Proof that the Commodre 64 palette is far superior to the Amstrad CPC.

Started by tastefulmrship, 17:24, 13 February 16

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So I guess the thread is dead ?

Fanboyz are still camping their positions (me first) but it was a good fight once again...

And yep c64 has a shitton of awesome pixelartists to begin with...

Wish they would try more often at Pixel joint...

Amstrad CPC mockup @ PixelJoint.com

I guess they tried once, long time ago...
Pixel Joint Forum: CHALLENGE 3/3/2008: Wide Pixels


Very nice Image. Almost a 3D effect from back to foreground, somekind of depth!! :o
...proudly supported Schnapps Demo, Pentomino and NQ-Music-Disc with GFX


I wonder if somebody has a collection of bin files with ripped beautiful Amstrad pictures (including the ones shown in this thread)?
Ofcourse we can watch them on our Windows PC in the html view of the forum. But wouldn't it be nice to see them on original hardware, too?


It should be no problem to make a slideshow of the best pictures with a little basic program and cram a dsk full with pics.


Actually, one of the best picture on CPC old remains the "mammouth" by Barjack for drawing & Grim for the split raster coding:

reset 20 - mammouth &copy _public_domain_ (2015)


good question, is there even an application to product some diaporama disks ? with possible inclusion of things with tricks or browser options ?

Sykobee (Briggsy)

Quote from: MacDeath on 00:45, 03 March 16

Wish they would try more often at Pixel joint...

Amstrad CPC mockup @ PixelJoint.com

Amazing use of colours here, good separation of different aspects (blue background and leafy decoration (1 shared colour, dark on leaves, highlight on background, works very well)), and the red/greenred/orange/yellow colour ramp. Probably the foreground grass-on-rocks shouldn't be there as it confuses the leafy decoration you can walk in front of with the solid rock, but it's definitely not a big issue. Also the best plum gfx on the CPC so far.


love the use of the "cold green" gradiant, with dark cyan and sea green... this reflects the blue of the background onto the foliage. That's how you use the hybrid colours...


Hello Everyone :)

I thought I would share another technique that might be useful in generating dither automatically with fixed colour palettes in Mode 0 (16) or Mode 1 (4).

Rediscovered a very interesting Photoshop file that has different effects layers that basically converted any greyscale image into 4 or 16 colours depending on the mode your using.

Firstly go visit Dan Fesslers blog on HD Index Patterns it will better explain the concept.

The example Gradient Maps for Mode 0 (16 colours) and Mode 1 (4 colours)

Enjoying/Creating Retro Games


One last test.

Mode 1, (4 colours)  This photoshop file is based off Dan's Photoshop file but I have edited the gradient ramp. 
If you use Photoshop use the greyscale gradient at the top of the page to draw/shade with and it will automatically create the dithered pattern in realtime.

I haven't found (yet) a better dither layer than what Dan has come up with, but if you do you would have potentially more dither patterns.

For anyone who would like to try this, here is the Photoshop file.

Enjoying/Creating Retro Games


This is extremely interesting! I will shortly have a look a it, thank you!!  :D :D


I'm not trained enough to see the differences, but I love the result :)

Oliver Lindau

Old thread I know ;)

Well, few months ago something happened in the C64 colour emulation. The guy who set the colour basis for current emulators revised it in a less palette-wise but more colourscheme-wise approach. Fortunately this also turned out to more authentic tones and finally yellow looks like yellow as shown on original hardware and not the greenyellow something.

Most interesting part of this approach is that it simulates the adjustment knobs of a 1084s monitor and works as a palette generator. Same time it supports different chip revisions, NTSC/PAL colours and in addition  VIC20 and +4. Btw it is the first time I've seen something that produces proper colours even with maximum saturation settings.

On the website it is possible to switch between different graphics. If you are playing with the adjustments you might notice that some graphics look better with higher saturation and some with lower. This is not mainly because of the palette - it reflects in a way the settings the artist used. For example artists like Joe, Mirage, Mermaid or Carrion pixel their works with about 50% saturation. Robin Levy, STE'86 or me (Veto) using higher saturation, I recommend about 70% (I guess you agree that my picture "Room with a View" looks way more vibrant with my own settings).

What you also might recognise that with higher saturation the colour dark red really turns out red. Or yellow stays yellow. This is how the colours really look like on the original hardware and not the overall brownish-dirty-washedout-whatever.

This is the link to the website:


Interesting, however the real C64 hardware still gives a dull, brown picture compared to the real Amstrad hardware.... vibrant colours without having to faff around with any emulator settings :)



Very interesting post by Oliver and I did visit the page.

