You’re probably right, in that I really just need to jump in and try different approaches to see what works best for me.
I’ve only dabbled very lightly with using colors to distinguish information in the past, and my initial impression was that color isn’t “sticky” enough for me—and it tends to weaken the memorability of my overall image. For instance, when I picture St. Joseph being buried, I picture him in blue and white robes with thick brown hair. If I, say, make the scene red, then he ceases to look like how I’ve pictured St. Joseph. He becomes a different character, which breaks the association. Make sense? And color by itself seems disconnected from actual information, making it difficult for me to draw any associations between a specific color and a specific layer of information.
I need to imagine things, and color isn’t a thing; it’s an attribute of a thing. If I were going to pursue color layers, I think I’d have to have a strong image to associate with that color.
I couldn’t say, “Okay, now everything’s red, which means all of the images are related to agriculture.” “Red” wouldn’t connect to “Agriculture” in any meaningful way for me. (Unless a rose or tomato farm is involved.) However, if I chose an image of something that happened to be red—and wasn’t in conflict with any of my other images/techniques—then I think that might work. So maybe I would have a series of images where St. Joseph gets buried in a hole (my “constant” image or, if you want, my main “folder”), but one time the hole is filled with molten lava (red), one time it’s filled with lush grass (green), one time crystal-blue water, etc., etc. Each of those different fillings could lead to a different string of associated details. And they bring the potential advantage of invoking other senses (heat/burning, scent/texture, coolness/wetness) which could, I think, create some strong associations with the information that follows.
The challenge, then, would be how to keep each county’s color information distinct from one another. If every county has a “molten lava” element, how do you ensure that you’re keeping them all straight? (The alternative,I guess, would be to use a different red/green/blue/whatever element for each county…but coming up with a list of 83 different things that are red/blue/etc. sounds like an incredible waste of time!)