National Parks

Dylan Lowe's map graphic
Click this image to see a PDF of my work.

On August 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed an act that created the National Park Service, which have become long-loved and appreciated outings for people across the globe. The National Parks is comprised of over 400 different areas covering 84 million acres in 50 states.

In my graphic, I created a map of the U.S. and combined it with an area chart to show the number of visitors each year at the seventeen different parks where the cost increase will take place. I also included a key and styled the map to represent the type of landscape each of the parks are known for; orange being dry landscapes, green being lush; in a choropleth of sorts.

Design wise I think my map reads well, but could potentially have spent more time with the background of the map to make sure the landscape scale was more accurate. Overall I am really happy with how it turns out and think it portrays the information well.

Picking a topic came pretty easy to me; I’ve been to many of these national parks that will be affected and think increasing the cost of park entrances are going to deter a lot of people from visiting.

Starbucks not so common in Bloomington


Map package thumbnail
Click on the thumbnail for the full size PDF of my map package.

Starbucks is a very appealing subject to many college students, and I was inspired by the example showed in class to make my map package about the popular coffee chain.

The data turned out to be harder to find than I thought – I originally wanted to make a map of Indiana with the different densities of Starbucks per county to match up with the chloropleth map of the US, but I could not find that information any other way than to manually zoom in on each county on the Starbucks website and count the stores. Since stores only appeared if you zoomed in enough on the map, it was very hard to keep track and was just not an option if I wanted to maintain accuracy. So I went for a map of Bloomington instead, because I could confidently keep track of where each store was.

Ultimately, I think the appearance of the graphic turned out well, but I had wanted to portray different data.

U.S. Terror Attacks

Map of U.S. terror attacks.
Click the image to see a closer look at my map.

For my second project based on using the skills we learned in the maps unit, I drew a map of the United States and highlighted the recent terror attacks that have happened on U.S. soil. Since 2009, there has been an increase in the frequency of terror attacks following September 11, 2001. My interest in the topic came as I was working on my graphic to highlight hurricane damage along the coast and while researching I heard about the terror attack that happened on Halloween in New York City. A man in the name of ISIS killed eight people with a rented truck. I decided that it would be newsworthy to show the geographic locations of the different attacks and attempted attacks that have happened since 9/11.

Looking back on my graphic, I thought I did a fantastic job in comparison to previous projects in the class. I thought the map of the United States, which I drew (rather than using the map given in the class resources on Canvas) looked very professional in its execution including the darkened edges and consistency in style. I thought that though my callouts did make the final graphic messy, they were helpful and needed. They also had adequate spacing between them. My bubble graphs were useful as well to showing the overall mass of death and injury counts. Overall, I felt that my graphic style has improved since the beginning of the class and moved towards a more professional look. I hope to become more consistent and develop a complete style guide by the end of the class that I can rely on for future projects. One change in particular that I made between now and my Charts project was changing to a sans serif. Before I had a condensed serif text, but I recognized that Avenir Next was more of the style I was looking to use for future projects. Also I stuck to a consistent type size for my various callouts and sources and note sections of the graphic.

Ultimately, I was very happy with my final graphic. The only thing that I hope to learn to do for future projects is learning how to include callout data without cluttering the final graphic.

Tom Petty Map Graphic

Tom Petty informational map
Click the image to view PDF

For this project I had an easier time finding information that I could create a infographic out of. I thought it would be interesting to look at the states Tom Petty focused on or performed at more in the US. I found it to be very interesting that although Florida was high in the amount of concerts Tom Petty played at, it was not number one. My initial thought would be that because he was born and raised in Florida he would have the most concerts there, but California took the win on that.

Finding a topic to make a map out of was easy but gathering that information was so difficult and so time consuming. I had a list of all the concerts Tom Petty has ever had and I had a lot of trouble organizing that in a way to add up how much in each state was. After a lot of hours I finally figured out how to do something like that. It all then came together much easier.

Design wise I feel like my map reads well and has a cohesive style throughout. My biggest issue was time management. I struggled for so long trying to organize all the information that it gave me less time to focus on the design. I feel that if I had given myself more time, I would have mad my map inset more detailed and a better visual than what it is.

Overall, I enjoyed this project because I got more practice with the pen tool. However I would like to give myself way more time because I think this could have turned out a lot better if I would have.

Wildlife Conservation at Yellowstone

Wildlife in Yellowstone and the US
Click this image to view my package

Compared to my last project the data for this one was more straightforward to collect. I didn’t have to do any kind of calculations in Excel to find my numbers. They were all listed on my source websites. However, this project was much more technically challenging when it came to creating my maps. The map of Yellowstone, for example, was incredibly detailed and I tried to replicate that as best I could. This meant I spent the majority of my time working on this project creating my locator of the park. Overall, I’m extremely happy with how it turned out, but I didn’t need to invest ass much time as I did.

