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Turning Written Narratives Into Sequential Art

Written by
Kris Lankovska
Published
September 24, 2013
Categories
A Quick Guide to Infographics

 

Infographics are not only a graphic interpretation of items and points of data; they are also the graphic interpretation of a narrative arc that serves to meet a specific communication objective. The infographic format is attractive because it can transform a laundry list of dry statistical data into an impactful and entertaining visual statement that is easy to understand. A three page blog article demands a fair amount of time and attention to read, but a well-designed infographic interpretation of the same article can be viewed and understood at a glance.

When commissioned to create an infographic from an article or data set, try to determine the overall objective of the author’s statements and establish an appropriate visual tone to reinforce those statements. Is the author conveying an encouraging report or perhaps a grim warning? The tone of the author’s message will inform your color palette, typographic choices and graphical vocabulary.

Well-written articles use individual paragraphs to elaborate upon a central argument. While reading a source article, try to identify these key statements and rewrite them as image titles for individual panels within the infographic.

In your information sources, try to find comparative data that can be used to make a kinetic visual impact. Use values that change dramatically over time to reinforce a statement. Think about how a visual interpretation of the data might move across the page and lead the viewer’s eye toward the next visual statement. Visual metaphors make comparative data and numerical information in general much more memorable, especially if they can go beyond basic charts and graphs.

As statements and images are pulled from the article or information sources, consider the comparative importance of the statements. If one statement really drives in solid support for an overall narrative, emphasize it with greater visual importance.

As the infographic is sketched out, remember that it should tell a compelling story. As with any sequential graphic art form, the viewer’s eye and attention should be guided through the visual narrative and end with a purpose. The use of arrows, objects in motion, or simply motion implied by a line of text can be used to this effect. With marketing objectives, the main purpose is usually to set up and propose a call to action. This call to action should be very clearly presented. With other types of objectives, the ending statement might have a different purpose. An educational or public awareness infographic might end with a simple summary statement or directive such as “Food Safety” or “Heat Stroke: Know the Signs.”

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