Rainbow Color Map (Still) Considered Harmful

, and . IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications 27 (2): 14--17 (2007)


Despite much published research on its deficiencies, the rainbow color map is prevalent in the visualization community. The authors present survey results showing that the rainbow color map continues to appear in more than half of the relevant papers in IEEE Visualization Conference proceedings. Its use is encouraged by its selection as the default color map used in most visualization toolkits that the authors inspected. The visualization community must do better. In this article, the authors reiterate the characteristics that make the rainbow color map a poor choice, provide examples that clearly illustrate these deficiencies even on simple data sets, and recommend better color maps for several categories of display.

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