if you want an example of how to use high-saturation colors well, check out - Delicious ' work.

the brown used as aa in the green of the mohawk isn't working, brown is too warm for this purpose and so it burns against the greens. yellow is a slight jump from the greens your using, I probably would have used a light green to highlight the greens (yellow-tinted, but still green), so long as I have room in my palette for that color. as it stands the yellow is a bit warm.

neutralizers are one thing I've never really understood that well, I'm also sort of in the dark as to when and where they're useful. I guess if you needed a grey but don't have one in your palette? maybe when you add a color for visual interest, but don't want it to read as the actual hue of the object, you neutralize it with a color opposite in hue?


Posted By: Tanny
Date Posted: 11 November 2013 at 2:46pm
Here's a simple Color/Theory review:
(Please note that I'm not an expert by any means. )

Primary Colors:
Red, Blue, and Yellow

Secondary Colors:
Red+Blue = Purple
Blue+Yellow= Green
Yellow+Red= Orange

Complement Colors:
(Any opposite colors on the color wheel)

Red and Green
Blue and Orange
Yellow and Purple

Why are Complements important?
-Complement colors give the strongest contrast possible when placed against each other.

-A pair of Complements colors represents every color on the color wheel. (Red and Green is the same as Red and Blue + Yellow)

-Because of this, a pair of Complements can produce black or white (subtractive vs additive color) if 'mixed'. This is important because it allows you to get a darker value of a color without losing its hue. This allows for better color harmony.

Color Temperature:
(Warm vs Cool)

-Warm colors are typically considered to be Red through Yellow.
-Cool colors are typically Blue-Green through the Blue side of Purple.

Why is Color Temperature important?

-Warm Colors pull forward.
-Cool Colors recede.
-By proper use of Color Temperature and value, you are able to create depth.

Posted By: zazabar
Date Posted: 30 January 2014 at 7:39am
This might seem like a silly follow up question, but...

When artists talk about  adding black or white to a color (shades and tints), how exactly do you do that in a program like photoshop?  Do you just change the saturation?  The brightness?  Or both?  Or is there some other method that is easier when transitioning between lighter and darker versions of the same color.

Posted By: cure
Date Posted: 30 January 2014 at 7:24pm
Adding white would raise the luminosity/brightness, adding black would lower it. Both would lower the saturation (I think). Changing the hue (hue-shifting) is also important, so when creating a new shade of a color in your palette you really need to pay attention to all three: Hue, Saturation, and Lightness.

Posted By: StoneStephenT
Date Posted: 14 April 2014 at 1:16am
Just curious: can someone put together a brief thing on how to find and properly use neutralizers? I read all the stuff in this thread (and some stuff in other places) about them, but I still can't seem to wrap my head around the concept.

Posted By: jalonso
Date Posted: 18 April 2014 at 5:51am
@StoneStephenT, How to find the 'right' neutralizer is very hard to show because its the other shades within a palette that determines the right shade of neutralizer.
In the most basic way a neutralizer is a grey tone/shade/color. When working with a palette start with a plain 50/50 grey and tweak that shade until it works with the others (as many color combinations as possible) while retaining the neutrality of this color. You can end up with a neutralizer that is any color at all but remains in the grey (neutral) family.

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Posted By: DawnBringer
Date Posted: 18 April 2014 at 7:09am

From what I have read, the term "Neutralizer" seems to be used interchangeably (and confusingly) for two different operations:

1. A low saturation color that can work as a shade in multiple ramps of different hues (versatile interpolator).

2. The mixture of two complementary colors (opposite on the hue-wheel) to accomplish a grayscale. For an example study the metal objects in this (DB16) image where I use this technique extensively.

If I understood things correctly, it doesn't seem very practical to use the term "Neutralizer" for both operations, rather only the 2nd one.

Posted By: jalonso
Date Posted: 18 April 2014 at 7:15am
Indeed, the term neutralizer is just lingo that has come to mean exactly what DB explains above.
If I remember correctly the term was first used by adarias as a way of simplifying a pixelart specific concept for working with and developing palettes.
Ironically it was meant to use with #1 even tho it does better suit #2 as described by DB in the post above this one.

