Beginning Infographics: Information Driven Storytelling | Liz Meyer & Gavin Potenza | Skillshare

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Beginning Infographics: Information Driven Storytelling

teacher avatar Liz Meyer & Gavin Potenza, Illustrators & Designers

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

4 Lessons (32m)
    • 1. Trailer

    • 2. What are Infographics? A brief history lesson

    • 3. Sketching & Working with your data

    • 4. Finalizing your infographic!

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About This Class


Infographics are great—they share ideas and information effectively, work as essential communication tools and let's be honest, they can look pretty cool.


Infographics are an amazing way to share new & interesting information with friends & audiences all over. It's the reason why we see them so often—they are a great tool for distilling really complex ideas down into easily digestible stories.  

Whether you're an experienced designer with a desire to experiment with data, an ambitious student interested in seeing how we work on client projects, or maybe even a non-creative who wants to get some tips on how to better communicate information to their audience—we're here to help you through your own personal journey.


What You'll Learn
In this class, we'll take you through the process, start to finish, learning about:

  • What makes an infographic "good": concepts & theories
  • How to take notes and record data using your iPhone (or, other mobile devices)
  • Turning those notes into a visual story
  • Figuring out which points would do well as icons to mark definitive moments
  • The different approaches to producing an effective and attractive graphic


Class Project
We're going to create a time-based visualization about a day in your life (or something of your choosing)!

An easy way to think about this is a timeline. Starting at Point A, traveling to Point B, and taking note of key occurrences along the way and calling them out by developing icons. We want to tell the story of a specific journey, and learning how to sharing key moments… all the important events that affected the experience of the journey.

At the end of the class you'll have a really cool image to share with the world, visualizing a specific time in your life.


Meet Your Teacher

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Liz Meyer & Gavin Potenza

Illustrators & Designers


Liz and Gavin are designers and illustrators working from Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Liz Meyer is a graduate of Cooper Union's Typography Program, named a "Young & Hungry Creative" by HOW Magazine & Fresh talent by Communication Arts. Her clients include Time, Fast Company, New York Times, Bloomberg, AOL, and more.

Gavin Potenza was named a Young Gun by the Art Director's Club in 2010, and a "Young & Hungry Creative" by HOW Magazine. His work has been featured in the pages of ComputerArts, HOW, and multiple Gestalten, Rockport & Taschen Books.

