Colour: A quick guide to its use in informative graphics

Matteo:

A terrific tutorial on color / colour use in infographics from Darrell Wilkinson Geo-computing blog.

Originally posted on Darren Wilkinson:

1.0 Introduction
The most fundamental employment of colour in [qualitatively/quantitatively] informative graphics is to allow the observer to easily distinguish elements of the information displayed. The strict definition of the term “colour” must be cast aside here, as just as useful are black, greys and white. Much of what will be discussed in this post may seem intuitive, but it is the guidelines and their employment in practice which unfortunately escapes the many.

The most important point to take away from this post is: colour used well can enhance and clarify visual information; and colour used badly will likely obscure and confuse.

2.0 Principals of Colour in design

2.1 Hue, value and chroma

Colour designers use three variables to describe any particular colour:

  1. Hue – Fig. 2.1 – The name of the colour (e.g. Red, or Blue)
  2. Value – Fig. 2.2 – The lightness or darkness of that colour

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2 responses to “Colour: A quick guide to its use in informative graphics

  1. An interesting post but it doesn’t really cover how to use color to represent a continuous spectrum of information such as seismic data. I like his concept of using intuitive colors, i.e. red for hot values and blue for cool ones. This goes against the seg standard of using blue for positive (hot) amplitudes and red for negative (cool) ones. In my own work, I found that using blue for high amplitudes on terrain displays produces uncomfortable visual artifacts because our brains want to place the red (negative) values on top of the blue ones. Consequently the image appears perceptually inverted.

    • it doesn’t really cover how to use color to represent a continuous spectrum of information such as seismic data
      That’s why WE are here Steve :-)
      As for terrain displays how o you like the blue for positive and yellow for negative I’m working on?

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