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PaletteTool User Documentation

Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. Color palettes and PaletteTool
3. PaletteTool's Graphical User Interface
3.1. Overview
3.2. Image Viewer
3.3. Menu Bar
3.4. Tool Bar
A. Supported Palette Types
B. Formatted String Variables


PaletteTool is a software application for MS Windows for generating, importing, and conversion of color palettes. Conversion can be performed “in batch” for multiple files. Palettes can be also saved as .gif-files. In addition, PaletteTool can load or generate images, apply a new color map to them, and if wanted, export them as a color cycling .gif-file. The following palette formats are supported for im- and export

The following formats can be exported only, but not read:

The following methods for generating palettes are implemented:

The following methods for generating images are implemented:

This document is the user manual for PaletteTool, version 1.0. It contains information that explains what PaletteTool was designed for and how to use it.

PaletteTool was tried to be designed to please its users. We hope for a feedback on this. Please give us a notice about your experience with PaletteTool using the contact possibilities located at We would also be very lucky to be informed about errors within the application or mistakes in the documentation.

This user documentation is structured as following: Chapter 2 gives an introduction into color palettes and what PaletteTool is for. Chapter 3 describes the interaction possibilities using PaletteTool's graphical user interface. The document closes with appendices that lists the supported palette types and the available formatting options.

2.Color palettes and PaletteTool

Initially, computer images (“bitmaps”) had a limited number of colors. Each pixel was not holding a value for red, green, and blue (RGB) as nowadays, but was rather pointing to a colour in a colour table. Such image formats, where each pixel points to an entry in a colour palette are called indexed images. The colour table itself is called “palette”, “colour map” or “colour palette”.

As usual, different formats for storing colour palettes were developed. PaletteTool's main application is to convert between different formats.

Nowadays, colour palettes can be found in .gif-images, which store indexed colour images. As known, .gif-images are capable to store animations as well. Generating images by colourcycling — rotating the colour map — is the second main application for PaletteTool.

In addition, PaletteTool can generate palettes and can generate as well example images, mainly for testing colour cycling.

3.PaletteTool's Graphical User Interface


The main window is divided into two sections, an image viewer part and a colour map viewer part. Additionally, a menu bar and a tool bar exist that allow further interaction. The following image shows this graphical interface, its usage is described in the following.

Figure3.1.Main PaletteTool window

Main <b>PaletteTool</b> window

3.2.Image Viewer

After starting the application or if an image was closed (see “Close Image”), the viewer stays empty. As soon as an image was loaded (see “Open Image”) or the user has generated an image (see “Image Generation”), the image is displayed within the viewer.

The user can zoom into (see “Zoom In (25%)”) the image and out (see “Zoom Out (25%)”) of image. The view can be restored to its original size (see “Normal Size”) .

3.3.Menu Bar

3.3.1.The “File” Menu

The File menu allows you to load and save images and colour palettes from/to different formats. Additionally, a loaded palette can be exported as a gif-image. The File menu contains the following entries: Palettes

Most palette formats are fixed. Yet, when exporting palettes to .css or to .js-files, additional format options can be set. This is also true when generating .gif-images that show the palettes. The individual options are described in the following. Palettes to JSON

When exporting palettes to .js/.json-files the following dialog will be shown.

Figure3.2.JSON export dialog

JSON export dialog

You can define the following: Palettes to CSS

When exporting palettes to .css-files the following dialog will be shown.

Figure3.3.CSS export dialog

CSS export dialog

You can define the following: Palettes to GIF

When exporting palettes as .gif-images the following dialog will be shown.

Figure3.4.GIF export dialog

GIF export dialog

You can define the following:

3.3.2.The “Image” Menu

Here, you can find items for generating images, converting images to indexed images and for exporting a colorcycling animation

3.3.2..Image Generation

Currently, PaletteTool offers two ways to generate an image. They will be described in the following.


When choosing the option “Image -> Generate -> Mandelbrot” the following dialog will be shown.

