Chasing Rainbows

A freewheeling paint party - now on Java Realms.

Of all the new stuff we’ve added to the Java Edition of Realms recently, one of my favourites has to be Palette Paint by Team Trailblaze. It’s a sandbox that equips each player with powerful painting tools and lets them play or create however they please.

You can the transform the landscape into delicate works of pixelart, targeting a block at a time, or use the rocket-powered Elytra to trail Jackson Pollock-esque spatters across the map. Or you can detonate massive paintsplosions, pelt each other with paintballs, or give your canvas extra texture by raising lowering or tunnelling through the terrain. It’s a space that allows the collaborative creation of intricate masterworks, chaotic fun, and everything in between.

“We wanted to create something where you could just mess around,” says hgbf, one half of Team Trailbaze, perhaps underselling just how impressive it is as a painting tool. “No goals stopping you, no scores to beat. Just a place to have fun. How it later got the colourful theme was partly because of the release of the 1.12 update. With the updated colours, we got inspired to make something using them. Because we also had an already finished palette minigame [Palette Slam] from not too long before this, it would make perfect sense to continue on the subject as well.”

You can find Palette Paint in the Experiences section of Realms when you switch to a new world. Loading it up, you can pick from a number of different base environments to enter. Some are recognisably Minecrafty landscapes, but made of coloured wool, others offer gently stratified planes of white blocks or monochrome forests. Once you’ve picked your canvas, you can deform it or paint it as you wish using a selection of tools:

Paintbrushes of two sizes, a roller, a spraycan and the paint-trailing elytra offer your basic set of precision painting tools, with a tap of F letting you scroll through 16 colours. Then there are the more unpredictable set: fireworks, snowballs, arrows, and remotely detonated explosives that leave a gigantic splat of your chosen colour. Add to that a series of tools to fiddle with the geometry itself - placing and destroying blocks, blowing up large numbers of them, flattening or raising terrain, or even drilling through it, and there’s ample room to carve and recolour Minecraft to your own design. Or just create a giant mess.

“At first, we only planned on having two toolsets, precision painting and gadgets,” says hgbf, “but a bit into the development Archee, who helped with the project, thought something was missing. They suggested adding a few building tools, so people could lightly modify the terrain. At first, I was sceptical about this, but when it was tested in action, it worked great. This gave the map a whole new feeling, which most of our testers liked. Towards the end of the development of the map, these small tools had grown into something bigger, more powerful and more destructive.”

I admit, I didn't draw this. The most enigmatic smile in art was blocked out by the Trailblaze team - no small feat! I wonder if it took as long as old Leo's original masterwork.

And yet, the biggest challenge turned out to be the most basic element: making sure the colours painted correctly. As hgbf explains: “What we had to do was take one command, copy it 16-80 times per tool, and modify one scoreboard score and one data value, for the colours, in each command block. This was very time-consuming, but it had to be done.”

But you can’t rush art, can you? If you make anything with it, the creators would love to see - let them know via the Team Trailblaze Twitter account!

“My hopes are that someone creates some beautiful, large and creative paintings,” says hgbf, “but the majority will probably be just like myself, Archee and most of our testers: just playfully messing around and having fun. After all, that's what the map is all about!”