Category: Infographics

Outside the box


Weather An engaging prototype app by Sunny Park, designed while she was a student at SVA NYC (She’s now a UX designer at Microsoft). Sculpey clay stands in for ice cream.

Data viz For the Ablynx 2013 annual report, Soon (a studio based in Belgium) went out to the fields with sticks and colored ropes to visualize the data. They used black sand to make the backgrounds.

3D-printed Another Soon project. The Ablynx 2015 annual report.

Black cloud One day’s CO2 emissions made real by Ogilvy/Bejing.

Sarah Illenberger Creative use of everyday objects to make other everyday objects. Beautifully styled.

And paper-made illustration.

Educational challenge The number of students that dropped out of U.S. high school in 2012 averaged 857 per hour on every school day. The College Board visualized it by putting that number of desks around the Washington Monument.

Cardboard car Shannon Goff made this replica of a 1979 Lincoln Continental as a tribute to her grandfather (who owned one), and to her hometown: Detroit, the “Motor City.”

This is (incredibly) my 100th post, so to mark this earth-shattering occasion, here are a few “one-hundreds.”

I have a fake wad of $100 bills (with a belt clip) that I bought in a Halloween store. In case I want to look like I have some cash.

Neutra house numbers from Design Within Reach:

Typeface by Sawdust:

62.1 miles per hour.

Metrics Over 30,000 views of the blog so far. The most viewed post is “Tools of the trade”:

Thank you for reading the blog. I appreciate it. Happy Infographics!




Perhaps the closest thing to an infographic musical performance is a concert by the German electronic band, Kraftwerk (which means “power station”). Graphic visuals have always been an integral part of their shows, and now they’re in 3D. If you ever get a chance to go to a performance, I highly recommend it.

Above, an animation from “The Robots”. Below, my set of 3D glasses for a show at the United Palace Theater in New York City, April 2014. The numbers 1 to 8 refer to Kraftwerk’s eight classic albums. At selected venues, Kraftwerk play a complete album on each of eight separate nights. They used this format at MoMA (New York) in 2012, the Tate Modern (London) in 2013, and they’ve taken the iconic music/design experience to several other high-profile cultural venues around the world.

These photographs (by Jan Schwochow) are from a 3D performance at the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin, January 2015.
Below, “Aéro Dynamik.”




“The Man-Machine”.

“Computer Love”.

“The Robots”.


“Techno Pop”.

“Tour de France”.

This is all about the combination of music and visuals, so here’s a small clip from “Vitamin.” Click on the image to see the video.

And a segment from “The Robots.” Click on the image to see the video.

In May, “3-D The Catalogue” was released. It documents the shows of recent years. Available in several combinations of Blu-ray, DVD, CD, vinyl and a printed book.

A trailer for this set:



Harry Beck really started something. His elegant map of the London Underground (which is more of a diagram than a map) set the style of the modern subway guide. It’s designed to help people use the network. To show them clearly how to get from A to B, and make the correct connections. Beck aimed to strike a balance between a clear system diagram and the geography. This involved making some compromises with the distances between stations and their relative positions, and enlarging the center area where so many lines intersect. The first map printed in a large quantity (1933) is shown above. It was produced first as a folding, pocket-size map (shown here), and soon followed by a poster-size version. The design allowed for future expansion of the network.

The 1932 map (below) that preceded Beck’s was by F. H. Stingemore who designed the map from 1925 to 1932. The central area in the Stingemore map was slightly exaggerated and the outer stations were listed at the edges of the map. Beck’s redesign was a radical departure.

A rough drawing from 1931 shows Beck’s initial plan for his more diagrammatic map. He was an engineering draughtsman, not a graphic designer, so he looked at the project like an electrical circuit diagram.

A presentation version (1931) was rejected at first, but the following year was the basis for a test run of 500 copies. At this point, Beck was still using circles for most of the stations. He switched to tick marks in the 1933 version.

The current map is a lot more complicated with fare zones and additional subway lines.

The distortion from actual relationships to the diagrammatic map is shown in this animation. By Pham_Trinli.

In 2015, Transport for London released a more geographically-correct map that could be a real help for walkers, bikers etc. It was forced into the public area by a Freedom of Information request. Click on the image for a pdf version.

Earlier this month, Transport for London published a map for people who don’t like to be inside a tunnel, showing where the trains are actually underground. Despite the name of the system, 55% of it is above ground. Click on the image for a pdf version.