Reminds me of a question I posted here years ago -how are colours 'decided' when doing an emulator?

However, although that page and project are quite lovely, they attempt to kind of change the narrative. Which has always been, CPC fans laughing at the shite palette of the c64 and c64 fans laughing at the garish gfx of the CPC. I mean, it's not something new, it's what people always thought.

And true enough - I've used real c64s of course, and I've seen videos captured from the real hardware. Heck, even on that page, if you turn the saturation up colours still look like they're dull with their saturation pushed to the maximum; whereas with a CPC, if you turn the saturation to the max it makes your eyes bleed.

So, I'm not sure it represents something more 'real'...

Oliver Lindau

@Bryce: You are right, actually the CPC will be always the more saturated colours by definition. On the other hand CPC palette doesn't include a single brown so... it is kinda natural that a system with 2 brown (actually it is dark orange and brown) and 3 grey out of 16 will provide way more sepia and pastel style pictures overall. It is hard to pixel portraits with realistic skin tones with the Amstrad palette. Otherwise on the C64 it is not possible to create visual impression like games - let's say Purple Saturn Day for example.

I mentioned this in a previous comment: From an artist perspective none of both palettes is superior. Depending the motif it is sometimes the one or the other works better.

The other point is that the whole saturation discussion is a whole mess:

Amstrad is based on RGB with extreme values with a preset hardware environment (which is meant in a positive way, but high saturation means also hard restriction).

C64 is a total anarchic system in this point. Using an original Commodore monitor you will get a well-balanced colour impression. If you use a TV you will get kinda a brownish whatever with supergloomy white and dark pixels that disappear. But both versions do not look like the colours the VICE emulator provides by default. It is possible to set a monitor to similar settings but still blue, green and esp yellow look different for example. The whole perception how C64 graphics actually look like is alienated thanks to this situation. Otherwise many active artists use only these colours as basis, which makes it impossible to talk about standards.

Btw few years ago I had a talk at Revision demoparty with the graphics artist Made, who also started on Amstrad (like me) and was doing his first pixelwork for C64, complaining about the washed-out colours in the Project One graphics tool. He came to my place where I showed him graphics on my commie and he could not believe how vibrant the colours really are with proper hardware.

This is why I am greatful about the Colodore project - because it is possible to see in real time how different the colours look like on that system with different adjustments.

Oliver Lindau

@Gryzor: Well, the major point is that there is no existing standard for C64 colours.

It would be very interesting how this palette was developed, but it seems to me that they were set by intuition. They do not even match the RGB colour range, they do not even match PAL specifications in the PAL variant either. When I got my C128 back then with a TV I had serious problems with the adjustments, because the white colour was too bright and even caused screen distortions. Some people still solder resistors to their cables to get the system compatible with modern digital video hardware.

What PEPTO (the palette was named by its inventor) did with the common known palette is that he used a C64 with monitor (do not know the model or manufacturer here) set the settings to a default and measured those colours with a test card... afaik similar to PM5544. The result was a representation of conditions like contrast and even low brightness colours. The idea was that with this basis everybody could readjust his own settings, but unfortunately this does not work properly, because the colours provide visible undertones. PEPTO himself explained recently that this seems to be a side effect of the measurement back then. The new Colodore scheme provides a more authentic basis.

What you mentioned about the oversaturated impression depending the values is definitely a matter of personal habits but also the settings the graphic artist used. As you can see playing with the saturation bar with Colodore not every colour changes the same way. This also changes the way how you use dithering, shadows or transitions for example.


I'm not sure where the PM5544 comes in to tell you the truth, I guess the only 'real' way would be to take a real-life 'typical' scenario with a new c64 and... what? An average TV of that era, of a Commodore monitor at default settings (if there's even such a thing) and then use a hardware colour picker to read the values?

No argument, with certain settings the pics on that page look gorgeous, but I've never, ever heard a c64 user saying the machine has vibrant colors :D In the old times I remember gatherings at friends' houses, where people would bring their own machines. Understandably I only did this very rarely because bringing my SCART cable was not enough for the CPC to work, but we had MSX, speccies and c64s going around. Spectrum games were very colourful but with a bit of toy-like primary colour quality and cheerful; CPC games were a visual orgasm (whether good or bad). And the c64 had to rely on its hardware scroll and SID because it generally looked so boring.

