Design for an Audience
Was just reading through an article by Jonathan Corum, the science graphics editor at New York Times. He has kindly shared a presentation and workshop from SUND, the University of Copenhagen’s Faculty of Health Sciences. Here’s the link to the article
Having worked in the science field for many years, it really resonated with me – have a look at my previous blog posts (below) – and shares many of the frustrations and thoughts I still have and have had in the past, when it comes to science communications.
If you are interested in science communication, graphics, and data visualisation or are a researcher thinking about visuals for your research paper then it’s a must-read article.
“sketch for yourself…
…but design for somebody else”
30 April 2018
From sketch to finished graphic
An example of a simple graphic timeline, from sketch to finished article, that I produced for Amanda Montanez at Scientific American. The story was for looking at possible culprits causing Fast Radio Bursts.
Here are some of the examples we worked with from pencil sketch to illustrator roughs through to the printed page in the April 2018 edition.
Here is a neat slider published using Flourish (www.app.flourish.studio)
27 April 2018
Nothing to show…yet
It’s frustrating as I have been working flat out recently, but sometimes it just happens to be that I am not able to show any of the work. It’s either sensitive and only for internal eyes or still to be published. In the meantime here are a couple of scribbles from the sketchbook.
10 April 2018
Workshop update: BOU
Had a great time last week at Nottingham University as I took part in #BOU2018. A conference organised by The British Ornithological Union “21st Century Ornithology: Challenges, opportunities and decisions”
I took three, one-hour workshops (so pretty hectic and not much time) looking at effective visuals in science communication for the early career researchers.
As I say it was pretty full on and I hope the delegates had fun drawing and colouring data and seeing how effective visuals can go a long way in getting your research out there.
Thanks to Steve Dudley (COO) and Cat Horswill for asking me to come along.
05 April 2018
Malofiej26 update – Winners
The latest instalment of the Malofiej Infographic World Summit has just finished in Pamplona.It looked to be another great week of workshops and presentations.
Congratulations to all the winners and everybody that took part in it. Best of show went to National Geographic for online with The Science of Hummingbirds, which I had already written about in this blog earlier in the year and the Berliner Morgenpost in the print category with It was not always the East
If you have never attended Malofiej, then I recommend that you do at least once, I have been at least 10 times so far and always find it an inspiring summit and a place to meet up with friends and experts in our field – and if you want to find out what goes on, Andy Kirk (visualisingdata.com) has just produced this film taken at last years event (25th).
Infographics, data visualisation, pintxos, G&T, beer, wine, food and lots of talking….and no sleep for 3 days…a wonderful event and I will be sure to attend next year (25-29 March 2019)
19 March 2018
Unfortunately, I’m not in Pamplona at the Malofiej infographics Summit, but like me, you can follow what’s going on, over on twitter at #malofiej26. Looks like it has been a good start so far…
15 March 2018
I had a great day of training in London last Thursday for Journalism.co.uk. This was part of newsrewired+. I would like to thank the group for great sketches and coming up with some good visuals for the data. Look out for more training days on journalism.co.uk in the near future.
12 March 2018
Hand crafted data visualisation
Rob Simmon of Planet labs has just posted a piece on hand-crafted data visualisation on Medium.com.
It’s full of great examples of pre-computer (and post-computer) visualisations.
It’s something I still do and have always done – I started out as a medical and scientific illustrator ( see previous post here ) – and something that still has its place today.
‘The history of data visualization is a history of work done by hand…this level of effort takes time and expertise’
06 February 2018
TotalJobs have just published a couple of graphics that I had worked on recently, so go and take a look. Here’s the page
31 January 2018
Showing the data
I see this many times a week when ‘infographics’ are shared on social media.
This was shared on LinkedIn recently..what’s missing?
What’s missing is the data, in a visual way. Too much time has been spent on producing the nice icons (which are important for context), making them stand out in white on a dark blue background and the text is white as well. The tile of the graphic is ‘Number of years it took for each product to reach 50 million users’ – so where is are the number of years? They are written numerically, which is ok, but are a smaller font size and produce in a lighter blue on a dark blue background.
The graphic is hiding the data, the important piece of the graphic. That data should be seen first, or at least, seen easily. So why hide it.
Infographic = information + graphic
Here’s the data produced in a visual form. IMHO a much neater way of seeing what the graphic is supposed to be showing.
The icons can be added to it to give context if needed, but the graphic should show the information (data) first.
25 January 2018
Storytelling with Infographics course announced
Pleased to announce that I will, once again, be doing a one-day training course for newsrewired.com on 8th March. The title is Storytelling with Infographics and we will be looking at how effective infographics can help tell and explain your story succinctly and effectively, looking at techniques and various ways of showing data and stories using visuals for mobile and in print.
“At the end of this course you will: be equipped with the background knowledge and skills needed to produce or commission an effective infographic; understand the role of infographics and data visualisations for storytelling; understand how to translate complex issues into appropriate visual forms; avoid common mistakes; and be able to look at other infographics critically”
Its being held at The Bridge, 81 Southwark Bridge Road, London SE1 0NQ, so I look forward to seeing you there.
08 January 2018
Accuracy (and representation) in charts
Rant of the day. Accuracy in data visualisations and infographics is not difficult these days – or it shouldn’t be. Representing data badly is something I see almost every day. A couple of examples below. The first one from The Age, with two axis for no apparent reason. The second one shared by Jorge Cameos on twitter – 3D Oreos!
But accuracy should be paramount. So when producing a chart, make sure its showing the data accurately…
This from Trinity Mirror this morning. As soon as I looked at it, I had my suspicions about scale of the first and last bar…and yes its wrong! My version below it
13 December 2017
Drugs and the darknet: Report
Yesterday (28th November) the EMCDDA and EUROPOL launched a new report
“Drugs and the darknet”. The report presents how darknet markets function, the threats they pose to health and security and how Europe can respond.
I had the great pleasure of working with these two organisations to produce the infographics and design elements in the report. I really enjoyed working on the graphics and think the report is both informative and visually understandable.
There are also videos to watch, so please go and have a look.
29th November 2017
I recently completed a commission for BBC Storyworks (BBC StoryWorks is the content-marketing division of BBC Advertising) in collaboration with Jaguar USA. The object was to look at a couple of aspects of the newly launched version of the Jaguar f-Type – Speed and Sound.
A fun project that allowed me to go to my local Jaguar dealership and play in cars…just need to get one now on the driveway!
Although it was posted I couldn’t get to see it because I am in the UK. Recently I was abroad and managed to get to see the completed work. The links are here (if you are not in the UK) https://lnkd.in/eByZtVV https://lnkd.in/eJsSpcV
24th November 2017
Global Carbon Budget 2017
Released yesterday (13 Nov), the latest version of the Global Carbon Budget from Global Carbon Project , Future Earth and the Tyndall Centre for Climate Research.
I had the pleasure to, again, work with everybody on this updated graphic for release at the Bonn Climate Summit.
The last couple of years where we have had a plateau in emissions now seems to have stopped and we are emitting more once again.
As you know, sifting through scientific papers and data is not always the easiest thing to do, so the knowledge of the experts and scientist was invaluable. Part of my job is to ask many questions (some of them seemingly very simple) of the data and the story to be able to understand the subject matter thoroughly, and so I must thank all the experts, Corinne, Glen, Pep, Robbie and others for all their help.
There is still much to do to try and bring carbon emissions down, lets hope this time next year we have more good news to portray
14th November 2017
Two more successful training courses just completed for Singtel SG.
We had a wide range of people from across Singtel and its subsidiaries. I know they found it difficult at first but closing the laptops and sketching out ideas with a pencil before committing to the screen really makes a difference – I hope they can appreciate why.
Look forward to coming back
30th October 2017
Inspired by, informed by
Good to see one of my more recent graphics in the latest BTO Annual Review, which is now available to download.
thanks to all at the BTO
25th October 2017
Just got back from a week of infographic and datavis training in Singapore.
One group was via the Civil Service College in Singapore and comprised agency staff ranging from the police force to doctors. The second group were all from Singtel SG.
Some great visualisations were produced and importantly pencils and pens were used to sketch, analyse and work out ideas and layout proposals – which is so important.
Looking forward to returning very soon.
10 October 2017
Journalism.co.uk training course
I had the pleasure of teaching a one-day training course ‘Storytelling with graphics’ organised with journalism.co.uk last week
Think we all had a good time and I hope the people there went away enthused and having more of an understanding of what makes a good infographic and data visualisation.
I will be doing more of these, so get in contact with Carrie at journalism.co.uk to see the latest dates.
28 September 2017
Work of a sensitive nature
Often, because of the sensitive nature of some of the work I do, I cannot always share as much as I would like to.
One case was the graphic I was working on for the Francis Crick Institute in London. It was linked to a paper release and so I was sworn to secrecy until the embargo was lifted.
The paper was released on 20 September and so I can now share the graphic, explaining genome editing. This is the first time that genome editing has been used to study gene function in human embryos, which could help scientists better understand the biology of our early development – an interesting subject.
Here’s the research paper release and my graphic made to help readers understand exactly what is going on in a not too scientific way.
Thanks to all at the Francis Crick Institute and to Dr Kathy Niakan for all their help in getting this graphic through the process.
27 September 2017
The Great Decoupling…in print
I have been working recently with Kathy Kohm of Anthropocene Magazine along with Rob Jackson and others of Global Carbon Project on a series of storytelling graphics for a feature on The Great Decoupling – The story of energy use, economic growth and carbon emissions in 4 charts.
A fascinating piece and a great team to work with. The online feature was launched last week but it was really designed for the magazine, which I managed to get my hands on today. So here are the pages.
Thanks to Kathy and the team for all their help in getting this together
09 August 2017
I had to share this lovely graphic all about the Science of Hummingbirds from National Geographic, when I saw it last week.
As you have probably guessed, I love birds, in fact anything that flies really, aircraft, dragonflies and birds. This piece is full of great information, told an interesting story, is full of informative and easily understood graphics, animations and video and text.
What I particularly liked was the fact that you could let the story flow, watching all the animations and explanations in their own time or click and go through in your time – allowing me to go back and forth in my time and in my sequence, easily and seamlessly
Just wish I had done this myself!
10 July 2017
Lloyds Learning Week – Telling stories with data
I had a great time speaking at Lloyds Learning Week last Thursday. Learning Week was open to everyone working in the London market. It was spread across 5 days and 19 sessions. With speakers, specialists and representatives from training organisations and industry consultancies.
I was speaking with Nick Blewden, Head of Business Intelligence and Data Products at Lloyd’s. I looked at effective visualisation whilst Nick covered what Lloyds are doing visually with their data in BI. I will look forward to seeing what comes out of Lloyds.
Thank you to all that turned up to hear and see what we were saying
03 July 2017
Black and white graphics
In this age of full colour graphics and datavis, it was a pleasure and indeed, a challenge, to be asked to produce a map for Laura Spinneys’ new book ‘Pale Rider: The Spanish Flue of 1918 and How it Changed The World’ published by Jonathan Cape.
Making graphics and datavis accessible for as many people as possible to be able to see and understand is important and the one thing I always check for is accessibility for those that may have a colour deficiency (I tend to use Sim Daltonism, but many more are available). There are so many out there that wouldn’t pass this test!
Think about photocopying a graphic in black and white and then see if it still makes sense.
So producing a graphic in black and white is quite an unusual challenge. This map concentrates on the second wave that had its origins in western France in August 1918. Using tints of black and grey radiating out and getting lighter from the origin and circles to visualise the percentage of the population that died.
Thank you to Laura for asking me to help with this.
21 June 2017
New training course announced
Happy to announce that I have a one-day training course ‘Storytelling with graphics’ organised with journalism.co.uk beginning in September this year.
As the post says, its aimed at beginners and those looking to find out what these infographics are all about and how to use graphics for effective storytelling.
I’m looking forward to this and hope to see many sign up for it
8 June 2017
Nature and work
The sun came out today in and so whilst I was preparing for a presentation this evening in London, I thought I would make the most of it and sit by the pond going through my slides and talk – actually I spent most of the time looking at these two Red Damselflies enjoying the spring weather…back to work now
18 May 2017
Just back from malofiej25. A couple of full-on days of presentations and catching up with infographistas from around the world over pintxos and wine. Roll on malofiej26…
Here’s a link to see all the winners
Congratulations to all that entered
02 April 2017
A busy week. A couple of commissions to finalise and check proofs of today and tomorrow and then off to Pamplona for the World Infographic Summit which is Malofiej25. Looking forward to a couple of days there discussing data visualisations and infographics with both old and new friends.
27 March 2017
Scicomm, drawing and birds
Saturday morning and the post drops on my doorstep. The latest issue of BTONews from the has arrived with a fantastic cover image of a Raven.
Have been working on a couple of graphics for this issue along with Viola Ross-Smith, the editor of the magazine and Tim Birkhead the author and expert on the subject – Bird mating systems and reproduction. A fascinating subject matter and one that has enabled me to get back to some more illustrative-type graphic, namely female bird reproduction from ovulation to laying.
20 March 2017
Latest work for BBC Earth
After saying yesterday that I had no work to show…just published is my latest graphic for
Was fun to be given the commission by Mike marshall at the BBC to go ahead and research how diamonds are made and put together a graphic for the site.
Here are some of my preparatory sketches and the graphic.
03 March 2017
Work and conferences
It has been a busy start to 2017 with lots of work but not much to show on the blog, either because I can’t for contractual reasons or it hasn’t been published yet. In the meantime I am looking forward to attending Malofiej again this year for its 25th anniversary. The speaker line-up looks great as always and look forward to seeing lots of old friends and meeting new ones
02 March 2017
More of an illustrative graphic this time, but still an accurate representation showing the differences between sodium channel mutations in Autism and Epilepsy for Spectrum News
13 February 2017
Wader ID graphics
More of my work from the BTO News magazine, narrowing down your winter wader ID. First in a series (I hope) showing bird silhouettes according to shape and size, helping to narrow down that ‘what’s that’ moment. Waders and warblers are always the ‘difficult’ ones. There’s more in the mag as well so please join up and help the BTO
20 January 2017
First in the post for 2017
Its always good to see your work published either online or in print, so it was a pleasant surprise to receive the BTO Annual Review through the post with some of my dataviz work in.
The BTO is a great organisation and well worth supporting our UK birds and wildlife.
05 January 2017
The limits of commuting
My latest work for the new BBC Future Now section is a chart and maps looking at the average one-way commute (roughly 30 minutes) in various cities across the world.
Interesting to see how each city compares, and being based in London it really shows that the 30 minute commute here is a very small area.
21 Dec 2016
Pies are not good for comparisons
Just saw this from Business Insider UK
Pie charts are never the best way to show comparisons between data and this one has the addition of many segments to each year chart including many colours – surely what we want to see is the change between 2016 and 2019 – so why not show the differences? Other ways can also show this but a simple slope graph will do the job
07 Dec 2016
Updated Global Carbon Budget graphic
I recently had the opportunity to work again with Corinne Le Quere of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research on updating an important graphic on the global carbon budget.
I worked on this last year and it was proposed to update the graphic to keep with the original style. Updating the data and storytelling between the signing of the Paris agreement last year and the Marrakesh plan of action this year. The graphic was launched at the Marrakesh COP22conference on climate change.
Here’s 2016 version…
plus last years version as a comparison
06 Dec 2016
Latest article published in Pharmaceutical Journal
“Presenting data visually for a poster or presentation” is my latest article published a couple of days ago in the Pharmaceutical Journal. It is aimed at scientists, researchers and students and those with questions about the best and most effective ways of presenting data in a visual way, so please have a look.
02 November 2016
Infographics in Singapore
A little late in writing up this post, but have recently got back from Singapore where I spent 2 days teaching and explaining to students the fundamentals of information design and infographics.
I had never visited Singapore before, and what a city! Full of fantastically designed buildings juxtaposed with traditional design. A great place.
I spent 2 days with a group of 24 participants at the Civil Service College. We had great fun learning all about designing and using infographics for different purposes and mediums. Here are a few pictures showing some of the designs in progress
Many thanks to all that took part and I look forward to coming back
24 October 2016
Hand drawn, painted and dotted sciart
I have just ventured into the loft of our house (not been up there for ages) and discovered a couple of my old portfolios covered in dust, and so decided to have a look…it brings back many great memories.
I trained as a medical, botanical and scientific illustrator and because of my background I often talk about the importance of sketching ideas and thoughts before diving into any infographic and, I suppose, this is one of the reasons that I think this way.
I shared this on LinkedIn and Twitter today
but thought I should back it up with some more very early infographics and illustrations. All hand painted watercolours and pencil work and some using the trusty Rotring pens and CS10 paper.
I may add more as I find them and if I think they are worth posting
25 September 2016
This weekend was the annual Birdfair, held at Ruland Water. Rutland is the smallest historic county in England and the fourth smallest in the UK as a whole dominated by Rutland Water. I have to admit, I haven’t visited it for many years but this year was different.
One of the projects I have been working on for the BTO was a feature in the latest BTO news magazine about bird migration. With the advent of GPS monitoring, tagging and recording, where our birds go in the winter is becoming clearer and we beginning to see just how far our summer birds travel to their wintering grounds. The feature I was working on included graphics looking at some of the routes taken by Swifts, Cuckoos and Manx Shearwaters amongst others and it was decided to adapt the graphic for inclusion on the stand at Birdfair.
So I turned up on Saturday morning to be greeted by huge crowds at the fair and around the stand and the graphic looking very good and very big!
I am quite used to designing graphics for online and print, making sure the colours are legible and the line widths and text are readable on the smallest of screens, but reprinting a graphic 3x3m on a stand is something new.
It was good to have to think about how it would look reproduced that large. Adjusting the line widths of the globe as well as the route arrows to make sure they weren’t too bold or overpowering, adjusting the colours for large print and not for a screen and trying to think just how big the text and the pictures would be at that size took some time, but I think the results work well.
Big thanks to all at the BTO, especially, Viola Ross-Smith the editor of BTO News and Andy Clements, Director. Communicating the work they do is vital in helping to preserve our wildlife and birds.
21 August 2016
Reworking an existing infographic
It’s always pleasing to see innovation when it comes to data visualisation and infographics. We never stop learning and therefore looking and seeing what others are doing is a great way to learn.
I look at graphics from all over the world and I often wonder how I would have done them or if there is anything I could do differently to help me understand them better or easier.
This is one from last week posted by Ipsos MORI looking at the reactions to Brexit across Europe as well as a few other countries outside of the EU.
Nothing fundamentally wrong with the graphic. I could see that, as the header says, Spain is top when looking at whether they thought the decision was wrong or right for Britain. But looking more closely, and especially trying to compare those who thought it wrong to those who thought it was right, I found it hard to work out, because of the use of the stacked chart.
I wasn’t the only one who was thinking along these lines – a couple of us had a discussion about this on twitter!
I also felt the dark grey was rather off-putting as the colours used were of similar intensity.
So I had a go at it myself to see if I could make it easier for me to compare wrong with right.
I haven’t included all the numbers but I have put the ‘Don’t knows’ in the middle of the ‘Wrong’ and the ‘Right’. This allows me to see, more easily, the proportion who think it was the wrong decision AND the proportion who think it was the right decision. Making it easy to compare the two figures and therefore the majority decision. I also made the grey “Don’t know’ a lighter, less intrusive, grey colour to make the separation easier to see.
The text that accompanied the tweet was ‘Was Brexit right or wrong for Britain? Only majority of Russians say right’ , which is fine, but it’s difficult to see that in the original, whereas my version makes it clearer that Russia is the only country that has a majority that thought it was the right decision
There are other ways of showing the data as there are in many instances, such as this but this version excludes the ‘Don’t know’ data
We can all learn and so re-imagining or adjusting works by others is a great way of learning. I advise you all to go and have a try. Many thanks to ipsosMori for ‘supplying’ this one for me.
What do you think?
Added 10 August. Hannah Williams Ipsos MORI’s Creative Director and I discussed this yesterday after which, I have to add (and agree with her, here) that as with most polling questions, the ‘Don’t know’s are as important as the ‘Right’ and ‘Wrong’ or Yes and No’s. So my second attempt is really not relevant.
As with all stacked bars charts, actually trying to compare a specific element across a range of categories, will always be a compromised because of the stacking of the bars.
09 August 2016
New post added
Have just added a new post about my latest work with the BTO on Cuckoo migration
21 July 2016
21st June 2016
D-Day ‘Funny’ Tanks graphic
For the 72nd anniversary of D-Day, BBC Future posted a story about the strange tanks that were converted to help the troops come ashore.
I was commissioned to produce a graphic showing the converted, and really quite wacky tanks.
and thought it would be useful to see my preparatory sketches for this – as with any graphic or visual, the understanding of the purpose and the sketching of ideas is all important, so here goes
8th June 2016
Have actually started to post things to my website so please have a look at the recent posts as well as the blog, many thanks
07 June 2016
European Drug Report launched
Yesterday, the EMCDDA (European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction) launched its latest report, the European Drug Report 2016: trends and developments in Europe’s drug situation (download here)
I have been working with the teams in Lisbon, looking at the visual design and graphics included in the report, especially how we can improve the storytelling aspect, giving the data more of a focus and appeal to the reader, both policy makers across the EU and the public.
It’s a comprehensive and important report, looking at health risks of high-potency products, the emergence of new substances, and changing patterns of drug use.
As well as the report, they also have online sections, focusing on specific drugs, such as Cocaine trafficking routes and the cannabis market as well as a study on wastewater analysis
Thanks to all the team at EMCDDA
1 June 2016
Making a graphic easier to understand
A few weeks ago, I had a conversation with Helen West who was looking at designing a graphic around a paper for Cochrane review. She has put up a very good post on her thoughts and processes. You can also see out comments on the subject. This is a section of the graphic from Cochrane data, as it stood originally
I found that some of the elements, including the double negative text quite difficult to get my head around. So this is my version, changing the format, colour emphasis and text to get rid of the double negative.
There is always something that can be done to make a graphic easier to understand, this is just one example that I thought I should share.
Many thanks to Helen for listening to my comments and you can see the revised graphic here
25 May 2016
Getting schools involved in science
Just posted this on my LinkedIn posts page.
The BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) has been working over the last year or so with EDF energy, getting schools involved in the recording of birds and invertebrates in the school grounds.
The project called “What’s under your feet” has just had its first results published in the latest Volunteer magazine. I was lucky enough to have been involved with the design team at the BTO and commissioned to produce a graphic showing some of the first results.
It’s early days, and the schools involved will carry out further record taking. The results of which will all go to helping the scientists at the BTO produce a scientific paper-exciting stuff. Getting kids to take an interest and to get involved in this record taking is a vital step for our next generation of scientists, journalists and environmentalists as well as getting them to appreciate what is around them. Well done BTO and EDF.
02 May 2016
I’m very bad at getting to the newsagent and buying magazines, most I read are on subscription or online – but I still love magazines. I was passing a newsagent this morning and managed to pick up the April issue of Scientific American, a great read if you are interested in any of the sciences. Full of great articles, illustrations and, of course, graphics!
Some of my graphics are included in the article on The Neutron Enigma.
Good to get back into some deep science and I loved reading all the copy and papers
28 April 2016
Latest LinkedIn post
My latest post on LinkedIn has just been posted ‘Distorting the data with graphics’
I had to post this because of a graphic I saw on Friday showing distorted scales on a bar chart. Something that I feel, and we all should feel, strongly about. Showing the data accurately.
25th April 2016
Re-doing a graphic
This was posted by the European Parliament today on LinkedIn
I found this a misleading graphic and difficult to follow. My eye went to the line with the flags on thinking it was showing a trend (which it isn’t) Also the order of the countries seemed rather random. Surely ascending or descending numbers would have been better.
So I remade it. There are other ways to show the data graphically, such a slope graph to show which countries are increasing or decreasing, but as an example thought I would show the bar.
This is to scale and shows which countries are really taking the fish and whether they are increasing or decreasing over the year. Thinking about what you are trying to show and showing it in the best possible way is so important when producing any graphic.
19 April 2016
EU Drug Markets Report 2016
The EMCDDA (European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction) and EUROPOL launched the EU Drug Markets Report 2016 yesterday.
I had the opportunity to work with the brilliant staff and design some of the graphics within the report. Making sense of the huge data sets they had and, hopefully, bringing out the relevant data visually, making it easily understandable to us, the public, as well as to the policy makers.
The report provides a unique insight into the operation of illicit drug markets in the EU and assesses the impact of the drug market on society and the factors driving it. The report combines the analytical power of the EMCDDA’s drug monitoring system with Europol’s operational intelligence on trends in organised crime.
So here are some of the graphics included in the report.
It’s interesting and important data, so go and download the report here.
And thanks to all those involved with making my life easier
06 April 2016
The 2015 annual results of the BTO Garden BirdWatch
My first graphic for the BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) has just been released online.
The 2015 annual results of the BTO Garden BirdWatch.
A very important survey, the Garden BirdWatch, monitors the changing fortunes of birds and other garden wildlife through its network of ‘citizen scientists’. All the data on the individual birds is also available. This was my first commission after spending a day with the brilliant staff in Thetford. The work they do, with the help of the public ,is vital in monitoring the state of our wildlife. So I would like to thank all the staff, especially Viola Ross-Smith for putting up with all my questions and queries about this project and watch out for more in the coming weeks
29 March 2016
Malofiej24 Infographics Summit, Pamplona
Credit: Diana Yoo
Malofiej24 Infographics Summit, known as the Pulitzers of the infographics world, has just finished in Pamplona, well it finished on Friday with an awards dinner and much talking that went on well into Saturday morning, when many of us arrived at the airport not having slept.
The jury awarded 13 gold medals, 33 silver medals and 91 bronze medals
La Nación (Argentina) and The New York Times (USA) won Best of Show in print and online categories respectively, with the graphics “Cobertura de las elecciones de 2015” and “You Draw It: How Family Income Predicts Children’s College Chances”. See the list of awards here
Geoff McGee did a great job by storifying it, (day 1,) for those that couldn’t attend or who just wanted a reminder of what was said.
As always, it was a great conference. The speakers didn’t let us down. Every presentation was interesting and thought-provoking. Ranging from map making, VR technology, polling statistics, mind game visuals, graphics for mobile and painful data.
