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  Basics Color Theory Web Safe Colours

Web Safe Colours

Phil Color Theory Sep 28, 2005

Web Safe

A web safe colour is one that will display correctly on any screen, irrespective of the operating system or graphics card. There are only 216 web safe colours. You can use other colours, but you cannot be sure they will display correctly.

A general rule of thumb is: if possible use a web safe colours. If isn't possible don't worry. As time goes by the graphics cards (which controls the screen colours) are getting better and better and using web safe colours is not as critical as it once was.

In Flash, when you select an object on the stage, you can either Hexadecimal or the RGB colour code. In ActionScript you use the hexadecimal number not the RGB number.

Note: in ActionScript you can also use a Bitwise colour system which converts numbers to Binary, but this is beyond the scope of this tutorial.

The visible colour is the same irrespective of which you use: RGB, Hexadecimal or Bitwise.

Hexadecimal. Number: 000000
Is is called hexadecimal (16) because the numbers are not decimal, but use a 16 digits instead of 10. It doesn't matter if this is confusing, you simply need to type the code into the actionscript. The 16 digits are: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 a b c d e f.

When you use the Hexadecimal number in Actionscript, type a zero x in front 0x000000 (HTML is #000000). Here is an example:


The Hexadecimal numbers (and/or letters) are actually three pairs. The first pair of numbers gives you the colour red, the second green and the last blue. That's right it is just the same as RGB (Red Green Blue colours). It is just a different way of writing the same thing.

To be web safe, divide the number into 3 pairs. Each pair can only be: 00 or 33 or 99 or cc or ff. For example:

cc33ff is web safe

cc333f is not web safe

RGB number (Red Green Blue): 000 000 000
Red Green Blue is just a different system or code for the same colours. The numbers run from 0 through to 255. You cannot have a number bigger than 255 in RGB. Many people prefer to use the RGB easier than hexadecimal. RGB is split up into three parts: Red, Green and Blue.

For a RGB number to be web safe, each of these three numbers has to be divisible by 51. The only numbers you can use are: 000 or 051 or 102 or 153 or 204 or 255. For example:

204 051 255 is web safe

200 051 255 is not web safe.

In RGB if one of the numbers is less than one hundred, you do not need type the zero. 051 051 000 is the same colour as 51 51 0. This is a web safe colour.

The reason we use RGB as a colour system is because a screen has three lights in it. Yes that is right: Red, Green and Blue. The RGB system controls the lights on the screen. A TV is the same.

Dark and Light Colours

To understand the code, think of a place with no light. That would be a dark place. 000 000 000 represent no light, which is black (000000 in hex). The more light you get, the brighter the screen, so 255 255 255 is the maximum amount of light you can have, so this number represents white (ffffff in hex). The thing to remember is that dark colours have low numbers (no light) and light number have high numbers.

Web safe colour chart: 216 colours

Chart Key
The top number is: Hexadecimal
The bottom number is: RGB (Red Green Blue)

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