The first image is an initial finished version of my poster, and the second is the final version which I will be submitting. I decided that the colours on the first one were too drab, and so nothing on the poster really stood out at first glance. Firstly, I changed the colours of my ‘tree’, to a lighter green and brown. I think this gave it more vibrance against the dark background. I also lightened the background colour, as I felt the initial background colour just wasn’t right for the poster. Finally I changed the colour of my text, so it would stand out more on the background. I also increased the length of the ‘trunk’ of my tree to make it look more like a tree, and so I had to adjust the scaling at the side. I think this makes better use of the available area on my poster, as there is less empty space towards the top. Overall I think my final poster looks much better, and that by changing the colours I used the entire poster looks more vibrant and visually appealing.
I chose to create my poster using Inkscape, as it was free so I could work on it on my own computer. I began by tracing the flags of Europe using the Bezier tool in order to vectorise them, so I could use them in my poster.
I then created my basic structure, giving the flags a white border to stand out against the background and putting them at the top of each timeline.
I added a gradient from red to green to give the idea of progression from low life expectancy to high life expectancy, as a higher life expectancy is considered better, and green is a colour associated with good.
The countries were arranged alphabetically, and so the heights of the lines seemed quite random. Even though I did quite like the look of my poster like this, I thought I should give it more focus. As the theme was ‘Who lives the longest’, I decided to focus on the concept of life and growing, and so I had the idea to rearrange the timelines into the shape of a tree, having them symbolise branches.
I think this gives my poster a better structure, and also allows for easier comparison of the life expectancy between countries. Though I think this colour scheme is striking, I thought that to further enhance the idea of this being a tree, I should change the colours to something more natural, while maintaining the gradient to display progression.
I chose to use green to brown for the branches, as this is the common colour combination on most trees, as well as changing the background, title, and scale to more natural, earthy colours. I initially tried having a light blue background (second image), to represent the sky but I did not think this worked well with the colour of my tree. In the end I settled on a dark green, as I think it best enhances the colours of the branches. This makes my poster much less harsh on the eyes, and relates back to the theme of the tree growing naturally.
After selecting my theme and researching some other graphics, I began to sketch out some basic ideas.
This was my initial idea for my poster, but I decided it was too literal, and I would rather take a more abstract approach to my design.
After some more consideration, I narrowed it down from life expectancy of all the countries of the world to just countries in Europe. This was because trying to display data for hundreds of countries would end up too cluttered and dense, and it would be much more difficult to make my poster aesthetically pleasing.
This is a page of some slightly more abstract ideas I had, while trying to stay away from just using a literal map. I had some ideas using space, and others using time, but I still thought many of these ideas were very basic.
This was my final idea, and the one that I have chosen to develop in the end. I took inspiration from a poster on animal extinction with a similar structure. As my timeline won’t be starting at 0, I liked the idea of each line running up the page a certain distance together, before the data begins to change. This idea primarily works with displaying time, and so to identify which country relates to which line I have decided to have the flag of each country at the end.
To collect the data for my poster I followed the link provided in the brief to The World Factbook (https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook), where I found a list of the countries of the world ordered by life expectancy. In order to avoid my poster being cluttered with too much information, I have decided to only represent data for countries in Europe.
I then copied and pasted the data for my selected countries into a word document in order to visualise it more clearly, without the irrelevant countries in between. This gave me an idea of the variations in the data, and showed me that my design would have to take into consideration the fact that the data does not have a very large spread. This means that a full timeline from 0 to 100 will not be effective, as the data for each country is the same for a large majority of that time. In order to visualise this data clearly, I will have to focus heavily on the fifteen year period between 70 and 85, as this is the time when the data is most interesting.
I have decided to do the brief “Who lives the longest” for my poster, and so I have spent some time researching ideas to take inspiration from. As my poster will need to display countries and the life expectancy of them, I will need to visualise both space and time. The majority of examples I could find online focused on depicting space, as shown below:
This type of poster, with a scale by colour could be used in regards to life expectancy, with the countries with the lowest life expectancy in red working up to highest in green. However, this is a very simplistic way of representing this data.
These two graphics also use quite a simple map, this time with a figure that increases or decreases in size depending on the data it’s representing. This is an idea I could possibly use, with male and female figures changing size depending on life expectancy in their country.
This map is slightly more abstract than the other examples, as instead of showing the actual shape of the countries, there are circles of various sizes. I think this is an interesting idea, and I could adapt it by having each circle’s size depend on the life expectancy in that country. However, this could distort the map to the extent that the countries are not recognisable, and could be very confusing.
I then spent some time looking for graphics depicting progression of time.
This one shows the development of different music media, and depicts its popularity over a series of years.
This one is displaying the extinction of several different animals, projecting the ideas into the future. I think something like this could work with my theme, as it is essentially a timeline which is well suited to life expectancy.
As this project requires me to create a poster communicating a message with minimal text, I decided to take a look at some examples of this kind of work.
One website we were introduced to in our seminar was informationisbeautiful.net, a collection of infographics on a range of topics. These posters gave me some ideas about how to lay out my own poster, demonstrating the wide variety of ways to present information.
One I particularly liked is shown below:
This poster is demonstrating leading causes of death in the 20th Century, and does so using minimal writing. It uses the size of the circles to immediately show the viewer which causes are most common, and it doesn’t require a key as it is simple enough to figure out independently.
This infographic is an interactive one I found on the Guardian website, demonstrating the causes and effects of climate change:
By selecting a category at the top, the map contorts to display the most relevant continents as much bigger. Although my poster cannot be interactive like this, I think that the idea of different continents or countries being different sizes is interesting, and could be something I could integrate into my project.
Today we had out first lecture for the new unit: Development and Realisation. In this lecture, we were introduced to the assignment we will have to complete by the 12th of January.
One part of this assignment is to create a ‘Communication Design A2 Poster’, around a theme chosen from a list provided. After reading carefully through the list of subjects, there are a couple that I would be interested in looking at:
- Who lives the longest? Visually compare life expectancy across a number of countries e.g. the European Union
- What is your social network? Visualise your Facebook social network using Facebook’s classification of close friends, family and acquaintances.
Over the next week, I will look at the possibilities for each of these types of posters, and make a final decision about which subject I would like to focus on.
The second part of this assignment is to research and plan around our chosen subject, and document it here.
We will be using software such as Illustrator and Inkscape, which are both completely new to me, so I look forward to learning what can be achieved with them.