Too many people to quote but a couple to think about”
“The dataviz should honor the data: If the data is messy, it should be messy. If it’s painful, it should be painful” Kim Rees, Periscopic
“We don’t need fucking Big Data. We need big understanding.”
Richard Saul Wurman
Richard Saul Wurman in conversation with John Grimwade
If you work with data and visuals and have never been to Malofiej, then I recommend you attend at least once…or more
Here’s to next year
16 March 2016
Linking colours within graphics…
Yesterday I wrote a post ‘Making your graphic tell the story…and relate to the headline’ .
Today’s post looks at linking graphics by colour. This was posted today by European Parliamentary Research Service.
Here’s the graphic looking at the e-book market around the world.
Again, I will not go into the layout or chart types used (that can be another blog post) but will look at the colours used and the linking of the information within the graphic. I have tried to keep to the original colour scheme
Adding colour to graphs is an easy process, isn’t it? – you have the default colour palette or corporate colours to follow, so just pick one! – but adding colour to charts can also be one of the most difficult to get right. When used well, colours will enhance the graphic and make the reading and understanding an easy process – but they can also kill the graphic which leads to misunderstanding and confusion.
So let’s have a look at the graphic above. Overall, the colours have the same intensity, and therefore, importance. In Figure 1, the US takes 26% of the global book market
In Figure 2, Germany takes 24% of the EU book market (see note below)
Before I even get to discussing the colours…if you are going to use a pie or donut chart then make sure it adds up to 100%. Figure 1 adds up to 99% and even worse, Figure 2 only adds to 80% – where is the other 20%? This should not be a pie chart as it gives a false meaning to the data.
Putting these together the first thing that stands out is the colour use. Figure 1, USA is red, Figure 2, Germany is now the same red etc. This is just confusing. Why not use the same colours for the countries – this would make it much clearer to relate the data country by country – although still not perfect.
Using a different colour range would also make it easier.
And in Figure 3 shows VAT levied on e-books – again using the same colour scheme but showing a totally different data set. Again, very confusing as the reader will automatically assume that the colours relate to the pie charts.
A graduated same-colour scale would have been a better way of illustrating this to show, NO VAT, Zero rate, Reduced rate, and Standard Rate
In isolation, each graphic tries to tells its own story. When combining elements into a storytelling dashboard or sequence of graphics, the elements must come together in a cohesive form that makes sense and helps the reader to understand the story and the data behind it.
With a bit of thought and understanding of your what you are trying to show and what you want the audience to take away from the graphic, these things can be avoided.
Step back and think…Does this help me to understand the story?
23 February 2016
Making the graphic tell the story…
Just posted this on LInkedIn
Making your graphic tell the story…and relate to the headline and vice versa.
This morning, the EU Commission put out a tweet
17 energy projects approved by the European Investment Bank,
with this graphic as the image
Important as the message is, the image that accompanies it is not helping the story as the style of graphic and the colours used, hide the fact of the 17 projects. Why is the number ’17’ not the same colour as the segment of the pie it relates to?
The colour scheme used also muddles the message with R,D,I and Health being darker and so therefore standing out over the Energy segment.
Getting these things correct, especially when images and graphics are shared on social media sites is not hard – it just takes some thought.
I quickly made this graphic to show what I mean
Your eye can instantly relate the story being told to the graphic. It stands out! You don’t need to think about it. It backs up what the tweet was about.
I am not saying a donut chart was the best way to show this data but thought I should keep to the original format to back up what I mean.
Original factsheet here: http://ec.europa.eu/priorities/sites/beta-political/files/sector-factsheet-energy_en.pdf
There are many more out there. Step back and think…is the graphic helping me
22 February 2016
The start of 2016 has been pretty busy. I am working on a couple of projects which will be released soon, so will speak more of those when the time is right.
For the past few years, well 7 or 8, I have been attending the Malofiej World Infographic Summit, based in Pamplona, Spain. I missed last year, as I was just into my freelance career and so felt I couldn’t release the time to go BUT I have just paid up, booked flights and accommodation, and this year I am going again! I can’t wait.
It’s a great place (the best place!) to meet the best infographic and visualisation designers from around the world. The list of speakers this year is impressive and I look forward to meeting all those I haven’t seen for a while and to speaking with the avatars and pictures from Twitter and LinkedIn – yes, you get to see, speak and drink with real people.
If you have never been before and are interested in visual communication and design then you really must attend at least once.
See all of you there soon.
16 February 2016
A day at the BTO.
Last week I spent a fantastic, and full, day with the staff at the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) in Thetford, Norfolk.
I was there to speak to them about effective visual communication…and for a little walk around the reserve next to the beautiful building they occupy (a converted Nunnery).
We had a great day. My time was spent speaking to various small teams all concerned with how to tell the stories and research they have in a more visually appealing way. The staff were enthusiastic and eager to listen, discuss and learn and so, I can only thank them for their enthusiasm and hope to visit again soon for more visual treats and data wrangling.
09 February 2016
Again, managed to get my hands on the January issue of Scientific American with my latest graphics included in it.
19 January 2016
My thoughts on a year of freelancing and leaving a ‘proper’ job
21 December 2015
There has been some great pick up, reviews and comments about the Global Carbon Budget graphic – I am so pleased. Have a look at Randy Krum’s blog http://www.coolinfographics.com/
08 December 2015
Yesterday saw the launch of the latest Global Carbon Budget 2015 in Paris.
