I'm gonna start this off with an... "indexed image"? If that's the proper term for it?

All 12 possible cross-sections of both possible sorted RGB-6 cubes; each color represented in 12x12 pixel tiles

If this 384x144 image were actually only the top-left 192x48 pixels (I'll refer to that portion as "0,0"), I feel like the other five sections could most likely be generated by using a single automatic operation that applies the following RGB value (swaps/rotations) to all pixels in section 0,0 simultaneously:

  • 0,1: Red -> Green -> Blue -> Red (#FFAA55 -> #55FFAA for one example)
  • 0,2: Red -> Blue -> Green -> Red (#FFAA55 -> #AA55FF)
  • 1,0: Green <-> Blue (#FFAA55 -> #FF55AA)
  • 1,1: Red <-> Green (#FFAA55 -> #AAFF55)
  • 1,2: Red <-> Blue (#FFAA55 -> #55AAFF)

What is the name of the operation I'm looking for + what image editing programs can perform that operation? I tried Googling a bunch of things along the lines of "rgb rotate", "rgb exchange", "rgb swap", "rgb trade", etc. etc. etc. and I couldn't quickly + intuitively find anything that did what I wanted it to do in a single swing. The amount of stuff completely unrelated to what I had in mind that came up honestly quickly got really frustrating. I even tried Googling "triadic rotation" and nothing related to what I had in mind showed up on the 1st page.

The reason for the sorted colors instead of an actual image is basically the same reason I have to ask this question in the first place; I can't do it automatically with the free tools that I'm currently aware of the existence of.

I had to sort those 64 colors manually 6 times over with paint.net; which thankfully has functions that made it slightly easier to do, though there's definitely no way that I could quickly apply the effect I'm talking about to any actual image of any kind using paint.net (unless it has some feature I'm not yet aware of). I'm pretty sure there should be a way to apply that effect automatically; I just don't know the name of that effect + therefore can't even search for it.

One thing that came up a few times during my failed attempts at searching was "hue rotation"; however as far as I know + could observe that not only applies to only one hue range at a time, but also pays more attention to hue angle than actual RGB values (if that makes any sense). So I really don't think hue rotation is what I'm looking for; though if it's suggested to me anyway I will try it again as long as I'm given specific instructions on how to use it to achieve the effect that I desire.

If I'm not using a tag that I should be using, or even outright posting on the wrong Stack Exchange site for the question; please let me know.


1 Answer 1


Swapping color channels is called channel swap or swizzling. (Searching for "RGB channel swap" brings up lots of relevant results.) Looking at your image, the squares in the right half appear to be flipped across the diagonal.

Most editing apps have a channel mixer tool that allows you to calculate each output color channel as some combination of the input color channels. In Photoshop it's called "Channel Mixer". I've also seen it referred to as "Color Operations" or just "Color Ops".

The flipping can usually be done with a horizontal flip followed by a vertical flip.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Thank you for telling me what the name of the operation is; I found a plugin for paint.net called "Modify Channels", and it serves my purpose perfectly ^^ (; As for the flipping thing, I suppose that would have worked for the indexed image; however, it would not work for anything like swapping just two channels on a sprite sheet, for one example. I probably could've used a more imaginative image than that indexed one for the purpose of this question, but being honest I was frustrated + thus in a rush when I initially posted this question. Though that 'rush' ended up taking quite a while >.> xD $\endgroup$ Apr 2, 2017 at 5:41

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