Classic Color Palettes: Video Games

Classic Color Palettes: Video Games

While technology may have limited the color palettes of some of the first, and most popular, video games, their colors are no less influential on modern game design and culture as a whole. Just as every note from the music of Super Mario Bros is familiar, for gamers and non-gamers alike, so are the simple palettes of every platform and character from these classic video games.

Super Mario Bros.

Super Mario Bros.Hidden Areas

As of 2008, Super Mario Bros. is the best selling video game of all time (selling over 40 million copies to date). It was largely responsible for the initial success of the Nintendo Entertainment System, as well as ending the two year slump of video game sales in the United States after the video game crash of 1983.

Water LevelBowser

One of Shigeru Miyamoto's most influential early successes, it has inspired countless imitators, two direct sequels, and many spinoffs, as well as an entire video game series. Mario went on to become Nintendo's most well-known mascot. The theme music, by Koji Kondo, is recognized worldwide, even by those who have not played the game, and has been considered a representation for video game music in general.
- wikipedia


Pac-ManGhost Pack

At the time, the ability to produce color was a technical achievement, and the marketing department at Atari felt that it was important to stress the color capabilities of the Atari. They asked programmers not to use black backgrounds except to represent outer space. As a result, the maze on the 2600 port was given orange walls and a blue background, instead of blue walls on a black background. (Similar treatment was given to the Atari 2600 conversion of Ms. Pac-Man.)

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All The Colors Of The Wind

All The Colors Of The Wind

The air.  A thing too intangible for color you think? ... The truth is all air is colored.
—John C. Van Dyke, The Desert

Anyone who thinks that air is invisible is impaired by a sort of color blindness.  Indeed, the air is so alive with color that it could be likened to a rainbow that encircles the entire earth with pink, red, violet, gray, blue, and yellow.  Ask a naturalist or a painter, and you'll hear descriptions of an airy spectrum that escapes the unobservant viewer.  Carried by swirling dust particles and refracted by the prisms of water vapor, the colors of the air are best observed in a mass.  Mountaintop vantages, canyons, desert expanses, or deep valley views are recommended.  The warmer the temperature and the stronger the wind, the more color will be detectable.  Rising heat carries finer dust particles deepening the air's hues, while high winds carry larger particles, brightening the coloration.1

Here's how naturalist Richard Jefferies poetically recorded seeing the colors of the wind at sunrise one morning:

Photo by James Jordan.

Color comes up in the wind; the thin mist disappears, drunk up in the grass and trees, and the air is full of blue behind the vapor.  Blue sky at the far hoiizon — rich deep blue overhead — a dark-brown blue deep yonder in the gorge among the trees.  I feel a sense of blue color as I face the strong breeze; the vibration and blow of its force answer to that hue, the sound of the swinging branches and the rush — rush in the grass is azure in its note ; it is wind-blue, not the night-blue, or heaven-blue, a color of air.  To see the color of the air, it needs great space like this — a vastness of concavity and hollow — an equal caldron of valley and plain under, to the dome of the sky over, for no vessel of earth and sky is too large for the air-color to fill.  Thirty, forty, and more miles of eye-sweep, and beyond that the limitless expanse over the sea — the thought of the eye knows no butt, shooting on with stellar penetration into the unknown. In a small space there seems a vacuum, and nothing between you and the hedge opposite, or even across the valley; in a great space the void is filled, and the wind touches the sight like a thing tangible.  The air becomes itself a cloud, and is colored — recognized as a thing suspended; something real exists between you and the horizon.  Now, full of sun and now of shade, the air-cloud rests in the expanse.2

The COLOURlovers library is full of airy inspiration.  There are colors of "thin" to "heavy" atmospheres as well as airless colors of suffocation.

[1] John C. Van Dyke, The Desert: Further Studies in Natural Appearances, 1903.
[2] Richard Jefferies, "Winds of Heaven," The Eclectic Magazine, 1886.

A sampling of thin air colors:

Air air

airy_aries Airy

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COLOURlovers in TIME’s 50 Best Websites of 2008

COLOURlovers in TIME’s 50 Best Websites of 2008

2008 has been a great year for us so far. We reached several milestones like 1,000,000 named colors and 100,000 members and we received some pretty major recognition...

