File Under: Glossary

Index Color

Producing images for the web invariably means minimizing the number of colors (and therefore the file size), and the index color system is another step in this squishing process. With a 216-color palette loaded, Photoshop will map an image to those colors when you move it into index color mode. While this helps the compression and allows you to choose bit depth, it also makes the colors dither, or shift numerically, to the palette. One way to compensate for dithering in the index mode is to use a histogram, which is basically a bar graph of each color’s frequency in the image. In most image-processing programs, you can manipulate the histogram and determine how much weight to give certain colors in the resulting palette.