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The Shapes that Corresponds to Colors

I have spent a day battling a problem that actually turns out to be kind of interesting.

In my book there was supposed to be a figure illustrating Spinoza’s theory of emotions, a large figure I once drew in color and included in an article I put on the internet about a year ago, here.

My publisher, not keen to waste money on frivolous things like color printing and foldouts, had someone transform it into black and white, split it into two halves, and fit it onto two pages. In the process, the significance of the colors and shades I had chosen was lost, and the morphology of the diagram disappeared. I would have preferred it if they simply printed my original drawing in black and white, but they claim it won’t reproduce well in the limited number of shades of gray they allow. Also, the size is wrong.

I decided to redraw it myself in black and white, and perhaps a few shades of gray. I had used red to indicate pain, blue to indicate pleasure, and magenta for desire, and the derivative emotions were combinations of these colors. Now I faced having to do it all in black and white.

So, I spent the day and evening figuring out how to transform colors into shapes and fonts that carry the same emotional significance. Desire, instead of a magenta square, is now a black diamond with Desire written on it in white. Pain is weird gothic type in black on a greyish diamond. And Pleasure is elegant belle epoque double letters in caps inside a cloud. And so on.

I am constrained, by my choice, to what Omnigraffle gives you to work with, and by the number of hours I’m willing to spend on it. I’m also constrained by the fact that the production editor informs me that more than one or two shades of gray will be indistinguishable from each other.

I could do better, but life is short. What I have now is better than the simple transposition to b&w of the original colored diagram, but far from perfect. I’m also having to make the boxed emotions kind of large — they jumble up the page — so that there is will be a chance the text in the 50 or so boxes will be legible when reduced to book page size ?

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