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Grokking The Gimp
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9.5.2 Low-Color Systems and Web Browser
Color Palettes

A low color system provides only 8 bits of color per pixel, which allows only 256 colors to be simultaneously displayed. When used on low-color systems, Web browsers must choose how to represent unavailable colors. Browsers such as Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer use color palette systems that are similar but not identical. The colors that these two browsers have in common are known as the web-safe color palette [12]. Any designer that is concerned with avoiding color distortion must be aware of this special palette and how to use it.

The web-safe color palette consists of combinations of the six values 0, 51, 102, 153, 204, 255 in each of the three colors red, green, and blue. Thus, using notation introduced in Section  5.1, 51R 204G 153B is a color from the web-safe color palette, and 52R 204G 153B is not. The total number of colors in the palette is 63=216. The reason six values are used is because seven would create too many colors for a low-color system (that is, 73=343). What happens to the remaining 40 colors available on a low color system? They are used for system specific colors, and these uses differ for Mac and PC and for Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer. The bottom line is you can't rely on them.

If you are using the GIMP's drawing and painting tools to create graphics from scratch and you desire the result to be web-safe, it would be useful to have a palette of the 216 web-safe colors to work with. You could use this palette to select the colors for your graphics, knowing that the result will be the same on most all systems, low color or not. The GIMP has a variety of predefined color palettes available in the Color Palette dialog found in the Image:Dialogs/Palette menu or which can be obtained by typing C-p in the image or toolbox windows.

Of interest is the GIMP's Web color palette  shown in Figure  9.25.

Figure 9.25: Web-Safe Color Palette
Figure 9.25

The Web palette illustrates the 216 web-safe colors that can be used on low color systems without fear of color distortion. However, because the colors are disorganized in this palette, it is of limited use as a tool for creative design. A palette that organizes colors by hue, saturation, and value would be much more useful.

The VisiBone palettes at are just such tools. The VisiBone2   palette is illustrated in Figure  9.26.

Figure 9.26: The VisiBone2 Web-Safe Color Palette
Figure 9.26

The VisiBone2 palette has exactly the same web-safe colors as the GIMP's Web palette, but the advantage is that its colors are organized into a logical color wheel. It is much easier to pick out colors of common hue, saturation, and value with the VisiBone2 palette than it is for the Web palette.

Grokking The Gimp
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  Published under the terms of the Open Publication License Design by Interspire