I feel like my biggest mistake on this project was not effectively planning out the series of maps on the right of my graphic. The US maps were much larger than I anticipated and forced me to cramp the entire feature. I was originally planning another map showing publicly held bison herds, but I didn’t have room for it. It is also the reason for the hard to read text on the bottom map as well.

The Impact of the 2016 Kumamoto Earthquakes

Earthquakes Devastate the Kumamoto Region of Japan
Click on the image to view a high resolution pdf

Before I began drawing with the pen tool, I hadn’t contemplated how long tracing all of the islands that made up Japan would actually take. While starting the project, I was under the impression that our map project had to be a follow up of our previous chart project and I had already begun drawing my locator map to represent the Kumamoto region of Japan and was planning to discuss how the earthquakes in 2016 impacted the camera industry.

As I already knew, information on camera sales is scarce and is only tracked by the Camera & Imaging Products Association (CIPA) so I decided to change the direction of my map to focus on the overall implications of the earthquakes after learning that we weren’t restricted to the subjects of our previous projects. However, finding data on the earthquakes was still very difficult and I came across many conflicting reports. For example, I wanted to create a bar chart that would compare the number of deaths and injuries caused by the main-shock and the fore-shock, but Wikipedia was the only source with this data and the sources it cited were unavailable. Even finding the exact number of deaths and injuries in total was difficult because almost every news outlet reported different numbers.

I decided to use only data that I could verify from multiple sources to make callouts and icons like the depth scale so that I could fill some of the empty space left by the water surrounding Japan. Since Kumamoto isn’t a place that very many people would be familiar with, I knew that I’d need to include an inset map to make my project complete. The inset map was a necessity that also served to help fill up some of the empty space. I also contemplated adding a compass but decided against it because the map was facing the natural direction of North and I also thought I would have trouble drawing some of the compasses I found in the time I had before deadline.

Overall, I’m pleased with my final map and thought that it turned out better than I expected. I began to panic after I kept finding conflicting and unreliable data but finding the United States Geographical Survey (USGS) data helped me sort through sources and find legit information. I still want to try a dark theme, but I know that I’d have to have my graphic professionally printed so that the dark colors would not become washed out. Perhaps for my next graphic I could find a topic that would relate well with a darker color scheme.

The cost of college

The cost of in-state college tuition and fees
Click this image to view my chart package!

For this project, I decided to take an in-depth look at the cost of in-state colleges around the country. I was surprised to see the amount of variation from state-to-state. Even more surprising still was the fact that the rate of increase of tuition and fees varies from state-to-state as well. The average cost of tuition in nearly every state has grown significantly over the past decade or so, some even doubling in cost. Only one state, the state of Ohio, actually managed to reduce the average price of its tuition.

As for the design of my graphic, I’m overall happy with what came to be. Even though I was sick during the few days before the project was due, I think I managed to put together a decently solid graphic.

For the main image, I chose to utilize a choropleth to show the varying growths between states. I used a warm color scale to differentiate between them. The lower the percentage of growth, the lighter the color, and vice versa.

For my second chart, I decided to try my hand at using the 3D rotate tactic we had learned in class. I used it to take a closer look at various public Indiana colleges. I kept with the warm color theme from the first chart and used a deep orange color for the bars representing the cost of tuition and fees for each university. My last chart is just a simple bar graph showing what states have the most expensive average cost of tuition and fees. I added this just to give a bit more variety to the graphic, as well as add another layer of information relating to college costs.

For the entire graphic, I used variations of the BentonSans family. I really just like the way BentonSans looks, so I have been using it for all of our assignments and participation throughout the semester.

As for what I would do differently, I would definitely take another look at better aligning my captions. The caption for my 3D map just feels very out of place to me, and I would nudge it over towards the right if it were to be published somewhere.

Though there are some things I would definitely change, I’m pretty happy with the outcome of our maps projects.

Comparing Big Ten Football Fandom

Click on the image for a PDF version of my page

My inspiration for this project topic came when I visited a couple friends from high school at their respective college, University of Kentucky, during a big football weekend. The environment was different from IU in a lot of ways. For one, fans seemed to be a lot more interested in the game – some people even hooked up TVs to play in their trunks while they tailgated. There was a live band playing at the student tailgate, and the familiar sea of red was replaced by a sea of blue. Even though U.K. isn’t a part of the Big Ten, it sparked my curiosity of how other Big Ten schools compared in terms of their school spirit and game attendance.