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Posted By: jalonso
Date Posted: 07 July 2014 at 11:35am
Original post by - andrae :
When I was starting at pixel art, I tried to emulate how other artist choose their palette. I tried to study and copy the palette used by syosa(pixeljoint) and uruchi(pixiv) but when I need new colors I develop my own color ramp.

I usually start a sketch using a gameboy palette. This helps me in placing the colors. Then I think of what materials will be colored. Based on these, I choose the base colors. Usually, I use the same linear color ramp for two materials, for example metal and cloth. To differentiate them, I choose darker colors for metal while lighter for the cloth.

For the color ramp, It starts with a linear ramp of brown that starts with a violet and ends with a white/cream. Then I add another ramp which also starts and ends with the same colors, but can use different ramp as routes.

an illustration:

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Posted By: jalonso
Date Posted: 20 July 2014 at 5:40am
Here's - rhlstudios method for creating his palettes as posted on a - WIP thread . Copied here with some edits to understand on its own.
This method depends on having a natural good color sense but may be helpful for some.
I like to use them (these bubbles) to make palettes cause I find it helps me see how the colors mix and blend, and I usually make a ramp out of the colors I pick from them. I made a page full of pre-made palettes originally for a collab pic but then I added more bubbles so I'll have a variety of palettes to grab from when I don't feel like making one up on the spot.

I copy and paste this gray scale one (template) whenever I want to create a new palette and then replace the colors starting with the "base color (#1)", I numbered the order I fill in the layers :D

I select the colors manually, I use nothing but the XP version of MS Paint for the most part so I go to define custom colors section and make my colors there.
I usually start with my base color and then decide what hue I want my shade to lean toward and then slowly work my in-between shades across the colors in between the main color to the base shade. I don't make a new color in Paint for every shade. I double click a random default color in MSP's palette, make my base color, put it in its place in the bubble. Then I double click the same color I just made and keep using that same palette slot, I find it's easier to slide it across the color table that way as opposed to finding where I left off every time. I usually try to work from like mid-high saturation and slowly decrease the saturation level as I get to the darker shades. Usually anyway, not always.

I don't much too much about color theory yet, I just started reading about it so right now I still just mess around with the colors until they please my eyes.

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Posted By: jalonso
Date Posted: 25 July 2014 at 6:37am
Color-theory101, Hue-shifting palettes and stuff Tutorial -

A nifty tool to make color changes on pixelarts - Pixel Palette - Tool for color palette

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Posted By: Phoenix849
Date Posted: 18 December 2014 at 12:04pm
Hello, people. I've learned much lately, but I'm still often struggling with colors. Basically after past years of boring and flat palettes I started to gravitate towards saturated colors and strong hue shifting.

I have a question about hue shifts. I've seen three approaches:

1. Saturation is higher for shades and lower for higlights
2. Saturation is lower for shades and higher for highlights (Kaiseto have written about this)
3. Saturation is lower than the base color for both shades and highlights (as described in "arc ramp" of Color-theory101 article)

So far I'm using a classic first method. Workes for me, but I'm just tweaking till it "feels" right. Trying the other 2 methods led to horrible results. Can someone explain to me pros and cons, maybe I'm missing the point here?

Posted By: Lux_pp
Date Posted: 18 December 2014 at 3:47pm

Originally posted by Phoenix849

Hello, people...
There is no method that will represent every real-life scenario accurately, nor will it be the best solution for every piece of art. A very generalized rule of thumb that I use is that highlights and shadows are less saturated than midtones, but it really depends on what sort of lighting you're trying to portray. Specular reflections usually retain the color of the light source, which tends to desaturate the areas of highlight. I find that the saturation tends to increase from there on until it drops off in the areas of deepest shadow. If there's any fill, bounce, or reflected light (which pretty much always is), that will impart its own characteristics upon the areas of shadow. Also, the hue will shift along with the saturation (although you probably know this since you referred to it as "hue shifting"), and changes in hue correspond to changes in perceived value since some colors are inherently brighter than others.Incidentally, I just published - an article about relative color that touches on some of those topics, as well as others that have been discussed here in the past. Hope this was helpful to you at all! :X


