pamrecolor man page

Table Of Contents

pamrecolor — alter colors without affecting luminance


pamrecolor [--colorspace=name] [--rmult=fraction] [--gmult=fraction] [--bmult=fraction] [--targetcolor=color] [--colorfile=file] [-randomseed=integer]


Minimum unique abbreviation of option is acceptable.  You may use double hyphens instead of single hyphen to denote options.  You may use white space in place of the equals sign to separate an option name from its value.


This program is part of Netpbm(1).

pamrecolor changes an image's colors to be as close as possible to given target colors but with the constraint that the luminance not be modified.  That is, the original image and the target image will look identical if both are converted to grayscale (e.g. with ppmtopgm(1)).  You can have pamrecolor select target colors randomly, specify a single hue for the entire image, or take the target colors from a target image.

pamrecolor works on pseudo-Netpbm images based on arbitrary color spaces.  You can define the color space explicitly or choose one of many that pamrecolor knows by name.

The output is a PAM image on standard output.  Options control the exact format of the PAM.  If you want a PNM (PBM, PGM, or PPM) image, use pamtopnm(1) on the output.  There is no need to convert if you will use the image as input to a current Netpbm program, but many other programs don't know what a PAM is.



Designate the color space to use for determining the contribution to luminance of each of the red, green, and blue color channels.  For example, in the SMPTE-C color space an RGB color is converted to grayscale by multiplying the red channel by 0.2124132, the green channel by 0.7010437, and the blue channel by 0.0865432 and summing the resulting three products.

When you use this option, the input and output images are not true Netpbm images, because the Netpbm image format specifies a particular color space. Instead, you are using a variation on the format in which the sample values in the raster have different meaning.  Many programs that ostensibly use Netpbm images actually use a variation with a different color space, For example, GIMP uses sRGB internally and if you have GIMP generate a Netpbm image file, it really generates a variation of the format that uses sRGB.

pamrecolor knows the following color spaces (name values):


  Adobe RGB (1998) with a D65 reference white


  Apple  RGB with a D65 reference white


  CIE with an Illuminant E reference white


  NTSC RGB with an Illuminant C reference white


  PAL/SECAM with a D65 reference white


  SMPTE-C with a D65 reference white


  sRGB with a D65 reference white


  Wide-gamut RGB with a D50 reference white

The default is "ntsc" because this is the color space that the Netpbm format of Netpbm and many other graphics utilities.  As a counterexample, GIMP uses sRGB as its native color space.

The luminance values pamrecolor uses for each of the above come from Bruce Lindbloom's Computing RGB-to-XYZ and XYZ-to-RGB matrices" (1) page.


Instead of selecting a color space by name, you can specify explicitly the contribution of each color channel to the overall luminance as red, green, and blue multipliers.  These three options must be used together, and the three fraction values must sum to 1.0.  For example, you can specify the ProPhoto (ROMM) RGB color space with "--rmult=0.2880402 --gmult=0.7118741 --bmult=0.0000857".


Designate color as the target color for the image.  pamrecolor will make each pixel as close as possible to color subject to the constraint that the luminance must stay the same as in the original image.  Specify color as in the argument of the ppm_parsecolor() library routine (e.g., "hotpink" or "#ff69b4").

If you specify neither --targetcolor nor --colorfile, pamrecolor will randomly select a target color for each pixel of the input image.

You may not specify both -targetcolor and -colorfile.


Take per-pixel target colors from Netpbm file file instead of using a single target color for the entire image. file should be a PPM or color PAM image. If the image in the file wider or taller than the input image, pamrecolor uses only the left and top part of it. If the image is narrower or shorter, pamrecolor considers the image to be repeated in a tile pattern.

If you specify neither --targetcolor nor --colorfile, pamrecolor will randomly select a target color for each pixel of the input image.

You may not specify both -targetcolor and -colorfile.


This is the seed for the random number generator that generates the pixels.

Use this to ensure you get the same image on separate invocations.

By default, pamrecolor uses a seed derived from the time of day and process ID, which gives you fairly uncorrelated results in multiple invocations.

This option was new in Netpbm 10.61 (December 2012).


This command tints an image yellow:

    pamrecolor --targetcolor=yellow colorpic.pam > yellowpic.pam

This command takes the colors from colorpicture.ppm and applies them to graypicture.pgm:

    pamrecolor --colorfile=colorpic.ppm graypic.pgm > colorizedpic.pam

The grayscale version of colorizedpic.pam will look just like graypic.pgm.  Note that if you use a non-Netpbm tool to do the conversion to grayscale, you may additionally need to specify an appropriate --colorspace value for your conversion tool.


Here are a couple of fun special effects you can produce with pamrecolor:


Scott Pakin wrote pamrecolor in July 2010.

pamrecolor was new in Netpbm 10.52 (September 2010).


Copyright (C) 2010 Scott Pakin,

See Also

Document Source

This manual page was generated by the Netpbm tool 'makeman' from HTML source.  The master documentation is at


31 July 2010 netpbm documentation