Although colour choices come down to personal preference, there are some points to keep in mind:
- Data that varies relatively gradually across the canvas — e.g. elevation here — should use a colour scale that varies monotonically in hue and luminance, e.g. CubeHelix or Matteo Niccoli's colourmaps.
- Data that varies relatively quickly across the canvas — e.g. my similarity data, (a member of the family that includes coherence, semblance, and so on) — should use a monochromatic colour scale, e.g. black–white.
- If we've chosen our colourmaps wisely, there should be some unused hues for rendering other additional attributes. In this case, there are no red hues in the elevation colourmap, so we can map redness to instantaneous amplitude.
Adding a light source
Without wanting to get too gimmicky, we can sometimes enliven the appearance of an attribute, accentuating its texture, by simulating a bumpy surface and shining a virtual light onto it. This isn't the same as casting a light source on the composite display. We can make our light source act on only one of our attributes and leave the others unchanged.
The technique is called hill-shading. The terrain doesn't have to be a physical surface; it can be a slice. And unlike physical bumps, we're not actually making a new surface with relief, we are merely modifying the surface's luminance from an artificial light source. The result is a more pronounced texture.
One view, two dimensions, three attributes
Constructing this display takes a bit of trial an error. It wasn't immediately clear where to position the light source to get the most pronounced view. Furthermore, the amplitude extraction looked quite noisy, so I softened it a little bit using a Gaussian filter. Plus, I wanted to show only the brightest of the bright spots, so that all took a bit of fiddling.
Even though 3D data visualization is relatively common, my assertion is that it is much harder to get 3D visualization right, than for 2D. Looking at the 3 colour-bars that I've placed in the legend. I'm reminded of this difficulty of adding a third dimension; it's much harder to produce a colour-cube in the legend than a series of colour-bars. Maybe the best we can achieve is a colour-square like last time, with a colour-bar for the overlay on the side.