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  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Infographics

How to Create a Timeline Infographic for Black History Month in Illustrator

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Difficulty:IntermediateLength:LongLanguages:
This post is part of a series called Infographic Templates.
How to Create a Climate Change Infographic in Adobe InDesign
How to Create a Vector Infographic Template in Illustrator
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

In the following steps, you will learn how to create a timeline infographic for Black History Month in Adobe Illustrator. Black History Month is an annual observance in Canada, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and the United States. It began as a way of remembering important people and events in the history of the African diaspora. In this infographic, we will focus on the US Black History Month and the significant events that advanced civil rights. 

For starters, you will learn how to set up a simple grid and how to create the header of the infographic. Using several rectangles, the Appearance panel and some Transform effects, you will learn to create the main pieces of the infographic. Moving on, you will learn how to add some text and how to easily stylize it.

Finally, using basic vector shape building techniques and taking full advantage of the Snap to Grid feature, you will learn how to create a series of icons that will correspond with the events mentioned in your infographic.

For more inspiration on how to adjust or improve your final infographic, you can find plenty of resources at GraphicRiver.

What You Will Need

You will need the following resource in order to complete this project:

1. How to Create a New Document and Set Up a Grid

Hit Control-N to create a new document. Select Pixels from the Units drop-down menu, enter 850 in the width box and 2680 in the height box, and then click that More Settings button. Select RGB for the Color Mode, set the Raster Effects to Screen (72 ppi), and then click Create Document.

Enable the Grid (View > Show Grid) and the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). You will need a grid every 10 px, so simply go to Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid, and enter 10 in the Gridline every box and 1 in the Subdivisions box. Try not to get discouraged by all that grid—it will make your work easier, and keep in mind that you can easily enable or disable it using the Control-" keyboard shortcut.

You can learn more about Illustrator's grid system in this short tutorial from Andrei Stefan: Understanding Adobe Illustrator's Grid System.

You should also open the Info panel (Window > Info) for a live preview with the size and position of your shapes. Don't forget to set the unit of measurement to pixels from Edit > Preferences > Units. All these options will significantly increase your work speed.

new document

2. How to Create the Header

Step 1

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and focus on your toolbar. Remove the color from the stroke and then select the fill and set its color to R=55 G=50 B=45. Move to your artboard and simply create an 850 x 180 px shape—the grid and the Snap to Grid should make it easier. Place this rectangle as shown below.

rectangle

Step 2

Pick the Type Tool (T) and open the Character panel (Window > Type > Character). Select the Odudo Mono font, set the style to Bold, and set the size to 50 px.

Move to the artboard and simply click on it. Type your text, place it as shown in the following image, and set the color to white (R=255 G=255 B=255).

type tool

Step 3

Make sure that your text stays selected and open the Appearance panel (Window > Appearance).

Add a new fill using the Add New Fill button and select it. Set the color to white and then add a second fill. Drag it below the white fill and select it. Set the color to R=240 G=175 B=50 and then go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the attributes shown below and click OK.

add new fill

Step 4

Make sure that your text is still selected, and keep focusing on the Appearance panel.

Add a new fill and drag it below the existing ones. Select it, set the color to R=55 G=50 B=45, and then go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the attributes shown below and click OK.

add new fill

Step 5

Pick the Type Tool (T), add a new piece of text, using the Stellar font. Change the style to Bold, and set the size to 15 px and the tracking to 100. For the text color, use R=240 G=175 B=50.

add new text

3. How to Create the Main Infographic Pieces

Step 1

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and create an 870 x 2510 px shape. Fill this new rectangle with R=240 G=175 B=50 and place it as shown in the following image.

yellow rectangle

Step 2

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a 200 x 80 px shape. Fill this new rectangle with white and place it as shown in the following image.

white rectangle

Step 3

Make sure that your white rectangle stays selected and focus on the Appearance panel. Add a second fill and select it.

