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 Post subject: NES Palette(s)
PostPosted: Thu Sep 15, 2011 4:36 am 
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Hi I'm new here. Came looking about for discussion with folks accustomed to NES game development for a few questions I have regarding a little game project of mine that while not actually for NES (I wouldn't know where to begin making a real NES game and I haven't the time to learn) I'd like it to be fairly authentic to the NES style and limitations.

Anyways this be something that's bugged me for a while now. There seem to be so many different palettes out there claiming to be what the NES uses. I know it's supposedly impossible to say what the 'true' colors are but I was wondering what most people here tend to use and the reasons for doing so.

I've got a screenshot of my game in progress using the NES palette I originally found but I've also recolored the image using other NES palettes I've found and while some colors work better, others do not. I'll post my test shots in a bit but I'd just like to know what people here use.

Thanks :)


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 15, 2011 6:09 am 
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You get up to 25 colors at once out of 52. This comprises one background color for the whole image, four sets of three colors that (along with the background color) can be applied to 16x16 pixel grid spaces in the background (size of a ? block in SMB1 or SMB3), and four sets of three colors that can be applied to 8x8 or 8x16 pixel moving objects ("sprites").

The NES generates a video signal directly in the composite domain. It is up to the TV to decode this into an RGB signal. The actual color values depend on how the knobs on the TV are set: brightness (signal add), contrast (signal multiply), color (saturation), and tint (hue offset). Modern emulators (such as FCEUX, Nestopia, and Nintendulator) attempt to emulate this video decoder, and they include sliders that replicate these knobs.

This NES ROM displays all possible colors at once. Tf you have a PowerPak, you can use this ROM to adjust your emulator's sliders to match what you see on the TV. Then take a screenshot of the ROM and use that as your palette.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 15, 2011 6:25 am 
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You won't find a definitive NES palette, because every TV displays them a bit differently. Most consoles have RGB palettes, so it's easy to just use the RGB values and ignore the difference across different TVs, but not the NES.

Your best bet is to generate the palette dynamically, like some emulators do (Nestopia and Nintendulator, for example), allowing the user to adjust it according to their preference.

If you want an authentic NES feel, be sure to respect the other limitations of the NES video system, like the ones tepples mentioned.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 15, 2011 6:43 am 
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Ok I should have phrased my first post differently. The palettes I have found around the net are laid out like this.

Image
and
Image

And several others I've noticed with slightly different RGB values for each color. I was just curious as to what people here may use and which is thought of as being the best or most commonly used.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 15, 2011 7:16 am 
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Carnivac wrote:
Ok I should have phrased my first post differently.

My answer remains the same: There is no correct palette. If you're gonna go with a static one (instead of allowing the user to adjust it, like some emulators do), you'll just have to pick the one that pleases you the most.

A quick feedback on the images you posted though: both have the last 2 columns completely wrong, because those colors are all black.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 15, 2011 7:21 am 
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tokumaru wrote:
Carnivac wrote:
Ok I should have phrased my first post differently.

My answer remains the same: There is no correct palette. If you're gonna go with a static one (instead of allowing the user to adjust it, like some emulators do), you'll just have to pick the one that pleases you the most.


Yeah I mentioned in my first post I know there's no 'true' palette but I'm simply interested in what people generally use before I put too much work into this project. Due to the fact indexed colors aren't quite so easy to do I have to use a preset palette (though the main dragon sprite can change colors as he's seperated into layers so I can control each of his 3 colors independently, not something really feasible with every other graphic in the game especially the tiles). I'd rather not spend loads of time creating and importing my graphics only to have someone say the palette is not very authentic looking and have to recolor every graphic.

Quote:
A quick feedback on the images you posted though: both have the last 2 columns completely wrong, because those colors are all black.


What do you mean by that? That's the same thing I've seen on every NES palette image I've ever found online. They always have the last 2 columns black.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Sep 15, 2011 7:46 am 
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I think Tokumaru means real, authentic black! Like #FFFFFF if you want.
In these two pictures you showed us in your earlier post, there were different shades of black, not one.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 15, 2011 8:02 am 
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Carnivac wrote:
Due to the fact indexed colors aren't quite so easy to do I have to use a preset palette

I see... I thought you had the option of using indexed colors. Well, this is a tough call then. Personally I use the palette generated by Nestopia by default when drawing my graphics, but that doesn't matter much because they are converted back to NES graphics... For NES programmers the palette is just a helpful reference, it's not the final product.

Carnivac wrote:
What do you mean by that? That's the same thing I've seen on every NES palette image I've ever found online. They always have the last 2 columns black.

