Commodore 64 Palette

Blog theme in Commodore 64 palette

Pixel art and 8 bit graphics are all the rage those days, so while I clearly remember the block graphics, the colours in my memory were less saturated. The fact that I was using a crappy monitor is probably one explanation. After looking around on the web, I found a very informative page by Philip TimmermannPepto that explains how the Vic II chip was producing colours and his resulting palette is quite dark, and seems somehow to match my memory better. As I wanted to play around with that palette, I wrote a quick python script that reads a CSV file and outputs a Photoshop Palette. I found the explanations on the ACO file format on this page.

Vic II colours
black white
red cyan
purple green
blue yellow
orange brown
light red dark grey
grey light green
light blue light grey

Interestingly, the resulting colour palette seems quite close to the hues of the theme I’m currently using on this blog (a modified version of japan-style), is there some influence at play? You can see a fragment of the banner image rendered using the Vic II’s palette in the top right part of the page. The size of the image corresponds to the full screen on a Commodore 64 in multi-colour mode: 200 × 160 pixels. The actual palette is in the table on the right (the font comes from ).

8 thoughts on “Commodore 64 Palette”

  1. My 64 had colors that were more saturated than what you arrived at.

  2. The analysis the guy did was for PAL video-system. I suppose you had a NTSC model, no?

  3. Yes, NTSC. I would not have thought that should matter though, as both PAL and NTSC encode colors as phase relationships relative to a color sub-carrier.

  4. Although, to be precise, I did have the C64-C, not the original C64. Although I’ve used the original breadbox, and I cannot recall any significant saturation differences, I do know that the 64c used an updated VIC-II chip. That could be why my recollection is different.

  5. Mmh, this is way above my head, but PAL encodes the image in YUV colour space, while NTSC is in the YIQ space, which is rotated by 33°, maybe the difference in gamut explains the different colours?

  6. @Thias, so that’s why the colors differ quite much between PAL and NTSC. Do happen to know it there are differences between lets say a ps3/xbox PAL and NTSC?

  7. I doubt there would be such a difference between NTSC and PAL on modern consoles. They don’t build the video signal directly, instead they have an graphical chip that works in RGB and then some separate chips that generate the video signals. In the case HDMI output, the signal is directly digital RGB…

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