Web Paint-by-Number Forum
Topic #374: Background Color
By Brian Bellis (mootpoint)

#1: Brian Bellis (mootpoint) on Jan 27, 2013

I've seen some really good "reverse image" puzzles here where the background color is black (for example) and the image is white. As puzzles, they are usually pretty easy but they often look really good. Picture a skeleton on a black background.

Wouldn't it be cool if you could switch the background default from white to one of the other colors? For example you could set the background default to blue for a sky then no blue clues would show up, only white, black, red and green. You could make a "fill in" that wasn't a WOT (waste of time).

I'm not suggesting Jan spend hours and hours programming it. It might even be a stupid idea but I'm just tossing it out there as a topic of discussion.

What do you think?
#2: Joe (infrapinklizzard) on Jan 28, 2013
Brian, Jan addressed this a couple times in various posts.

There was a discussion of being able to change the background color, and it was felt that that could make solving very confusing. In a similar vein, once in a while I do puzzles while not logged in and the default mouse button configuration is completely baffling. This is not even mentioning the programming problem.

There was also the of expanding the color range in general. The upshot was that it probably would result in an uptick in the amount of _pictures_ posted, while not really helping in the _puzzle_ department. Not to mention the programming.

Probably the easiest would be to enable changing of the four colors. This was not discussed much as it would've been just as hard as the other changes, programming-wise. Now it would be a bit easier, if Jan dropped the bitmap format and forced everyone to use the SVG format. For rendering, it would just be a matter of changing the defined colors. For the database, though, there would still need to be some programming to redefine the storage format to include color info.

Also, for any of these, there would be the problem of making sure the clues would be readable. Light colors on white = bad, and if the colors are user-definable, colors too close would be indistinguishable - just look at the problems some have with green or blue vs black, and those aren't very close at all.

I believe that the limitations actually encourage creativity. If black is needed as the background color, add stars or other things to break up the space and add some challenge. Or just leave it easy - beginners need nice looking puzzles, too.

And limitations certainly make better puzzles. More than 4 colors would be a fill-in on most smaller puzzles, and horrendously complicated on larger ones. ("one red, two blue, one brown, one tan, one green -oh, wait, light green, - twelve tan...er...dark tan, three tan, two ecru, one puce, one aqua...)

So my vote is for Jan to spend all his programming time on scalability. (Thanks again, Jan!)

#3: Norma Dee (norm0908) on Jan 28, 2013
Although I understand the logic behind having only 4 colors, I have often wished for a "flesh" color. One that is dark enough for the numbers to show up, but not too dark. It is sometimes very difficult to indicate faces in small puzzles and a few squares of "flesh" color would easily solve that problem.
#4: Joe (infrapinklizzard) on Jan 28, 2013
If you only draw Irishmen in the desert, red'll do ya.
#5: Norma Dee (norm0908) on Jan 28, 2013
Or hugely embarrassed individuals.
#6: Teresa K (fasstar) on Jan 28, 2013
Thanks for a good explanation, Joe. I agree that the current set up prompts creativity.

For those who really, really want to work with lots of colors and different background colors, there's always griddlers.net.
#7: Kristen Vognild (kristen) on Jan 29, 2013
A "flesh" color would also dredge up a big discussion about racism, and that not all flesh is a peachy color.

#8: Norma Dee (norm0908) on Jan 29, 2013
The "flesh" color would be a somewhat neutral shade such as that used in hundreds of comic strips, and, of course, would not be used to depict all races.
#9: Barb Edwards (babarann) on Feb 2, 2013
#10: Teresa K (fasstar) on Feb 3, 2013
Good one, Babarann. :-)
#11: Aldege Cholette (aldege) on Feb 6, 2013
As much as I sometimes wish for a grey as a contrast,I have to agree that the challenge of working within the colour parameters that we have now is very enjoyable to me,and let's face it,for the most part we all seem to be able to recognize most of the puzzles that we make.:)
#12: Jan Wolter (jan) on May 9, 2013
Different background colors are something I've thought about, but it would be difficult to design in a non-confusing way, and it's just not a very high priority.

One thing that might be more interesting would be to allow users to reassign colors in a puzzle, eg turn all red to blue or whatever. You could reassign backgrounds too. Mostly I was thinking of this as a help to people who are color blind or have other color issues, but you could reassign background too.

Another way to make black background puzzles interesting to solve is to use blots.

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