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Terminal painter / no string extensions / 256 color support / effect support / custom shortcuts
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Paint manages terminal colors and effects for you. It combines the strengths of gems like term-ansicolor or rainbow into a simple to use and flexible colorizer.


  • No string extensions (suitable for library development)

  • Supports setting 256 colors (for capable terminals)

  • Supports setting any effects (although most terminals won't support it)

  • Simple to use

  • Custom shortcuts can be defined and flexibly mixed in

TODO next version (beginning of july)

  • Fall-back mode for non-256-color terminals (Paint.mode)

  • Detection of those old terminals


Install with:

gem install paint

In Ruby do:

require 'paint'


The only method you need to know to get started is: Paint.[]

The first argument given to Paint.[] is the string to colorize (if the object is not a string, to_s will be called on the object). The other arguments describe how to modify/colorize the string. Let's learn by example:

Paint['Ruby', :red]           # sets ansi color red
Paint['Ruby', :red, :bright]  # also applies bright/bold effect
Paint['Ruby', :bright, :red]  # does the same as above
Paint['Ruby', :red, :bright, :underline] # effects can often be combined
Paint['Ruby', :red, :blue]    # the second color you define is for background
Paint['Ruby', nil, :blue]     # pass a nil before a color to ignore foreground and only set background color
Paint['Ruby', [100, 255, 5]]  # you can define rgb colors that map to one of 256 colors. Only supported on 256-color terminals, of course
Paint['Ruby', "gold", "snow"] # Paint supports rgb.txt color names, note that the arguments are strings (:yellow != "yellow")!
Paint['Ruby', "#123456"]      # html like definitions are possible.
Paint['Ruby', "fff"]          # another html hex definition
Paint['Ruby']                 # don't pass any argument to get one of eight random ansi foreground colors
Paint['Ruby', :inverse]       # swaps fore- and background
Paint['Ruby', :italic, :encircle, :rapid_blink, :overline] # probably not supported effects

If you pass multiple colors, the first one is taken as foreground color and the second one defines the background color (all others will be ignored). To only change the background color, you have to pass a nil first. Effects can be passed in any order.

To see more examples, checkout the specs.

More details about terminal colors and effects

Terminal colors/effects are set by ansi escape sequences. These are strings that look like this: \e[X;X;X;X;X]m where X are integers with some meaning. For example, 0 means reset, 31 means red foreground and 41 red background. When you tell Paint to use one of the eight ansi base colors as foreground color, it just inserts a number between 30 and 37 in the sequence. The following colors are available:

:black, :red, :green, :yellow, :blue, :magenta, :cyan, :white, (:default)

When combined with the :bright (= :bold) effect, the color in the terminal emulator often differs a little bit.

Through special sequences it's also possible to set 256-colors, instead of 8, which is also supported by many - but not all - terminals. Paint automatically translates given rgb colors to a suitable color of the 256 available colors.

When using the Paint.[] method, Paint wraps the given string between the calculated escape sequence and an reset sequence ("\e[0m"). You can directly get only the escape sequence by using the Paint.color method.

Effects (without colors)

Also see

Often supported

0) :reset, :nothing
1) :bright, :bold
4) :underline
7) :inverse, :negative
8) :conceal, :hide
22) :clean
24) :underline_off
26) :inverse_off, :positive
27) :conceal_off, :show, :reveal

Not widely supported

2) :faint
3) :italic
5) :blink, :slow_blink
6) :rapid_blink
9) :crossed, :crossed_out
10) :default_font, :font0
11-19) :font1, :font2, :font3, :font4, :font5, :font6, :font7, :font8, :font9
20) :fraktur
21) :bright_off, :bold_off, :double_underline
23) :italic_off, :fraktur_off
25) :blink_off
29) :crossed_off, :crossed_out_off
51) :frame
52) :encircle
53) :overline
54) :frame_off, :encircle_off
55) :overline_off


Now for the fancy part: Color shortcuts for your gems and scripts! Note: You don't have to use them (and only stick to Paint.[]) ;)

It's easy: Just setup a hash of symbol keys and escape string values at: Paint::SHORTCUTS[:your_namespace], for example:

Paint::SHORTCUTS[:example] = {
  :white => Paint.color(:black),
  :red => Paint.color(:red, :bright),
  :title => Paint.color(:underline),

The methods become rubymagically available in a Paint child model (via method_missing): 'Ruby' # => "\e[31;1mRuby\e[0m"
Paint::Example.white      # => "\e[37m"

As you can see, the helper methods look useful and can take either one (wrap string) or none (only color) arguments …but they aren't really short yet.

Inlcuding action

Just include them:

include Paint::Example
red # => "\e[31;1m"
white 'Ruby' # => "\e[30m"

All shortcuts, defined in your shortcut namespace at this time, are now (privately) available in your current namespace (without using a method_missing implementation).

Furthermore, there are two variations of this approach:

include Paint::Example::String
"Ruby".title # => "\e[4mRuby\e[0m" # => "\e[31;1m5\e[0m"

In this case, self will be converted to a string and wrapped with the specific color code. Note, that the helper methods doesn't take any arguments when using this method.

The third way allows you to get a single color helper method to avoid cluttering namespaces:

include Paint::Example::Prefix::ExampleName
"Ruby".example_name(:red) # => "\e[31;1mRuby\e[0m"


There are some helper methods available. You can get a p like alternative for calling Paint.[]:

require 'paint/pa'
pa "Ruby", :red, :underline  # same as puts Paint["Ruby", :red, :underline]

Another one is Paint.unpaint, which removes any ansi colors:

Paint.unpaint( Paint['J-_-L', :red, :bright] ).should == 'J-_-L'


Mainly influenced by rainbow and term-ansicolor.

Copyright © 2011 Jan Lelis,, released under the MIT license.


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