So.... yes, I do get what you're saying and what they're trying to do, I'm just not sure if it's any relevant. Sure, an artist picks his colours and canvas carefully, and some times he's got the luxury of knowing or dictating how the end product will be positioned (think Capela Sistina). But most often than not, that's not the case and real life conditions take precedence. I'm not sure "how vibrant the colours really are with the proper hardware" is a valid argument in any sense - I don't know, what is the "proper" hardware? My CPC always looked fantastic no matter what tube I threw it to - including my recently purchased 1084S (which I later found out also had the "green screen" button - soooo neat! :D )

It boils down to this:
Publisher: -You've got to fine tune your monitor settings, otherwise our game looks like a pile of shit on a pile of mud!
Teenage gamer: -No shit, Sherlock.

I'm not sure I'm 100% successful in getting through what I mean (my migraine du jour doesn't help either), so by all means let's keep the discussion going - your points do provide much food for thought :)

Sykobee (Briggsy)

If they want to idealise the C64 palette by trying to recreate the C64 graphics as shown on a proper computer monitor, then that's great, but they should realise that 99% of C64 users only ever experienced the C64 on their TV (NTSC or PAL), and most games were programmed with that in mind (or they did the best they could given that situation). Emulators probably should provide both options.

Obviously the Amstrad CPC came with a monitor, so it's far easier to create graphics that match what would have been seen back in the day, although most emulators actually idealise still, pushing black to pure black when on a CRT it really wasn't. However it is close enough. Most emulators can do green screen as well, but I haven't seen one try to emulate the bright mushy mess that the Amstrad modulators created!


Doesn't WinAPE have a PAL filter? Though it looks kind of pretty instead of messed-up :D

Oliver Lindau

Quote from: Gryzor on 14:15, 02 May 17
So.... yes, I do get what you're saying and what they're trying to do, I'm just not sure if it's any relevant.
This is mainly something why in my opinion any approach creating a norm is irrelevant except a colour scheme simulating a reference monitor output like Colodore.

For some reason this also became kind of a religious subject in the C64 scene for quite a while. One argument has been that more than 50% of C64 users had a TV set at home - which is the worst possible combination btw. Another argument was that artists got used to the low saturated palette since PEPTO has been invented. People like Robin Levy, STE'86 or I were told that the way people used to do pixel graphics in the 80ies and 90ies all have been wrong - judging by a standard set a decade after the commercial death of 8bit machines. For a machine which does not even follow PAL TV standards!

I am using a standard 1084s Commodore monitor which has been adjusted with an Amiga 500. For me it is hard to believe that Commodore used individual calibration methods for two machines this monitor was supposed for. The Commodore 1902 monitor of a friend of mine shows the same bright colours like my monitor. Visiting retro gaming events it is the same situation I knew from the 80ies. Each person has his own settings based on their preferences.If there is a standard existing by ignoring those analogue interaction and the user base overall then it would be the NTSC source, but that never happened. What happened here is similar to the idea comparing a new Apple imac setup with a Windows PC using a budget monitor with the motivation that the budget monitor is the most common hardware (not mentioning the colour range issue).


By the way, what you said about RGB values before reminded me of the semi-random note values on the VCS' sound chip configuration. :D

Your last post (I edited it to fix the formating) makes the scope of it much clearer. I should hook up my c64 to my 1084 but I don't even know where it is, dammit. Speaking of which, since I do have a c64c but not a breadbin version (I think), do the revisions output the same things or are there differences? Wouldn't surprise me... (yes, I know that a c64c is not indicative of the mobo rev inside it).

So, in sum I guess we're left with just the fact that some artists or hardcore users fine-tune their equipment and get better results I guess :)


Using the monitor type / colour settings is the wrong way to approach the issue. Whether the colour is more vibrant/less bland on monitor X is irrelevant, because you are then just arguing which monitor can enhance the colours the most. The real comparison is to look at the actual values (voltage levels) coming out the back of the computer and comparing these between computers.
By comparing the luminance and chroma signals of two systems you can tell which one will be more vibrant no matter what monitor is used.

To be fair to the C64, it's main issue is that it was designed for NTSC (Never The Same Colour :) ) and then they "shoehorned" a PAL version out of it based on the same design. Had it been designed from scratch for PAL I'm sure they would have chosen other values.


Oliver Lindau

@Bryce: Isn't this the same thing? Creating a standard by ignoring the users back then and the visual output on a monitor by the same manufacturer like the computer?
Btw PEPTO has a documentation online, which includes a passage about the difference between PEPTO and Colodore colours:


Quote from: Oliver Lindau on 17:10, 02 May 17
@Bryce: Isn't this the same thing? Creating a standard by ignoring the users back then and the visual output on a monitor by the same manufacturer like the computer?

Not really, because the monitor has many variables that can be tweaked to enhance the picture. The output at the back of the computer is a static, unchangeable value that accurately reflects the raw picture that the computer puts out.


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