Drag it below the white fill, set the color to R=160 G=40 B=35, lower its Opacity to 50%, and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the attributes shown below, click OK, and go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Enter a 15 px Radius and click OK.

rectangle shadow

Step 4

Select your white rectangle and focus on the Appearance panel. Make sure that the entire path is selected (simply click the Path piece of text from the top of the panel) and go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 10 px Radius and click OK.

rounded corners

Step 5

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a 320 x 80 px shape. Fill this new rectangle with R=245 G=200 B=110 and place it as shown below. Lower its Opacity to 50% and then go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 10 px Radius and click OK.

rounded rectangle

Step 6

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and create an 80 px square. Fill this new rectangle with R=245 G=200 B=110 and place it as shown below. Lower its Opacity to 50% and then go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 10 px Radius and click OK.

rounded square

Step 7

Pick the Pen Tool (P) or the Line Tool (\) and draw a 2280 px vertical line. Place it as shown below, add a 4 px stroke, and set its color to R=245 G=200 B=110.

vertical line

Step 8

Pick the Rounded Rectangle Tool and create a 20 x 20 px shape. Fill it with R=55 G=50 B=45 and place it as shown below. Make sure that this new shape stays selected, focus on the control panel, and enter 5 px in the Corners input field.

rounded square

Step 9

Make sure that your dark rounded rectangle stays selected, and focus on the Appearance panel. Add a 10 px stroke and set its color to R=240 G=175 B=50. Open the Stroke fly-out panel and simply check that Align Stroke to Outside button.

stroke

Step 10

Select the four rounded rectangles made so far and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Drag the Move-Vertical slider to 190 px and enter 12 in the Copies input field, and then click OK.

transform effect

4. How to Add the Text Content

Step 1

For the following steps, you will need a grid every 1 px. Just go to Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid and enter 1 in the Gridline every box.

Reselect that Odudo Mono Bold font and set the size to 40 px. Add all the years and set their color to R=55 G=50 B=45.

year text

Step 2

Select the Stellar font and set the size to 15 px. Add the main text information and set the color to R=55 G=50 B=45.

content text

Step 3

Go to Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid and enter 10 in the Gridline every box.

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and create an 180 x 30 px shape. Fill this new rectangle with R=55 G=50 B=45 and place it as shown below.

Add a second fill for this shape and select it. Drag it below the existing fill, set the color to R=160 G=40 B=35, lower its Opacity to 50%, and then go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the attributes shown below, click OK, and go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Enter a 5 px Radius and click OK.

title rectangle

Step 4

Select the rectangle made in the previous step and focus on the Appearance panel. Make sure that the entire path is selected and go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 5 px Radius and click OK. Go to Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid and enter 1 in the Gridline every box.

Select the Stellar Bold font and set the size to 15 px. Add the title text for the first event in your infographic and set its color to R=249 G=247 B=234. Go to Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid and enter 10 in the Gridline every box.

Duplicate (Control-C > Control-V) the rounded rectangle and the text added in this step. Move down to the next event in your infographic and align the copied objects with it. Change the text and adjust the length of the rounded rectangle to the text, as shown in the third image. Move the remaining events and add the titles shown in the final design.

title text

5. How to Create the Icons

Step 1

Go to Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid and enter 1 in the Gridline every box.

Pick the Rounded Rectangle Tool, create a 60 x 20 px shape, and enter 2 px in the Corners input field. Fill this new shape with R=55 G=50 B=45 and then duplicate it (Control-C > Control-V). Place the copy as shown below.

rounded rectangles

Step 2

Pick the Pen Tool (P) or the Line Tool (\) and draw a 60 px horizontal path. Place it as shown below, add a 4 px stroke, and set its color to R=55 G=50 B=45.

horizontal path

Step 3

Select the Stellar Bold font and set the size to 14 px. Add the FREE and SLAVES pieces of text, set their color to R=249 G=247 B=234, and place them as shown below.

Once you're done, select all the shapes that make up this icon and place them as shown in the second image.

free slaves

Step 4

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M), create an 81 x 4 px shape and fill it with R=55 G=50 B=45. Focus on the left side of this rectangle and pick the Direct Selection Tool (A). Select the top anchor point and drag it 8 px to the right.

thin rectangle

Step 5

Focus on the right side of the shape made in the previous step. Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a 16 x 10 px shape. Add a 4 px stroke for this rectangle, set its color to R=55 G=50 B=45 and check the Align Stroke to Inside button from the Stroke fly-out panel.

