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Last Updated: July 27, 2016
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JavaScript Color Blender

For my current project, I wanted to create a visual indication that would smoothly flow, based on the input, from green to yellow and from yellow to red. This would alert the user that they are moving away from operating in a normal parameter (green) to a warning state (yellow) to a bad state (red). I wanted to blend the colors naturally so something that was approaching the danger area would be in orange. This would give the end-user a quick visual as to just what needed their immediate attention without having just a three color step function.

My input would be the lower bound color, the upper bound color, and the percentage between the lower bound to the upper bound. The values were supplied via JSON and would need to be converted on the UI. (Full code below, with reporting output)

This sandbox shows the method:
- validate input and create 6 char hexcode
- convert the two colors to RGB values
- blend the colors based on the RGB values
- convert the blended color to a hex

It's pure vanilla JS and provides a canvas to show the resulting values. Examples below

Samples:

blend_colors('#000', '#fff', .5)

#000 and #fff, 50% => #808080

Picture

blend_colors('#f00', '#00f', .5)

#ff0000 and #0000ff => #800080

Picture

blend_colors('#f00', '#00f', .8)

#ff0000 and #0000ff => #3300cc

Picture

The logic comes from converting the values to from HEX to RGB and from RGB to HEX.

To RGB: use the native parseInt function in JavaScript with a radix of 16.

color1 = [parseInt(color1[0] + color1[1], 16), parseInt(color1[2] + color1[3], 16), parseInt(color1[4] + color1[5], 16)];

and converting RGB to HEX

color3 = '#' + int_to_hex(color3[0]) + int_to_hex(color3[1]) + int_to_hex(color3[2]);

The RGB to HEX must account for the fact that we may end up with a single digit return when using the parseInt function, and thus will need to pad. Also, values will not work if they contain a decimal, which will not translate properly to a HEX value.

function int_to_hex(num)
{
    var hex = Math.round(num).toString(16);
    if (hex.length == 1)
        hex = '0' + hex;
    return hex;
}

Full code:

/*
    blend two colors to create the color that is at the percentage away from the first color
    this is a 5 step process
        1: validate input
        2: convert input to 6 char hex
        3: convert hex to rgb
        4: take the percentage to create a ratio between the two colors
        5: convert blend to hex
    @param: color1      => the first color, hex (ie: #000000)
    @param: color2      => the second color, hex (ie: #ffffff)
    @param: percentage  => the distance from the first color, as a decimal between 0 and 1 (ie: 0.5)
    @returns: string    => the third color, hex, represenatation of the blend between color1 and color2 at the given percentage
*/
function blend_colors(color1, color2, percentage)
{
    // check input
    color1 = color1 || '#000000';
    color2 = color2 || '#ffffff';
    percentage = percentage || 0.5;

    // 1: validate input, make sure we have provided a valid hex
    if (color1.length != 4 && color1.length != 7)
        throw new error('colors must be provided as hexes');

    if (color2.length != 4 && color2.length != 7)
        throw new error('colors must be provided as hexes');    

    if (percentage > 1 || percentage < 0)
        throw new error('percentage must be between 0 and 1');

    // output to canvas for proof
    var cvs = document.createElement('canvas');
    var ctx = cvs.getContext('2d');
    cvs.width = 90;
    cvs.height = 25;
    document.body.appendChild(cvs);

    // color1 on the left
    ctx.fillStyle = color1;
    ctx.fillRect(0, 0, 30, 25);

    // color2 on the right
    ctx.fillStyle = color2;
    ctx.fillRect(60, 0, 30, 25);

    // 2: check to see if we need to convert 3 char hex to 6 char hex, else slice off hash
    //      the three character hex is just a representation of the 6 hex where each character is repeated
    //      ie: #060 => #006600 (green)
    if (color1.length == 4)
        color1 = color1[1] + color1[1] + color1[2] + color1[2] + color1[3] + color1[3];
    else
        color1 = color1.substring(1);
    if (color2.length == 4)
        color2 = color2[1] + color2[1] + color2[2] + color2[2] + color2[3] + color2[3];
    else
        color2 = color2.substring(1);   

    console.log('valid: c1 => ' + color1 + ', c2 => ' + color2);

    // 3: we have valid input, convert colors to rgb
    color1 = [parseInt(color1[0] + color1[1], 16), parseInt(color1[2] + color1[3], 16), parseInt(color1[4] + color1[5], 16)];
    color2 = [parseInt(color2[0] + color2[1], 16), parseInt(color2[2] + color2[3], 16), parseInt(color2[4] + color2[5], 16)];

    console.log('hex -> rgba: c1 => [' + color1.join(', ') + '], c2 => [' + color2.join(', ') + ']');

    // 4: blend
    var color3 = [ 
        (1 - percentage) * color1[0] + percentage * color2[0], 
        (1 - percentage) * color1[1] + percentage * color2[1], 
        (1 - percentage) * color1[2] + percentage * color2[2]
    ];

    console.log('c3 => [' + color3.join(', ') + ']');

    // 5: convert to hex
    color3 = '#' + int_to_hex(color3[0]) + int_to_hex(color3[1]) + int_to_hex(color3[2]);

    console.log(color3);

    // color3 in the middle
    ctx.fillStyle = color3;
    ctx.fillRect(30, 0, 30, 25);

    // return hex
    return color3;
}

/*
    convert a Number to a two character hex string
    must round, or we will end up with more digits than expected (2)
    note: can also result in single digit, which will need to be padded with a 0 to the left
    @param: num         => the number to conver to hex
    @returns: string    => the hex representation of the provided number
*/
function int_to_hex(num)
{
    var hex = Math.round(num).toString(16);
    if (hex.length == 1)
        hex = '0' + hex;
    return hex;
}
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