The Browser Safe Color Palette

By Lynda Weinman

For those of you unfamiliar with my books, Designing Web Graphics, Deconstructing Web Graphics, Coloring Web Graphics; they go into great detail about subjects which may be new to you, such as dithering, CLUTs, palettes, and 8-bit color. The palettes below are offered on the CD-ROM that comes with the book, and are available free here on the Web. Note: you do NOT have to buy, or promise to buy, my book s to use these palettes. They are offered here freely with no strings attached.

The Browser Safe palette, as I so named it, is the actual palette that Mosaic, Netscape and Internet Explorer use within their browsers. The palettes used by these browsers are slightly different on Macs and PCs. This palette is based on math, not beauty. I didn't and wouldn't have picked the colors in this palette, but Netscape, Mosaic and Internet Explorer did, so...

The Browser Safe Palettes only contain 216 colors out of a possible 256. That is because the remaining 40 colors vary on Macs and PCs. By eliminating the 40 variable colors, this palette is optimized for cross-platform use.

The Browser Safe Palette should not be used to remap color photographs. It is better to use an adaptive palette (with no dithering,if possible) and let the end-browser do any additional dithering. I have a test page which proves this point.

The Browser Safe Palette is useful for flat-color illustrations, logos with flat-color, and areas in any image that have a lot of a single color. When a browser dithers flat colors it looks far more objectionable than when it dithers photographs. Look at this test page, which demonstrates this very point.

Since this palette was generated by math, not visual insightfulness, I hired my dear friend Joy Silverman, who spent 60 hours of her life re-arranging it so it might make sense to visual designers. There are two versions here; one organized by hue and one organized by value. You may copy either from these pages and distribute them freely to whomever might want to make better looking Web pages from them. [only one show at top of page - jno]

Special thanks to Bruce Heavin who spent hours with me at my house, going back and forth from my Mac to my PC, trying to figure this out - and succeeding!

If you would like the CLUT or these palettes, visit my FTP site and download them. Note: This CLUT is only useful for flat-color style illustrations, logos and large areas of flat color. Use it to load into the Photoshop Swatches Palette for this purpose. Do not use it to remap color photos or photographic-style images.

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