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[Civ2] Civ2 Custom Title/Text/Font Colour Editor?


CFC Mod Archivist & Social Media Helper
Sep 24, 2016
Hey guys,

Across the sites there are so many editors and hack programs for Civilization 2.. map editors, civ editors, city editors, dll gif editors, sound editors etc.. however I haven't been able to find a program that allows you to change text and title colours to better match custom GUI backgrounds. Does anyone know if there is a Civ2 text appearance editor out there??

There are very few Civ2 scenarios out there with custom GUI backgrounds likely due to the fact text becomes unreadable on anything that isn't the boring bright grey Civ2 marble pattern lol. I've never seen custom text colours in Civ2 before so I've been wondering weather it's just not possible or if no one cared enough to try haha. If there is a way to do it I'd love to know please as I have a number of things I'd like to use it on.

For example:

I'm working on a remastered version of an old Test of Time graphics pack for Civ2 MGE. I'd love to make the backgrounds dark black & dark grey marble just like in ToT however I can't do that unless I can make all text white like in ToT instead of MGE's usual black and dark grey text.

I'm also working on a remastered version of Wonx2150's Command & Conquer Civ2 scenario and would like to use some of the dark and moody GUI stuff with light green text like what's used in C&C games.

Would also like to do something similar on my old unreleased Star War Civ2 Scenario too. Eg Star Wars'y scifi GUI backgrounds with bright text.

And finally I'm working on a Heroes of Might & Magic 2 Civ2 scenario with the talented @Metro Polis and have created a nice GUI background similar to the original HoMM2 GUI however the ugly grey text is still a problem! eg in the pic below you can barely read the window title "Map Track Enemy Moves" and if I try to make the background GUI lighter it just looks cr*p! So would love to change the title text colour!

As far as I know, there isn't a way to change only window title colors. But at least in Test of Time, you can change many instances of black within the game (excluding those appearing within 24-bit images), which includes window titles, by editing palette index 0 within the file Editorpt.gif in the root directory of your Civ 2 installation. I believe this file contains the "master" palette that Civ2 uses in the display of many 8-bit images, and I think this is true in MGE as well as ToT. Be warned, this will have far-reaching affects on many of the graphics in the game which may not be desirable!

I would love to be wrong about this ;) so if anyone else has different information that would provide a better solution, please share.
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Well this is interesting! Nearly 3 years later and I've sort of found a way to manipulate the title, subtitle and regular text font colours!

While testing an old Civ2 fantasy scenario called Conquest of the Empire by Peter F. Delaney I noticed that my subtitles and also city building names all became purple. This puzzled me as his scenario is very simple and doesn't have many custom graphics files, just a units and cities file with seemly nothing special about them. The subtitle and building name fonts use the whitest of whites in palette index slot 31 and when I looked in his cities.gif file I could see that slot was not the normal white but was grey which was odd but straight away pretty much ruled that file out as the cause, but when I looked in his units.gif file sure enough slot 31 was the very purple colour I was seeing instead of it's usual white.

So I then experimented and took the units.gif file from my WIP Command & Conquer scenario remaster where I'd already done some green GUI stuff and used my Paint Shop Pro palette editor to change slot 31 white into a bright green (not the super bright one normally used for transparency obviously). I loaded up a save and sure enough my subtitles and building names turned bright green! So presumably for whatever reason the units.gif file palette is somehow overriding the main games GUI colours not to mention overriding all over graphics files as I noticed some of my custom city graphics that used that particular bright white also turned green! This then got me thinking.. why don't I take a screenshot of Civ2, workout which colour its using for it's primary headings and change that in the units file too. Turns out main headings are using a medium range grey in palette slot 16 and sure enough when I changed that to a medium greenish colour all my main headings changed to that too! Naturally I looked at the regular text info in the side menu and popup messages too and that was using a dark grey colour in palette slot 6 which I made a dark green and sure enough all text in the game turned that colour too!


As you can see in this screenshot below of my experiment the main title front (eg "NOD Map" in the main game window, "City of Banghazi.." in the city window, and "World" and "Status" in the side menu window areas) now have the medium green matching my existing custom green window buttons nicely, the subheading text (eg "Moving Units" in side menu and all the city building names) are the bright green, and lastly the regular text (eg the NOD bike details in the side menu) use the dark green. Really ups the immersion and beauty of an existing custom GUI.


A text box showing the medium green title and dark green text...


Super cool hey! People could do some pretty cool stuff with this. HOWEVER those with a keen eye can probably start to see some interesting glitches in my above big screenshot in that some of my dark GUI grey has turned green, some of the dark greys in my units have turned green, some of the light greys in my GUI have turned light green along with sentried units. This is of course because other things are using those 3 palette slot colours for things.

