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  • Writer's pictureixnayokay

The Palettes of Zoologic

This post will go into detail about the colors of Zoologic, and what they mean to me.

I wanted Zoologic to include a wide variety of palettes to support some good diversity across the set. I wanted each output to include a few palettes, because it was really important to me for the collector of each mint to be able to experience it in at least a few different color contexts to compare/contrast how it felt to them -- or to be able to see it in a preferred color. I wanted this work to be something its owner could come back to repeatedly and see in a new light.

This project is very much about having the ability to explore a particular set of evolutionary constraints from a variety of different angles -- and the colors are a part of that. I didn't want it to be too wide open, though -- three palettes per mint seemed like a happy medium. I didn't want to just pull three out of a hat (which seemed a little lazy). I wanted to make sure each of the three palettes in an output felt distinct, so I came up with a table structure to organize the palettes into sets:

Preset #1

Preset #2

Preset #3

Set 1 - Water


Hang Ten


Set 2 - Dark

Shades of Dboch

Ray of Sunshine


Set 3 - Earth




Set 4 - Pastel

Crack of Dawn



Set 5 - Bold




Set 6 - Plants


Forest Floor

Lichen and Moss

Set 7 - Purple/Red/Peach

'90s Child



Set 8 - Rainbow


Unicorn Horn


Set 9 - Purple/Blue/Pink

equis i griega

G E N W A V E かっこいい


Set 10 - Pink/Red


Bumble Beef

Killbot Engaged

Set 11 - Purple/Orange



Naranjas Perdidas

Set 12 - Orange/Blue/Yellow



Snarling Sabrecat

Set 13 - Sunset


Day to Night


Set 14 - Fiery


Warm Sun


Set 15 - Neutral/Primary

Soviet Hellscape

Relaxation Station


Set 16




Each row has palettes that hew to a certain theme (or that felt similar to me somehow). The trick here is to select three distinct sets when generating each mint. For the first set, use Preset #1, for the second, use Preset #2, and for the third, use Preset #3. The three selected presets will each be fairly distinct, since they each came from sets with different themes. To add a little more diversity, the three selected presets are shuffled to fill the primary/secondary/tertiary features of the output -- which allows for 45 distinct color palettes to be displayed in the default render and snapshot.

The 16th set is a little different from the others. The polychroic palette is an optional feature that allows for viewing all of the color palettes in Zoologic within a single output. It unlocks an additional control that allows switching between sets using the Up Arrow and Down Arrow keys. The Space Bar adjusts its behavior slightly to switch between presets within the currently selected set. An example of this can be seen in Zoologic #70.

Each of these palettes was refined using an iterative process, where I would view it with hundreds of different outputs to see how it was working. When I found an output that wasn't looking great, I adjusted the palette until it did. I also did a lot of side-by-side comparisons between different palettes to ensure they each felt fairly distinct -- especially across different sets.

Palette Details

This section dives into detail on the specific palettes -- which colors are included, examples, and details about what I was thinking when I included them.

1-1 Tethys

This palette is named for the Tethys Ocean, an ancient body of water covering parts of land that would become Europe and Asia. I imagined sunlight filtering into a shallow sea for most of the colors, with some darker blues in the depths. Tethys is also the name of a sea goddess in ancient Greek mythology, and a moon of Saturn thought to be mostly made of ice.

1-2 Hang Ten

"Hang Ten" is a phrase that means to stand on a surfboard with all ten toes dangling over the edge. This palette reminded me of waves and felt relaxing -- just like a nice day out playing in the ocean.

1-3 Mesopelagic

Similar to "Hang Ten" but with more saturated, darker blues and some black. Named for the Mesopelagic zone of the ocean (aka the twilight zone), which is formally defined as the region between where 1% of the sunlight reaches, and where there is no longer any light at all.

2-1 Shades of Dboch

A black and white color palette dedicated to the Art Blocks community's own Dbochman, known for collecting B+W mints. I hope one finds its way to you friend!

2-2 Ray of Sunshine

Another B+W palette, but with a touch of yellow. Conceptually, thought of this one as hopeful, like something happy breaking through when everything else is grey and colorless.

