I'm interested in getting an method for obtaining n well-distinguishable colours, where n is just a given number. The purpose is for it to be implemented in an algorithmic way.

I have read other questions on this topic (this, this, this and this), but none of them provides an self-contained way how to generate the colours. (They, in general, say: "Go to this website and put n there as input.")

As well, I know that I can equally distribute the hues of the colours, but then:

  1. Good balancing between number of different hues and number of different saturations and lightnesses is necessary (and I don't know how to make it well).

  2. The same distance in hue doesn't mean the same distance for a human:

    enter image description here

    In the example, certainly the left one is less recognizable than the right one, yet the colours are only some RGB permutations.

  • 1: find maximum number of unique colors determined by the system you are using to represent them. 2: determine the minimum difference between 2 colors that a "healthy human" can distinguish. 3: divide the maximum number of colors by that distance. << that (lets call this x) is the largest acceptable input from the user. 4: RNG a starting color. 5: divide x by n from user (to get y). 6: add y to start color n times. 7: show resulting colors. Feb 28, 2013 at 17:09
  • Once I know how to generate the colours (and you can show me the way with drawings in a colour space or whatever), I shall be able to make it into a real algorithm. The problem lies in making distinguishable colours, not in making a computer program.
    – yo'
    Mar 1, 2013 at 15:47
  • Reopened because of the edit. I cleaned the comments, you are more than welcome to continue the conversation in the chat.
    – Yisela
    Mar 1, 2013 at 23:32
  • 1
    There was an excellent answer to this question posted on the gamedev.SE site by Sam Hocevar recently. Mar 3, 2013 at 15:18
  • 1
    @IlmariKaronen That answer (basically, evenly spaced points on a hue wheel) is a good start but if differentiability and large numbers of colours are your main concerns, you'll reach a point where it's better to add a row higher and lower in lightness and/or lower in saturation than adding more spaces on the hue wheel. Lots of good comments too. Mar 4, 2013 at 13:28

1 Answer 1


If I understand your question well, you should definitely take a look at IWantHue at http://tools.medialab.sciences-po.fr/iwanthue/ There you just enter (like you say) a numbner and it autogenerates colors that play well together. But, they also have some theory on the issue. Good luck...

  • Hi Lim, welcome to GD. That looks like a great website, thank you for suggesting it!
    – Yisela
    Mar 7, 2013 at 0:23

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