The ColorBrewer color tables were designed to provide better color tables than the standard rainbow-type color tables (the rainbow color table is not a very good general color table because, as Tufte points out, “the mind’s eye does not readily give an order to ROYGBIV”). There is a nice Flash interface on the web to explore them. But what if you want to use them in IDL?

Here are the color tables in a .tbl file, usable with the FILE keyword in LOADCT or XLOADCT. For example:

IDL> loadct, 2, file='brewer.tbl'

Colors from www.colorbrewer.org by Cynthia A. Brewer, Geography, Pennsylvania State University. If you use the color tables in your work, she would like a citation (see 5. on this page).