A few months back I was invited by Glynis Powell and Sue Knox of the Marches Network (a group of museum development officers working across the West Midlands) to create an infographic to show off their work.
The information was a mix of statistics and text-based information on the various projects and successes throughout the year.
Grouping the Information
My first job was to look through the information for groupings – a way to sort the data and allow the reader to approach it in an organised manner.
I settled on 6 category titles:
- paid staff
These neatly covered all the areas of work – and all the data fitted into at least one of these categories – with some falling into more than one. This led to an interesting challenge, showing crossovers, and shared categories. I’ll confess, I’ve been dying to try a tube style map for a while, and this seemed like a perfect opportunity.
My normal process is to scribble a few words about each “bit” of information onto a post-it note, and spend a good amount of time (1-2 hours) rearranging them on my desk until a pattern or structure appears. However, in this case I felt Gliffy was a better tool. Gliffy is an online mind-mapping/flow diagram tool – and the main benefit for me is the ability to attach connection lines between 2 boxes, which move as you rearrange the boxes. perfect!
I created a series of boxes, one for each section of information, plus one header box for each category and started drawing the connection lines.
See the diagram below.
Note: as with any information – these connections were based on my understanding of the data – the client made some changes and further advice on how they felt the data should be grouped – so this diagram does not match the finished piece.
Moving into Illustrator
This Gliffy diagram gave me a great point of reference – when moving into Illustrator.
Gliffy allows you to export as an SVG file, which can be very useful in Illustrator, however i this case I simply printed off the image and had it next to me as I worked.
I created a grid on my Illustrator page to give me an idea of how large each “text box” should be, and then started creating the individual elements.
Once the tex boxes were in the right place I used the pen tool (with a 2mm curve) to create the lines.
There was some time between getting the brief, and receiving the information, so I spent this time working on the theme and colours I’d use in the infographic. Along with this infographic, there was also a set of 7 infographics I was to create in the future, so wanted to settle on a strong colour scheme that would work across all of them.
Textures and Ephemera
Even from the early drafts I wanted to give the infographics a weathered, archive feel – so used the texture below at 20% opacity. It added a beautiful finish to the infographic.
On the final graphic – I had to remove this texture as it caused some problems with file sizes, to be replaced with a simple pattern of random small dots. However it did reappear in the series of 7 infographics that followed.
I also wanted to add some further elements of “ephemera” to the infographic – museum style items, i.e handwritten notes, postcards, objects that would give that archive feel. As you can see above, the handwritten notes really added some texture>
I sourced these items from a range of places, including Design Cuts, and the host of free-vintage image sites out there including:
The typeface I used was Anodyne, purchased as part of a vintage pack from Design Cuts. It’s really effective, with strong definition but a weathered feel.
The Finished Infographic