Anh Mai - Reading 2

The Series Subtleties of Color by Robert Simmon gives us an overview of how color and data are related along with providing examples of and history behind color usages in data visualization. The author went over concepts such as Basic Color Theory, Color Components, Color Palette, the connection between colors and data and some tools and techniques to apply colors in data visualization.

To begin the series, Robert mentioned that many visualizations picked random colors or pick colors in unscientific ways to present data. Then the author presented some issues related to choosing colors and explained the very basic of color theory. In part 2, Robert explained how to choose color palette by using proportionally varying color scales. "A color scale should vary consistently across the entire range of values, so that each step is equivalent, regardless of its position on the scale".  The author explained how to create palettes by creating a scale of varying hue, brightness and saturation."The continuous, smooth increase in lightness preserves patterns, the shift in hue aids reading of exact quantities, and the change in saturation enhances contrast." with the change in lightness is the strongest. In part 3, Robert explained how to use different color palettes to present different Sequential data, Divergent data and Categories data. In part 4, the author explained how to choose colors according to the meaning of the data with.  He gave examples of and explanation for concepts such as Intuitive Color, Layering, Choosing Color for Complementary Dataset and Non-diverging Breakpoints, Use Color to Separate Data from Non-Data, Figure-Ground and Aesthetic. To finish the series, Robert mentioned some useful tools to pick color as well as other resources and authors to for readers to expand their knowledge on choosing colors.

This article is particularly interesting to me because as a designer, I've been always conscious about using colors in my design. It is a common practice for every Graphic Designer including me to be able to explain why I choose a certain color and a certain palette. Every color can bring different emotions and feelings to people who see it. However, I usually choose color palettes because of reasons like they look good, they mean something or clients want it. I have never thought about choosing the exact colors in a color range as the author discussed in the article. Being new to data visualization, I did not know the different types of data before this article. It acts as a simple guide to choose color palettes for different types of data.  I appreciate that this article has a variety of contents such as history, author's work to theories and specific techniques and tools. It is a very compact crash course for people trying learn about using colors in data visualization especially those who do not have design background.

My only critique is that I would love the article to give more real life examples of bad color choices through history.

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