Breaking down a fine-tuned classic

My diagram
Click on the image to see my full illustration.

I’m pretty proud of this final project. I started by finding many reference images and other diagrams to see what the inside of a piano looks like, and I combined aspects of several different references to create my own.

The overall style of this piece is more magazine-oriented than my previous projects, which I personally prefer, with the more decorative callouts and flat-colored illustration.

I considered adding more highlights to the outside casing of the piano, and I played around with flat shapes or the gradient mesh tool, but I preferred a more simplistic style. I think one of the hardest things about diagramming complex objects is simplifying it enough to be easily understood and so readers can apply it to many different versions of what you’re portraying. Pianos vary by make and model, so I wanted to focus on the basics of what every piano will have.

I could have done a more decorative type treatment, but wanted to stick to my established typography style for this class.

Google Street View

Google Street View diagram
Click this image to view the full size PDF!

For my diagram project, I had originally intended to do a diagram over the depths that humans, or human-made objects, had reached. However, this turned out to be a little too broad for this project, and a bit out of my skill set. So, instead, I came up with the idea to do something over Google Street View, an idea that originated from our second-to-last class session.

Like with my previous projects, I chose to use BentonSans as my main font throughout the design. I really like the way it looks, and how many different options there are within the typeface. For the main body copy, I used Book at 9 points, a slight change from the 8 points I have utilized before, as I think 9 points is just a little more legible. Otherwise, my type choices have remained the same.

The main image is an illustration of a Google Street car driving down a city street. Overall, I’m pretty happy with the illustrations, but I do think they could have been a bit more detailed. To the right, I have three blue boxes with smaller illustrations and texts further describing how Google Street View works. I chose the light blue color because it is a nice contrast to the darker blue and red buildings behind them. The first image is a closer look at the Street View camera, the second is of three Polaroids that have been “stitched” together with thread to symbolize the way the images captured by the Street View cameras are “stitched” together to create a single image. The third image is a small map graphic with a map pin to show that Street View can take the user practically anywhere.

Overall, I’m happy with what I came up with, especially since I took so long to settle on an idea for this project. Once I had my idea, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it, and I think my vision came through pretty nicely.

Donut Worry!

Donut Diagram
Click on this image to see a full size version

For this final project I decided to break down the process of making a donut. It is quite a daunting process, but with the aid of visuals the steps can be broken down into sections which makes it a lot easier to digest.

Overall, I really enjoyed this project. Not just because I love donuts but because it was fun drawing all the steps. I think I may be slightly addicted to using gradient mesh, but it’s a great tool! The best part of this project was seeing how it all came together in the end just the way I imagined it. I struggled with the layout a little in the beginning as I was working with a horizontal layout instead of vertical. Once I switched to a vertical page everything game together. I really like this diagram because I think the illustrations, graphic elements and subject all show my personal style. I think it’s really cool looking at all the projects I’ve done and seeing a similar style in all of them.

Before I started drawing donuts, I thought about making a diagram of the brain that showed parts of the brain involved in triggering mental blocks. After reading dozens of articles and illustrating an entire brain, I realized that subject didn’t fit my style or interest.  I’m glad I landed on this topic but the hardest part of this project was the research and deciding what I wanted to diagram. This is much more light hearted and fun, I genuinely enjoyed it.

DIY Deodorant

Click to see how to make your own

The hardest part of this project was honestly choosing what to make a diagram of. I’m not one who typically can dream up anything but need some guidelines. I think what I chose ended up being interesting because not only could someone learn how to make deodorant, but it also shares a way to try and help prevent breast cancer.

So I started writing this reflection and realized all I had to say were negative comments about my diagram, so I went through and changed it. I think that’s something I’ve realized I appreciate about graphics, although it may take forever and be a hassle, there’s always more I can do to improve. I like knowing that there’s always more to know.

When reflecting on this project it’s difficult to not just reflect on where I’ve come since graphic design 1. However, I’m going to try and focus on the assignment at hand.

I really enjoyed picking the colors, I feel like they’re pretty natural and clean. However, the last illustration that shows what the deodorant will look like again kind of reminds me of colors that would be used to describe something that smells bad when it should have the opposite effect. I tried to work with it a lot, but I think in the end I wanted the illustration to be as true to what the actual color would be as possible.

I messed around with where to put the steps, but I think they’re more effective on the right hand side because it’s the way people are more familiar with reading directions. I stuck with the same style as I’ve used in all our projects and I think it was fine. I don’t really like very bold types, and I think Myriad give the feel of familiarity, cleanses, and comfort I ended up going for. I think the thought of making homemade deodorant could really weird some people out, so I was hoping the style of my diagram would allow people to see it as “more normal.” I believe this was successful.

Making sure everything was scaled was a pain in the butt because I kept screwing it up or the type would be stretched, but at the same time it was cool that when those problems came up I was able to fix them no matter how tedious it was at times.

Overall, it’s been hard for me to reflect on this because I changed it so much, I feel satisfied with the final decisions I made.

If I could change anything it would probably be the placement of the limes and bergamot at the bottom, but all in all I am once again content.

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.