Color theory?

I find myself with odd question about, uh, color theory? I’ve had a game concept in mind for ages, based on something of an old combination of board games and a PBM I played. I was motivated this last week to build the map generator.

So, I’m not a GUI guy. I can make things usable as far as intelligent buttons/screens, but I’m mostly a logic/algorithm/domain programmer and the colors are killing me. I’ve got 15 different regions on the screen I want to distinguish via color somehow. Plus each hex (multiple hexes per region) has terrain. Plus, each hex can be owned by one of 10 different players. The numbers are all going to move around over time, but the gist is that I’ve got a lot of things I want to display on one hex: owner, region, terrain. And I want to do it in a way that isn’t an offensive kaleidascope to the eyes.

Does anyone know of books related to complementary suites of colors? Something where I can fit 20 of them on a screen and still convey useful differences? I’m not looking to invest a huge amount into the GUI as it mostly just needs to be clear and functional, rather than pretty. If this ever panned out, I’d have to get real GUI people to make a good GUI.

I assume you’ve looked at stuff like Kuler? Looks like it’s down right now, but there’s a similar website which lets you play around with color harmonies… I just can’t think of the name.

I haven’t looked at anything yet. I figured I’d let recommendations narrow down the field of tools :) Kuler looks like it might help. Not entirely sure what it’s telling me yet, but prepackaged sets of colors look like a good start.

Something like this might be of use: http : //colorschemedesigner.com/

I sometimes use ColorSchemer for web design. $35-$50 might seem like overkill, but it’s a pretty slick little app and has probably paid for itself.

There are many blogs devoted to colour: http://www.colourlovers.com/

May I suggest:

Region: coloured region border along the hex edges, otherwise normal hex borders.
Terrain: an image with transparency or only displayed in a section of the hex.
Owner: hex fill colour which shows through image transparency.

Something like that is fairly simple and easy to work out, without being a rainbow of confusing colour. If you’re set on complimentary colours though, http://colorschemedesigner.com (as linked by Apodemus) is what I’ve used before.

Was gone over the last couple days and just wanted to say thanks. I’m one of those guys that can’t match colors to save my life, but I’m sure something in these tools will at least make it so my colors don’t outright suck.

GloriousMess: yea, I was figuring I’d need to do some sort of transparent overlay for terrain versus player. I tried outlining the hex in terrain color and the interior as the player color, but I ran into combination issues where colors were close. I had a green for a color and a flavor of green for the region and that combo didn’t work well. That got me to thinking about suites of colors. I needed a suite for players where every color would be distinguishable from every color in the suite of region colors. Then there was terrain still to think about…

It became clear I needed not just X distinguishable colors, but families of colors so that it was fairly obvious what was a player color and what was a region color just by the tone/hue/luminosity.

Yeah I can understand that might be a problem, especially if you need 15 colour families. Post a screenshot when you get it up and running, I’d like to see what you go with.

You may want to have a look here: http://colorbrewer2.org/

Oooh, that’s cool. That might work really well having a bunch of shades of one color for regions, then a bunch of shades of another color for players.

This might be more useful for your needs than colorbrewer:
http://colorusage.arc.nasa.gov/index.php

It’s got more theory, and you can make palettes of different hues that match in lightness and saturation. I can post a few more links tomorrow.

Slate has got you covered!

The best book on color that I have ever read is the Munsell Student Color Set, which is a little pricey, but worth every penny. It’s not so much a catalog of color schemes as it is a textbook on the mechanics of color, it’s very clearly written, and you will know a whole lot more about color (and about using it) once you are done.

It does have an appendix of very precise color chips (painted rather than printed, and tested with a colorimeter), showing the major slices of the Munsell color solid. That is actually pretty useful for looking at color relationships.

http://colorschemedesigner.com/