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:

Graphic novel


Building Stories (2012) is a creative visual storytelling statement. A big cardboard box contains fourteen elements: books, booklets, magazines, newspapers and pamphlets. All the various parts work together to tell the story of the residents of a Chicago apartment building. It can be read in any order.

The superbly crafted illustrations are often almost infographic in style. Below, the back cover index.

A poster-sized spread.

Other examples from the book.

Available on Amazon:

Chris also produced a limited edition “Multi-Story Building Model” to accompany “Building Stories”. Several sheets of card that can be cut up and assembled to make a detailed 3D version of the building. You can see it assembled in the Chris Ware section of the Adam Baumgold Gallery’s website:

Some other work by Chris. Below, “Leftovers” from the New Yorker, 2006. Click for a larger version.

Examples of Chris’s New Yorker covers.



Classic comparison By George Woolworth Colton, 1849. Click on the image for a larger version. (From the David Rumsey Map Collection, where a very high resolution image can be downloaded:

Seven summits The tallest peak in each continent, by Audree Lapierre of FFunction.

Mountain charts The peaks and valleys leading up to, and immediately following, the 2008 financial collapse, by Michael Najjar. Real data plots converted into mountainous landscapes. Below, Lehman Brothers share price, 1992–2008.

Mountain charts The peaks and valleys leading up to the 2008 financial collapse, by Michael Najjar. Real data plots made into mountainous landscapes. Above, Lehman Brothers share price, 1992–2008.

Dow Jones Industrial Average, 1980–2009.

Nasdaq Composite, 1980–2009.

Skiing Alpine ski maps are not an exact depiction of a particular area. The view is altered, so although it looks similar to reality, the individual ski trails are clear.

James Niehues has made maps of many U.S. ski resorts. They’re all hand-crafted with paintbrush and airbrush.
Below is an example of his work. Mammoth Mountain Ski Area (California), shown without labels.

And with skiing information added.

Florida I stayed at a hotel in Orlando, and from the window of my room on the 20th floor, I could clearly see a snow-capped peak rising above the subtropical greenery. It was Everest Expedition at Disney World. It’s only 199 feet high, but Florida is very flat. The real Mt. Everest reaches 29,029 ft (8,848 meters). Apart from the height, another big difference is that the Everest in the Himalayas does not have a roller coaster ride inside it. The Disney World website states: “Careen through the Himalayan mountains on a speeding train while avoiding the clutches of the mythic Abominable Snowman.”

Above, Expedition Everest. (Photograph by Benjamin D.Esham.)
Below, the real Mount Everest. (Photograph by Pavel Novak.)

The high points compared.





Semaphore I learned this message system when I was a Cub Scout a very long time ago. There were three boys in a team. One boy to send the signals using two flags, one to read the incoming signals, and one to record the received message. Other requirements were: A lot of patience, and binoculars if the distance required them. (In our case, the communicators were on each side of a small field, and could have shouted the message, but that’s missing the point.) Remember, the cellphone did not exist. Semaphore’s golden age was back in the 19th century when it was used extensively for communicating between ships. It still has some maritime uses today.

We may have looked something like this.

And, of course, after becoming masters of semaphore, we all earned a badge.

This 1940s U.S. Navy cardboard wheel helped sailors use semaphore. One side for sending, the other for receiving.

Help!: The photographer for this Beatles’ album cover, Robert Freeman, wanted the band to spell out the album title in semaphore, but he didn’t like their arm positions (aesthetically-speaking), so he went for a more pleasing arrangement. “N-U-J-V” doesn’t have quite the same impact, but it didn’t seem to bother anyone, except me and a few other ex-Scouts.

Monty Python’s Flying Circus: The British comedy group included a semaphore version of Wuthering Heights in one of their T.V. shows.

Peace symbol: Designed by Gerald Holtom in 1958 for a protest march. It’s based on the semaphore positions for N and D, standing for Nuclear Disarmament.

Maritime flags These can be used in different ways. A message can be spelled out with letters, or an individual flag can be used to convey a particular message. An example: The V flag flying alone means “I require assistance”. There are also multiple flag combinations to send various designated messages. And if both parties have the same code book, encrypted messages can be sent.


When sailing the magnificent “Grimwade,” my 120-foot (37-meter) schooner, on Lake Ohio, I often hoist 24 flags to advertise to passing boats the title of my blog.

Morse code Shown under the flags in the alphabetical list above. An elegant and effective way of communicating with short and long signals, known as dots and dashes, which are transmitted with sound or light. The best-known morse code message is SOS. Three dashes, three dots, three dashes, in a continuous stream. The spoken equivalent, developed with the advent of radio, is “Mayday” derived from the French m’aidez (“help me”).

Sign language Very important for people who cannot hear, it combines hand movements with facial expressions and body postures. It is not universal, and varies between countries and regions. This is ASL: American Sign Language.

Faces everywhere


If you start looking around for faces in commonplace items, you’ll soon find them. I think of them as unintentional pictograms.
These images are from a Twitter feed: #facesinthings.


Size comparison


Planets A solar system size guide, by Dave Jarvis.

Whales Note the swimmer in amongst them. By Uko Gorter:

Bombs A lineup from War World II, when these things were falling from the sky.

Big rock Comet 67P compared to Los Angeles. (

International Space Station Just about fits on a football field. (NASA)

Africa Much bigger than we probably imagine. By Kai Krause.
Read more about the graphic, and download a pdf, here:
Click on the image for a higher resolution version.

Alaska The traditional inset in the corner of a continental U.S. map does not do justice to the biggest state. It’s more than twice the size of Texas, the next largest.

Star Trek The Enterprise-D alongside a range of size comparison favorites. By VSFX.

Skyscrapers The Empire State is left way behind in this race.

Camera sizes Compare camera dimensions here:

Commercial aircraft The complete Delta Airlines fleet.

More planets If Mars, Neptune and Jupiter were the same distance from the Earth as the Moon, there would be some spectacular night skies. And some other dramatic effects. By Ron Miller.

Yankee Stadium This Eight by Eight magazine graphic was my homage to size comparisons. With tongue-in-cheek captions. Click on the image for a higher resolution version.

The 42nd Street globe


In the lobby of the Daily News Building, a 1930 art deco classic on New York’s 42nd Street, is a magnificent globe that’s 12 feet (3.7 meters) in diameter and rotates under a black glass ceiling. The building and lobby are sometimes cited as the inspiration for the Daily Planet newspaper in the Superman comic series. This idea was supported by the fact that the building (and the globe) featured in the 1978 Superman movie (below).

However, the source for the Daily Planet headquarters was the Old Toronto Star Building (below). Superman co-creator Joe Shuster once worked for the Toronto Daily Star as a newspaper boy, and in the early Superman comics the newspaper where Clark Kent worked was called The Daily Star.

Back to New York City: The Daily News Building’s lobby has meteorological instruments, and clocks with the time in various international cities. The globe is the center of a vast imaginary diagram. There are statements positioned around it with the distances to planets and stars expressed as the distances to landmarks, if the Sun was shrunk to the same size of the globe. So then the Earth would be at Grand Central Station, just down the street (and quite small), and Alpha Centuari would be 68,000 miles away. I love a solar model, as this previous post pointed out:

The South Pole is reflected in a mirror.

This relative-size graphic of big globes appeared in a post about another (and much bigger) NYC globe, the Unisphere: 

Photographs by Michael Stoll.