Dave Green's "cubehelix" colour scheme

November 16, 2022
Dave Green's 'default’ colour scheme uses a hue parameter of 1, no R, G or B values are clipped, and the perceived intensity is constantly increasing


We are becoming increasingly enamoured of Dave Green's "cubehelix" color map for both scientific and creative reasons. Its color spectrum includes colors that can signify and represent both the earthly (grassy greens) and the heavenly (sky blues). As our collaboration is particularly preoccupied with technological representations and translations of the natural world, we find it particularly intriguing to hear the intentions of it's designer Dave Green:

"Many colour schemes used to display astronomical intensity images do not have an underlying increase in the perception of the brightness of the colours used (e.g. burning out to red for the high data values, but using yellow/green for intermediate data values, which are perceived as being brighter than the red). I have written up the implementation of a colour scheme -- called ‘cubehelix’ -- which is intended to be perceived as increasing in intensity. This is a family of colour schemes that go from black to white, deviating away from a pure greyscale (i.e. the diagonal from black to white in a colour cube) using a tapered helix in the colour cube, while ensuring a continuous increase in perceived intensity. The deviation from the diagonal takes into account that red, green and blue are not perceived equally in terms of intensity. These colour schemes prints as a monotonically increasing greyscale on black and white postscript devices."
~ Dave Green on the "cubehelix" color scheme

PDF Article: Green, D. A., 2011, ‘A colour scheme for the display of astronomical intensity images’, Bulletin of the Astronomical Society of India, 39, 289. (2011BASI...39..289G at ADS.)

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Dave Greens cubehelix Research Images

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