Assignment Two: Creating an Infographic
Whilst looking extensively at a wide range of graphic design techniques and how they are implemented within the media, we set about putting all those things; including font type, layout and the general message or purpose that is intended to be passed on to the audience and produced our own infographic based on a recent news story from around the world.
As we have seen with other examples of infographics, their simplicity and visual style withhold a quantity of information and data that a reader can digest and understand at a glance. Taking already existing infographs as inspiration, they all seem to follow a trend of having a plain, block colour background which helps to bring out the graphics represented. These graphics and icons are linked closely with the data that it is being connected with it to so that an audience can associate what is being shown easily at a glance.
For my infographic, it will be based on the dramatic finale to the 2014 F1 World Driver’s Championship between Mercedes teammates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg which has played out like it had been scripted for a Hollywood movie; there has been conflict, rivalry and drivers filling the roles of heroes and villains and after 19 nail-biting races it boils down to 55 laps of the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi. This has been chosen as the topic for a number of reasons revolving around the amount of statistics and information that the sport of Formula One holds; from lap times, wins or pole positions- these statistics would suit an infographic format exceptionally well.
From a news perspective, and at the time of when the infographic was produced, it was current and made before the final race in Abu Dhabi which saw Lewis Hamilton win the championship. Therefore, to breakdown the fight between the two drivers up to that point would have been useful to audiences wishing to gain more information on the subject. Finally, the sport is something that I am fairly knowledgeable about, so my hope was for this enthusiasm to pass on in the creative process of making the infographic.
Before moving on to using software such as Photoshop and Illustrator, the story has to be researched and key facts and figures have to be collected from reliable sources to form the body of information that it will ultimately contain.
Credible sources were viewed and a range of statistics were recorded that would suit the infographic format. As we have touched upon, numerical data such as lap times and number of wins can be visualised in graph form. The main objective of the infographic is to show the battle between both Mercedes drivers and from this, give an overview of the 2014 F1 season. Information that I felt would show this include the number of wins, poles and podiums as well as looking at some of the records the team were able to achieve throughout the season. From collecting these things from sites ranging from formula1.com and bbc.co.uk/sport/formula means that I have full confidence in these details being correct.
How the data was collated, especially with individual subjects like the number of wins both drivers shared, involved producing tally charts on paper so that this quantitative data can be turned into visual graphs or icons that can relay this information.
Here is a brief overview of the kind of statistics that were recorded;
(All statistics included up until, and including, the Brazilian Grand Prix)
Nico Rosberg: 10
Lewis Hamilton: 5
Nico Rosberg: 4
Lewis Hamilton: 10
(Daniel Ricciardo: 3)
Nico Rosberg: 10
Lewis Hamilton: 7
(Felipe Massa: 1)
Nico Rosberg: 5
Lewis Hamilton: 7
Sebastian Vettel: 2
Kimi Raikkonen: 1
Felipe Massa: 1
Sergio Perez: 1
Valtteri Bottas: 1
DNF’s (Did Not Finish)
Nico Rosberg: 2 (Singapore and Great Britain)
Lewis Hamilton: 3 (Australia, Canada and Belgium)
Mercedes facts from 2014 season
- 11 one-two finishes
- 15 wins
- 30 podiums
- 17 pole positions
Gaps from Mercedes winning car to second place finisher
- Australia +26.7 seconds
- Malaysia +17.3 seconds
- Bahrain +1.0 seconds
- China: +18.0 seconds
- Spain +0.6 seconds
- Monaco +9.2 seconds
- Austria +1.9 seconds
- GB +30.1 seconds
- Germany +30.7 seconds
- Italy +3.1 seconds
- Singapore +13.5 seconds
- Japan +9.1 seconds
- Russia +13.6 seconds
- US +4.3 seconds
- Brazil +1.4 seconds
Now that all this information has been sourced, we can now move on to the design of the infograph. In terms of this, we can take inspiration from the theme of what it is based on; Formula One. With this sport being so broad and rich in content, 5 preliminary designs have been hand drawn focusing on different aspects and all having unique data based on how it looks. As is the purpose of an infograph, the way it looks helps to convey the overall message of what is being condensed and summarised for the reader. So, below is all five designs which a brief description on each;
This first design is based on one of the most important elements in Formula One; the tyres. With the majority of the data, that includes a summary of the types of tyres used and their degradation, built around the carcass of a Pirelli tyre. As well as this, the key protagonist’s information will be arranged in the corners of the infographic.
