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Color Gradient Algorithm in Lab color space

To generate a gradient between two color values, you can just linearly interpolate between them. This will basically work in any color space, although if the transformation between two color spaces is not linear, the gradient obtained by linearly interpolating in one space will not be linear in the other. Thus, generating gradients in Lab color space is exactly like generating them in, say, RGB space.

(For color spaces like HSV or HSL which have a hue coordinate that "loops around", some extra care may be needed to choose the right direction to interpolate in; fortunately, you're not asking about those color spaces here, so I don't need to go into such details.)

Just as a demonstration, here's how you'd generate an n-sample gradient between the colors c1 and c2 (each given as a LabColor object with properties L, a and b):

public static LabColor[]
makeGradient(LabColor c1, LabColor c2, int n) {
    LabColor gradient = new LabColor[n];
    for (int i = 0; i < n; i++) {
        float alpha = (float)i / (n-1);  // 0.0
<= alpha <= 1.0 
        float L = (1-alpha) * c1.L + alpha * c2.L;
        float a = (1-alpha) * c1.a + alpha * c2.a;
        float b = (1-alpha) * c1.b + alpha * c2.b;
        gradient[i] = new LabColor(L, a, b);
    return gradient;

This will return a gradient with n color samples, where the first color is equal to c1, the last color is equal to c2, and the rest are interpolated between them.

However, based on the remark at the end of your question, I suspect you don't actually need to generate any gradients. Rather, to find the color in your chart that most closely matches the one in your sample, you just need to calculate the perceptual distance of each chart color from the sample (which, in the Lab color space, can be well approximated simply by their Euclidian distance) and select the closest one:

public static LabColor
findNearest(LabColor sample, LabColor[] chart) {
    LabColor nearest = null;
    float minDistanceSquared =
    for (int i = 0; i < chart.length; i++) {
        float dL = sample.L - chart[i].L;
        float da = sample.a - chart[i].a;
        float db = sample.b - chart[i].b;
        float distanceSquared = dL*dL + da*da +
        if (distanceSquared <
minDistanceSquared) {
            nearest = chart[i];
            minDistanceSquared = distanceSquared;
    return nearest;

Categories : Java

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