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color \- representation of pixels and colors
To address problems of consistency and portability among applications,
Plan 9 uses a fixed color map, called
.BR rgbv ,
on 8-bit-per-pixel displays.
Although this avoids problems caused by multiplexing color maps between
applications, it requires that the color map chosen be suitable for most purposes
and usable for all.
Other systems that use fixed color maps tend to sample the color cube
uniformly, which has advantages\(emmapping from a (red, green, blue) triple
to the color map and back again is easy\(embut ignores an important property
of the human visual system: eyes are
much more sensitive to small changes in intensity than
to changes in hue.
Sampling the color cube uniformly gives a color map with many different
hues, but only a few shades of each.
Continuous tone images converted into such maps demonstrate conspicuous
Rather than dice the color cube into subregions of
size 6\(mu6\(mu6 (as in Netscape Navigator) or 8\(mu8\(mu4
(as in previous releases of Plan 9), picking 1 color in each,
.B rgbv
color map uses a 4\(mu4\(mu4 subdivision, with
4 shades in each subcube.
The idea is to reduce the color resolution by dicing
the color cube into fewer cells, and to use the extra space to increase the intensity
This results in 16 grey shades (4 grey subcubes with
4 samples in each), 13 shades of each primary and secondary color (3 subcubes
with 4 samples plus black) and a reasonable selection of colors covering the
rest of the color cube.
The advantage is better representation of
continuous tones.
The following function computes the 256 3-byte entries in the color map:
.ta 6n +6n +6n +6n
setmaprgbv(uchar cmap[256][3])
uchar *c;
int r, g, b, v;
int num, den;
int i, j;
for(r=0,i=0; r!=4; r++)
for(v=0; v!=4; v++,i+=16)
for(g=0,j=v-r; g!=4; g++)
for(b=0; b!=4; b++,j++){
c = cmap[i+(j&15)];
den = r;
if(g > den)
den = g;
if(b > den)
den = b;
if(den == 0) /* would divide check; pick grey shades */
c[0] = c[1] = c[2] = 17*v;
num = 17*(4*den+v);
c[0] = r*num/den;
c[1] = g*num/den;
c[2] = b*num/den;
There are 4 nested loops to pick the (red,green,blue) coordinates of the subcube,
and the value (intensity) within the subcube, indexed by
.BR r ,
.BR g ,
.BR b ,
.BR v ,
the name
.IR rgbv .
The peculiar order in which the color map is indexed is designed to distribute the
grey shades uniformly through the map\(emthe
.IR i 'th
grey shade,
.RI 0<= i <=15
has index
.IR i ×17,
with black going to 0 and white to 255.
Therefore, when a call to
.B draw
converts a 1, 2 or 4 bit-per-pixel picture to 8 bits per pixel (which it does
by replicating the pixels' bits), the converted pixel values are the appropriate
grey shades.
.B rgbv
map is not gamma-corrected, for two reasons. First, photographic
film and television are both normally under-corrected, the former by an
accident of physics and the latter by NTSC's design.
Second, we require extra color resolution at low intensities because of the
non-linear response and adaptation of the human visual system.
gamma-corrected displays with adequate low-intensity resolution pack the
high-intensity parts of the color cube with colors whose differences are
almost imperceptible.
Either reason suggests concentrating
the available intensities at the low end of the range.
On `true-color' displays with separate values for the red, green, and blue
components of a pixel, the values are chosen so 0 represents no intensity (black) and the
maximum value (255 for an 8-bit-per-color display) represents full intensity (e.g., full red).
Common display depths are 24 bits per pixel, with 8 bits per color in order
red, green, blue, and 16 bits per pixel, with 5 bits of red, 6 bits of green, and 5 bits of blue.
Colors may also be created with an opacity factor called
.BR alpha ,
which is scaled so 0 represents fully transparent and 255 represents opaque color.
The alpha is
.I premultiplied
into the other channels, as described in the paper by Porter and Duff cited in
.IR draw (3).
The function
.B setalpha
.IR allocimage (3))
aids the initialization of color values with non-trivial alpha.
The packing of pixels into bytes and words is odd.
For compatibility with VGA frame buffers, the bits within a
pixel byte are in big-endian order (leftmost pixel is most
significant bits in byte), while bytes within a pixel are packed in little-endian
order. Pixels are stored in contiguous bytes. This results
in unintuitive pixel formats. For example, for the RGB24 format,
the byte ordering is blue, green, red.
To maintain a constant external representation,
.IR draw (3)
as well as the
various graphics libraries represent colors
by 32-bit numbers, as described in
.IR color (3).
.IR color (3),
.IR graphics (3),
.IR draw (3)