Digital works, Motion graphics, Print graphics

My sincere gratitude to the South China Morning Post

Back in 2016, I was moving from Costa Rica to Hong Kong to face a new challenge. Full of dreams and hungry of learning, I arrived at the South China Morning Post doors. There I found new friends and colleagues and learn a lot from all of them. Today I have the same feeling once again, and I want to say thanks to all that people that I meet here in Hong Kong because they change in a way or another my professional and personal life, I really can’t mention names because there are many people and I don’t want to leave anyone out

In three years at the South China Morning Post, I collaborate in 30 print pages and I have good memories for all of them, some remind me of a trip with a friend to collect information in China, a rush hour with a piece of breaking news, or a long project that I only talk about day after day (oh poor friends of mine, I’m sorry )

Bellow, some of the print graphics memories I create at the South China Morning Post

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I had fun doing full-page graphics at the South China Morning Post print ed, and the online was an awesome sandbox where I found the freedom to test and play with pretty much all the topics that come to my mind, my first graphics as stand-alone were the Statues Graphic and the lightning project

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Statues drawings

And some of those first steps at the South China Morning Post

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But maybe the more recent ones were the most I enjoy because of the diversity of ways to work, some times doing projects by my self and some others collaborating in bigger projects with the other artist, visual journalist and designers. That’s the case of the Forbidden City series collecting data and working in graphics on for a year

The biggest project that I ever did up to today, and at the same time one I enjoy the most was the Forbidden City, below the Part One print version. To be honest, I’m very bad doing drawings, but since I get here I face a lot of projects where the drawings were the essence of the graphic, like this all manually made:

The-cricket-cage

Forbidden City series, part one for the print

And the extended digital chapters, which in my case covered the architecture aspects of the Forbidden City in Beijing:

Maybe the most exhaustive part was the built of the of the VR feature in the second chapter made with Cinema 4D:

c4d

Here the output on youtube 360/VR:

…and some more of the stuff of the Forbidden City Series, small animations and graphics

I can say that I try pretty much all kind of topics in the South China Morning Post from many soccer graphics to the architecture ones, Chinese projects like the new the Silk Road (OBOR), of the perception of the rule of law, explosionsweather conditions, the moon events, crazy aircraft stories, game-like graphics about food, vessel tragedies like the Aulac and the Sanchi tanker, trend games like Pokemons hunting, a lot of Trump, and the Brexit, automobile technology, and snakes, my fascination with Asians anatomy, always nice to have some time off so I also did one about holidays; if you want to know where you can go with your documents and how much it cost I did one about the passports too; graphics about Chinese cities, Hong Kong’s ageing population, war vehicles, why no toilets too; the Golden Globe Awards, celebrations like San Valentine, or where the Asians lives in the US; all about North Korea in 15 graphics, the evolution of Peral River Delta considered the Chinese silicon valley; Spanish Galleons crossing the Pacific heading to China’s goods; Thai kids trapped in a cave; automation and industrial robots and many many more that I can’t remember now. All those with a nice touch of memories because work at the South China Morning Post graphics team was more about have fun with the stuff you love to do rather than just work

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My last project with the South China Morning Post was the Tibet permafrost, and there wasn’t a better way to finish my time there like doing one last project with my teammates like the ones I enjoy for 3 years

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Permafrost cover

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Cover illustration by Adolfo Arranz

tibet-plateau

Permafrost extension in the northern hemisphere

For the print, I split the project into two backpages, so I can make a more specific topic on extreme temperatures, on my point of view a Goldilocks place were the temperature is too hot in one place and incredible cold in the other

Extreme Earth is blowing hot and cold

My last page at the South China Morning Post, published in February 2019.

As I set in the title of this post, this is just to say thanks to all you guys that help me to evolve and create more and more. Thanks to the Hispanic gang of the South China Morning Post; thanks to my British boss today a good friend, to the friends at Hong Kong University, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, the Hong Kong Design Institute and the Baptist University that also open their doors to me, all my Hongkongneer friends and all the South China Morning Post family that let me be part of that amazing experience

From now on, my graphics will appear in the Reuters pages, lucky me to work there with more good friends. Hope to come back soon here, to my website, to write about some new graphics and backstages made for the world

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Awards, Digital works

SND 40th edition (digital)

The first week of February (2019) the Society for News Design announced the results of the 40th edition of the Best of Digital News Design hosted in Washington DC. They granted 5 Gold Medals, 36 Silver Medals and an amazing number of 408 Bronze awards

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If you are new in the field, this event is the equivalent of Olympics of news, Media from all across the globe picks and send entries of the best of the year (2018 in this case) and an international jury dig-in for a few days seen the best of the best

