An Infographic is defined as a visual representation of information or data, e.g. as a chart or diagram. So we had to find some way to demonstrate all of our research.
To understand how to create a good infographic, we did some research into how these are created. Ryan sent me a talk by David McCandless on the Beauty of Data Visualisation.
I thought it was really interesting how McCandless represented the numeric value of each of the issue by comparison of size. He used squares within squares for comparison- giving a better idea of how these could actually effect the people involved. He also colour co-ordinated the boxes to the purpose of the money.
McCandless stressed the importance the importance of plotting the data to better identify patterns and see linkages in data. In his graph of the “Mountains out of Molehills,” he explored the points in history with the biggest panics in global media, things like the SARs virus, Bird Flu and Swine Flu. McCandless also compared this to a graph alongside video game violence- showing that at certain points in the year all types of fear in the industry fed of each other, causing a frenzied media. Although our own statistics won’t necessarily show this frenzy, it stresses the importance of comparison in data. For example, Rome has a population density of 2,950 people per squared kilometre whereas Belfast has a population density of 2,339 people per kilometre squared. (Citymayors.com, 2016). This could lower density means there is a greater chance of employment, lesser competition for housing etc.
We originally worried with over complicating our data and how it should look. Eric Berlow spent literally three minutes talking about simplifying complexity- using the example of a diagram from the New York Times. The graphic was ridiculed for being too complex and hard to comprehend. Berlow, however, split it down showing how to understand the mess of lines. He says that “simplicity often lies on the other side of complexity” and we need to consider the more complicated, to truly get the bigger picture.
When considering the actual production of our infographic we realised that the layout and imagery in our infographic would be the biggest impact in getting the information across. Chris Jordon did a fantastic talk showing how to portray statistics though artwork. His opening image looked like a picture of entwining pipe lines. However, it was in fact made from the total amount of cups used every six hours in the USA by airlines (1,000,000 cups). He flattens the image out to just the stacked cups- showing the height of the stacks in comparison to first humans and then the Statue of Liberty. The theme of Rome is something we have to consider when thinking of things to add to designs.
We also decided to have a look into the alignment of text and imagery in the graphic itself. Conann stressed the importance of the alignment of such things in previous presentations. I found an article on Printwand which described alignment in a pretty easy to comprehend way:
A design with poor alignment is a little like a poorly organized desk. If you’ve ever had a workspace covered in clutter, you know how frustrating it can be; documents that should go together are nowhere near each other, nothing’s where you expect it to be and the whole thing is just plain unattractive to look at. (Print Marketing Blog – Printwand™, 2016).
The article first talked about finding the ‘invisible line/margin” in which all the items lie against. They stated there were two types of alignment- Edge and Centre. Edge alignment is literally what it says on the tin- the objects aligning with a margin along their outer edges. Centre alignment is were the graphics align with a centre invisible axis in the object itself.
Text alignment was another stressed in this article and was split into different types;
- Centred- DO NOT DO THIS UNLESS YOU WANT TO MAKE A CHEAP MENU OR A WEDDING RELATED ITEM.
- Flush Left- this is against the left along this invisible margin. It is considered the strongest and safest option, most commonly used. Both paragraphs, images and the headings must all align.
- Flush right- this is a less common look and is used to give a more ragged, off beat look, primarily used in short paragraphs as it can be hard to read. The beginning of sentences are no long aligned.
- Justified- when the left and right margins all aligned. It gives a more organised, neat look to the work.
At the very start of this project Conann had mentioned looking into the comparison of statistics between Rome and Belfast. This would give a better idea of how Rome actually would look- given Rome’s population is nine times that of Belfast. I summarised the statistics that I found below the the Excel document.
We decided between us that it would be best to create a really nice poster of the data showing our findings- possibly animated in after effects to make certain elements move.
I had a look online and found some of the following images.
(#infographic (@123InfoGraphics) | Twitter, 2016)
We realised two things from looking at these infographics; They all incorporate the them of the issue they are demonstrating and circles seem to be used a lot.
(Infographic: words waiting to be added to the Oxford English Dictionary (Wired UK), 2016).
(Social Recruitment Infographic | Visual.ly, 2016).
(mgmt. design / work, 2016).