We were honored by the Webby Awards as one of the Top 5 Web Communities for the second year in a row. The Web Visionary Awards gave us the Application, Community and Best of Show awards...

And TIME just named COLOURlovers one of the 50 Best Websites of 2008!


Thank you all for being a part of our community and for helping us grow as one of the best places to share some of your time online. We have more big ideas planned and look forward to ever increasing the amount of color love in the world.

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Gods In Color: Painted Sculpture Of Classical Antiquity

Gods In Color: Painted Sculpture Of Classical Antiquity

A recent touring exhibition is turning a long held common belief on its head. The common perception is that the great statues and buildings of ancient Greece and Rome were all pure unpainted stone or green tarnished bronze, but researchers have been arguing that this may not been what these classic monuments really looked like back in the era of their creation. That, in fact, these statue's were quite alive and vibrant, full of color.

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Photo from Stiftung Archaeologie


Researchers believe, particalurly Vinzenz Brinkmann who has been doing this research for the past 25 years, that artists used mineral and organic based colors and after centuries of deterioration any trace of pigment leftover when discovered, would have been taken off during any cleaning processes done before being put on display, washing the historical art clear of its true colors.

The findings of this research completley changes the commonly held modern ideas of the ancient world, and the way we view modern sculpture and art today, much of which was based on those classical Greek and Roman styles.

Photo from Stiftung Archaeologie

The exhibition, 'Gods in Color: Painted Sculpture of Classical Antiquity' features more than 20 full-size color reconstructions of Greek and Roman works, alongside 35 original statues and reliefs. In two reviews of the exhibition, which is running at Harvard University's Arthur M. Sackler Museum in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with additional works at the Getty Villa in Malibu, California, the authors describe the experience of first seeing something that was, for so long, thought to be a bare, lifeless statue, now come to life with color.

Photo from Stiftung Archaeologie

Walking through the galleries, I pause in front of a color reconstruction of a marble portrait of the Roman emperor Caligula, who ascended the throne in a.d. 37 at age 25, and ruled until his assassination four years later. I'm used to seeing him in "classic white": his pupil-less eyes set against a ghostly pallor, frozen in a regal gaze. But color makes me focus on different facial features, such as the mop of thick, brown hair that frames his fleshy face, which is accented by bright hazel eyes and soft rosy lips. His cheeks are shaded in areas that bring out a plumpness, revealing his youth. I feel as if the deceased despot from my dry history books was actually once young, handsome, and alive.

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Shopping By Color: Etsy’s Color Sorter

Shopping By Color: Etsy’s Color Sorter

Etsy is a crafter's dream -- basically a storefront for anyone who creates handmade items. You can find everything from great jewelry to one of a kind gifts. Navigating a site like Etsy doesn't work quite the same way as an auction site like Ebay does. It tends to be the type of site that one enjoys browsing to see all the varied creations people have brought to life, yet you still need some sort of efficiency behind the scenes in order to keep it from becoming tedious. Thanks to Etsy's color sorting search feature, visitors have a unique and aesthetically pleasing way to browse their site.

Fleur De Lis soap, sold by Lissakp

While traditional site searching methods are available, you can tell Etsy has a thing for color the moment you see the homepage of their site. The "hand-picked" items feature has often caught my eye with a vivid color story, and I find myself clicking beautiful baubles and creatively made toys I certainly don't need (but thanks to the way they are presented, I sure do want to buy).

Green Strawberry OogaBooga plush toy, sold by MyLittleOogaBooga

Searching by color is simple and well-presented on Etsy. You simply click "Colors" under 'Ways to Shop" on the front page, and you are presented with a color bar that you can click anywhere. Once you do, the site will produce thumbnails of ten items in the color that you chose. If you want to see more, you simply click a button and more appear. If you want to see a different color (or a slight variation of the color you chose), all it requires is another click on the color bar and a host of new items appear. It's easy as can be to waste a ton of time browsing the site in this way, not to mention you can find countless treasures.

