Most scholarly publishers spend a good amount of time thinking about the design of our journals and books. But given that we’re mostly dealing with black and white text, color is probably not at the forefront of our design processes. One of the more interesting lessons I learned as a postdoc came from the school’s artist in residence. As he explained, we’ve been doing art a lot longer than we’ve been doing science, and just like science, there are protocols for what works and what doesn’t.

Knowing more about the process of art can help a researcher tell a more convincing and clear story about their research. Simple knowledge of the color wheel, knowing which colors blend and which contrast, can make all the difference between an image that shows a clear result and one that’s hard to interpret.

But filmmakers have a different goal with their use of color, and the video below talks about how readily they use color to evoke emotional responses from an audience. Once you see the section on “blue and orange” it’s impossible not to notice it in nearly every film you watch.

David Crotty

David Crotty

David Crotty is the Editorial Director, Journals Policy for Oxford University Press. He serves on the Board of Directors for the STM Association, the Society for Scholarly Publishing and CHOR, Inc. David received his PhD in Genetics from Columbia University and did developmental neuroscience research at Caltech before moving from the bench to publishing.

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Discussion

2 Thoughts on "The Impact of Color"

In the “test” video at the end, the emotions were perhaps manipulated by the change in music more than by the color. You have to turn off the sound to judge whether the color change makes any difference.

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