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2. What are Infographics? A brief history lesson: - everyone welcome to beginning infographics, - information driven storytelling in this class, - we're gonna be taking you through the process of creating a simple graphic that will - illustrate a timeline based story. - But before we get into all that fun stuff, - we need to explore the idea of infographics. - So what are they exactly? - As simply put, - is possible infographics about taking the complex and simplifying it. - It's taking a bit of raw data and transforming it into a visual object. - So why did infographics first get used going all the way back? - You could actually make the case that cave paintings and hieroglyphics are actually, - in fact, - different kinds of infographics. - They're telling stories in their verbal without using words. - But when we think of what we normally consider infographics, - those actually began popping up in the late 18th century, - mostly for fiscal statistics, - political and accounting purposes. - In the middle, - 8 1800 statistics from medical research was being used to help create social change by - visualizing important data. - Then, - in the 19 hundreds, - a steady progression of illustrated information began appearing across Europe and America, - including star and other sorts of charts, - mathematical graphs, - train and subway maps, - and eventually illustrated articles. - In the early days of printing, - there was a need for simplifying knowledge to reach mass audiences. - The illustrated elements help to still the information into digestible portions that can - communicate all different kinds of people. - So now we know how infographics came about. - We'll see how they're defined today. - I would actually define an infographic as a simple, - illustrated composition that lays out a set of information or data about a subject that - subject might need a bit of a graphic boost to make it more interesting or digestive. - So as you can see, - this is our definition of what infographics are. - They fall under the category of information of design, - so any sort of designing that uses information in a visual way. - So under information design also lives the term data visualization. - So what is that? - What's data visualization? - So we consider this a top tier of the infographic chain. - This style of graphic uses a lot of data points, - very little use for illustration. - It is a much more complex composition more often than not to tackle. - One of these sorts of pieces will be dealing with an extremely lengthy Excel file and will - probably need the aid of graphing software something of the sort to help sort out the data - . - So why do we see so many infographics on the Internet? - Well, - people use infographics to get a ton of information out there to satisfy the audience is - ever growing need for more information. - We need more all the time stuff that needed to get pushed out quickly. - And to get the attention ton of people. - Well, - it's the best way to do it. - So with all that, - a lot of people are just doing really amazing things with infographics data visualization - and the opportunities just seem to keep growing. - As all this new technology comes out and all these new data tracking software's. - And just as the amount of data keeps growing, - the need to visualize that data keeps growing as well. - So now that you're all excited about infographics, - we're gonna go back to the basics. - We're gonna be focusing on the most basic of information graphics. - The timeline. - Is there a couple different ways of looking at infographics in general, - one being location, - another being time and the third being hierarchy. - The important thing with infographics is that we're transforming these ideas into an - engaging story. - So storytelling using data. - So your assignment for this class is creating a timeline, - something that's really personal to you, - something that happened during your day or something of the sort. - So first you want to figure out the story that you want to tell next. - You'll want to figure out the kind of data that you'll need to tell that story. - So if you're thinking about the story, - could be a personal list. - It could be what you ate, - who you talk to that day where you shopped, - etcetera. - Then you're gonna use tools to track your information. - Are you going to use an actual note pad? - Are you going to use your iPhone? - There are very many APS that you can use on your phone to track different things. - So if you're gonna track where you went that day, - you can use this app called moves, - and it'll track your location and where you went. - If you want to attract what you ate that day, - you can use one of the many daily tracker food APS or calorie APS out there. - Another option is open paths where you can track your actual steps during the day. - And how are you Gon And you can export that to your your computer. - While you're gathering this data, - you're gonna want to think about the supplemental information that can really help explain - your story visually. - So if you're talking about going and meeting your friends when you met your friend, - what time was it? - What kind of weather was it? - Like outside? - You know, - all of these different things can really help round out your story and really help make a - very compelling visual journey in the next class. - We're gonna get really into it and how we can start sketching and figure things out - visually on a page. - And really use your data that you've gathered. - So for right now you want you to go out, - go live your life and track something throughout your day, - something that'll really means something to use that you can command this class with a - really compelling personal project. 