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The Colors Of Skateboard Art

The Colors Of Skateboard Art

With more and more artists being commissioned to create original work for some of the largest skateboarding companies in the market, the skateboard deck is becoming a highly sought after medium by both artists and collectors. We thought we would take a look at some of the more colorful decks currently influencing both skateboards and art collectors. The images from Chocolate and Alien Workshop are accompanied by the writing of Sean Cliver as he talks about his life as a skateboard designer and his inspiration behind Disposable: A history of Skateboard Art, his current book highlighting over 1,000 skate board graphics from the last 30 years.

Alien Workshop

Disposable: A history of Skateboard Art: The Making Of

In my late teens and early twenties, my attitude was all piss and vinegar,
and the only time worth living or acknowledging was the present—
the classic attributes of any skateboarder, I guess. Then, without
even realizing it, 15 years passed and I found myself going, “Whoa,
how the hell did that happen?!” With this spatial wedge of time driven
between my insolent years of youthful abandon and present state of
being (which now includes a wife, son, and slightly more long-term perspective
on life), I fell into a pronounced period of reflection—mostly just
wondering how I made it out alive. Leafing through my catalog of memories—
an increasingly difficult thing to do living in California, where seasons
are nonexistent and the endless sunshine bleaches all recollections
to an indiscernible haze of months and years—I established the
one constant in all my prominent life experiences: skateboard graphics.

Alien Workshop

To make a long story short—at least for now, that is—I was just an
average kid from Wisconsin who first staked his claim in life on art and
then years later skateboarding. The combination of these two elements
ignited an unbelievable journey that would first and foremost involve
winning an “art contest” advertised by Powell Peralta in 1988, whereupon
I moved straight from the sticks of the Midwest to the spasmodic
heart of the skateboard industry in California. There I somehow managed
to live, thrive, and survive as an artist throughout one of the most
amazing and tumultuous eras in the history of skateboarding, when
graphics transformed into formidable marketing tools and pushed all
possible boundaries from sex, drugs, violence, race, religion, politics,
and copyright laws.

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Peacocks Of Fashion: The Brightly Colored Shoe

Peacocks Of Fashion: The Brightly Colored Shoe

There are many women in the world that will never be caught dead in anything other than a tan or black shoe. As a woman, I understand the importance of such staples in one's collection, but somehow feel my life would be a little less fun without the brightly colored shoes that are in mine. Of course, women's shoes in general have a long history, and they have meant many things to both men and women alike. A shoe can match a bag, complement an ensemble, or make a bold statement all on its own. Here are a few insights into the colors of shoes (and what they sometimes communicate).

Photo by kalandrakas

The red shoe
Depending on who you talk to, a woman who wears red shoes is either brave and fashionable or she is advertising her status as a lady of the night. It's amusing to think there could be such contrasting reactions, but red tends to make a statement in all types of fashion, and shoes are no exception. Many women view red shoes as a symbol of power, much like a feminine version of a men's "power tie". To date, if a woman chooses to wear any brightly colored shoe outside of her basic neutral choices, it tends to be a red shoe.

Photo by PinkMoose

The primary shoe
You don't see a lot of shoes in primary shades on women, and there's a reason -- it takes a very specific type of personality to pull it off. Not unlike the colors themselves, a shoe in a primary shade is attention-grabbing, and unless a woman focuses on collecting clothing to complement such footwear, it's likely shoes of the same hue will sit in the back of the closet. With the recent popularity surge in eighties-inspired fashions, primary colors for the feet have made a bit of a comeback, but who knows how long they will will stick around.

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The Cinematic Color Palette: Pixar

The Cinematic Color Palette: Pixar

Unless you've been living under a rock for the last twelve years, you have probably seen at least one Pixar film. The famous animation studio seems to be releasing one delightful film after another, consistently producing family-friendly fare that speaks to both children and adults. Any lover of vivid color will find great delight in any of their films, as they tend to be a sensational assault on the senses. Some fans have voiced their feelings about Pixar as the "new voice" of Disney, as they continue to produce beautiful films with what appears as effortless grace.


Of course, things are not always quite what they seem, and a look behind the scenes proves that Pixar has worked quite tirelessly to achieve the success they now enjoy. Pixar's beginning reach all the way back to 1979, when they were founded as The Graphics Group, which was one third of the Computer Division of Lucasfilm. The team worked on the precursor to the programming interface RenderMan, which was called Motion Doctor at that time. The most remarkable quality about this program was that it allowed cel animators to use computer animation with very little formal training.

