I am currently generating some NDVI imagery using QGIS 2.8.2 and there are a multitude of possible color map scales that can be applied to the imagery. I was wondering if there was a preferred or standard color map to use? USGS, NASA, and others seem to use slightly different scales. I've noticed a wide variety of scales used in academic papers as well. Can any one comment on this?

2 Answers 2


As you already know, different authors use different color map scales. I never heard of a standard for NDVI mapping.

It is always a good idea to use a color map scales that fits to the shown results. As NDVI values close to zero represent bare soil, thus I prefer grey-yellow-beige colors, NDVI close to 1 represents living vegetation, thus, I prefer green colors. Negative values are often displayed "blue" for water.

Nasa does the same here: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/MeasuringVegetation/


There are 2 "standard" colors that I have found for NDVI imagery mapping. One is a traditional type and the other is a modern type.

Both of which can be found here: https://www.maxmax.com/ndvi_color_mapping.htm

  • IMO - stoplight colorizing ("modern") makes more intuitive sense AND green is the color of a healthy plant, whereas red is associated with hotspots.
    – tony gil
    Apr 29, 2018 at 11:37

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