I’m a big fan of Stripe Charts–lines or dots that show individual elements in your data, often used to show the distribution. I recently came across this very cool scrollytelling piece from Connor Rothschild on the use of paint colors in Bob Ross’s more than 30 years of television episodes. In that piece–which has been taken down because of a legal complaint by Bob Ross’s company–Connor uses a single stripe for each color in each episode.

Screenshot of stripe chart from Connor Rothschild's scrollytelling story about Bob Ross.

Aside from what I thought was the useful animation in the piece, this stripe chart gives us a really nice view of the distribution of the colors in each painting and across Ross’s entire collection. I especially love how you can see the outlier in the Indian Red color at the bottom, which Rothschild highlights in the text to the side.

Making a stripe chart in Excel is really not that difficult: It just requires some smart conditional formatting plus some resizing of the columns or rows. You can download my Excel file below, check out the step-by-step video and a critique of Connor’s piece on my YouTube channel. (Because Connor is towards the beginning of his career, I asked him for permission to post this critique, which he thankfully approved. You should check out his website and his new work at Axios.)