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Posted 6 Jan 2007

Find the Nearest Color with C# - Using the Euclidean Distance between Two Colors

, 6 Jan 2007
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A short method to find the nearest color
Sample Image - NearestColorFinder.png


This small method provides an algorithm to find the nearest (or "most similar") color in a given "colorspace" compared to a given single color. This is done by searching for the least Euclidean distance between the two colors. The Euclidean distance can be computed in an arbitrary n-dimensional space. In this implementation, the value for the alpha-component of the given color to "approximate" is NOT used. In the sample, I have used a little bit of code written by Julijan Sribar ( to receive the "web colors" as the sample color space. The webcolor-space is actually a subspace of the RGB-space.

The Algorithm

It is quite simple to compute the Euclidean distance between two points. First, convert the three color-components to double-values:

double dbl_input_red = Convert.ToDouble(input_color.R);
double dbl_input_green = Convert.ToDouble(input_color.G);
double dbl_input_blue = Convert.ToDouble(input_color.B);

Further define a "similarity measure" (actually this is THE distance). This measure has to be initialized by an arbitrary value which must be greater than the greatest possible distance (basically this is the distance between white and black).

double distance = 500.0;

The algorithm to find the least distance is quite simple:

Color nearest_color = Color.Empty;
foreach (object o in WebColors)
	// compute the Euclidean distance between the two colors
	// note, that the alpha-component is not used in this example
	dbl_test_red = Math.Pow(Convert.ToDouble(((Color)o).R) - dbl_input_red, 2.0);
	dbl_test_green = Math.Pow(Convert.ToDouble
		(((Color)o).G) - dbl_input_green, 2.0);
	dbl_test_blue = Math.Pow(Convert.ToDouble
		(((Color)o).B) - dbl_input_blue, 2.0);
	// it is not necessary to compute the square root
	// it should be sufficient to use:
	// temp = dbl_test_blue + dbl_test_green + dbl_test_red;
	// if you plan to do so, the distance should be initialized by 250000.0
	temp = Math.Sqrt(dbl_test_blue + dbl_test_green + dbl_test_red);
	// explore the result and store the nearest color
	if(temp == 0.0)
		// the lowest possible distance is - of course - zero
		// so I can break the loop (thanks to Willie Deutschmann)
		// here I could return the input_color itself
		// but in this example I am using a list with named colors
		// and I want to return the Name-property too
		nearest_color = (Color)o;
	else if (temp < distance)
		distance = temp;
		nearest_color = (Color)o;


To use the code, simply copy and paste the method GetNearestWebColor(Color input_color) into your project. Alternatively you can place a reference to SampleLibrary.dll.


  • 6th January, 2007: Initial post


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)


About the Author

V. Thieme
Web Developer
Germany Germany
Anesthesiologist from Germany
- first contact: 1985 - ATARI 800 XE (there was a great assembler: ATMAS II)
- special interests: my son, number theory, statistics, linear algebra, medicine (of course)

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Comments and Discussions

GeneralFinally I Found Something Pin
James IV14-May-13 17:45
memberJames IV14-May-13 17:45 
GeneralBetter results with HSL Pin
andre_dart3-Mar-09 0:48
memberandre_dart3-Mar-09 0:48 
GeneralHope it solves a problem Pin
coleydog6-May-08 22:00
membercoleydog6-May-08 22:00 
GeneralTwo small suggestions. Pin
Willi Deutschmann8-Jan-07 4:13
memberWilli Deutschmann8-Jan-07 4:13 
AnswerRe: Two small suggestions. Pin
_vt_8-Jan-07 6:28
member_vt_8-Jan-07 6:28 
GeneralRe: Two small suggestions. Pin
Theo Lagendijk19-Apr-09 0:44
memberTheo Lagendijk19-Apr-09 0:44 
GeneralRe: Two small suggestions. Pin
Willi Deutschmann20-Apr-09 4:35
memberWilli Deutschmann20-Apr-09 4:35 
GeneralRe: Two small suggestions. Pin
Theo Lagendijk20-Apr-09 4:51
memberTheo Lagendijk20-Apr-09 4:51 
GeneralRe: Two small suggestions. Pin
Willi Deutschmann20-Apr-09 6:30
memberWilli Deutschmann20-Apr-09 6:30 
GeneralNo one uses euclidian distance Pin
Gilad Kapelushnik6-Jan-07 23:28
memberGilad Kapelushnik6-Jan-07 23:28 
GeneralRe: No one uses euclidian distance Pin
_vt_7-Jan-07 0:51
member_vt_7-Jan-07 0:51 
GeneralRe: No one uses euclidian distance Pin
JohnnyLocust20-Sep-07 9:55
memberJohnnyLocust20-Sep-07 9:55 

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