»New Version of the HCL color scheme creator is available.«Try it!

How To Use

The software used for this work

The work presented here is mainly based on a package called colorspace (Zeileis, Hornik, & Murrell, 2009) designed for the programming language R which is using a function lirbrary written in C by Ross Ihaka (© 2005).

Using the colorspace package in R

The open source software R offers a package called “colorspace” which is designed to create and use HCL color palettes within R. There is a special page “R colorspace” which provides detailed information how to use HCL color palettes within R.

Bring me there!

Other software

In the past the ColorBrewer (Brewer, 1997; Harrower & Brewer, 2003) was often used. The ColorBrewer offers several pre-designed color palettes which are also based on the HCL color scheme. Those palettes are also available as “color tables” or “brewer tables” for different common software packages like R (RColorBrewer package), python (colorbrewer or matlab (cbrewer to mention a few of them. The constraint of the ColorBrewer is that you cannot “tune” and design the schemes as you like. The R colorspace package gives you this flexibility.

Not everyone likes to install the software R, even if it is very easy. Therefore we developed a s mall web-frontend for the R colorspace package.

HCL wizard online

Our interface to access the functionality of the R colorspace packe in your browser.

The online interface has the same functionality as the R GUI interface and gives you the ability to “play” with it. An export function is also included to export the chosen colors to your favorite programming language.

Note that the interface requires jQuery and a more or less up-to-date browser. The graphics are manipulated by your browser directly which can take a few seconds on older machines.

Online HCL Colormap Creator


  1. Brewer, C. A. (1997). Spectral Schemes: Controversial Color Use on Maps. Cartography and Geographic Information Systems, 24(4), 203–220. http://doi.org/10.1559/152304097782439231
  2. Harrower, M. A., & Brewer, C. A. (2003). ColorBrewer.org: An Online Tool for Selecting Color Schemes for Maps. The Cartographic Journal, 40, 27–37. Retrieved from http://ColorBrewer.org/
  3. Zeileis, A., Hornik, K., & Murrell, P. (2009). Escaping RGBland: Selecting colors for statistical graphics . Computational Statistics &Amp; Data Analysis , 53(9), 3259–3270. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.csda.2008.11.033

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