3. Sketching & Working with your data: - Hey, - guys. - So now that you've learned a bit about the history of infographics, - it's time to get started on your own project. - So we're going to take you through the production of our own joint graphic so that you can - see with the processes like and hopefully use our tips to create your own. - So for the assignment, - we chose to write down everything we ate in one day in particular. - This is my day, - started off pretty healthy and slowly degenerated into a pizza party. - But, - you know, - that's OK, - right? - So using this data, - as I call it, - we're gonna begin the sketching phase. - We're going to talk about the text and how we can determine what is necessary. - So since we have such a small amount of data here, - basically everything should be used. - And perhaps we can even figure out other things that we can put in there to make it have - some context or give it a little bit more life. - If we're looking at this list of food, - you start to see that it's, - you know, - there's a timeline. - There's clear it was a clear linear path down the side, - and so my first idea would always be to go start like a journey sort of thing. - So, - you know, - create, - like, - a some sort of a line, - a linear path. - So maybe it could go like this. - So these air super super rough sketches F y I You know, - this is, - uh, - the beginning stages. - So don't worry about how it looks yet. - This is this is for your eyes only, - or your client eyes might see the use eventually, - but probably not. - So I'm just gonna start marking off just really, - really basic things. - So started 9 a.m. is the first time and then 9 30 PM is at the bottom. - So we're getting very, - very, - you know, - short little blip of information there. - So then, - you know, - that could be a nice little composition. - We can even flush shut out a little bit if we like that later. - Um, - another option, - I think, - for my timeline in particular, - could be some sort of like a pie chart. - So a pie chart. - It could do a lot terms of explain a certain kinds of data that, - you know, - a linear timeline wouldn't quite capture. - So if I'm talking about some sort of a pie chart with that, - Obviously, - start with that circle. - Um, - with that, - I'm probably gonna pull out certain information, - like so I apparently had coffee several times that day. - I had three cups of coffee. - So three coffee and then, - you know, - we can look at different things because everything else was one. - So we have one of everything else, - so we'll just, - you know, - make a little note for ourselves for later. - So essentially, - what you're gonna be left with, - you're gonna have a big chart, - a big high peace for the coffee and then single pieces for the rest of the food. - So I don't know if that's actually gonna tell my story as well as I would like it to, - though, - because it's not quite. - It doesn't really explain that time as well as I would like to. - You know what that looks like is that looks like a clock in a way. - So that's another option Clock, - like the face of the clock could be interesting. - So then, - at you know, - the difference times, - it can mark off different things, - you know. - Um, - so coffee was here? - Another here 1:30 p.m. seems like starts to get a little confusing for me. - So then you could start to see when you start to look at it, - you go through it and try to for 90 years. - That starts to get a little confusing, - because how am I gonna actually show 1 31 a one piece of information there, - So maybe the clock won't actually work. - But I like this idea. - I like that idea. - And maybe I can incorporate, - like, - a clock face into it. - Perhaps So maybe you can incorporate that somehow. - And, - you know, - I'll just keep a note of that for myself Another way. - I can probably go through this information and tell the story. - Switch up in here. - So shake another way is I could do some sort of like a grid you like, - do like a 12 hour grid. - It's only 12 hours, - or I could do 24 hour, - but for right now we'll start with a 12 hour rid. - So three times four is 12. - So I need to that. - Okay, - so that way I can do some sort of a thing like 9 a.m. Is here. - My 30 you know, - whatever. - Approximately and then I could do some sort of, - like a cool idea that way. - That could be really interesting. - So just do, - like coffee, - Whatever. - Greats route grapes. - A little cute thing there. - 9 10 11 12 1234 Well, - see, - that's not gonna work, - so that won't work. - But maybe we can want to find it somehow. - Well, - just budget for right now, - since it's a sketch. - So if we did another coffee, - then maybe like cheese burger here, - Cheese burger, - some cookies. - Oh, - mans pizza. - Red wine. - So, - you know, - that could be creek. - Well, - um, - yeah, - I think I kind of like that. - So, - as you can see, - though, - my initial thought is to always just put icons in two compositions just because it makes - them look a little bit more interesting. - And it gives me a little bit more to work with. - So it could be a good idea to start thinking about where you can use some sort of things, - like icons or illustration in there. - Like I said earlier. - And, - you know, - really give your but don't don't really, - like, - look too much into the icons yet. - Just if you need to use them now. - Just Teoh for visual purposes. - For your own sake, - to try toe lay things out. - That would be great. - But you really want to give the data the most importance for right now, - just for you know, - for the sake of actually sketching things out, - what we're gonna dio I wouldn't make this sketch