‘The Information’ Development

This project was an infographic design project in which the brief was to gather some information and present it visually. I was really looking forward to this project because a while ago I had read the book Information is Beautiful  by David McCandless and absolutely loved it. I have also spent hours trawling through his website which is great.

As always, I began my research for this project on Pinterest – Infographic board.

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I was particularly drawn to the illustrative watercolour style of some of the infographics that  I found on Pinterest and I decided I would like to incorporate watercolour somehow- perhaps in a similar style to the book covers that I had done before Christmas. I started to come up with some ideas for the type of information I might present. I initially thought I would do it on something quite personal; I thought maybe I’d do something about saxophones since I play the saxophone. Or maybe a representation of the inside of a student fridge. In the end however, I decided to present facts and statistics about each of the planets in our solar system. This was partly inspired by this poster series by Stephen Di Donato and partly by the fact that I thought that watercolour would lend itself particularly well to illustrating planets.

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I started planning out a few possible ideas for presentation. (I was always taught that Pluto was a planet and so my loyalty means that it is included as one in this project, sorry NASA).

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For each of the planets I did lots of research and took note of key facts and statistics. I also started sketching how the facts might look and how I might present them.

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I then got out my trusty watercolour set and started to do some testing and experimentation. I tried out doing ink drawings with a black fine-liner and adding watercolour after and although I did like it, I discovered that I preferred the way it looked if I added white text on top of a watercolour wash.

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To develop this idea further I tried out the text with cut out white letters and with white acrylic paint. I liked both of then but I thought that to use either of these methods for all of the facts for all of the planets would be too time consuming. I resolved that doing it digitally would be quicker, look cleaner and work better.

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I taped off a piece of watercolour paper and created this test wash to be the background for a planet. I used lots of water and a combination of colours that reminded me of a sky or a galaxy or something. I took a high quality photo of it and placed it into Illustrator to add some text.

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I had a play about on Illustrator and I tested out adding layers of rings and altering the opacity to add texture and depth. I chose a font called Lino Stamp Bold for the larger text because I thought that it looked like it had been painted or printed by hand which I thought fitted well with the watercolour texture. I settled on having the text structured and turning some of it by 90 degrees to force the viewer to look closer.

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With most of my ideas solidified, I went ahead and painted a wash for each of the planets and put them all on Illustrator. The one below is for Earth.

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On Illustrator I added all of the text and for each planet I changed the exact layout to suit the combination of text that was on that particular one. I also added a smaller graphic at the bottom of each planet that depicted the scale of it in comparison to the others. This allows all the infographics to be printed at a large enough size to read but still communicate their size. It isn’t quite to scale because Jupiter is freaking huge but it gives the general gist.

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When I thought I had finished, I came across one major problem. I found that once I had put all of my infographics together in one document ready for printing, I couldn’t save it because the file size was too large. My computer crashed a few times and I was very stressed because the whole project had taken longer than I had anticipated anyway even without trouble at the end. I cleared lots of space on my computer and was eventually able to save the largest file size in the history of everything. I also caused a huge queue at the printer because it took forever to print out (sorry everyone). It’s safe to say that when it was finally printed out I was very happy!

After talking to my tutor, it turned out that the problem stemmed from when I had taken each of the photos for the backgrounds on my big Canon camera and imported them directly into Illustrator without resizing them on Photoshop first. So when I put all of the planets together, the file had 9 huge photos, loads of layers and clipping masks and it made it enormous. Next time I will make sure to resize any large photos first before I mess with them on Illustrator.

I was also given a few comments for improvements, for example perhaps I could remove the little moons that I’d added for Mars and Earth because they are distracting etc. but I haven’t changed anything yet because the thought of trying to re-save the file makes me feel a bit ill.

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Overall however I do really like the final outcome and I can see it on the wall of a physics classroom, or perhaps as postcards to help teach children.

R

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