IC: How To Create a Custom Palette

ID: Q216777

The information in this article applies to:


When you work with Image Composer, you are working with images in true color. When you want to use your images on the Internet, you may find it advantageous to use the GIF file format, either because you want to use transparency or to save on file size.

Because the GIF file format only supports a 256 color palette, this can cause problems if your image was created using anything other than the Internet dithered palette. Consequently, what you may see when you view your web site is a dithered image that may be significantly degraded from the original.

One way to correct this problem is to create a custom palette. The following procedure will show you how to create a custom palette for a sprite.


NOTE: There is no way to make a true color image look exactly like the original if you are saving it in a reduced color file format, such as GIF. To keep the image close to true color, save it in the JPEG file format.

  1. Open or select the image you want to save as a GIF.

  2. Click the color swatch, and then click the Custom Palette tab.

  3. Click New, and type in a name for your custom palette.

  4. Choose the palette size that corresponds to the number of colors you want in your custom palette. You will need to choose 236 or less colors because Windows "reserves" 20 colors. These are the colors that Windows uses to draw the various user interface elements, and applications are discouraged from changing these system colors.

  5. For the dithering method, choose Error Diffusion.

  6. Click OK.

  7. Your new palette will be displayed. Next, fill the pallete.

  8. Click Generate Colors

  9. For the number of colors choose the maximum amount, which will correspond to the palette size you previously chose.

  10. On the Generate From list, select Selection.

  11. To generate the colors, click Add, and then click Close.

  12. Notice that the new palette looks significantly different from the Web (Dithered) and Web (Solid). This is because this palette is optimized for the image it was created from. Any other sprite displayed in this palette would show the same dithering problems as the current sprite displayed using Web (Dithered).

  13. To close the Color Picker, click Close.

You can see the differences the palette makes in the display by choosing the different palettes in the Color Format selector. Neither Web (Dithered) nor Web (Solid) looks as good as the custom palette that you created. Also, the palette is only available in the current session of Image Composer, or when you open the GIF that uses the palette. If you want the palette to be available to other sessions, click Export in the color picker. The included palettes are saved in the \Multimedia Files\Graphics\Color Palettes\Microsoft Image Composer folder.

Additional query words: color web safe

Keywords          : kbfile 
Version           : WINDOWS:1.0,1.5
Platform          : WINDOWS 
Issue type        : kbprb 

Last Reviewed: June 15, 1999