look a little bit more presentable. - Since this is my chosen sketch, - I'm gonna try to figure out how this is all actually gonna lay out on the page so that when - I go to digitize the sketch, - it actually makes more sense. - So I'm going Teoh again, - do this grid and then I'm going Teoh start laying things out appropriately. - So since ah, - an infographic people's conceptual or completely accurate, - I think for this one, - since it's not gonna be completely accurate with this layout. - So if I want it to be a little bit more conceptual, - I don't actually have to make it work perfectly within the grid. - So what I can do is I can break it down. - So I have one, - 23456 789 10 of 10 pieces of information that I need to put on this on this grid here dot - You know, - may or may not need to sit within the right box, - so that leaves two pieces open, - which is interesting. - So then I'll have a little bit of space to work with, - potentially for text or anything like that. - So first, - you know, - I think I'm going to just do it. - One for grid. - That's a great fruit. - That's creeps. - Here's coffee speared. - Here's cheeseburger to make the seeds, - of course, - some cookies tomorrow. - Cookies like cookies a lot. - That woman's which could totally look like abuse if you're not careful. - Another coffee for fun and then and we have - to open, - he says for text. - So since I really like that, - um, - clock face idea that I did earlier, - maybe I can sort of try to incorporate that here somehow so I could do something like 9 - a.m. Um, - so that there some context to it? - No, - we met. - Stop. - See, - It does not have any perfect. - Do not worry about making a beautiful, - beautiful sketch yet. - Just trying out your ideas down. - My opinion is as quickly as possible so that you don't miss anything, - so you might like. - You could have beautiful creative moment. - And you might miss it because you were too worried about making something perfect. - Okay, - so maybe I do like a little clock face or something like that. - So 9 a.m. 1 30 three for 40 whatever. - And lips, - that's 30. - And obviously, - these look like, - hi charge, - you know, - But, - you know, - you get the gist, - and I get the gist, - and that's all that really matters in the sketch phase. - Reiterated several times now. - Okay. - So I think actually, - I am ready to get going on the victory ization part. - So we need to remember what the really important steps of the sketching phase is. - So we need to think about how to visualize your data. - Do we need icons? - Do we need any illustration to accompany the data to make it visual and make it speak to - the viewer without actually using words? - Um, - what kind of text is necessary? - Out of all the data? - Do you need text to accompany it? - Do you need it to be explained in anyway? - If so, - you need to start thinking about that now. - So everyone has to deal with time with their project so that everyone can help each other - out, - and that there's a a running theme within all the projects that everyone's on the same page - . - So the foundation of time is basically the back bone or bones to the entire piece. - Each bit of information that you gather will have revolved around a certain time, - so it's one running theme that will help guide the graphic and have it make sense. - So once you've gotten these bones down, - which is represented by the sketch that we're making, - we're gonna have to start thinking about what information and companies and compliments of - foundation and really begins telling a full story, - something that really gives a graphic life for our purposes. - Here, - we're going to call our running theme of time, - the bones and all the extraneous, - changeable information, - the meat the foundation carries and supports the context and content so that there is a - full story being told. - Think of it like a line graph, - the X and Y axis or the bones and the line as the meat without one or the other. - You still have an image, - but this story isn't complete, - so I hope this helped. - And the next lecture will be on how to digitize and how to finalize your peace so that you - have something that looks like an actual infographic and not just like a terrible pencil - sketch. - So get ready and get excited. - You're on your way to making an infographic. 4. Finalizing your infographic!: So now we've got our sketch and hopefully we've got some good feedback as well. Now we're gonna start bringing our graphic delay. I was like to have a plan of attack, though, between sketch phase and the final draft phase. So let's start to think about how this will look in its final form in full color. And with all of our visuals fully visualized, what color is, will we use Hauser hierarchy? What's reading first? 2nd 3rd is our message being received? Is it fun? Visually interesting? This way we can start to see what we may want to change up as we start to take it to final remind. The layout could use some improvement. It's a little basic right now, and I think it could add a lot to play with my food items. Early doubt We'll see, though, as we start to get into it, we want to start by setting up the frame for in which this will live. How big do we want this to be? Doesn't need to fit within browsers, emails and half by 11 paper. Where is it going to live and how much space should be be giving it her mind. I wanted to live on my block, so a rectangle should be able to house all my information and maybe we'll give it, like 100 pixels in with We've got a frame. Let's start recreating all of our elements that would sketched out. So let's start getting the framework down and drawing up all of our icon in the rest of our visuals. Here's where we can really start playing