Monday, January 12, 2015

Digital tool for analyzing color gamuts

Joost van Dongen, lead programmer and co-founder of Ronimo Games, wrote me to say that my book Color and Light inspired him to create a digital tool for analyzing color schemes.

When he developed the geometric racing game Proun (screenshots above), he was thinking about restricted color schemes, but his new tool let him see exactly what parts of the color spectrum were occupied by the colors he chose.

The blacked out areas of his diagrams represent the parts of the entire range of colors that are not included in a given color scheme.

He also used the tool to analyze screenshots from Awesomenauts (below), a game that his art team developed.

Looking at the gamut maps, he says: "the colour scheme is all over the place. It really is an explosion of colour, as is fitting for the over-the-top Eighties themes of Awesomenauts. Nevertheless you can see that even in the top image the colour scheme ignores large parts of the colour wheel, so even there the colour usage is limited."

He used the tool to analyze the color gamuts on other games, including Uncharted 3, Star Control II, and Far Cry 4, above. The first is a narrow complementary gamut, the second uses high chroma primaries without neutrals, and the third is clustered around a fairly muted gamut near the gray center of the spectrum. 

On his blog post, he shares a link to download the tool for free so that you can try it yourself. Thanks for sharing, Joost.


NJL said...

Wow, thanks, this is neat! I have trouble visualizing color relations, and I think using this on images to check if what I think I'm seeing is what I'm seeing will be very helpful.

Dustin Wilson said...

Weird how these things happen. This tool is nice to have. I couldn't get it to run under mono on OS X, but it runs fine in a virtual machine. I've actually been working out a side programming project for a while that would map out a color gamut given a set of primaries for when I paint digitally. I've used gamut masking for a while now, but it'd be nice to be a bit more precise.

The ideal tool for a digital painter would be something like a Photoshop plugin where you can mask a color wheel with shapes (or provide the primaries yourself), and it would then provide you with a color picker that only itself provided colors within that gamut. Perfection would be to be able to pick what colors to use for white, gray, and black for the tints, lowering of the chroma, and the shades. For example you could use an off white, ever-so-slightly-warm medium gray, and a warm shadow color for the black so when you pick colors they'll never be 100% white or black.

James Gurney said...

Dustin, yes, any gamut system really should take into consideration all three dimensions of color, including value, but it's hard to represent a "gamut blob" in two dimensions. I'm also on Mac, and I gather this one only works on Windows.

NJL, I find it hard to visualize color schemes without thinking in terms of gamuts, because what makes a color scheme great is what you leave out of it, and the missing colors are not always obvious.

blurec said...

I gave it a try, too, and create an online app for that.

I've included the chroma value to my HSV projection and I'm getting colors wheels which are closer to the actual results from the book. Check it out here: