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Colors: The Safety Palette Color Picker

November 22, 1996

As of December 2011, this topic has been archived. As a result, it is no longer actively maintained. For more information, see Archived Content. For information, recommendations, and guidance regarding the current version of Internet Explorer, see IE Developer Center.

Robert Hess
Microsoft Corporation

To help you get a better visual sense of the colors that make up the safety palette (the set of 216 colors that won't dither when used for GIF images), I've prepared a couple of tables that use the BGCOLOR attribute of a table cell to display the color.

In each colored cell, I am inserting a transparent GIF image. The ALT text of the GIF image is set to the hexadecimal RGB value for the color it is representing. Simply move your mouse cursor over the color you are interested in to see a tooltip that displays the assocated RGB value.

Table 1: Top-to-Bottom Perspective

In this first table, I am simply listing all 216 colors that are part of the safety palette. Notice how the table blocks up very nicely into six 6x6 squares. Think of each square as a separate "slice" of the color cube described by the safety palette.

Preview of Table 1.

Preview of Table 1.

Click here to view Table 1

Table 2: Outside-to-Inside Perspective

This second table shows the same colors, but has a slightly different structure. Instead of layering the colors from top to bottom, this version provides more of an outside-to-inside perspective. It might be a little more difficult to grasp the structure of the color cube from this version, but I find it easier to select related colors.

Preview of Table 2.

Preview of Table 2.

Click here to view Table 2

Further Reading

  • The Safety Palette by Robert Hess
    An in-depth investigation of what the safety palette is, why it prevents GIF images from dithering on most browsers, and how to use it to construct images with solid areas of color.
  • VisiBone Webmaster's Color Laboratory
    VisiBone International Color Institute features an interactive representation of the 216-color palette, and offers a poster for offline reference.
  • The Browser Safe Color Palette, by Lynda Weinman
    In this chapter from her book Designing Web Graphics, Lynda discusses the 216 colors of the safety palette.
  • The Color Cube , by David Siegel
    From his book Creating Killer Web Sites, this excerpt provides yet another description of the 216 colors that won't dither. Siegel talks about this issue only from the standpoint of Netscape Navigator, but I'll forgive him.
  • Through the 6x6x6 Color Cube: An Interactive Voyage , by William I. Johnston
    The color cube on this site contains the 216 colors that appear without dithering (speckles) in Web browsers for the PC and Macintosh platforms. You can view the colors against white, black, or user-defined background colors.

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