The team went on to work on several Lucasfilm and projects such as Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Young Sherlock Holmes. In 1986 ownership of the group changed hands, purchased by Steve Jobs shortly after his departure from Apple Computer. After plowing a cool 5 million into the company, he renamed it Pixar, a made-up Spanish verb meaning "to make pixels" or "to make pictures".


Pixar started off as a top-notch computer hardware company whose main product was the Pixar Image Computer, which was intended for government and medical use only. How funny to think that the creative demon that is Pixar now could have spent their days in a very different way! Disney were actually one of the leading buyers for these computers, but as a whole they did not sell well. The future was looking dismal until employee John Lasseter decided to take matters into his own hands by premiering his own short demo animations at a major trade show called SIGGRAPH and met with a positive reception.

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Classic Colors: Impressionism

Classic Colors: Impressionism

Inspiration from the colors of the great impressionists, plus some information about each painting and artist from wikipedia.

For more information about each artist or to see more of their work, just click on any image.

Armand Guillaumin: La Place Valhubert.

img   La Place Valhubert
Born in Paris, France, he worked at his uncle's lingerie shop while attending evening drawing lessons. He also worked for a French government railway before studying at the Académie Suisse in 1861. There, he met Paul Cézanne and Camille Pissarro with whom maintained lifelong friendships. While he never achieved the stature of these two, his influence on their work was significant. Cézanne attempted his first etching based on Guillaumin paintings of barges on the River Seine.



Armand Guillaumin: Sunset at Ivry

img   Sunset at Ivry
Noted for his intense colors, major museums around the world display Guillaumin's art. He is best remembered for his landscapes of Paris, the Creuse département, and the area around Les Adrets-de-l'Estérel near the Mediterraneran coast in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region of France.
Armand Guillaumin died in 1927 in Orly, Val-de-Marne just south of Paris.



Claude Monet: Grainstack, Sunset

img   Grainstack (Sunset)
The primary subjects of all of the paintings in the series are stacks of hay that have been stacked in the field after the harvest season. The title refers primarily to a twenty-five canvas series begun the autumn of 1890 and continued through the following spring, using that year's harvest. Some use a broader definition of the title to refer to other paintings by Monet with this same theme. The series is known for its thematic use of repetition to show differences in perception of light across various times of day, seasons, and types of weather. The subjects were painted in fields near Monet's home in Giverny, France.



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Colors For Your Health: Plants

Colors For Your Health: Plants

It is pretty much expected that we will encounter toxins everyday. Whether it is plastics, cleaning products, or other synthetic materials, we are surrounded by harmful toxins. Toxins that in large enough doses could kill us, so even encountering small traces of these can probably lead to health problems, and would logically be something to avoid, if given the chance. Lucky for us our plant friends live to clean the air around us - thanks guys.

In the June issue of GOOD Magazine they put together a great info-graphic of the three most common household toxins and the plant species that research has shown to cleanse and detoxify the air of these potentially harmful toxins.

Full Size

The three most common household toxins, as broken down by the GOOD info-graphic, are:

  • Trichloroethylene: Effects similar to alcohol poisoning: headache and dizzinness, with long-term damage to the liver and kidneys
  • Formaldehyde: A very common indoor pollutant; can cause headaches, watery eyes, and difficulty breathing; is classified as a possible human carcinogen by the EPA
  • Benzene: Can cause drowsiness, dizziness, vomiting, and unconsciousness; has a pleasant smell, which is why it used to be a common ingredient in aftershave


Photo by WebMic

  • Trichloroethylene: Varnishes
  • Benzene: Oils

Toxic chemicals like formaldehyde, benzene, radon, trichloroethylene and carbon monoxide can come from a variety of seemingly innocuous household sources like cleaning materials, your furnace, and even your house itself. These chemicals can contribute to allergies, asthma and a host of other conditions including cancer.

NASA studies have shown that the presences of plants in your indoor environment can significantly reduce your exposure to these toxic airborne chemicals and greatly improve the quality of living. Since many of us spend so much time indoors at home and at work it’s very important that we bring some of the outdoors in and here are some of the best plants to do that with…

Golden Pathos

Photo by Plant Oasis

  • Formaldehyde: Carpet

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