M. Waldner,  A. Karimov,  E. Gröller (2017)

Exploring Visual Prominence of Multi-Channel Highlighting in Visualizations

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Spring Conference on Computer Graphics 2017


Visualizations make rich use of multiple visual channels so that there are few resources left to make selected focus elements visually distinct from their surrounding context. A large variety of highlighting techniques for visualizations has been presented in the past, but there has been little systematic evaluation of the design space of highlighting. We explore highlighting from the perspective of visual marks and channels – the basic building blocks of visualizations that are directly controlled by visualization designers. We present the results from two experiments, exploring the visual prominence of highlighted marks in scatterplots: First, using luminance as a single highlight channel, we found that visual prominence is mainly determined by the luminance difference between the focus mark and the brightest context mark. The brightness differences between context marks and the overall brightness level have negligible influence. Second, multi-channel highlighting using luminance and blur leads to a good trade-off between highlight effectiveness and aesthetics. From the results, we derive a simple highlight model to balance highlighting across multiple visual channels and focus and context marks, respectively.



information visualization, highlighting, focus+context, visual prominence