Tag Archives: colors

Any Colo(u)r You Like…

After Matt Francis’ “50 Shades of Data” at #Data15 I really got to thinking about color, it’s usage, and the planning of pallets. So I thought that I would share some of the tools that I use for testing, planning and plotting color for use in Tableau.

palettonOne of my absolute favorite tools for selecting color pallets is Paletton. Paletton allows the user to start with a known base HEX value, or pick using the color wheel. With a click of an icon you can switch from Monochromatic, to Adjacent Colors, to a Triad, to a Tetrad. You also have the option to “Freestyle”.Once you have your base pallet, you can use their presets to run from light pastels to deep colors, as well as grey-tint pallets. You can then apply your pallet to a mocked up website, artwork, or animated images to see how they look “live”. You also have the option to run visual simulations for 13 vision deficiencies (color blindness). Finally, you can export your color pallet and insert it in to a custom color pallet within Tableau with very little effort.

ColorBrewerAnother great tool, especially for maps pallets if ColorBrewer 2.0. ColorBrewer 2.0 applies pallets to a map from their pre-defined pallets. The have predefined pallets for single and multi-hue sequential use, divergent use and qualitative use. You can use the tool to take in to account color blindness, print friendly and photocopier safe color combinations. You can include and exclude roads (and adjust the colors of the roads), turn on and off the city marks and well as the boarders. This allows you to get a strong sense of how your map will look once the pallet is used within Tableau

Now once you have your colors selected, there is a super easy way to build you custom XML file. If you save the images, or take a screenshot, you can use it in Interwork’s Color Tool (one of their awesome Power Tools). Registration is free, and the tool is very easy to use. Below you can see I took a screen grab from Paletton and uploaded it to the Color Tool, and it instantly generates an XML file. The tool does take some liberties in adding additional pallets, but they are easily edited or removed.


I hope you find there resources useful in your color planning. Do you use other tools? Please share in the comments!

“Color Rush” and the NFL


If you watched the Bills/Jets game on November 12th, you probably had a myriad of thoughts when first you turned on the game. In my house it was something to the effect of “even the NFL couldn’t wait to decorate for Christmas.”

My split-second later thought was “Wow, being colorblind would make this game really hard to watch.” 

Turns out, I was right.


I’ve recently started a personal research project on color usage, design, and messages (which I will eventually share here). This example illustrates in a real-world setting the importance of color, and it’s usage. I’m sure Nike thought that those uniforms looked cool and the entire internet/social media universe would be talking about them all night and the next day… and they are, but the topic is different than expected.

Ever since I had a color-blind (albeit unknown to me) CFO ask me for a scorecard and I delivered a standard R/Y/G scorecard I have been hypersensitive to color usage for data visualization. Who would have thought it would have leaked in to a nationally televised NFL game?