Design two is a little more simplistic, but contains probably the most serious theme; the permutations of the Driver’s Championship. When we say permutations, we are referring to the ramifications of where drivers finish in the final race and what that means for the final standings in the championship. For example, if Nico was to win in Abu Dhabi, Lewis would have to finish third or higher to be crowned champion. This would be illustrated by a two-way bar graph showing the varying scenarios and next to that would be how would be champion if that event were to happen. Profiles of both drivers would also be shown.
Intricate in its design, the body of the statistical data will rest within the circuit layout of Interlagos- the home of the Brazilian Grand Prix. As that race was the most recent, all the quantitative results from it would be practical and useful to audiences wanting to know what happened in the last race before the finale. The background would be a homage to the Brazilian flag and the remaining space would be filled with a fact file of the records Lewis and Nico have broken throughout the course of the season.
After seeing this infograph on social media about the NFL’s San Francisco 49’ers, the decision was made to replicate this in someway; particularly in terms of its layout and dimensions. I like how it very visual and has a distinct graphic design. Its colour scheme matches that of the teams jersey’s and also incorporates social media and advertising too. These elements would be reflected in this fourth design, driver points and finishes would be shown in the form of a grid layout and common images including trophies and stopwatches would connect with information relating to that subject.
Finally, the fifth design sees some of the data which was tallied from official sources, such as the Formula One website, be represented to graph types that suit that particular data. Furthermore, a head to head of Nico and Lewis’ achievements as of the Brazilian Grand Prix.
After taking in all the considerations of all five designs, the decision was made to proceed with the template of the design. This was chosen as its differing sectioned are well-layed out and it is the best design which shows examples of the main types of infographic devices; such as bar charts, pie charts and using icons to convey a topic within a subject.
Whilst debating over which design to choose, an idea came to mind in how to weave a structured colour scheme in with something highly relating to motor sport and Formula One. Throughout a race weekend, teams use time screens that show driver times, sector times and the difference between each accordingly.
It serves not only to appease some of the key rules of infographics; to have a block coloured background which allows the information to be easily read, but the bright colours will serve to link different groups of data.
Designing Final Infographic
As we now set about making the infographic, the process will be documented by capturing a screen shot of a particular step and will be discussed as to what was done.
STAGE ONE: Before using Photoshop, we used Adobe Illustrator to make a bar graph that will be used to show the gaps of Mercedes-winning cars to the second place driver to give an indication as to how dominant Mercedes have been in races and the margin of victory they have pulled out from their competitors. After entering in all the times, we screen-grabbed the final chart and saved it until a later period.
STAGE TWO: Opting to make the infograph using Photoshop, we selected the dimensions as 1250 x 750. Making the background black to replicate the time screens used in Formula One, images were then added which were taken from the internet; the Mercedes W05 F1 car alongside the logo. Separate racing stripes were also created by using the rectangle tool and implementing the team’s cobalt green so they look in unison. The images were sourced from the internet, and in the case of the car, and others throughout this process, they had to be edited by using the ‘Quick Selection Tool’ to select the part of the image you want so that it is removed from elements you do not wish to have, for example, a background. Of course, each image is placed on a new layer which makes it easier to edit.
STAGE THREE: The title of the infograph, the Formula One logo and an image of the two protagonists, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg are placed so that the third is a header to the overall design. Underneath the logo is also a disclaimer that all the statistics were taken up to and including the Brazilian Grand Prix because as with most things, current information quickly updates and changes. When text is used, it is the Century Gothic font due to its resemblance to the font type employed across Formula One branding. The other two benefits are the transformation it undergoes when italic or bold are added to it which can be used for headings or descriptions accordingly. Finally, using only Century Gothic gives balance to the entire layout.
STAGE FOUR: Next, we placed the bar chart into the infograph. The decision was made to hide the scale of the graph because the minimalist look seemed to suit the overall tone and it gives a more stylised quality. The alternate colour scheme of silver and cobalt green were used to represent Mercedes…choosing multiple colours may have been too confusing for an audience to interpret.