Focus on the top side of this rectangle and switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A). Select both anchor points and enter 6 px in the Corners input field. Make sure that your shape is still selected and go to Object > Path > Outline Stroke.

live corners

Step 6

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a 4 x 8 px shape. Fill this new rectangle with R=55 G=50 B=45 and place it as shown in the first image.

Switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the bottom-right anchor point, and drag it 4 px up, as shown in the second image.

direct selection tool

Step 7

Select all the shapes that make up your stylized sword, open the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder), and click the Unite button. Select the resulting shape and rotate it 45 degrees as shown in the third image.

pathfinder unite

Step 8

Select your stylized sword and go to Object > Transform > Reflect. Check the Vertical box and then click that Copy button.

reflect

Step 9

Select your left sword and go to Object > Path > Offset Path. Enter a 4 px Offset and click OK. Select the resulting shape along with the right sword and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel.

Select the three shapes that make up this new icon and place them as shown in the third image.

offset path

Step 10

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a 40 x 56 px shape. Add a 4 px stroke for this rectangle, set its color to R=55 G=50 B=45, and don't forget to check the Round Join button from the Stroke fly-out panel.

rectangle tool

Step 11

Pick the Rounded Rectangle Tool, create a 30 x 4 px shape, and enter 2 px in the Corners input field. Fill this new shape with R=55 G=50 B=45 and then create three copies (Control-C > Control-V). Place all these rounded rectangles as shown below.

rounded rectangles

Step 12

Duplicate that FREE pieces of text from your first icon, change its color to R=55 G=50 B=45, and place it as shown below.

text FREE

Step 13

Pick the Ellipse Tool (L), create a 10 x 42 px shape, and place it as shown in the first image. Fill this squeezed circle with R=242 G=188 B=80 and then add a 4 px stroke and set its color to R=55 G=50 B=45.

Keep focusing on this shape, switch to the Anchor Point Tool (Shift-C), and simply click the top and bottom anchor points. In the end, things should look like in the second image.

anchor point tool

Step 14

Pick the Pen Tool (P) or the Line Tool (\), draw a 9 px vertical path, and place it as shown below. Add a 4 px stroke, set its color to R=55 G=50 B=45, and don't forget to check that Round Cap button from the Stroke fly-out panel.

round cap

Step 15

Select the two shapes that make up your stylized feather and go to Object > Transform > Rotate. Set the Angle to -25 degrees and click OK. Once it's rotated, place your feather about as shown in the second image.

rotate

Step 16

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and create an 11 x 6 px shape. Add a 4 px stroke for this rectangle, set its color to R=55 G=50 B=45, and don't forget to check the Round Join button from the Stroke fly-out panel.

rectangle

Step 17

Focus on the rectangle added in the previous step and select it. Pick the Add Anchor Point Tool (+) and add two new anchor points as shown in the first image.

Switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the newly added anchor points, and simply drag them 3 px up. Pick the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 5 px square, and apply the same 4 px stroke used for the previous shape.

add anchor points

Step 18

Select all the shapes that make up your new icon and place them as shown in the following image.

place icon

Step 19

Create three copies of the Emancipation Proclamation icon. Place the copies as shown in the following image and replace the FREE piece of text with 13TH, 14TH, and 15TH.

multiply icon

Step 20

Duplicate your first icon. Focus on the text and replace FREE with COLORED and SLAVES with WHITE. Once you're done, place the icon as shown in the second image.

colored white

Step 21

Pick the Rounded Rectangle Tool, create a 60 x 56 px shape and enter 5 px in the Corners input field. Add a 4 px stroke for this new shape, set its color to R=55 G=50 B=45, and check the Align Stroke to Inside button from the Stroke fly-out panel.

rounded rectangle

Step 22

Pick the R=55 G=50 B=45 and create an R=55 G=50 B=45 shape. Fill this new rectangle with R=55 G=50 B=45 and place it as shown in the first image.

Pick the Rounded Rectangle Tool, create a 4 x 10 px shape, and enter 1 px in the Corners input field. Make sure that it's filled with R=55 G=50 B=45 and then create two copies. Place these three rounded rectangles as shown in the second image.

rectangle

Step 23

Select the Stellar Bold font and set the size to 30 px. Add the "7" text, set its color to R=55 G=50 B=45, and place it as shown below.

