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Finding Color Inspiration in Games

Commodore 64 color palette by Ricardo Cancho Niemietz

Sometimes we need a quick jolt of inspiration to get out of a color rut. I often hear from other designers that they use the same colors over and over again. There are perfectly good reasons why – we may be known for a certain color palette (Nubby and her black, white and reds), or be restricted by brand guidelines or we just gravitate to some colors. While constraints are great, pushing ourselves progressively as creatives means going outside our comfort zones and also challenging standards. Color is a great way to alter mood, focus, and revitalize. Today I’m taking a quick look at three sources of color inspiration with a gaming theme.

8-Bit Console Color Palettes

A great jumping off point for any retro themed infographic or creative project is taking a look at actual color palettes used by 8-bit gaming consoles.

Commodore 64 color palette by Ricardo Cancho Niemietz

The Commodore 64 had a lot of limitations to what colors it would display. When you compare it to the other consoles, a clear difference is easy to see. Just looking at a screen would make it possible to identify the console type. The C-64 has a pretty nice palette, with color tints that are softer and easier to look at for longer periods of time.
An engaging look at different color palettes from the characters in the game. There is some pruning I would do if I used the colors – adding tones in, removing some redundant colors. Most of them would be good starting points for a monochromatic infographic or one using a limited pop of color.


Pokemon color palette - ninetales

Indie Gaming

Independent game designers and artists often have fun takes on color palettes. On the PixelJoint forums I found an interesting palette that reminded me of an Amiga. Going by DawnBringer, the designer offers a public version of the palette for others to use on their projects. Definitely worth a look.

Name: DB's Palette
Columns: 8
 20  12  28    Dark1
 68  36  52    Dark2
 48  52 109    Dark3
 78  74  78    Dark4
133  76  48    Dark5
 52 101  36    Dark6
208  70  72    Dark7
117 113  97    Dark8
 89 125 206    Light1
210 125  44    Light2
133 149 161    Light3
109 170  44    Light4
210 170 153    Light5
109 194 202    Light6
218 212  94    Light7
222 238 214    Light8


Want to dig deeper? Check out this Wikipedia article on color palettes for different video game consoles. Talk about constrains!