Tempus fugit


Luxury clock The expensive Atmos 568 ($27,000+tax) tells the time, the month and the phase of the moon, and is powered by a gas-filled capsule. It’s close to perpetual motion, as just a one-degree temperature shift can drive it for two days. Designed by Marc Newson, who is part of Apple’s design team.

Sundial Often seen in gardens. Obviously not very effective on cloudy days. This one is indicating 3:15.

(Photograph © Antonio Ribeiro/123rf)

They are sometimes much larger and more elaborate, like this one in London. It was designed by Wendy Taylor, a sculptor.

(Photograph © Christian Mueller/123rf)

Of course, any tall object is potentially a gnomon (the center part of a sundial), and the Washington Monument is a good possibility. Some numbers on the ground are all that’s needed to convert it into a very large clock.

Or go smaller and get a sundial wristwatch:

Hourglass There’s something compelling about watching falling sand indicate the passing of time. No idea why.

(Photograph © stokkete/123rf)

Swiss simplicity This classic clock was designed in 1944 by Hans Hilfiker, who worked as an engineer for the Swiss Railway.

(Photograph: Daniel Sparing)

Personal time Juan Velasco, the infographics maestro, once described his watch as his favorite infographic. I’ve made it clear in previous posts that I love a good watch. I can’t afford this one, but I want it.

One year “The Present” tracks the seasons. Not sure why this is particularly helpful, but it looks good on the wall. “Oh look, we’re halfway through winter!” If you’re interested, you can get it here:

10,000 year clock The first prototype of “The Clock of the Long Now” is in London’s Science Museum. It’s eight-feet-tall (2.4 meters). The full-size clock will, in theory, be able to operate for 10,000 years, with proper maintenance. That 200-feet-tall (61 meters) version is being built inside a mountain in Texas on land owned by one of the project’s backers, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.

(Photograph: Rolfe Horn)

The big picture An infographic that I made for “In Graphics” issue 5 contained my take on an old schoolroom favorite: Our entire history as if it happened over a 24-hour period.

The time section is shown below. Note how the dinosaurs were around a lot longer than we have been (so far).

See a preview of “In Graphics” issue 10 here:
Example spreads from the first nine issues are here:

In Graphics (2)


Jan Schwochow’s Infographics Group ( are the team behind “In Graphics” magazine. The previous post had an example from each of the first nine issues:

Here are six spreads from the new issue (shown for the first time). It’s available at:

All the images are © Infographics Group, Berlin.

Above, the cover. Below, the index.

Heartbeat comparison, from a 12-page feature. Click on the image for a larger version.

Berlin Wall history.

The Autobahn system.

The Doomsday Clock. From a 6-page feature.

Instruction manual pages. Click on the images for larger versions.

In a few weeks time, you’ll be able to buy this slipcase to hold all ten issues. It will be available here:

In Graphics (1)


On Thursday, the tenth issue of “In Graphics” will be published, and it will be featured exclusively here. Since 2010, the magazine has been a brilliant showcase of information graphics. Frankly, it has always amazed me how this gets produced, and to such a high standard. All this hard work has led to numerous infographic awards.
“In Graphics” is the vision of Jan Schwochow, head of Infographics Group (formerly Golden Section Graphics), which is based in Berlin. It’s a magazine in which everything is explained visually. In my dream world, all publications are like this. The studio:

Below, one spread from each of the first nine issues, chosen by Jan. He told me that it was a very difficult task to pick favorite examples from so many graphics. I can certainly understand that. The printed size of each spread is 18″ x 13″ (46 x 33 cm).

Issue 1. The Allianz Arena’s workforce. (Click on the image for a larger version.)

Issue 2. European colonialism. (Click on the image for a larger version.)

Issue 3. Speed and lifespan.

Issue 4. The London Olympic Stadium. (Click on the image for a larger version.)

Issue 5. Tarantino’s victims.

Issue 6. Airbus versus Boeing. (Click on the image for a larger version.)

Issue 7. Inside the Nestlé company.

Issue 8. Light explained.

Issue 9. Fruit pips compared. (Click on the image for a larger version.)

Buy the issues here:

Next post: “In Graphics” Issue 10, an exclusive preview.

Painting by numbers


Years ago, before cellphones and computers, this was one of our pastimes. The current enthusiasm for adult coloring books seems to be closely related. Art made relatively easy using a simple system. It’s a low-stress activity with tangible results. Here are a couple of sets I purchased recently on eBay.