2-3 Aphelion

The aphelion is the furthest point from the Sun reached by a body in orbit. This palette feels very cold to me -- like the depths of space, and faint sunlight reflecting from a comet's surface.

3-1 Oxbow

This palette was picked from a photo of Luuq, Somalia by my friend Mike. It's named for an oxbow lake, which it seems this would become if not for the city between the two sides! It mixes the colors of the desert with those of the river and the town.

Mike runs a site called Earthglance, where he collects some really breathtaking satellite images of Earth. Really gives a perspective to how beautiful and fragile our life on this little planet is -- definitely check it out!

3-2 Geomancer

Another earthy palette with colors of soil, clay, cold water, and darkness. Geomancy is a method of divination that relies on tossing handfuls of earth onto the ground and trying to read the future in them. It's randomized and recursive -- an ancient form of generative art. The idea of trying to divine meaning from a generative output resonates with me.

3-3 Taigawalker

Taiga is far Northern forest, or "snow forest," where evergreen trees grow. The colors in this palette are the colors of spruce, snow, and mud. I thought of travel and wandering through cold and tranquil forest, like crobes wander. Taiga is a relatively young biome that's popped up in the 12,000 years since the last ice age -- a living example of evolving forms spreading into empty spaces.

4-1 Crack of Dawn

This is one of the largest palettes, filled with colors from pre-dawn into the Golden Hour. As a night owl, I rarely see these colors in the sky, but they really have their own character. While most palettes have ~5 colors, Zoologic's algorithm supports palettes of arbitrary size.

4-2 Sugar

This is a colorful pastel palette inspired by Smarties and Sweetarts.

4-3 Hydrangea

Hydrangea are a beautiful flowering bush with a unique ability to change color from blue->purple->red depending on the pH of soil they grow in -- in some cases showing a spectrum across a single plant or flower! Other hydrangea can have greenish-white flowers (and these are my wife's favorite). This is a palette cribbed from nature.

5-1 Saturday

These colors are bold, energetic, and feel ready to take on the day. For some reason, they reminded me of how I feel on a Saturday.

5-2 Groover

Similar to Saturday, but with more purple/yellow and no green. The colors feel mellow, like they would go well with a song. The crobes can move and groove along.

5-3 Spell

These colors felt potent and elemental to me -- like a sudden burst of energy from a wand.

6-1 Canopy

The color of treetops in a forest.

6-2 Forest Floor

The colors of a trail through the forest, with sunbeams shining through.

6-3 Lichen and Moss

The colors of lichen and moss, small plants that grow on and around rocks. Includes some gray and black to look like rocks, and a variety of pale greens.

7-1 '90s Child

Inspired by color of the late '80s and early '90s. As someone born in the late '80s, these were colors I remember from my childhood.

7-2 Tension

The red and purple in this palette give me a feeling of uneasiness or anxiety. The calm purple is disrupted by multiple shades of red that bring energy and a feeling of... tension.

7-3 Brungle

A color with a made-up name plucked from the stream of consciousness as I thought about how this palette made me feel. Probably one of my favorites.

8-1 Chromaculture

A fairly bold rainbow palette. Named for color, and for the sort of culture you might find in a petri dish.

8-2 Unicorn Horn

A garish rainbow palette that reminds me of Lisa Frank or highlighters. It seems like the sort of wild, magical color that a unicorn's horn might have.

8-3 Breeze

The greens in this palette remind me of a respite from the warmer yellow/orange/red, like shade in summer, or a nice breeze. Colors of lying in a hammock in the shade of some trees on a Summer day.

9-1 equis i griega

Spanish for "X Y," this palette's name is a double entendre which references human sex chromosomes, since this palette has a sort of sexual energy to me, for some reason -- maybe because it's similar to the 'Tension' palette, but without the aggressive red, and with more pink. This palette's name is also a nod to the 2-dimensional X-Y space the crobes occupy.

9-2 G E N W A V E かっこいい

Named according to the ___wave template for wave microgenres and inspired by Vaporwave aesthetics including various shades of purple and pink, and Japanese lettering. Wave microgenres of music are interesting, in that they often have more visual thematic consistency than sonic consistency. Long-form generative art seems like a microgenre with a common construction or underpinning, but with a wide variation in the art itself, which seems analogous to the umbrella of wave microgenres to me.