I have been privileged to have able to work on the infographic for this report. So many thanks to all involved including Corinne Le Quéré, Róisín Moriarty and Owen Gaffney for asking me to help with this. Here is the link to the graphic
08 December 2015
Just back from another week in Lisbon working on new projects. Lisbon is a lovely city and one day I will actually get around to doing all the touristy things and seeing some of it instead of just working and visiting the bars and restaurants (which they have many of and are all great).
I have also just got round to buying the November issue of Scientific American which has my latest graphics in. It’s a great story ‘Seeing in the Dark’ by Joshua Frieman of The Dark Energy Survey looking at four approaches that DES is studying to see how and why our universe is expanding at an ever faster rate. Here’s a shot of the graphic and a link to the Sciam article
25 November 2015
More more graphics are now on the spectrumnews website. A special report on Sex/gender in Autism.
3 November 2015
Enjoyed a morning at the Royal College of Art, Information Experience Design section, talking to the students about the importance of infographics and storytelling. It’s part of a week-long exercise for them to come up with a storytelling, map based project. I will be back on Friday to see what they have all come up with – looking forward to that.
27 October 2015
15 October 2015
After a week at the Guardian, I am now back working at home. Some of the visuals I worked on have now been published, one of them has had great exposure on the news media. It’s a visual guide to something that affects 1 in 10 women worldwide, about the same number as those with diabetes but is often misdiagnosed or overlooked entirely – Endometriosis, a visual guide
I have also been busy producing graphics for spectrumnews, a website based in the US highlighting news and advances in autism research. Here’s the graphic showing the costs associated with living with autism
Other works in the pipeline and published include the life of the cicada, for BBC Earth as well as others not published yet but will be here or in my gallery when I can show them…
…there’s more interesting work coming up, so I am looking forward to showing that when I can
29 September, 2015
Am enjoying a week working with the Guardian visuals team, working on some science based stories.Thanks to Cath Levett and Xaquín González Veira for asking me to come in. Some great visuals coming out of a very talented team.
17 September, 2015
Last week, I had a conversation with Nika at Infogr.am about a blog posting they shared 4 Data Visualization Mistakes and How to Avoid Them on a dataviz forum. The posting had some good comments but I felt they were let down by the colour schemes used and offered some alternatives. They took these comments onboard and asked me to write a short posting on how to correctly use colour in data visualizations.
So here it is How to choose colours for charts
26 August, 2015
For the past month or so I have had the fortune to work at Nature magazine in London. It’s good to be back surrounded by scientific papers, and scientific journalists. It was also good to work again with ex-staffers from New Scientist as well as the art team of Nature.
As well as working on the back-end magazine graphics, which included tidying up the scientific graphics to fit in with Nature style, I had the opportunity to come up with some news graphics.
…more to come
18 August, 2015
With all the fantastic images coming from the Pluto flypast, it got me thinking about the size of the dwarf planet, so I quickly came up with this very basic graphic showing Pluto compared to Charon, the closest of it’s five moons, alongside Earth and our moon
20 July, 2015
This week I have been back to my roots in the science community and have been working at Nature magazine in London. It’s good to be back surrounded by scientific papers, but I must say, those graphics in the papers really need to be looked at!
08 July, 2015
I am just back from Helsinki and Vienna, delivery workshops on information graphics and effective visual communication to ECHA and FRA. I must say a big thank you to the organisers and to all the people who attended over the two or three day workshops. It was great to see such enthusiasm and willingness to try new things and learn. I am really looking forward to doing some more…
01 July, 2015
Just out, my first graphic for BBC Britain.
For this I was commissioned to produce a graphic that could be used on the website but also used for social media sites – hence giving the relevant information but in a more stylised way.
09 June, 2015
I am busy now, preparing content for a couple of graphic workshops for EU agencies. Really looking forward to them…more details later
01 June, 2015
It’s been a busy couple of weeks for me.
I was commissioned by BBC Future to produce a graphic for the Prime of Life article. I had a great time reading through all the papers with David Robson at BBCFuture and organising the data for the story. Here’s the final graphic. Thanks to David for commissioning me
I also have been working on other graphics for the BBC so will post them here when I can
1 June, 2015
Just got my hands on the latest issue of Scientific American, a fantastic cover ‘Rise of the Tyrannosours’ and a great issue packed with graphics by many of the best.
My visual featured on the Graphic Science page so it was good to see it printed as it was intended. Here’s the graphic and the cover again
28 May, 2015
I had the great pleasure to get back into the world of science recently when I was commissioned by Jen Christiansen of Scientific American to produce a graphic for the Graphic Science page for the May 2015 issue. A great image on the cover.
The subject was land grabs – looking at wealthy countries such as the U.S. as well as smaller countries with little space buying up or leasing large tracts of land suitable for agriculture in other nations. A fascinating brief full of data and a real challenge to get the information working well in the space available.
I am waiting for the magazine to arrive in the UK and so I won’t spoil the surprise – just go and buy the issue. When it is out I will show some of the process we went through to get to the final result. In the meantime, here’s a snippet
28 APRIL, 2015
I never did get around to congratulating all the fantastic winners as well as all those who entered the Malofiej23 awards – well not publicly, anyway. I didn’t manage to get there this year and obviously missed another brilliant series of presentations along with a few drinks with my friends and colleagues in the field of information graphics.
