precision color scheme for multiple applications (terminal, vim, etc.) with both dark/light modes
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title description author tags colors created lastchanged
Precision colors for machines and people
Ethan Schoonover
test, testing, test123
light yellow
March 15, 2011
March 21, 2011


Precision colors for machines and people

solarized dualmode\

Solarized is a sixteen color palette (eight monotones, eight accent colors) designed for use with terminal and gui applications. It has several unique properties. I designed this colorscheme with both precise CIELAB lightness relationships and a refined set of hues based on fixed color wheel relationships. It has been tested extensively in real world use on color calibrated displays (as well as uncalibrated/intentionally miscalibrated displays) and in a variety of lighting conditions.

solarized palette
solarized vim\

Currently available in formats for (cf screenshots below):

  • Vim (the Vim-only portion of Solarized is available here, for use with Pathogen, etc.)
  • Mutt e-mail client (just the Mutt colorscheme is available here)
  • Xresources / Xdefaults
  • iTerm2
  • OS X
  • Adobe Photoshop Palette (inc. L*a*b values)
  • Apple Color Picker Palette
  • GIMP Palette

Don't see the application you want to use it in? Download the palettes (or pull the values from the table below) and create your own. Submit it back and I'll happily note the contribution and include it on this page.

Note: I am still tweaking the Vim highlighting for specific syntaxes and welcome feedback on these.


Click here to download latest version

Current release is v1.0.0beta1.

You can also use the following links to access application specific downloads and git repositories:

Note that through the magic of git-subtree these repositories are all kept in sync, so you can pull any of them and get the most up-to-date version.


  1. Selective contrast

    On a sunny summer day I love to read a book outside. Not right in the sun; that's too bright. I'll hunt for a shady spot under a tree. The shaded paper contrasts with the crisp text nicely. If you were to actually measure the contrast between the two, you'd find it is much lower than black text on a white background (or white on black) on your display device of choice. Black text on white from a computer display is akin to reading a book in direct sunlight and tires the eye.

    solarized selective contrast\

    Solarized reduces brightness contrast but, unlike many low contrast colorschemes, retains contrasting hues (based on colorwheel relations) for syntax highlighting readability.

  2. Both sides of the force

    solarized dualmode\

    I often switch between dark and light modes when editing text and code. Solarized retains the same selective contrast relationships and overall feel when switching between the light and dark background modes. A lot of thought, planning and testing has gone into making both modes feel like part of a unified colorscheme.

  3. 16/5 palette modes

    solarized palettes\

    Solarized works as a sixteen color palette for compatibility with common terminal based applications / emulators. In addition, it has been carefull designed to scale down to a variety of five color palettes (four base monotones plus one accent color) for use in design work such as web design. In every case it retains a strong personality but doesn't overwhelm.

  4. Precision, symmetry

    solarized symmetry\

    The monotones have symmetric CIELAB lightness differences, so switching from dark to light mode retains the same perceived contrast in brightness between each value. Each mode is equally readable. The accent colors are based off specific colorwheel relations and subsequently translated to CIELAB to ensure perceptual uniformity in terms of lightness. The hues themselves, as with the monotone *a*b values, have been adjusted within a small range to achieve the most pleasing combination of colors.

    See also the Usage & Development section below for details on the specific values to be used in different contexts.

    This makes colorscheme inversion trivial. Here, for instance, is a sass (scss) snippet that inverts solarized based on the class of the html tag (e.g. <html class="dark red"> to give a dark background with red accent):

    $base03:    #002b36;
    $base02:    #073642;
    $base01:    #586e75;
    $base00:    #657b83;
    $base0:     #839496;
    $base1:     #93a1a1;
    $base2:     #eee8d5;
    $base3:     #fdf6e3;
    $yellow:    #b58900;
    $orange:    #cb4b16;
    $red:       #dc322f;
    $magenta:   #d33682;
    $violet:    #6c71c4;
    $blue:      #268bd2;
    $cyan:      #2aa198;
    $green:     #859900;
    @mixin rebase($rebase03,$rebase02,$rebase01,$rebase00,$rebase0,$rebase1,$rebase2,$rebase3) 
        * { color:$rebase0; }
        h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6 { color:$rebase1; border-color: $rebase0; }
        a, a:active, a:visited { color: $rebase1; }
    @mixin accentize($accent) {
        a, a:active, a:visited, code.url { color: $accent; }
        h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6 {color:$accent}
    /* light is default mode, so pair with general html definition */
    html, .light { @include rebase($base3,$base2,$base1,$base0,$base00,$base01,$base02,$base03)}
    .dark  { @include rebase($base03,$base02,$base01,$base00,$base0,$base1,$base2,$base3)}
    html * {
        color-profile: sRGB;
        rendering-intent: auto;

    See also the full css stylesheet for this site.