かっこいい (kakko ii) is Japanese for "cool" (or more literally translated, "appearance: good" or "looking good").

9-3 Supernova

The colors for this palette were inspired by imagining what a blue giant star would look like. Originally called "Rigel" but I decided to go with a name that was a little more approachable.

10-1 Creamberry

A typical "strawberries and cream," but other berries are welcome, too. This one is monochrome, soft, and relaxing.

10-2 Bumble Beef

Named for a conversation with LJ where we were talking about color palettes -- a lucky typo! For me, this name juxtaposes the idea of little creatures innocently bumbling their way around the canvas, with a holistic top-down view that reveals colors of meat and flesh, of bloody water running into the drain of an abattoir. The colors, too, show contrast between the calming pinks of "creamberry" and one of the most saturated/aggressive reds in any of the palettes.

10-3 Killbot Engaged

Inspired by the T-800 Terminator and Hal 9000 from 2001, these are the colors of cold steel, red target-seeking eyes, and antipathy for humankind.

11-1 Joie

Named for the French phrase "joie de vivre" (or joy of living), this palette combines satisfying purples with exciting, energetic oranges and happy, hopeful yellows.

11-2 Lilac

Inspired by lilac blossoms -- one of my favorite flowers. Some black has been included to provide some contrast and visual interest.

11-3 Naranjas Perdidas

Spanish for "lost oranges," this palette references the endlessly wandering existence of the crobes. In a monochrome world, some little orange creatures try to find their way. Greyscale with red-orange is one of my all-time favorite palettes, so I repeatedly iterated on this one until I landed on what I felt was the right balance of hue and saturation.

12-1 Reyes

Named for Point Reyes in California, this is a sunset-themed palette without a lot of pinks or reds. I often saw sunsets like this over the Pacific Ocean, maybe because there wasn't a lot of dust in the air to give those colors. The blue represents the ocean as much as it does the sky.

12-2 Tamalpais

Similar in theme and geography to "Reyes", this palette is named for sunsets at Mt. Tamalpais in California -- one of my all-time favorite places, with incredible views. The colors were inspired by some photos I've taken there -- the dark land below, the ocean, the orange horizon.

12-3 Snarling Sabrecat

I really love the energy of this palette. My thought process for naming it was something like, "whoa, this palette is WILD! Wild like, I don't even know, a SNARLING SABRECAT!" Bold and energetic, with orange/blue complements and a duller red that rounds out the orange without becoming the center of attention.

13-1 Plumhoney

The color of plums and their flesh. Another of my favorites.

13-2 Day to Night

The largest palette in Zoologic, this one is a gradient from sunny yellow into the deep purple of late twilight. I really wanted this palette to showcase the nuance of a sunset, and for each color to be almost imperceptibly different from the ones adjacent to it.

13-3 Grumple

The color of deep, satisfying, mysterious purples interrupted by an annoying interjection of red. The colors of grumpiness and frustration. The name is a portmanteau of grumpy and purple.

14-1 Ignition

A fiery palette ranging from fading embers, through flames, to white-hotness.

14-2 Warm Sun

The colors of a warm, sunny Summer day.

14-3 Warning

Based on aposematic warning colors, this palette is warm, but less about warmth than danger. Originally called "aposematic," but renamed for approachability.

15-1 Soviet Hellscape

A drab, neutral palette with sepia tones that evokes concrete, dirt, and hopelessness. It reminded me of photos of cities in the Soviet Union.

15-2 Relaxation Station

Calm, desaturated colors that would have been right at home in the 1970s. A small gradient between complementary red and green with some flesh tones. It's not particularly exciting, but instead feels calming to me -- like it would be a good fit for the wall of a lounge someplace.

15-3 Bweflept

A made-up name for a primary-colored palette with some neutral grays. These are nice on outputs with transparency effects, especially on a black background, since they can produce a wide variety of different colors when overlapping.

Thanks for reading about the colors of Zoologic! The project is available for mint at

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