The full list of winners is here and I was really pleased to see that The Times of Oman won best of show for their brilliantly designed football graphic.
And, of course, congratulations to everybody else. The state of infographics is in healthy hands.
26 APRIL, 2015
It has been another busy couple of weeks for me. Over the Easter period I had another couple of days at the Independent newspaper (there are a couple of graphics in my gallery) followed by a return to a couple of days at my old job, New Scientist, covering for the holiday period. It was great to be back in the science world and to see all my old colleagues – and I did some work!
I am now working on training schedules for upcoming workshops. Will speak more of these when I have conformed places and dates.
11 APRIL, 2015
Pleased to see that a report I worked on in February has been released. Here’s the press release and report. I advised and completed many of the graphics in the report. Thanks to Edward Peck co-founder of IAFN, and CEO of Asset Finance International.
24 MARCH, 2015
Thanks to everybody at the Wellcome Trust for inviting me to speak today as part of their lunchtime series of presentations. It was a great turnout and hopefully was useful.
20 MARCH, 2015
Just added a couple more graphics to the gallery, so have a look – thanks
18 MARCH, 2015
The event for infographics journalists and designers is just about to start. The 23rd Malofiej infographics conference and awards takes place in Pamplona, at the University of Navarra (March 18-20).
This is the first time for quite a few years that I will not be attending – and I’m gutted. If you have never been, or haven’t been for a few years then you really should go. Its a great showcase of all thats best in the world of infographics (in the real meaning of the word). The line-up of presenters looks a good as ever, plus there’s a chance to catch up with or meet all those people you speak to or read about from all over the world.
Hopefully, I will be back next year, but in the meantime I will be following everything on twitter and Facebook.
15 MARCH, 2015
Just back from another week in the offices of EMCDDA, again working on the European Drug Report for 2015 as well as other projects. Working with a brilliant team of hard working statisticians, designers and editors. Its all coming together nicely and I am looking forward to seeing the report when its launched (Early June).
14 MARCH, 2015
Just back from a break in New Zealand – what a wonderful country!
It’s great to come back after a break straight into some very interesting work.
Working on a graphic for Scientific American over the next couple of days plus work on the European Drug report for EMCDDA carries on now the deadline is getting nearer! Still plenty to do.
3 March, 2015
I had my leaving drinks with the staff of New Scientist last Wednesday. We decided to postpone it to after Christmas to allow our livers to recover a bit! It was a great do, and I must thank all the staff for their lovely gifts and kind words included in the brilliant card…
25 JANUARY, 2015
Over the past couple of weeks I have been working with the EMCDDA on the European Drug Report 2015, due out later this year. As well as the overall design, I have been looking at how they may improve the storytelling aspect, giving the data more of a focus as well as appeal to the reader.
There’s lots to do and not much time so a busy week here in Lisbon going through what we, as a team, can do. At least, there is sun to look at through the office window.
15 January, 2015
A Happy New Year.
It’s been a busy start to 2015.The website is now up and running and the first day back at ‘work’ proper, Monday, was spent at The Independent newspaper, helping out in the graphics department. Looking forward to a few more shifts there in January.
My time is now being taken up looking at ideas for visuals in the European Drug Report for the EMCDDA.
(7 Jan, 2015)
My original blog Infographicscience has served me well over the past year or so but now I will try and keep this page up to date…
From the first hand drawn graphics, produced using CS10 paper and Rotring pens through to the graphics of today for the magazine and visualisations for the web site and app, I have a had a fantastic time working alongside a dedicated and enthusiastic staff.
I’ve learnt so much and still so much more to learn, and so have decided to set up on my own.
I hope to be able to bring my experience and expertise to the scientific and business world, where there is still much to do.
I would like to thank everybody I have worked with at New Scientist over the years and wish them all the success for the future.
Watch this space for more…
Had some good news this week. Have just heard that a paper I have been working on, with Christopher Kaiser-Bunbury over the past few months entitled ‘The nutrient economy of Lodoicea maldivica‘ – the plant that produces the world’s largest seed, has been accepted for publication by New Phytologist journal.
The initial brief was to produce one graphic to cover all of the data produced in an interesting and accessible way. In the end, and after many redraws and sketches, we decided to break up the graphic into the more illustrative part showing water retention and soil uptake and keep the more data-driven graphics separate but still easily read, telling the story as you read through the whole graphic.
A couple of the working drawings…
and the final version
Thanks to all involved in this project
Last Tuesday and Wednesday I attended and presented at the Data Vis Summit in London organised by the Innovation Enterprise. It was two day event aimed at businesses interested in doing more with their data.
I only had the time to attend the first day, but it was an interesting time. We heard from, amongst others, Louise Blais, Principal Data Architect of the Royal Mail, looking at how visualising data can help work flow amongst managers, Macmillan eduction on how we can better understand schooling and marking plus visualisation at the Times, looking at the iPad graphics and a great presentation from Kenneth Cukier from the Economist looking at big data visualisations.
I was on just before lunch and because things were coming up a bit short I managed to speak for 50 minutes on ‘Infographics and the Communication of Science’ plus lots of great questions after the presentation.
I met lots of great people and learnt a lot, so thank you to the organisers for inviting me, hopefully I can come back next year. Unfortunately, or fortunately, you need to register to see the vid and slides but the link is here https://ieondemand.com/
to read the rest of this blog hit here