Figure3.5.Mandelbrot generation dialog

Mandelbrot generation dialog

When selecting the view of the Mandelbrot fractal, you can use the mouse to move the area to generate when keeping the left mouse button pressed, similar to setting the X- and Y-coordinate of the center (see below). You can as well use the cursor keys (left/right/up/down). Additionally, you can zoom into / out of the area by moving the mouse wheel or using the keys ‘+’ and ‘-’. This can be as well controlled using the scale-field (see below).

The dialog offers additional controls for changing the selected area and setting the size of the image to generate:

For further information about Julia sets, see the Wikipedia article about Mandelbrot sets.


When choosing the option “Image -> Generate -> Julia” the following dialog will be shown.

Figure3.6.Julia generation dialog

Julia generation dialog

When selecting the view of the Julia fractal, you can use the cursor keys (left/right/up/down) to change the real/imaginary (X(Y) part of the center pixel.

The dialog offers additional controls for changing the selected area and setting the size of the image to generate:

For further information about Julia sets, see the Wikipedia article about Julia sets. Conversion

PaletteTool can convert not indexed RGB-images into indexed images for applying colour palettes to them.

The loaded image will be converted into a greyscale image. The brightness of each pixel is set to the average of the pixel's original RGB components. The palette will be set to a greyscale palette.

The loaded image will be quantized and converted into an indexed 8bit-image. The palette will be obtained from the quantized colors of the image. Animation

This option allows to generate gifs animated by colorcycling. It can only be chosen, if an indexed image has been loaded or if a loaded image was converted to an indexed one.

When selected, a window that allows to select a filename to save the animation to is shown. After entering or selecting a valid filename, the following dialog is shown:

Figure3.7.Animation export dialog

Animation export dialog

Here, you can define the start and the end indices between which the palette shall be rotated. Additionally, the animation speed stored in the .gif file can be changed.

3.3.3.The “Palette” Menu

The “Palette” menu contains entries for generating palettes and for converting palettes in batch. Generation

Currently, PaletteTool included the possibility to generate palettes using a cosinus-based approach. It is described in the following. Cosini

When choosing the option “Palette -> Generate… -> using Cosini” the following dialog will be shown.

Figure3.8.Dialog for generating a palette using Cosini

Dialog for generating a palette using Cosini

You can select a pre-given default. In addition, you can change the parameters of the cosinus functions for the R, G, and B components.

For further information about generating palettes this way, see Inigo Quilez' article about palettes. Convert

This option allows you to convert multiple palettes in batch. When selecting “Palette -> Batch Convert…”, the following dialog is shown:

Figure3.9.Dialog for batch conversion

Dialog for batch conversion

This dialog allows you to select the individual files as well as folders. When selecting folders, all found palette files stored within them will be converted. Whether a file is a palette file or not is determined by the file's extension. Using the “Assume file format:” option, you can force PaletteTool to convert only certain types of palettes. The “Convert to:” option allows you to set the format to convert the palettes to. The extension used by this file format will be automatically set. When exporting, some palette formats can have additional options, see Exporting Palettes. They can be set using the “Extended Settings” option.

3.3.4.The “View” Menu

Here, the zoom at a loaded/generated image can be changed:

3.3.5.The “Help” Menu

Contains basic information about the application.

3.4.Tool Bar

The tool bar contains shortcuts to the following menu entries which also can be found within the menu bar and were described previously:

AppendixA.Supported Palette Types

The following table shows which palette formats are known by PaletteTool.

TableA.1.Palette formats that can be imported and exported

Palette FormatExtensionCan be readCan be written
GIMP palettegplyesyes
Adobe Photoshop paletteacoyesyes
Fractint palettemapyesyes
Microsoft palettepalyesyes
A hexadecimal color listhextxtyesyes
JavaScript listjsnoyes
CSS color listcssnoyes
HTML (as a table)htmlnoyes

AppendixB.Formatted String Variables

At some places, a FORMAT_STRING is used. The string may contain placeholders for current values, e.g. the color table entry's index. The following placeholders are supported:

TableB.1.FORMAT_STRING variables

Palette FormatExtension
%fthe filename without extension
%nthe name of the palette if given in the file, otherwise the file name (%f)
%ithe index of the palette entry

Daniel Krajzewicz
Jochen-Nüßler-Straße 5
12359 Berlin
USt-IdNr.: DE281155133
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