Pattern Swatches for Pico-8

A while ago I made myself a kind of digital haberdashery for Pico-8, that allows me to sample randomly-generated patterns and colour combinations. It is very simple, and mostly just looks like this:

pattern swatches_0

This is a useful tool when making other things in Pico-8, as it lets me choose from “ready-made” fill patterns and colour combinations, rather than designing them myself from scratch or having them be randomly generated in whatever cart I’m building.

Fill patterns probably have some legit reason for existing that has to do with “dithering” and pseudo-3D shading, but I like them because they look like fabric or knitting. They’re very easy to use in Pico-8 code. Here’s an example, using one of the patterns generated in the sampler above:


Also, it turns out that when you set a colour in Pico-8, you’re actually setting two colours at once: an “on” colour and an “off” colour. In the example above I set the colour to “8”, which is really “8 and 0” (red and black). The pattern swatch generator uses the full range of possible colour combinations, and then gives you a number that translates into that pairing of colours.

The use of fill patterns and “off” colours – including how to set “off” colours directly, using a hex bitfield – is explained here:

How to get it


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