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mcpatcher / Biome_Palettes_(Grid)

Custom Biome Palettes (Grid format)

The vanilla colormap format has a few drawbacks. First some biomes like desert are represented by only a single pixel in the colormap, which means their color cannot vary by height. Further, multiple biomes share their temperature and humidity values, making it impossible to give them different color schemes. Even when the base values are different, biomes sometimes overlap at higher altitudes.

MCPatcher offers an alternative, first proposed by Misa. Like the vanilla maps, it is -- generally, see Tips below -- a 256x256 colormap, but the x coordinate represents the biome ID number and the y coordinate the height. (See the Minecraft Wiki for a list of biome IDs.) This allows complete separation between biomes and gives you full control from bedrock to max build height.


Each column in the colormap represents a single biome. Please note that the image is "flipped" vertically: The bottom of the world (y=0) is at the top of the image and the max build height (y=255) is at the bottom. Sea level is y=64. Generally, you will make each column some sort of gradient.


Properties file format (Template)

(Optional) Format indicator

This property simply distinguishes grid-formatted colormaps from vanilla ones. If not specified, your grid colormap will be interpreted in vanilla temperature+humidity format, leading to strange results.


The format property can be omitted if you set it globally in the assets/minecraft/mcpatcher/ file:


This makes all your custom colormaps use the grid format, so be sure that this is what you want.

(Optional) List of blocks and metadata values


See Biome Palettes.

(Optional) Colormap image


See Biome Palettes.

(Optional) Default color

color=<rgb value>

See Biome Palettes.

(Optional) y variance

If set, this property adds random noise to the y coordinate before sampling from the colormap, giving flat areas a more varied appearance. A value of 2 causes the game to pick a value between y - 2 and y + 2, for example.


The default value is 0 (no variation), but this can be overridden by the player in the MCPatcher Options tab.

This property can also be set globally in assets/minecraft/mcpatcher/


(Optional) y offset


This subtracts a fixed value from the block's y coordinate before sampling from the colormap. For example a value of 64 will use the pixel at 0 for blocks between layers 0 and 64. A block at 65 will use pixel 1, 66 pixel 2, etc.

The default value is 0 (no offset).


Forward compatibility: Unused columns in the map represent unassigned biome IDs that may be used by either by future Minecraft versions or by mods. Of course you can create color schemes for particular mod biomes if you know the IDs that they use. But even if you don't, it is best to at least pick a neutral-looking gradient for unused columns so that new biomes will have a reasonable default appearance.

Backward compatibility: The vanilla grass.png and foliage.png maps in assets/minecraft/textures/colormap are always in the vanilla format, regardless of any properties file setting. This preserves compatibility for non-MCPatcher users. To use the grid format with grass or leaves, you must create a custom colormap in assets/minecraft/mcpatcher/colormap/blocks and apply it to the appropriate block(s). For MCPatcher users, the custom colormap overrides the vanilla one; for non-MCPatcher users, only the vanilla one will be used.

Resolution: While colormaps in this format are generally 256x256, there is no strict requirement as with the vanilla format:

  • Minecraft 1.7 introduced rare variants of many biomes. For example "Birch Forest M" (ID 155) is the rare version of "Birch Forest" (ID 27). Conveniently, the rare is always common + 128. This fact can be exploited if you want all rare biomes to use the same color schemes as the corresponding non-rare ones. Simply make your colormap 128 pixels wide instead of 256, and MCPatcher will "wrap" it in the x direction when assigning columns to biomes.
  • Similarly, a 1-pixel wide colormap gives you the same height-based color gradient across all biomes.
  • In the y direction, if you provide more than 256 pixels, MCPatcher will happily use them if the server's build height is higher than the default. Similarly, if the colormap is shorter than 256 pixels, it will simply "top out" at that height giving all blocks above that the same color.
  • In particular, a height of 64 pixels allows for variation underground and a fixed color above sea level.
  • A height of 192 pixels combined with a setting of yOffset=64 gives you just the opposite: variation above ground and a fixed color below.
  • A height of 1 pixel allows for variation across biomes but not by height.