with color as well, in my case, colors air really important for communicating food. But I wanted to be a bit brighter, so I'm gonna make sure all my food items air communicating really clearly like almonds or brown hamburgers. Obviously, brown cheese has got to be yellow, but I'm just gonna make them a little bit brighter. I also want to make sure I'm not using up too many colors. So I'm gonna be reusing the same browns and all the same reds for the wine and the grips seem yellows, every instance of yellow. This just helps keep things pretty consistent. You know, too many colors will really clutter everything, and it can confuse your message and data. Let's at her title to the peace now here, we're going to start thinking a little bit about hierarchy and the way things are communicating. Ideally, we want you know, our graphic and illustrations to be the first read. We want to draw the viewers. I end with the graphic. Then we want the title to get the whole piece a little context. As the second most important piece of information, we can also begin rethinking our title. Hopefully, we've learned a little something from the project about ourselves and from the data we've collected. So this can actually inform the title. We don't want to give the whole project away. You know, the data and the graphic are what provide the answers. The title should just be a little clue in. In our case, we started with what I ate today, and now I see we've eaten a whole bunch of pizza and this happened on a Monday. So maybe something like Monday's air for pizza it would be a pretty fun title. We can also add in a little subtitle like a Visual Food Diary, which helps explain the whole project a little bit, so things are really starting to take shape. Now let's take a closer look at how everything's reading. It's looking pretty straightforward. Each food item gets its own box, which is nice and consistent. There are three levels. Food title and subtitle. This was something we considered in the sketch fees, and it looks like it's holding up pretty well in the final process as well. But maybe I want to give a little more emphasis to pizza. This was my most important meal, after all. Since it's in the title, I think it actually helps strengthen the story. You always want to look for those subtle opportunities within that can really help transform your story a little background details or small things that could help give better and set into your experience or what you're communicating. So I've used a pizza here and I'm broken up the grid. So pizzas actually taking up two boxes now, which I think is kind of fun and gives just a little more importance. Teoh Pizza. If everything's looking and reading, great. Now we can go back and make sure it's visually interesting as it can be. Depending on where it's gonna live, it might need to really stand out with some bright colors or visuals. You know, if it's sitting on a white page, maybe you want a really dark background. We don't really want to distort our graphics into information too much, but sometimes a few adjustments can really help out. I think mine is definitely going to need a darker background color, you know, some kind of color that will really help my break foods pop out. Mostly gonna think about how I can change up the layout so it's not so structured in uniform. Maybe I can space out the visuals a little bit and integrate the title in there. I think this graphic is a little more in the fund side, and doing this won't really compromise. It's legibility or readability. It's also really helps draw the viewer's eye in. And it's gonna creating this rhythm, which helps its visual impact. Sometimes adding a little bit of extra info can really help strengthen your story. I wanted to share this one example of this always with on a graphic. It's their Oregon Trail map. This meant documents their road trip across the country and at the bottom you can see that they've listed out all the animals that they saw along the way and all the music that they listen to on their trip. Seeing this really helps imagine their experience while traveling. In fact, you could probably envision a whole new map just based on the animal sightings, which I think could be pretty fun going back to my map. I think I want to add in the time I'm gonna use clocks to visualize the time. It's just gonna be a little these little icons in the background this way. Now that the icons are a little more spread out, this just provides a little bit of background context that can help guide the viewer through the whole graphic. Now it's time to add those last few small details. Maybe you wanted to hand draw the type or add confetti all over it because it was about someone's birthday. This is your chance to really personalize it. Be careful not to alter it too much, though. We want our data to still be accurate and represented properly, but we want to just add a little bit of flair if and when we can. Don't forget to give yourself credit. This is your graphic based on your own data and you want to make sure to stamp your name on it. These graphics can be panned all over to Pinterest or get thrown on Tumblr where no matter how far it travels from you and where you originally posted it or published it, your name will always be on it. This is also where we normally list our sources where we've gotten our data from. But since we sourced all of our own data from our own lives, just putting our names on it should be fine. Okay, so now we should all have on engaging and exciting Infographic that tells all of our stories really well. So please share your pieces in your project panel so that you can get feedback from your peers and that hopefully you can use that feedback to create an even more amazing project. Thanks, guys.