Using The Palace Color Map

What the Heck's a CLUT?

PS CLUT The first thing any Photoshop user (or GC user, or Paintshop Pro user...) should do with Palace is store a copy of Palace's custom color map. You can do this by opening most any Palace room GIF ("pgate.gif" is preferred, since it's guaranteed to have the complete map). They should all have the same map, and your avs should use the same set of colors.

Once you've opened the GIF, select "Color Table..." under the Photoshop "Mode" menu. A dialog will pop up, showing you the color table. Hit the "Save..." button. I saved mine as "Palace CLUT" ("CLUT" = "Color LookUp Table"). Once the CLUT is saved, you can just hit cancel on the dialogs and close the GIF you won't be needing the GIF any more.

The procedure is almost identical for GraphicConverter.

The chart below shows the Palace color map, rearranged in various strips. The top strip shows the map in the order it appears in the GIFs, and thus in Photoshop (The block of blacks at the end of the table is unused). Subsequent strips rearrange the color table, sorting on hue, on saturation, on brightness, on the red intensity, on the green, and finally on the blue.

CLUT Strips
Looking at the Color Map Indexed on Different Qualities

Of special interest here should be the block of colors at hues of around 15 degrees or so (easily found in Photoshop by using the color picker directly below the letter "L" in the second row). Sadly, this region is not well-represented, and the colors in it are overly-saturated. Why is this region important? Because that part of the color wheel is where all the skintones (worldwide) live. That sometimes makes it very hard to nail a good flat-colored "skin" region on an avatar face especially for flat-colored cartoon characters. Why this color map was made the way it was, I can't answer.

Using the Color Map

For any picture you want to use with the Palace, as a room background or a prop, you need to make sure it uses the Palace's color map. Unless the picture started as a Palace image (like the room GIF, or a prop copied from a screen capture), we'll need to convert it. There are essentially three kinds of pictures we will convert:

For both grayscale and indexed-color images, you must convert to RGB color via the "Mode" menu first, before converting to indexed color. Photoshop will always assume that grayscale GIFs should be mapped to exactly 256 grayscales; and it has no good way to directly convert from one color table to another. A short time in RGB mode is the neccesary in-between step.

Remember: Save Your RGB Image. You may need it later, for changes or fixes.

To convert an RGB image, you select "Indexed Color..." under "Mode." A dialog will pop up. In the "Palette" box, press the "Custom..." button. In the "Dither" box, press whatever you like "None" will generally give you the smallest file size, "Diffusion" the nicest tonal gradations. Now press "OK."

Another dialog will come up, showing you the color table. If it's still the Palace table (after a while, you'll get to recognize it!), just press "OK." If not, press "Load..." and load our "Palace CLUT" file. Now look at your image: it's living in the Palace world.

RGB unDith Dith
RGB Original No Dithering Dithered

Not sure about that "Dither" option? Just hit "Undo" and convert it again in several different ways. Or duplicate the image and convert each copy a different way, to compare side-by-side. Above are three samples, superimposed over a bit of Harry's Bar.

Here's how to do it with GraphicConverter.

Here's Even More on Color Tables.