Posted By: tocky
Date Posted: 07 February 2015 at 8:09am -"> - tocky (Level 3 Hatchet Man) at 2/8/2015 1:02:00 AM

first of all, all colors are real. you can pick them at random and that will work, and if that doesnt work you can change it.

second of all, dont limit yourself to naturalistic color schemes (grey rocks green grass blue sky brown earth) bc you lose a lot of the quality of the light. all games with naturalistic color schemes look the same, and all ggames that use teh same palette look the same.

i ask you: is the C-64 palette naturalistic? or is it kind of weird and grey and purple? is that better or worse? i tell you: both.

we should have a wealth of different color palettes. each game should define its own palette. why is DAIKATANA yellow? why is TITANFALL blue and orange? why is THE MATRIX green?

ask yourself what is the symbolic meaning of the colors you are choosing. should the sky be yellow and bilious or green and vile?

certainly, you could make it blue. but even our own sky is not always blue, and it is more beautiful when it is not - because it can surprise us.

if your palette is TOO YELLOW. that is a feature and not a bug. it will make your work stand out among other works that are all the same.; -;

there are not many people here who truly understand color. ARNE is one, HELM and PTOING.... the old gods, right? but we need new gods if we are not to become complicit in our own destruction.

but AI understands color. however, AI will tell you that you do not understand color, and to some extent he is right. but he is wrong also.

AI understands the most arcane color spaces. and he will try to explain them to you. but noone uses these spaces because they are difficult to understand.

but AI muddies the waters. he makes it harder for us to understand the simplest color schemes, because we can see that they are not as good as the ONE TRUE COLOR SCHEME, the LAB space.

i tell you this: all colors are true.

Posted By: rhlstudios
Date Posted: 04 May 2015 at 7:25pm
I don't know if this belongs here or not, but I had peoples on DA ask me about my palettes often enough that I felt it warranted a tutorial/ramble page about how I go about creating my palettes

Posted By: Iscalio
Date Posted: 12 June 2015 at 2:52am
I love this guy's work and noted he has a tutorial page.

I goes through basic art terminology, light sources/color/direction, specularity, fog, texture/surface, surface angles and object shape, material, reflected light and bouncing, environment effect on color, shadows and light quality, skin qualities, how hue changes in light/shadow, color relativity, focal point, simplification, dynamism, various qualities of good linework, suggestion, stages of refinement, etc. -

Posted By: jalonso
Date Posted: 22 September 2015 at 7:26am

------------- - PJs FAQ <> - Sticky Reads

Posted By: CritiqueMyWork
Date Posted: 01 December 2015 at 11:33am
This thread is fantastic. We should make an index for this kind of threads. I may start it.

Posted By: FelipeFS
Date Posted: 26 December 2015 at 7:29am
Here is my palette. 1st, 2nd, 3rd and current 4th attempt:

It is hard to organize a palette on a 2D space when you are working with 3 variables (HSL/RGB). My actual palette array is a mess:

However, my palette is getting better once I started using HSL instead of RGB, though I still use RGB sometimes.

Posted By: punkonjunk
Date Posted: 07 August 2016 at 4:26pm
Hi! This thread was super helpful, but I did some more googling for a pixel art color wheel to work from, and I stumbled on this over on TIG:
http:// -

Which has been an amazing influence, completely art-changing for me to look over, especially making your own wheel and cutting colors from it! JWK5's post on the first page was most helpful, I figured I'd stick it here.

(it's not gravedigging if it's a sticky, right?)

Posted By: Reive
Date Posted: 05 May 2018 at 11:34am
So, what I understand is that from your base color, if you go darker, you should go towards colder hues and decrease the saturation and value. If you go lighter, you should go towards warmer hues, decrease the saturation, and increase the value. This will give you more realistic looking colors. It's called the arch method.

For more cartoony colors, you'll increase the saturation if you're going darker.

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