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The Toolkit for Vim Color Scheme Designers!
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Colortemplate: The Toolkit for Vim Color Scheme Designers!

Colortemplate is a 100% VimScript plugin for Vim 8 that allows you to easily develop color schemes. Its ambitious goal is to become the way to create new color schemes for Vim!

Quick Start

:edit templates/default_clone.colortemplate
:Colortemplate! ~/.vim
:colorscheme default_clone

The resulting color scheme will be written into ~/.vim/colors. The generated color scheme replicates Vim's default color scheme. Look inside the templates folder for other templates.


  • Generates color schemes that support all environments, from black&white to million colors, both terminal and GUI.
  • Generates color schemes that load efficiently and have a consistent structure following best practices.
  • Has syntax completion for highlight groups, keywords and common colors.
  • Supports generating any kind of auxiliary files (say, autoload/gorgeous.vim or scripts/
  • Automatically provides xterm approximations for GUI colors.
  • Can display information about the highlight group under the cursor.
  • Computes useful statistics about your color palette.
  • Is fully documented!

To know everything about Colortemplate, read :help colortemplate.txt.

Colortemplate is based on a very simple but very flexible template format. This is a minimal template:

# vim: ft=colortemplate
Full name:  My Gorgeous Theme
Short name: gorgeous
Author:     Me <>

Variant:    gui 256 8
Background: dark

# Color palette
Color:      black #000000 ~ Black
Color:      white #ffffff ~ White

# Highlight group definitions
Normal white black
# Etc…

If you want to get a flavor of how Colortemplate can be used in the real world, take a look at some color schemes created with it: WWDC16 and WWDC17 (simple), or Gruvbox 8 and Solarized 8 (complex).

Migrating from v1

Users of Colortemplate v1 in most cases will still be able to build their color schemes, with just a couple of additional warnings. Anyway, to fully migrate to v2, the following must be taken into account:

  • The Terminal Colors directive has been deprecated in favor of the much more flexible mechanism of variants (see below).
  • The ambiguous @term<color> interpolation pattern has been removed: use @term16<color> or @term256<color> instead.
  • There is a new Term Colors key, which allows you specify the 16 ASCII colors to be used in Vim terminal windows. If you were using verbatim blocks for this, you should remove them: Colortemplate v2 automatically defines g:terminal_ansi_colors (and the equivalent for NeoVim if enabled, see below).
  • There is a new Variant directive, which specifies to which environments the subsequent definitions apply. Replace Terminal Colors: 256 with Variant: gui 256; replace Terminal Colors: 256 16 with Variant: gui 256 16; and so on. See :help colortemplate-variants for more information.
  • There is a new Neovim key: when its value is yes, additional code to support Neovim is generated (default is no).
  • The Maintainer key is now optional.
  • If you were using verbatim blocks to check for italics, you should remove them: Colortemplate v2 deals with the italic attribute automatically. Just define your highlight groups as if italics is available, and let Colortemplate do the rest.
  • Many verbatim blocks may now be replaced with #if, #let, …, commands (see :help colortemplate-verbatim).
  • Colortemplate v2 does not generate any help file by default any more (color schemes have no settings by default). You may need to adjust your help templates (see templates/_help.colortemplate).
  • Background directives accept a new value (any). You may switch between dark, light and any an arbitrary number of times.
  • Anything before the first Background and Variant directives is considered to be “in global scope” and put at the start of the generated color scheme. You may put setup stuff in verbatim blocks there, or linked group definitions that apply to all variants.
  • Validation is now performed with $VIMRUNTIME/colors/tools/check_colors.vim (:ColortemplateCheck command or Check menu entry in the toolbar).
  • Statistics are generated separately from the color scheme (:ColortemplateStats or Stats menu entry in the toolbar).
  • Try typing 3ga with the cursor on a Color line!


Do you want to contribute? Do you have any suggestions on how to improve Colortemplate? Open an issue or submit a pull request!

See also the discussion that prompted the creation of this script.

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