Visual Data – Who do you think they are?

finaltest copy


To gather data from the other students in the group in the form of questionnaires and to producing a 1920 x 1080 pixel info-graphic to represent some of the elements in this data.

Week One:

We were given a brief where our individual groups were to gather data from the other students in the form of questionnaires. Our questionnaire was based on student’s mobile usage.

We were tasked with producing a 1920 x 1080 pixel info-graphic to represent some of the elements in this data.


I then plotted this information out in table format to enable an all over view of the data. I began to colour around some of the information in an attempt to form visual links within the data. This was followed with sketching out some ideas as how this data could be represented.


Over the next couple of days I produced a mock-up of one idea. This was also useful as an information mind dump, allowing me to get the information down on paper in another format for reference.

I also looked at other info-graphics as inspiration and to take one in that caught my eye for an open discussion.

Week Two:

We started by first looking at and discussing the chosen info-graphic each person had brought in.


I had chosen one which was an advert about a literature festival, and related to a book of poems. I liked the simple and delicate way this looked, and it demonstrates that almost any data can be represented in a visual form, although in this particular format it was not about re-interpreting the visual back into data (poems from a book) but about advertising the book and the festival.

There were many other delightful contributions also.

With both Andrews and Vickie’s help I revaluated my first mock up, and it was rightly their opinion that I need to personalise and stylise my info-graphic, so I began to think again about other ways I could represent the data. My internal battle was about not losing information in the process, i.e. style over information, and I wished it to be easy to interoperate.

I began to sketch out another concept, jotting down thoughts as I went along.


One main thought is I felt we had a good survey, and wished to keep and visualise as much of the survey data as possible.

Week ThreePractical session and getting my head around illustrator

Although we were able to choose whatever format or program to work with, the final piece is to be 1920 x 1080 pixels in size. And I chose to make my info-graphic using Illustrator. Not having used this programme before, I found it a frustrating and an uphill battle to get my head around this un-intuitive programme, and I think my frustration was apparent. The patience of Andrew and Vicky must be applauded.

With head down and steel determination I made painfully slow progress, and worked till late at night to get the main part done. Although I had my concept well mapped out, I feared I would not get this into an image format before next week’s deadline. But at least by the end of the night I have something to show, and have learned a great deal about Illustrator. Feeling a little relieved, and, if I may be allowed, quietly pleased with myself.

ianwaft copy small

So my first thoughts are It’s OK.  Not entirely happy with the colours, chosen from a graphic guide to colours, and it prints out much darker than it looks on the screen. I also wished the data to be represented accurately, using figures and not just the eye. I wanted circles to be spaced equally, and for the text to be equal distance from them. Is it right to get hung up on such detail?

There are a number of first observations.

  • Illustrator produces very sharp images, and I do understand that vectors can be enlarged to any size.
  • When exported and saved as JPEG there is a loss in their true original colour. I know part of this is due to the image now being in RGB mode.
  • When saved as a gif, the colours are limited, and an area is either fully transparent or not, no middle variances of transparency.
  • When exported and saved as PNG, more of the original colour is saved, along with varying degrees of transparencies.

Week 4, finishing the project.

A few adjustments were made during the final practical session, which included:

  • moving the swatch to align with the top of the graphic, and the graphic label. Also making it smaller and less dominant.
  • Toning down the stoke lines from black to darker blues and purples, to help soften the edges.
  • Changing the background colour so that it was included in the tonal range of the rest of the graphic. Tried a variety of different colours, including white (too stark) and black (a little less stark), but finally settled of a pale blue/purple tone.

finaltest copy

This was exported as a JPG file at the specified 1920 x 1080 pixels to be used as a screen saver on the MACs, along with the others student’s final info-graphic.

We had a general group feedback on all the info-graphics, and there were some very good graphics to be compared.

In general as a first project I am pleased with the outcome. Struggle with the colours and the ease with which the info=graphic can be read versus its stylised look.

It has been a great learning curve towards using Illustrator software.

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