Once you're done, select all the shapes that make up this icon and place them as shown in the second image.

calendar text

Step 24

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a 56 x 17 px shape. Fill this new rectangle with R=55 G=50 B=45 and then add a 4 px stroke, set its color to R=55 G=50 B=45, and don't forget to check the Round Join button from the Stroke fly-out panel.

Focus on the top side of this new shape and pick the Direct Selection Tool (A). Select both anchor points and go to Object > Path > Average. Check the Both box and click OK. This should turn your rectangle into a triangle, as shown in the second image.

path average both

Step 25

Pick the Rounded Rectangle Tool, create a 6 x 25 px shape, and enter 2 px in the Corners input field. Fill this new shape with R=55 G=50 B=45 and then create three copies (Control-C > Control-V). Place all these rounded rectangles as shown below.

rounded rectangle

Step 26

Pick the Rounded Rectangle Tool and create a 52 x 4 px shape and a 60 x 4 px shape. Fill both shapes with R=55 G=50 B=45 and place them as shown in the first image.

Once you're done, select all the shapes that make up this new icon, and place them as shown in the second image.

rounded rectangle

Step 27

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 44 x 52 px shape, and fill it with R=55 G=50 B=45.

Keep focusing on this new rectangle and switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A). Select the top anchor points and enter 10 px in the Corners input field, and then select the bottom anchor points and enter 4 px in the Corners input field.

live corners

Step 28

Pick the Rounded Rectangle Tool, create a 16 x 4 px shape, and enter 1 px in the Corners input field. Fill this new shape with white and place it as shown below.

rounded rectangle

Step 29

Pick the Rounded Rectangle Tool, create a 36 x 24 px shape and enter 2 px in the Corners input field. Fill this new shape with white and place it as shown below.

Switch to the Ellipse Tool (L) and create two 7 px circles. Fill both shapes with white and place them as shown in the second image.

rounded rectangle

Step 30

Select the five shapes highlighted in the following image and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel.

minus front

Step 31

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and create two 10 px squares. Fill both shapes with R=55 G=50 B=45 and place them as shown below.

Switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the anchor points highlighted in the first image, and enter 4 px in the Corners input field.

live corners

Step 32

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and create two 4 x 12 px shapes. Fill both rectangles with R=55 G=50 B=45 and place them as shown below.

Switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the anchor points highlighted in the first image, and enter 2 px in the Corners input field.

Once you're done, select all the shapes that make up this new icon and place them as shown in the second image.

live corners

Step 33

Select the Stellar Bold font and set the size to 40 px. Add the "MLK" text, set its color to R=55 G=50 B=45, and then go to Type > Create Outlines.

Ungroup the resulting group of shapes (Shift-Control-G) and then turn them into a simple compound path (Object > Compound Path > Make or Control-8).

Martin Luther King

Step 34

Make sure that your compound path stays selected and open the Transform panel (Window > Transform). Set the Width to 60 px and the Height to 30 px, and then place your compound path as shown in the second image.

scale compound path

Step 35

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a 50 x 28 px shape. Add a 4 px stroke for this rectangle, set its color to R=55 G=50 B=45, and don't forget to check the Round Join button from the Stroke fly-out panel.

rectangle

Step 36

Select the Stellar Bold font and set the size to 20 px. Add the "VOTE" text, set its color to R=55 G=50 B=45, and place it as shown below.

text VOTE

Step 37

Select the rectangle and the "VOTE" piece of text, rotate them 45 degrees, and then place them as shown in the second image.

rotate icon

Step 38

Duplicate your calendar icon (Control-C > Control-V). Replace that "7" with "FEB" and then place your new icon as shown in the second image.

second calendar icon

Congratulations! You're Done!

Here is how your timeline infographic for Black History Month should look. I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial and can apply these techniques in your future projects. Don't hesitate to share your final result in the comments section.

Feel free to adjust the final design and make it your own. You can find some great sources of inspiration at GraphicRiver, with interesting solutions to improve your design.

Final Black History Month infographic

Learn more about creating infographics with these tutorials:

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