Mona Lisa (Shown above.) This one is on canvas for complete authenticity. Note the handy reference pic. Everything needed is here: A numbered keyline to follow, paintbrushes, and a set of acrylic paints with corresponding numbers. I need to start filling in the areas, but it looks quite challenging. The estimated value of the original painting is $1.5 billion. My Mona Lisa cost just $16.59 (with free shipping).

The Starry Night I’m going post-impressionist with this one.

Lines on a board, ready to become art. Presumably, this is not how Van Gogh planned the painting.

A detail. For areas with two numbers, the colors have to be mixed together. Fortunately, blending between the color areas is not suggested. Some sets that I had years ago (with oil-based paints) offered that additional task. The edges that were to get a smooth transition were indicated by dashed lines.

The required paints. Reeves has a numbered system that works across all their painting by numbers sets. No number one (lemon yellow) here.

In the gallery Andy Warhol’s 1962 “Do It Yourself” series is a tribute to the “painting by numbers” craze.

COMING NEXT WEEK: Two posts about In Graphics, a brilliant magazine where all the pages are infographics. Below, staff at Infographics Group in Berlin review proofs of the new issue (number ten).



Cockpit displays The Garmin G1000 NXi avionics display system for business aircraft. An interface to a huge amount of flight information including navigation, weather, air traffic, terrain, and flight instrument data. All shown on high-resolution displays. It works with an app for mobile devices to enable flight plan transfer, and syncs with an aviator watch. Photographs: Garmin.

Below, up front in the Airbus A380, the world’s largest passenger jet. Click on the image for a 360° view.

The $400,000 helmet The F-35 Gen III Helmet Mounted Display System integrates all fight information into a head-up display on the visor. Six cameras on the plane’s exterior give complete vision in all directions. The pilot can effectively see straight through the aircraft as if it was transparent. The helmet position is tracked, so wherever the pilot looks, that view is shown on the display. Targets can be fixed by looking at them. Night-vision and video recording are built in. The accompanying accessory, the F-35 jet, costs $95 million.

Image: Rockwell Collins.

Dashboards Go modern with the Ferrari 430 Scuderia…

… or retro with the 1960 Cadillac Eldorado.

Photograph: Bob P.B.

Of course, there are head up display systems available for cars. Texas Instruments has developed this one.

Data visualization dashboards These sets of charts displaying various related metrics are often not remotely as functional as real dashboards. Something for us all to watch out for. The first results from a Google search for “dashboard” are shown below.

Flap books


The Human Head, by Dr. Ergo, 1913. All the examples in this post are from Professor Michael Stoll’s superb collection of historical information graphics, which I’ve featured a number of times before.

Below, the Practical Engineer, by Gustav Ripke, 1905.

Steam and Electricity Technology at the Beginning of the 20th Century, 1903, contains a steam engine diagram with moving paper parts.

New Natural Treatments for Animals, by Dr. Knoll, 1923.

Botany for Everyone, by Ferruccio Rizzatti, 1923.

The KDF-Wagen, 1939. A clever look inside the first Volkswagen Beetle using clear plastic sheets with opaque elements. We’re looking up from under the car on the left-hand page, and from above it on the right-hand page. It was published as a supplement for an issue of a magazine, “Motor Schau”.

Previously featured gems from Michael Stoll’s collection:

Apple’s new home


David Moretti and Anna Alexander, of Wired magazine, asked Bryan Christie Design to work on a diagram of Apple Park for the June issue. They sent a rough sketch showing their concept for the illustration, and some reference images.

The first step was to draw a map of the campus.

The map was imported into 3D software (Lightwave), and used as a guide to create the 3D objects. There are many ways to approach the 3D modeling process. In this case, 2D shapes created in Illustrator were extruded and rotated to make the buildings.

Some extra elements were made, such as the tunnel entrance shown here, to be used in insets on the diagram.

Trees and people were added to the scene using a technique called instancing that distributed them in selected areas of the model. The colored areas in this image represent the locations of tree instances.

Below is a previous project that the studio had produced for WIRED. The designers suggested that this could be the inspiration for the rendering style of the Apple headquarters.

Once a rough version of the model was made, the art was framed using virtual cameras. Four initial sketches were sent to the designers, who selected the one in the bottom right, which was most like their initial concept.

In Lightwave, the lighting and texturing of the image were developed.

Separate scenes were set up to render each of the details.

After refining the art based on feedback from the designers, the final details were fixed. This is how the graphic appeared in the magazine. Click on the image for a larger version.

Bryan Christie Design:
heir work has featured in two previous posts: