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The Atari colour palette – in search of Space Monsters
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The Atari colour palette

After a little big of digging and some Photoshop tidying up I have an image that is essentially my approximation of the Atari 256 colour palette from the 800XL. I’m sure that this colour palette may have been available to other Atari home computers but I don’t have that knowledge.

Atari 256 colours

Atari 256 colour palette

It’s a beautifully rich palette and something that I intend to use as a basis for my future games.

Something that I’ve always wanted is a fancy tool that allows me to capture an indexed colour scheme and then order it based on any number of criteria. Photoshop allows me to sort based on Hue or Luminance but I really want to sort based on the actual colours used. Black through white, blues, reds, greens etc
At Acclaim we had a wonderful in-house tool that allowed us to play with colour palettes and export them to any number of formats. I’ve yet to find a decent palette manipulation tool out there.


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    And I agree about the Atari palette, it’s indeed beautiful and rich. The Commodore 16 palette comes close, but isn’t as vivid. There’s nothing wrong with C64 palette, either, especially since the computer lets you use it more efficiently – if only A8 didn’t have the bottleneck, but could actually also -use- all the colors on screen without limitations, or at least 16 of any of the colors at once – that would make great-looking games. Oh well, there’s always SNes and old DOS games..


      Thanks for your comments! :)


    Btw, the char limit in this comment box is ridiculously tight! So I am going to have to put my message into more than one message, sigh.. I hate doing this annoying splitting just because someone thought “64k is enough for every comment” or whatever (actually, as pure text, I think 64k would go far – it should be able to contain over 30 pages of text, so why these narrow limitations in 2013? I don’t get it!).


    Using “ProMotion” is fun at first, until the user realizes that a couple of things (like accessing and changing a color) has been done in a bit more convoluted way than necessary, and a few annoying quirks (like brush not changing to dot just by selecting a dot) that are absent on other editors, and a few missing features (like taking a brush, and making the whole brush one color, any color you want, and change that color) make it a frustrating experience in the end, especially since the program holds so much promise in so many areas and ways.


    So just a helpful hint; if you want to put colors in a palette to a certain order, ProMotion might be the tool you are looking for. I don’t know how extensive its palette-manipulation-options are, but at least it has some, and I should think if you previously only knew of Photoshop, at least this should give you a good start.


    However, the Windows-tool called “ProMotion” (why do program names seem to have some kind of lame gimmick to them these days?) actually has some palette manipulation tools, and you can easily ‘order’ the palette in a few different ways (if I remember correctly, it has been awhile since I needed that option).


    Actually, there is a tool called “ProMotion”, which tries to mimic “Deluxe Paint” in many ways, but doesn’t quite reach the user-friendliness and usability of it, or the excellent Amiga program “Brilliance”, which I think is superior to any version of Deluxe Paint – not because there’s anything wrong with Deluxe Paint, but Brilliance has just that small edge in usability (James Sachs was involved in developing it, so no wonder).

    I hate these charlimits, especially the way it’s done in this system..


      Hey there. Apologies for the delayed response!
      I used to use ProMotion many moons ago when working as a sprite grunt at Acclaim. I loved it and found it pretty awesome at performing the necessary tasks. I’m pretty sure I gave it a whirl a year or two ago and it was dreadful. I’m still looking for a strong solution and am prepared to spend a few quid!

    HTML5 Game Design and Development » Blog Archive » New art direction for my HTML5 shooter Area 51

    […] it a lick of paint. One of the images that I use to help me paint pixels is a screen shot of the Atari 8-bit palette. The colours are just stunning. I simply use a single pixel brush in Photoshop and hit the ALT key […]

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