In this tutorial, we will learn how to collect and process statistical data, then visualize it using Adobe Illustrator. You will also learn how the various vector elements of this project were created, as well as how to save the project in PDF format, edit it, add hyperlinks, and place navigation between pages. This is a detailed infographic tutorial and you can follow along at the jump.
A Primer on Infographics
Information graphics or infographics are graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge. These graphics present complex information quickly and clearly, such as in signs, maps, journalism, technical writing, and education. With an information graphic, computer scientists, mathematicians, and statisticians develop and communicate concepts using a single symbol to process information (Wiki).
Information presented only in numbers may look awkward and people may not be interested in it. Our task is to send the message to the audience that may consist of your customers, visitors or potential sponsors.
Today we are going to create website promotional infographics. Our goal is to provide exact numbers to show the dynamics of its development, demographic composition of visitors, and include references to the document that may lead to audience growth.
Step 1 - Working with the Sources of Data
Data collection for this project should be easy. Modern content management systems (CMS) such as WordPress allow you to create websites that have statistics modules. My website was created by the UCOZ CMS, the picture below shows the statistics module in this system.
In addition your website contains information that can be collected, analyzed and presented in graphical form. For example, amount of posts, amount of comments on them, the most popular publications, etc. There are also external data sources. The most popular ones of these resources, for sure, is Google Analytics and Alexa.
These are the sources I will be using in this project.
After data has been collected, you probably need to process it. For example, the information is presented in digital values, and you want to present it only in percentage form. You can use a spreadsheet such as Microsoft Excel for data processing.
These applications allow you to use formulas for calculations and process large amount of data.
So, I decided to show the following data: Audiences Location - Top 10, Demographics Age and Gender, Traffic Sources, some dynamic statistic data, as well as Top Content and Advertising information.
Step 3 - The Overall Design
After some thinking I decided to present website infographics in the form of a multipage document. Recent releases of Adobe Illustrator allow you to create this kind of documents. Run the application and set the number of artboards and their sizes in the New Document dialog window.
Multipage documents allow you to work more efficiently switching between the artboards, rather than opening multiple files. This allows you to save time and memory resources on your computer.
In addition, the document has a bunch of advantages about which you will find out in the end of this tutorial. I chose 1024 by 768 px artboard. That is the exact size of an iPad screen. Mobil Devices are very popular right now, that is why I decided to create this infographic project to be viewed on them.
Now we'll work on creating the design of our first artboard. Take the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a rectangle with a blue fill. The rectangle is set at the size of the artboard.
Copy and paste the rectangle in front (Command + C; Command + F). Let's create a simple gradient mesh using the Mesh Tool (U), then select the nodes of this grid with the help of the Direct Selection Tool (A) and color them in different shades of gray color. The central node is white, the further we move away from the center, the darker the shades of gray color become.
Now select the entire gradient mesh and apply to it the Multiply Blending mode in the Transparency panel.
Restrict the area where the information will be located. Create a circle using the Ellipse Tool (L). Fill the circle with a radial gradient from black to white and apply the Multiply Blending mode.
Take the Selection Tool (V), and stretch the Bounding Box in a horizontal direction while holding down the Option key.
Using the Rectangle Tool (M) create a rectangle as shown below:
Select the ellipse and the rectangle, then go to Object > Clipping Mask > Make, or use the shortcuts Command + 7.
Select the achieved group and go to Object > Transform > Reflect..., then click on the Copy button in the dialog window.
Place the resulting group at the top of the artboard.
In the top right of the artboard, I decided to place the logo of my website. First, let's create a ribbon on which it will be located. Create a rectangle, then using the Pen Tool (P) add a new point to its lower side.
With the help of the Direct Selection Tool select the bottom corners of the rectangle and move them straight up.
Fill the ribbon with a linear gradient which consists of different shades of a dark gray color.
Now we'll create a shadow from the ribbon. Copy its shape and paste it back (Command + C; Command + B). Fill the new shape with a gray color and move it a little bit to the right and down. Apply the Overlay Blending mode to the shadow. Move the upper corners of the shadow shape so that they lay on the edge of the artboard.
Now I pasted the logo and filled it with a linear gradient from blue to white, so that it does not look flat and matches with the overall color scheme of the composition.
Since my document consists of several pages, it would be appropriate to create a navigation between the pages. Proceed to the creation of the pagination. Using the Rectangle Tool (M) create a square 25 by 25 px with a linear gradient fill, which consists of two shades of blue color.
Keep the rectangle selected, go to Effect > Stylize > Round Corners... and set the radius of rounded corners.
Add a new fill to the object in the Appearance panel. Change the color of the gradient's slider of the bottom fill to a lighter shade of blue.
Keeping the bottom fill selected, go to Effect > Distort & Transform... and set the vertical offset value.
Add one more fill to the Appearance panel, place it below other fills and replace its color with a dark blue.
Keep this fill selected, go to Effect > Distort & Transform... and set the vertical and horizontal offset value.
Now go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur... and set the radius in the dialog window.
Duplicate the created button three times.
