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Notice: No longer maintained

This library was created during a time where color support in CSS was minimal, and has since been superceded by both newer libraries and CSS itself. As of 2021 is a project aiming to produce an correct and comprehensive color library for javascript that is colorspace aware and built on color science.


Color.js provides an API to do simple color management in javascript. Color objects provide methods to do a number of common, useful operations independent of the underlying color model they need.

The library supports RGB, HSV and HSL color models, along with alpha channel on all of them. CSS string representations of colors are supported for convenience. If you need colorspace management that correlates to human perception rather than display technology, colorspace.js looks like an excellent library.

Color objects are always immutable; all operations on them return new objects.

This API is designed for correctness and clarity first, but operates at the expense of some performance. If you need raw performance look for a library that forces you to do the cloning and conversion yourself, rather than implicitly as this one does.

Note: In 2017 it's quite possible that you don't need this library, particularly for client side tasks; many use-cases can simply be achieved using CSS RGB, HSV, and HSL color syntaxes.

Using the library

Once you have included the library in your page, you can access the public namespace net.brehaut (reverse DNS scheme). The only export from color.js is the Color factory function. You may wish to import this into your local scope, eg:

var Color = net.brehaut.Color;

You can use the library in a CommonJS environment, too:

var Color = require('./color').Color;

Color will create a new object for you from an object, string, or array. Note that this is a factory function, not a constructor. eg:

var Green = Color("#00FF00");
var Red = Color({hue: 0, saturation: 1, value: 1});
var Blue = Color("rgb(0,0,255)");
var Cyan = Color({hue: 180, saturation: 1, lightness: 0.5});
var Magenta = Color("hsl(300, 100%, 50%)");
var Yellow = Color([255,255,0]);

Each method on a color either returns a new color (or set of colors) or returns a value. You can chain manipulation methods together as much as you need. Eg

var C1 = Red.shiftHue(45).darkenByRatio(0.5).desaturateByAmount(0.1);

A common use case for this code is to set page elements colors to calculated values, the method toCSS provides a string for you to use. eg:

document.getElementById('myElement').style.backgroundColor = C1.toCSS();


There are three sorts of operations available on color objects; accessor methods (eg getHue/setHue), methods that manipulate the color and return a new object (eh shiftHue) or methods that return arrays of colors (eg, splitComplementaryScheme), and methods that do conversion and construction (eg toCSS).

All values are a float from 0 to 1, with the exception of hue which is a degree (from 0 to 360).

Notes on terminology

  • A ratio multiplies the existing property by the ratio.
  • An amount is just added directly to the existing value.

If you have a saturation of 0.7 and you apply a ratio of 0.5 the new color has a saturation of 0.35. If you then add an amount of 0.15 to that color’s saturation the final color will have a saturation of 0.5.

Accessor Methods

These methods are automatically generated by the API and are used to access the properties of the object. It is advisable to use these methods than try to access the property directly as the API makes no guarantees about the specific model members available.

  • getRed() : Number
  • setRed( newRed ) : Color
  • getGreen(): Number
  • setGreen( newGreen ) : Color
  • getBlue() : Number
  • setBlue( newBlue ): Color
  • getHue() : Number (degrees)
  • setHue( newHue ) : color
  • getSaturation() : Number
  • setSaturation( newSaturation ) : Color
  • getValue() : Number
  • setValue( newValue ) : Color
  • getLightness() : Number
  • setLightness( newValue ) : Color
  • getLuminance() : Number --- returns a number between 0 and 1 that represents how bright this color appears on a conventional monitor.
  • getAlpha() : Number
  • setAlpha( newAlpha ) : Number

Color Methods

The following methods all return a new color.

  • shiftHue( degrees ) : Color
  • darkenByAmount( amount ) : Color
  • darkenByRatio( ratio ) : Color
  • lightenByAmount( amount ) : Color
  • lightenByRatio( amount ) : Color
  • devalueByAmount( amount ) : Color
  • devalueByRatio( ratio ) : Color
  • valueByAmount( amount ) : Color
  • valueByRatio( amount ) : Color
  • desaturateByAmount( amount ) : Color
  • desaturateByRatio( ratio ) : Color
  • saturateByAmount( amount ) : Color
  • saturateByRatio( ratio ) : Color
  • blend( color , alpha ) : Color --- returns a new color that is self blended with alpha of color. eg black.blend ( white , 0 ) is black, black.blend ( white , 0.5 ) is grey and black.blend ( white , 1 ) is white.

The following methods return a list of colors

  • schemeFromDegrees( listOfdegrees ) : List of Colors
  • complementaryScheme( ) : List of Colors
  • splitComplementaryScheme( ) : List of Colors
  • splitComplementaryCWScheme( ) : List of Colors
  • splitComplementaryCCWScheme( ) : List of Colors
  • triadicScheme( ) : List of Colors
  • clashScheme( ) : List of Colors
  • tetradicScheme( ) : List of Colors
  • fourToneCWScheme( ) : List of Colors
  • fourToneCCWScheme( ) : List of Colors
  • fiveToneAScheme( ) : List of Colors
  • fiveToneBScheme( ) : List of Colors
  • fiveToneCScheme( ) : List of Colors
  • fiveToneDScheme( ) : List of Colors
  • fiveToneEScheme( ) : List of Colors
  • sixToneCWScheme( ) : List of Colors
  • sixToneCCWScheme( ) : List of Colors
  • neutralScheme( ) : List of Colors
  • analogousScheme( ) : List of Colors

Conversion and Construction

  • fromObject( o ) : Color --- o is an object with values from a color model, a css string, or an RGB array.
  • toCSS([bytesPerChannel]) : String --- css hexdecimal representation. bytesPerChannel defaults to 2
  • toString() : String --- returns CSS representation
  • toHSV() : Color
  • toRGB() : Color
  • toHSL() : Color

Type definitions

Users of TypeScript can find type definitions in color.d.ts.



Jan 24, 2017
Version 1.0.4: Changed type declaration for using with Angular 2
May 12, 2015
Version 1.0.2: Add package.json for NPM publishing.
May 3, 2013
Version 1.0.1: Bug fix for alpha support in achromatic HSV to RGB.
May 1, 2013
Version 1.0
  • Alpha channels are supported on all color models.
April 16, 2013
Version 0.6
  • fromArray RGB factory added. This factory takes an array of three RGB values as ints from 0-255.
March 4, 2013
Version 0.5
  • Fixes bug where lightenBy…/darkenBy… used value property from HSV model, despite HSL now being supported.
  • valueBy…/devalueBy… methods added. These behave like the old lightenBy…/darkenBy… methods.
  • Module function now uses strict mode.
July 24, 2010
Version 0.4
  • Support for HSL color model
  • Common.JS module support
  • Minor bug fixes
January 14, 2008
Version 0.3 released
  • JSLint is now happy with it.
  • Approx 25% faster by caching factory constructor functions — effectively unrolls object
January 13, 2008
Version 0.2 released
  • Code tided up, now with comments
  • Docs written
  • Small edges cases implemented, eg, a black Color is returned if invalid arguments are passed
  • CSS named colors are supported