I meant that in reality they are black, but both your images have different shades of dark grey.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 15, 2011 9:12 am 
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Nintendulator used to have a broken palette, but now it looks much better than before.

I still like the YY-CHR NES palette, nice and saturated.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Sep 15, 2011 10:15 pm 
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Carnivac wrote:
And several others I've noticed with slightly different RGB values for each color. I was just curious as to what people here may use and which is thought of as being the best or most commonly used.

In my experience, Nestopia's palette is the best. It is the closest match to what I get from my NTSC *and* PAL NES on my TV. You can download it here: http://thefox.aspekt.fi/nestopia-yuv-palette.act (it's a Photoshop palette file, but you can easily take the first 192 bytes with a hex editor to get 64 RGB values).

Nintendulator's NTSC palette is also OK, but the PAL one is way off (in my experience).


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Sep 15, 2011 11:56 pm 
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Also keep in the back of your mind that some people may choose to utilize the RGB palette (I go back and forth between this and YUV+composite in Nestopia sometimes myself). Colors tend to be more saturated from RGB PPUs, emulated or hardware. Gimme a sec and I'll get comparison screenshots using the ROM that tepples linked to.

Edit: Here we go. First, the standard YUV palette (with composite emulation enabled as well, as you may be able to tell on the horizontal color boundaries):

Image

And here's what it looks like with the RGB palette (looks slightly different in places to the colors seen in the Nintendo Power RGB screens, but they photographed many of those shots off the front of a CRT monitor instead of using video capture):

Image

Also, I made an animated GIF (without using NTSC emulation, so that I could get crisp 256x240 images and not overflow the 256-color index of GIF files) comparing the two palettes:

Image


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Sep 16, 2011 12:54 am 
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thefox wrote:
Carnivac wrote:
And several others I've noticed with slightly different RGB values for each color. I was just curious as to what people here may use and which is thought of as being the best or most commonly used.

In my experience, Nestopia's palette is the best. It is the closest match to what I get from my NTSC *and* PAL NES on my TV. You can download it here: http://thefox.aspekt.fi/nestopia-yuv-palette.act (it's a Photoshop palette file, but you can easily take the first 192 bytes with a hex editor to get 64 RGB values).

Nintendulator's NTSC palette is also OK, but the PAL one is way off (in my experience).


I second this. TVs vary a lot, so I've gotta adjust the chroma knob on mine a bit until I like the colors. When the subjective sweet spot is reached, though, it looks pretty much like the Nestopia palette in terms of hues and hue/brightness differences between colors seem to match.

I use the Nestopia palette in my map editor and for all graphics editing.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Sep 16, 2011 5:23 am 
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Tint settings in practice tend to vary a lot among NTSC TVs. Some people have their tint set such that $28 looks greenish yellow; others have it set such that $28 looks orangeish yellow.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Sep 16, 2011 5:51 am 
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Grumskiz wrote:
I think Tokumaru means real, authentic black! Like #FFFFFF if you want.
In these two pictures you showed us in your earlier post, there were different shades of black, not one.


Ah fair enough. I hadn't noticed those but I wasn't using those columns anyways as I'd already got used to them being somewhat redundant.

Anyways here's a test shot recolored in the various palettes I've been looking at. Most of the color indexes were straightly recolored to the same one's location in the other palette apart from a couple where the color swapped was so different I switched it to a closer match within the palette.

1. This is the original one I did using the palette from http://www.thealmightyguru.com/Games/Hacking/Wiki/index.php?title=NES_Palette
Image

2. Recolored using what is said to be the 'default' NTSC palette from http://www.wayofthepixel.net/pixelation/index.php?PHPSESSID=c1i4rimra1oappfe27ao9ko8v5&topic=10784.msg115062#msg115062. Too dingey and mucky looking.
Image

3. Recolored using a palette I found said to be Nintendulator's PAL palette also from http://www.wayofthepixel.net/pixelation/index.php?PHPSESSID=c1i4rimra1oappfe27ao9ko8v5&topic=10784.msg115062#msg115062. Quite nice and vivd and I like the richer browns in the rock tiles. The greens though might be a bit too bright.
Image

4. Recolored using the YUV palette in Nestopia (I opened up the palette bit in the Video settings and copied the colors over). A bit dark but not too bad. The main problem I have with this one is the two dark browns in the rock tiles are so similar it's hard to tell them apart. Also not keen on the way the nice magenta I had a specific use for is now more purple. The dark purple also blends a bit too much with one of the dark browns.
Image


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 16, 2011 6:46 am 
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Let me be the first one to say that these graphics look amazing! You seem to be breaking some coloring rules though.


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