Task-based color scale design

Penny L. Rheingans, William R. Oliver
2000 28th AIPR Workshop: 3D Visualization for Data Exploration and Decision Making  
Color is commonly used in data visualization in order to convey a wide variety of types of information: metric values, pattern, extrema, emphasis, and others. A distressingly large percentage of these visualizations appear to use the default color scale for the visualization package used to create them. While sometimes this is an appropriate choice, careful consideration of the implications of color scale selection can often result in a more effective visualization. Factors which should be
more » ... hich should be considered include the characteristics of the data, the questions of interest about the data, and the expected viewers of the representation. The color scale selected for a visualization, that is, the sequence of colors used to represent the values of the data range, can have a substantial impact on the effectiveness of the visualization. Unfortunately, there is no one best color scale. The most appropriate color scale for a particular representation is influenced by the characteristics of the data, the questions of interest about the data, and the expected viewers of the representation. This paper first surveys some common, and not very common, color scales used for univariate and bivariate data. It then discusses some of the principles and issues that drive appropriate color scale selection.
doi:10.1117/12.384882 fatcat:2jgefhyxtnazvczthwol6b4jdm