• jan@cosmigo.com

Perceptual Color Gradients and Palettes

I have come across an interesting free (and open source) color-picker application to manipulate colors in perceptual color space(s), created by Olivier Vicario:

The application, along with various articles on the topic of perceptual colors theory, and how to use the Color Picker app, can be found at this website:

(to download the app you need to register to the website.)

By playing around with the Color Picker app, you’ll soon realize that you can quickly create gradients and color combinations that look very smooth and natural. Surely, it’s not an intuitive app to use, since navigating into these color spaces is more of a trial-and-error experience, which give very little control over which colors to start with. That’s because you’re basically navigating along the axis of a 3D solid modelling the perceptual colors, in various different color spaces. But still … after a few minutes you’ll get the hang of how to use it, and will be surprised at how every result is always harmonious.

It’s definitely a proof-of-concept application about representing the 3D perceptual space of color in a 2D interface — but you can export color palettes to the clipboard, or as screenshots, so it has practical applications. I haven’t seen any other apps touching on this subject, so I think that it can be of great inspiration for those who wish to experiment in this field.

The full source code can be found on GitHub:

so you can also peek at the algorithms being used.

In any case, the website also offers some good introductory articles on perceptual colors, their representations and terminology, and by playing with the Color Picker it definitely makes it easier to understand these concepts, since the tool is a practical way of navigating these spaces and their axis, which enables you to better understand how they differ from the conventional digital color spaces (RGB, HSL, etc.).