Now while you can use a colour replacer to replace all uses of the colours in those 3 slots to other similar slightly lighter or darker nearby colours in all your graphics files (eg units, cities, icons, people, terrain etc) freeing up those 3 slots to manipulate, there is unfortunately still one more problem. The background graphics in the DLL files uses these grey colours sometimes too:

Oh dear... lol

However scenarios with custom DLL graphics replacements could of course replace all graphics in those files with ones that also avoid using the greys in those 3 slots. But that is quite a lot of work though. I'm also not sure what sort of baring this would have on ToT either. It doesn't suffer MGE's tiny colour palette but its possible that replacing the exact same font colour in the units file might change that GUI front colour too. Knowing that the unit palette seemingly overrides other graphic file colour palette slot choices has me thinking that there could even be other non-font related colour manipulation tricks possible too for those crazy enough to come up with them.

I suspect this isn't a new discovery as I've seen super old screenshots of some peoples scenarios that seemed to have black city building names and other strange font differences. I wrote them off as Civ looking different under older OSs but maybe someone figured this out ages ago and a few people took advantage of it but it was forgotten about over time again. Either way I thought I'd share my findings here! :)

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Done some more experiments with creating coloured fonts in Civ2 using good old Paint Shop Pro 7. It looks like these units.gif palette changes do not affect throne room, wonder videos, or death/space victory videos thankfully. Diplomacy screen seems unaffected as long as herald video characters are turned on, if they're turned off then it seems to be affected.

So that means if one was willing to put the effort into swapping out the 2 greys & 1 white (used by the 3 main fonts) in all the other graphics files (icons, people, cities, terrains etc) including all advisor and stats page backgrounds in the dlls then this trick could work. Quite a bit of work to change all that stuff though so you really got to want to have custom font colours to put in all that effort lol. I may try it though since I really do like those green fonts in my C&C level. And @Metro Polis and I were really hoping back in 2019 (eg picture in the OP) that we should change the font colours for our HoMM mod too as the grey test in our brown GUI didn't look all that great lol!

Also if you put the greys and whites your replacing into the palette slots you took the new colours from you then don't lose any colours from the palette and are just swapping their positions. Best to work in a separate file from the one you want to apply the palette to though otherwise weird stuff happens to your picture lol. Once you've made the custom palette elsewhere you then apply it to the picture you want and because it uses a 'convert to nearest colour' system it will merely swap the palette slots around but leave the picture looking exactly as it did before.

My 3 swaps:
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I thought I'd posted about it here but aparently I didn't. Late last year I applied the lessons learned in this thread to my & Metro's Heroes of Might & Magic 2 mod for Civ2 and created custom font colours.

As mentioned above the greys used for font colours are used throughout Civ2 so once you commit to using custom font colours you pretty much commit to changing nearly every graphic and DLL graphic file in the game to avoid glitches ie the advisor backgrounds (tiles.dll), the diplomacy/death/victory screens (mk.dll), the throne room (pv.dll), the intro main menu area (intro.dll), and the city sky view screen (sv.dll), however for some reason the spaceship construction (ss.dll) overrides everything and does not need to be changed (although I did it anyway just in case I missed something).

I've taken this snippet from the Civ2 HoMM2 project thread where I show all the font and GUI overhaul changes I made:
For starters I applied new custom fonts giving the primary and secondary headings a bright slightly golden yellow (similar to many HoMM2 GUI titles) ensuring they don't get as lost in our leafy marble HoMM2 GUI as much as the old grey ones did, I was going to make the regular info text bright but that had some unwanted side effects in that the game is hardcoded to show unit stacks depth using that same colour slot so putting a bright colour there did NOT look good, so I instead made it darker.
Secondly I wasn't originally able to use the true brown HoMM2 GUI background texture due to it being too dark and Civ2's default fonts disappearing into it so we used a light cream version of the regular Civ2 background. However thanks to these new custom font colours, I was able to finally import the true HoMM2 brown one. For those who may wish to stick with the old cream one I've left it in the safe spot in the Icons file though.
Thirdly I decided to take on the city backgrounds as while they didn't suffer the dll limitation issue I still used rather simple conversion techniques resulting a huge amounts of colour and detail loss. So all city backgrounds have been redone!

To demonstrate all these changes here's an old marketing shot I made up for the video that shows some of the map, the GUI, a custom wonder video, the title and the city screen. You can see the cream GUI window background, our headings getting lost in the marble leaves, and the lack of colour in the city background.

And here's a brand new shot where you can see the true brown HoMM2 GUI window background, bright coloured headings for the city and map windows, and the city background has much more colour in it. As a fun side effect the custom yellow font colour has also changed the city building list and the flashing end of turn message!

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