We noticed that these representations had a few things in common. They were mostly circular in shape and incorporated the theme or topic in the graphics, for example the NASA graphic above uses space ships to display data. We had a look around and tried to think of ways to create a similar style. One of the areas that we had looked into extensively in Rome had been the scientific side, especially those of cosmetology and medicine. One particular image stood out to me, that of Ptolemy’s calendar.
The calendar itself is a series of rings with the planets displayed throughout, with the Earth being at the center of the system (something we know not to be true). We liked the idea of either having each of the planets as a separate topic, with the moons around then being the different statistic sets, or the idea that the stars on the outer system could be the statistics.
This image that we thought simplified the calendar the best. (Anon, 2016).
A more detailed look of the calendar, taken from Johannes Hevelius’ Selenographia.(Hevelius and Hewelius, 1967).
I opted to start the infograph while the boys worked on lighting and such, to help speed along our process. I first looked at creating the rings on the design, trying to place them similar to the picture above. Granted, I did add my own spin to them but making them blue. I tried to keep in with the simple block colours and looked at other posters as to how to make them stand out. In this case, we opted not for a black background, but more of a navy one.
We then looked what to put in the middle of the universe, in Ptolgemy’s theories, the Earth was at the centre. In this we obviously wanted to encapsulate the same vibe from our planet by putting Rome at the centre of the rings. I also added Belfast as our statistics were a comparison of both cities.
From this, I then added the rings inside the orbits, or the planets. We decided not to had the statistics in the moons orbiting these as the information would just get too crowded.
Finally, I added the outer circles, containing the statistics for certain aspects of Rome compared to Italy. I created each of the little graphics for each circle separately then added them to the original file.
We decided to animate our poster, so that the details are clearer to read. Ryan suggested a simple animation in After Effects to follow the rings around and show the pieces of information. This would be great and a clean way for the info to come across, however Eoin and I thought it would be cool to maybe animate the rotation of the calendar as it was envisioned. The rings themselves rotating around the Earth. Below is some inspiration for the action of the rings, if we decided to add the extra animation.
The new recorded movement of the Sun and planets in our solar system. (The helical model – our solar system is a vortex, 2016).
(Solar System – Planet Movement Animation, 2016).
We could either have the rings rotating themselves, or the planets on the rings pathway, like above.
#infographic (@123InfoGraphics) | Twitter. (2016). [online] Twitter.com. Available at: https://twitter.com/123infographics [Accessed 6 Mar. 2016].
Anon, (2016). [online] Leaderswest.com. Available at: http://leaderswest.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Tumblr-Infographic-W9-201311.jpg [Accessed 6 Mar. 2016].
Infographic: words waiting to be added to the Oxford English Dictionary (Wired UK). (2016). [online] Wired UK. Available at: http://www.wired.co.uk/magazine/archive/2012/07/start/infographic-words-in-waiting [Accessed 6 Mar. 2016].
Social Recruitment Infographic | Visual.ly. (2016). [online] Visual.ly. Available at: http://visual.ly/social-recruitment-infographic [Accessed 6 Mar. 2016].
mgmt. design / work. (2016). [online] Mgmtdesign.com. Available at: http://www.mgmtdesign.com/work.html?id=1,11,100 [Accessed 6 Mar. 2016].
Anon, (2016). [online] Siderealist.com. Available at: http://siderealist.com/images/Ptolemaic_system_2_(PSF).gif [Accessed 7 Mar. 2016].
Hevelius, J. and Hewelius, J. (1967). Selenographia. New York: Johnson Reprint.
The helical model – our solar system is a vortex. (2016). [online] YouTube. Available at: https://youtu.be/0jHsq36_NTU [Accessed 7 Mar. 2016].
Solar System – Planet Movement Animation. (2016). [online] YouTube. Available at: https://youtu.be/gvSUPFZp7Yo [Accessed 7 Mar. 2016].
Citymayors.com. (2016). City Mayors: Largest cities in the world by population density (1 to 125). [online] Available at: http://www.citymayors.com/statistics/largest-cities-density-125.html [Accessed 12 Mar. 2016].
Print Marketing Blog – Printwand™. (2016). Basic Alignment Principles in Graphic Design (with Examples). [online] Available at: http://www.printwand.com/blog/basic-alignment-principles-in-graphic-design-with-examples [Accessed 12 Mar. 2016].