Image-guided color mapping for categorical data visualization

Qian Zheng, Min Lu, Sicong Wu, Ruizhen Hu, Joel Lanir, Hui Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Appropriate color mapping for categorical data visualization can significantly facilitate the discovery of underlying data patterns and effectively bring out visual aesthetics. Some systems suggest predefined palettes for this task. However, a predefined color mapping is not always optimal, failing to consider users’ needs for customization. Given an input categorical data visualization and a reference image, we present an effective method to automatically generate a coloring that resembles the reference while allowing classes to be easily distinguished. We extract a color palette with high perceptual distance between the colors by sampling dominant and discriminable colors from the image’s color space. These colors are assigned to given classes by solving an integer quadratic program to optimize point distinctness of the given chart while preserving the color spatial relations in the source image. We show results on various coloring tasks, with a diverse set of new coloring appearances for the input data. We also compare our approach to state-of-the-art palettes in a controlled user study, which shows that our method achieves comparable performance in class discrimination, while being more similar to the source image. User feedback after using our system verifies its efficiency in automatically generating desirable colorings that meet the user’s expectations when choosing a reference. [Figure not available: see fulltext.].

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)613-629
Number of pages17
JournalComputational Visual Media
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).


  • categorical data visualization
  • color palette
  • discriminability
  • image-guided

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design
  • Artificial Intelligence


Dive into the research topics of 'Image-guided color mapping for categorical data visualization'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this