When the Big Ten network airs weekend games, they always include an animated graphic of a map of all the schools. I knew I wanted to include a map of my own style locating these schools while I was concepting for this project. I loved the idea of using each school’s logo as the locator points. From a design perspective, this can be an interesting task because of the potentially “clashing reds” and school colors, but I decided to adhere to each school’s branding in both the locator map and the corresponding average percentage of stadium capacity bar graph. I thought it enhanced the relationship between the bar graph and the locator map without clashing too much.

For the mini-maps of the stadium seating capacities, I was excited to see how different each stadium structure was. In order to get the proper shapes, I went on each school’s website to purchase football tickets and screenshotted the stadium map. Once I had the screenshots, I scaled them all so that the football field from goal line to goal line would be the exact same width. It took longer than expected to trace these objects, but once I was finished I thought it added a unique element to the entire design. Although our eyes have trouble picking up a difference in areas as much, it is definitely obvious that IU’s Memorial Stadium has much less seating capacity than the top five largest Big Ten stadiums. I chose to only show the top five largest, because I wanted the difference between “The Rock” and the largest stadiums to be more apparent.

I used green throughout my design to mirror the turf on a football field, and included the football tracing to appear as if it were being kicked out of any of the Big Ten schools, and to fill the white space around it. I wanted that to be a focal point that would appeal to football fans and catch their attention so they would read the infographic.

In terms of the bar chart, I researched the statistics policies for the NCAA to see if attendance is recorded by ticket sales or turnstile clicks. In the last couple years, ticket sales has been the favored number because schools tend to be more interested in how much revenue was earned, instead of how many ticket buyers actually attended the game. But the statistics policy claims that both numbers are used depending on the school’s reporting system. For my original purposes, it would have been nice to see an exact number of real attendance from turnstile clicks, but that number isn’t regarded as significant as it used to be. Instead, I settled for the average season attendance numbers reported by the NCAA compared them to the stadium capacities. Among other interesting comparisons, I thought it was noteworthy that Nebraska, Ohio State, and Michigan regularly sell over their seating capacity.

Even though Memorial Stadium only sells about 80% of its seating capacity on average, with the new coach I am curious to see the effect of both ticket sales and REAL attendance. The combination of a better coach and increased fan support could mean great things for IU football in the next couple years.


Newspapers serve less and less people across the U.S.

Click here to enlarge maps.

We’ve all heard print is dying, and the numbers have proved it over and over again. I was looking through newspaper data when I came across the census’s newspaper per capita data. I had never seen per capita data, nor I had I ever really thought about it before. I wanted to use this data because I thought it was really unique in comparison to the obvious decline of circulation and the like.

The large map is what shows the per capita rates per state. The darker the state, the higher rate of newspapers per capita. Most of the U.S. falls between .06–.19. In my subhead I tried to make the numbers more digestible by saying “15 newspapers per 100 people” as a translation of .15. I should have made the numbers in the key like this, too, because I think it’s easier to digest a per 100 or 1000 rate than a decimal rate. I also wish there was more up-to-date data, since the last census was in 2010. I scoured for other per capita data, but I didn’t find any.

I went back and forth on the smaller graph as to if I should show the decline in per capita rates over time or circulation over time. I decided to do circulation because it is another example of the economic crisis and decline of newspapers. It also had more recent data, so this graph is supposed to show circulation numbers after the last census.

Then, I wanted to add a local element (and I had to draw a map), so I drew Bloomington and plotted the two daily newspapers – IDS and Herald-Times – and showed their circulation. I don’t think my circles were the most helpful, though, because they aren’t actually representative of the map area or anything like that. They’re proportional but don’t actually relate to the map. The circles should have tried to cover the percentage of the population it represents. I also had trouble figuring out how to create a scale … so I didn’t. I just clarified the map wasn’t to scale.

Overall, I think the design is nice and cohesive. I struggled with hierarchy and layout for awhile, but I think it looks OK now. I wish I would have put more time into finding more understandable data.

The Cinemas of New York City: Past and Present

Click to expand

For my Maps project, I chose to look at independent movie theaters in New York City as my topic. I have lived in New York City the past two summers while interning, and one of my favorite things to do in the city is go to the movies. I especially love the independent theaters that show both cult classics and lesser-known films. So I was curious to learn more about the history of independent cinemas in New York, which is why I picked this topic for my project.

It was very interesting to learn about the number of cinemas that have such a rich history in the city, yet have fallen victim to gentrification in the past couple of decades. But I was also pleasantly surprised to find that there are still a good amount of theaters from the 1900s that have been preserved and are still functioning as independent theaters. One of my favorites that’s still around is the Waverly Theater, which is now the IFC Center. In the 80s, this theater was one of the pioneers for showing midnight films and helped popularize the midnight Halloween showing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. In fact, this theater still shows cult classic films at midnight on the weekends.

I think New York’s deep appreciation for the arts has allowed so many independent theaters to survive, and it’s also allowed for new “old” theaters to pop up.