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Color Palettes and Their Use


Color palettes are a useful tool that can be made for spriting, web design and other forms of art in which color interactions play an important role. I, for one, use them a whole lot when spriting and designing websites. Hooray.

I'm pretty much here to show you what they are and how to use them, particularly in spriting - this is the board, after all. Let's get rockin'.

Color palettes are made by putting the primary colors of a sprite or sprite set into a "paint chip" form, with between three and seven colors (hint: less is more in spriting). They're usually organized through color series, but not always. Use the "pick color" tool to make a color palette of existing sprites! Here are some examples.
Electrum_Set.png Electrum_Sword.png Electrum Set
Ember_Set.png Ember_Blade.png Ember Set
Enchanted_Set.png Enchanted_Boomerang.png Enchanted Set
Notice how they have highlights, lowlights and the main color. In the case of the Electrum and Enchanted sets, they really have two colors.

Now onto the types of color schemes...
What makes colors "work?" Many things. Many things indeed. But it's usually the case of the color wheel...
(I apologize for the background!)

Most color schemes rotate around the alignment of colors on the color wheel.
  • Analogous - colors that are near each other on the color wheel (green, aqua, blue... etc.)
  • Monochromatic - colors that are within a single hue (aqua, blue... etc)
  • Complimentary - colors that are opposite on the color wheel (blue, gold... etc)
  • Split Complimentary - colors that are adjacent to the opposite on the color wheel (blue, yellow, orange... etc)
  • Triadic - three colors that are equidistant on the wheel (blue, red, yellow... etc)
  • Tetradic (Double Complimentary) - four colors equidistant on the wheel (blue, magenta, yellow, lime... etc)
Keep in mind that complimentary, analogous or triadic make up the vast majority of sprites. For example, the Enchanted Boomerang above has a sort of triadic theme in which the yellow is dramatically toned down. The Electrum Sword has a monochromatic theme (I chose not to do blue, instead choosing yellow/gray for the handle). The Ember Blade has an analogous scheme - note the gold-orange colors.

I'll add more if you can suggest something to me. Thanks. Etc. Goodbye.

I've also included a basic color scheme template that you can use if you want.


  • Base.png
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You should mention to also keep in mind one should know how to use a palette as to avoid pillow shading and such.

Example: View attachment 48782

Palette tax: View attachment 48783
You mean unlike me? :p I'll add that when I get the chance.
Adobe Color (formerly "Kuler", yuck) is a handy online tool for creating 5-color palettes.


I don't think you need an Adobe CC subscription to use it online.
I think that's the one where it just randomly picks colors?


Empress of Light
When I do a colour palette, I'll probably have 3-5 shades for each colour on there.
For example, with your "electrum" palette, I'd have 5 greys and 5 yellow-golds. I'd probably end up adding more to give it a smoother finish, but it ends up working out great.
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