Take the Type Tool (T) and create the numbers on the buttons.
Copy the numbers and paste them back. Fill them with a dark blue color and move them 1 px down.
Let's create a button that corresponds with the first page pressed down. Delete one of the fills in the Appearance panel, replace the gradient of the second fill and change the transformation parameters of the third one.
Create a black rectangle in the bottom of the artboard. With the help of the Type Tool (T) create text indicating the authorship and information source.
Group up all the created elements, copy and paste it to the rest of the pages of our document (Command + C; Command + V).
Pages should only differ in the appearance of the active button in the pagination. You can quickly change the look of the button with the help of the Eyedropper Tool (I) with the settings shown in the picture below.
Step 15 - Data Visualization
Create titles on the pages according to the information which will be placed on them. For the titles I decided to use the same font that I used earlier, which is Rockwell Regular.
Information on audience location is usually shown on a world map. You can download this vector map by clicking on the following link. Or you can create a map yourself, as I did. To do this, you have find the right map, then add a custom outline with the help of the Pencil Tool (N). The Pencil Tool (N) settings are shown below:
Now mark the countries that correspond with the highest number of visitors with circles filled with a radial gradient. The gradient consists of three colors: white, blue and black, with the black slider set at 0% Opacity.
Now place the data. The greater the number of visitors, the larger the font size. There is no direct quantitative dependence between the size of the font and percentage value, though eyeballing size differences will highlight greater value numbers just fine.
The source of the content, that is me, is located in Ukraine. So I marked the place of my location with the Map Sign.
Connect Ukraine with other traffic sources with the help of dotted curved segments, which should be created using the Pen Tool ℗.
Note that here the information was interpreted unambiguously, I decided to put the graph legend at the bottom right part of the page.
Now we'll proceed to the second page. We will be visualizing the information on this page using Adobe Illustrator tools. We'll present the information about the age groups of visitors in Radar Graph form. Take the Radar Graph Tool and create a marquee selection.
As a result of these actions a primary graph is created and a Graph Data window opens where we will be keying in the data.
Select the cells and key in the Category labels and Data labels into the Entry text box.
Click on the Apply button in the Graph Data window, as a result we get the Radar Graph.
You can choose graph style after its creation. Double-click on the tool icon on the toolbar, and choose the necessary options in the Graph Type dialog window.
In order to work with the elements of the graph, as with simple vector objects, you need to ungroup it. To do this, close the Graph Data window and go to Object > Ungroup. After this operation, we can no longer manage the graph style using the Graph Style dialog window, and change data in the Graph Data window. At this point, a warning window will open and tell us about that.
Now place the graph on the page and choose objects colors that match the overall design of the project.
To create the graph on the next page, I used the collected data and the Column, Bar and Pie Graph Tools.
The principles of working with these instruments are not different from those of working with the Radar Graph Tool. For more information on working with graphs in Adobe Illustrator visit the following link.
The map of the world on the first page has a silhouette look, so I decided to provide information on the gender composition of visitors in the form of silhouettes as well, this set is of a man and woman. My website is visited by 88% men and only 12% women. I am somehow surprised by this fact. So I decided to use the silhouettes shown in the picture below.
To ensure that all the pages of the project are created in the same style, I placed people silhouettes on other pages as well.
The last page contains only text information about the most popular content and advertising details. In this work, I used free vector silhouettes that you can find by clicking on the following link. You could of course create your own following the process outline in the this tutorial on creating a vector silhouette.
Step 23 - Saving and Editing the Project
We're going to save our project in PDF format, so it's easy to distribute when needed. To do this, go to File > Save as... and select the appropriate options in the opened dialog windows.
Saving the file in PDF format gives us a number of advantages. I list only some of them:
- Users will be able to view your project without having Adobe Illustrator.
- You do not have to use the Create outlines command for text. The user will see the text as you see them, even if the fonts that were used in this project are not installed. This allows you to keep text editable.
- You can insert hyperlinks into a document and create an internal navigation between the pages.
- Zooming image view will not affect its quality. Graphs will remain sharp and clear as when zooming in Adobe Illustrator, since it is based on vector objects.
Let's take a closer look at how to insert a hyperlink into the document and create an internal navigation in it. To edit a PDF file, I suggest you use Adobe Acrobat Pro. So, open the file in this application, then open the Content tab and click on Link button.
Now create a marquee selection over the object where you want the hyperlink to be located.
In the open dialog box, select the options shown in the picture below, and then press the Next button.
Paste the link and click on the OK button.
To create an internal navigation, use the same Link tool. Create a marquee selection on top of one of the buttons. Select 'Go to a page view' in the dialog window and click Next, then click on the Set Link.
Now Double-click inside the bounding box of the button. Then in the open dialog window go to the Actions tab.
Choose Action, click on the Edit button and enter the required page number.
Using the described technique, paste all the necessary links into our document.
Final Image Preview
That's it! You've just learned how to create an infographics for your website. If you run your own blog and are looking to attract advertisers, this can be a powerful tool. And of course with these skills in hand, there are plenty of potential clients that have a need for this kind of information graphic based business document.