Installation instructions for each version of the colorscheme are included in the subdirectory README files. Note that for Vim (and possibly for Mutt) you may want to clone the specific repository (for instance if you are using Pathogen). See the links at the top of this file.

Font Samples

Solarized has been designed to handle fonts of various weights and retain readability, from the classic Terminus to the beefy Menlo.

font samples - light font samples - dark

Clockwise from upper left: Menlo, Letter Gothic, Terminus, Andale Mono.

Preview all code samples in specific font faces by selecting a link from this list:


Click to view.


mutt dark mutt light

C (Vim)

c dark c light

Haskell (Vim)

haskell dark haskell light

HTML (Vim)

html dark html light

Java (Vim)

java dark java light

Javascript (Vim)

javascript dark javascript light

Pandoc Markdown (Vim)

These screen shots show Vim running with my own Pandoc Kit Syntax.

pandoc dark pandoc light

Perl (Vim)

perl dark perl light

PHP (Vim)

php dark php light

Python (Vim)

python dark python light

Ruby (Vim)

ruby dark ruby light

Shell (Vim)

shell dark shell light

TeX (Vim)

tex dark tex light

The Values

L*a*b values are canonical (White D65, Reference D50), other values are matched in sRGB space.

--------- ------- ---- -------  ----------- ---------- ----------- -----------
base03    #002b36  8/4 brblack  234 #1c1c1c 15 -12 -12   0  43  54 193 100  21
base02    #073642  0/4 black    235 #262626 20 -12 -12   7  54  66 192  90  26
base01    #586e75 10/7 brgreen  240 #585858 45 -07 -07  88 110 117 194  25  46
base00    #657b83 11/7 bryellow 241 #626262 50 -07 -07 101 123 131 195  23  51
base0     #839496 12/6 brblue   244 #808080 60 -06 -03 131 148 150 186  13  59
base1     #93a1a1 14/4 brcyan   245 #8a8a8a 65 -05 -02 147 161 161 180   9  63
base2     #eee8d5  7/7 white    254 #e4e4e4 92 -00  10 238 232 213  44  11  93
base3     #fdf6e3 15/7 brwhite  230 #ffffd7 97  00  10 253 246 227  44  10  99
yellow    #b58900  3/3 yellow   136 #af8700 60  10  65 181 137   0  45 100  71
orange    #cb4b16  9/3 brred    166 #d75f00 50  50  55 203  75  22  18  89  80
red       #dc322f  1/1 red      160 #d70000 50  65  45 220  50  47   1  79  86
magenta   #d33682  5/5 magenta  125 #af005f 50  65 -05 211  54 130 331  74  83
violet    #6c71c4 13/5 brmagenta 61 #5f5faf 50  15 -45 108 113 196 237  45  77
blue      #268bd2  4/4 blue      33 #0087ff 55 -10 -45  38 139 210 205  82  82
cyan      #2aa198  6/6 cyan      37 #00afaf 60 -35 -05  42 161 152 175  74  63
green     #859900  2/2 green     64 #5f8700 60 -20  65 133 153   0  68 100  60

Usage & Development

Solarized flips between light and dark modes. In each mode, four monotones form the core values (with an optional fifth for emphasized content).

value samples - dark\

value samples - light\

Thus in the case of a dark background colorscheme, the normal relationship for background and body text is base03:base0 (please note that body text is not base00). Note also that in cases where the background and foreground can be specified as a pair value, text can be highlighted using a combination of base02:base1. The L*a*b lightness difference between base03:base0 and base02:base1 is identical by design, resulting in identical readability against both normal and highlighted backgrounds. An example use case is folded text in Vim which uses base02 for the background and base1 for the foreground.

The values in this example are simply inverted in the case of a light background.