Posted June 6, 2011 at 12:40 in Colors, Graphics, Illustrator, Inspiration, Photoshop - 3 comments

I have bundled together a collection of swatches based on old computers and video games that may come in handy for any project involving the retro style of games from the 80′s, pixelart or whatnot. Most colors come from various Wikipedia articles such as these two [1, 2], so I can’t vouch for their fidelity, except for the gamma corrected Commodore 64 which is probably as close to the original as humanly possible.

Apparently, ALL the Commodore 64 emulators out there are mapping the colors somewhat wrong. Philip ‘Pepto’ Timmermann, on the other hand, has made an incredible job to get the colors right. He has a very comprehensive page explaining his method of getting the ‘true colors’ of the c64 here.

A comparison between the emulated colors and the ‘true colors’, as seen below, shows that the latter is much more muted and dull but in fact closer to how the colors were actually processed.

Well, enough of the ol’ c64. There are a lot more swatches but they are much more straight forward so I won’t be going through them all. Here’s just a few.

Amstrad CPC system:

Apple II:

Nintendo 8-bit:

The idea is to limit one selfs creative process by using only the colors provided by each system.

Listed below are all these different systems that are included in my Retro Color Swatch Pack.

  • Amstrad CPC
  • Apple II
  • Atari 2600 NTSC
  • Atari 2600 PAL
  • CGA
  • Commodore 64
  • Commodore Plus/4
  • Commodore VIC-20
  • EGA
  • Gameboy
  • Mattel Aquarius
  • MSX
  • Nintendo 8-bit
  • Sega Master System
  • Teletext
  • Thomson MO5
  • ZX Spectrum


  1. feet
    August 17th, 2011 at 0:41

    How do you open the .ases?

  2. HÃ¥kan @ Monovektor
    August 17th, 2011 at 10:02

    Make sure you have the Swatches-palette open, click the menu button in the upper right corner and select, and depending on what application you’re running, choose…

    Illustrator: Open Swatch Library -> Other Library…
    Photoshop: Load Swatches

    and browse to where you saved the .ASE-file. Click it.

  3. MaF
    May 7th, 2016 at 2:36

    Thank you! I was in the process making ega one myself, when the thought crossed my mind “Gosh, someone surely has done this before!”

    Thank you.