STAGE FIVE: Incorporating the yellow from the yellow from the time screens for the time difference was used at the ends of the bars to let them stand out more against the black background. It has its advantages by doing it this way as the audience has the figures instantly rather than working out the scale of a conventional graph.
STAGE SIX: Finishing off the graph is the names of the individual races inside the bars and a summary of what it shows in white text. At the side of that you can now see the helmets of Lewis and Nico at the top of the infograph. This was used as a device to personify their statistics which would be presented underneath. You can also notice that each driver has his according colour. Additional information includes their driver number and the number of points they currently have in the driver’s championship.
STAGE SEVEN: Wanting to follow suit with what infographs do so well; which is to let icons and images speak louder than text, icons associated with the theme of the data were chosen. The first of these were the number of wins of both drivers throughout the 2014 season. A trophy was chosen to symbolise these victories with the exact number placed alongside it. To give clarity, the central column gives a description of what the numbers and images represent.
STAGE EIGHT: Below that is how both drivers have performed in terms of podium finishes. Again, a graphic was selected to show this with the figure placed on top to keep the alignment of the layout of this particular section of the infograph.
STAGE NINE: Conveying to the audience that the next part of the infograph was separate to Lewis and Nico’s head-to-head section without using lines required changing to the purple colour used in the times screen display. To present to the audience the number of one-two finishes Mercedes have had, the figure and the description have been arranged around a graphic which was made using the ‘Rectangle Tool’ of the front row positions on a race circuit. By doing this it has the added benefit of occupying its space without the need to physically cordon it off from the other sections.
STAGE TEN: To give another example of a visual method data can be shown as, a pie chart was created in Microsoft Word using the number of fastest laps that had been achieved by drivers in the previous 19 races. The finished pie chart was screen-grabbed and placed into Photoshop. Each segment was broken up and coloured according to the driver’s team liveries. If you notice, both Mercedes drivers are closer together than the other 5 drivers to show the team connection they have and, in turn, increase the percentage of fastest laps Mercedes has as a team achieved.
STAGE ELEVEN: Details were added including the names drivers whose information is reflected in the segments and the number of fastest laps they have achieved. Having the drivers names within the segments rather than having a separate key again suits the simplicity of the design and frees the infograph from ‘clutter’; everything on show is prominent, clear and of importance .The description of the pie chart was positioned vertically to create a natural barrier to the opposite statistic.
STAGE TWELVE: The final step was purely an aesthetic one after noticing the top of the infographic looked bare. An image of Lewis Hamilton was sourced that completed both Lewis and Nico’s head-to-head section but the entire piece itself. His pose also strikes connotations with competitiveness which sums up the tone of what is trying to be conveyed in the information shown.
After completing the infographic, we can now evaluate the overall process and describe the strengths and limitations encountered. Firstly, the positives from it have come from being able to follow the initial hand-drawn design well and replicating it on to Photoshop even better than imagined. Along with this, the layout, and the 5 prominent colours which were used for text or icons work effectively against the black background and served to link data together. Personally, I feel that the use the time screens as inspiration for the infographic would be appreciated by motor sport fans and allow them to connect with the information. The final strength lies in the range of charts and different types of figures presented that give clearly demonstrates how data can be transformed in this kind of platform- and hopefully, from an audiences perspective, finds it more engaging and appealing to read.
One limitation I felt whilst undertaking this infograph was that the long, vertical layout of the fourth preliminary design may have been better than the landscape orientation for the reason it would have allowed for more information to have gone on it. By choosing his design, I soon realised that the Lewis and Nico head-to-head section would have to be limited to only a few statistics. However, I was still able to give a full assortment of the types of ways you can present data and each section is an example of that. Another point I noticed after completing this infograph was that on the bar charts in the top left of the design, I should have colour coordinated them according to which one of Nico or Lewis won that particular race. This though may have needed a key to explain this and would have disrupted the minimalistic style I wanted to achieve. Yet, the alternating pattern of the silver and cobalt green works well and links in to the information being about Mercedes as a whole.