This year result was very good for the South China Morning Post ranking as 4th globally because a few years ago we didn’t do anything special for online, here is a little more of background here if you like. Below the table of medals for the 40th edition:

MEDIA Bronze Silver Gold Total
The New York Times 62 11 3 76
The Washington Post + The Lily 48 10 0 58
Reuters 53 2 0 55
South China Morning Post 23 1 0 24
ProPublica 19 3 0 22
ESPN 17 2 0 19
The Globe and Mail 15 0 0 15
National Geographic 11 1 1 13
Bloomberg News 11 0 0 11
The Los Angeles Times 10 0 0 10
Globoesporte.com 8 0 0 8
The Wall Street Journal 8 0 0 8
The Guardian 7 0 0 7
ABC News (Australia) 6 0 0 6
FiveThirtyEight 6 0 0 6
La Nacion (Argentina) 6 0 0 6
Quartz 6 0 0 6
TASS Russian News Agency 5 1 0 6

The complete table is available in the SND official website here. The following is a selection from among those 24 awards that the SCMP obtained that was part of my last year portfolio:

Why the world’s flight paths are such a mess

flightpaths

[ ACTIVE LINK HERE ]
2 Bronze medals: Individual portfolio, Features transportation

The stones in the road for China’s 2025 plan on electric vehicles

cover

[ ACTIVE LINK HERE ]
1 Silver: Use of maps
2 Bronze: Individual portfolio, Features transportation, Line of coverage

 

How China aims to dominate the world of robotics

robots

[ ACTIVE LINK HERE ]
1 Bronze: Line of coverage ( MIC2025 series )

 

If football coaches were Russian dolls, who would be the biggest?

matrioshka

[ ACTIVE LINK HERE ]
1 Bronze: Special events, Russia World Cup

 

The origins of Beijing’s Forbidden City

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[ CHAPTER 1 ] [ CHAPTER 2 ] [ CHAPTER 3 ] [ CHAPTER 9 ]
2 Bronze: Individual Portfolio, Line of coverage ( The Forbidden City Series )

Ten signature dishes from around the world

food

[ ACTIVE LINK HERE ]
1 Bronze: Individual Portfolio

Thanks to the Hispanic gang and all the SCMP graphics team that also got a lot more awards and for their collaboration in the production process last year, looking forward to knowing the result in the print next week in Florida.

For further info, you can see more details in the awards section here.

 

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Digital works

Backstage: electric vehicles

Illustration on top by Perry Tse

It has been a long time since my last post here, we got a lot of projects this year and there are few more to finish before the end of the year but I’m back anyway.

This time I’ll like to share a little about this project I made about electric cars, actually I made this “backstage” because some guys in Germany ask me to, I’m looking forward to see it in their website too. Anyway, here it is:

Shenzhen map

China’s electric cars map range

THE BACKSTAGE

The stones in the road for China’s 2025 plan on electric vehicles

This article is part of a series of visual stories we decide to cover about the Chinese Government plan to develop the country in the following years and set China as the top country in key areas. I assigned the topics to four of our colleagues and at the same time two topics to myself

Most of the data about electric cars was about sales, markets and boring stuff. It is important to explain why is important but not to create a visual story of it. That was a problem because the initial the idea came through that in particular

My solution was to complement that part with something else. Usually I make a document with everything I can find, any single topic, reference or interview then I pick the good ones to develop the analysis on it

After that, I split-up the topic in to mini-sections:

  1. Why is important (the boring part mostly done in small charts)
  2. Why is a problem (raw material providers)
  3. Why is difficult to achieve (findings watching a map)
  4. How it works (again small charts and diagrams)
EV simple chart

ICOA car sales report. One of the needed boring charts to complement the story

So, first section was done with the boring data. But when I was making more research I found this story about the Cobalt precedence, many data of production, the mix of minerals needed to the industry and how the minerals extracted manually in Africa will end-up in Europe or USA

EV_original sketches

Sketches of the cobalt extraction and trade flow.

Trying to understand this, I create a few sketches to myself, there I realised that was a nice idea to explain that part quick and ease and focus my effort into the maps section

Open Street Maps station results

Open Street Maps Tag info preview

My curiosity lead me to check if China had a public network of stations to recharge the cars. I now that USA have a lot of stations, but I never expected to find that few stations across the country, so I realise I have something nice to show

OSM stations.png

OSM stations imported into QGIS as vectors

I get there using the info tag website of Open Street Maps, funny I began with a huge area extension, but there was nothing around so, I just one more thing to get a nice story, the context in the visual

1920px-byd_electric_taxi

BYD E6 model. A taxi in Shenzhen, China.       Image https://www.wikiwand.com/en/BYD_e6

By the data sales (the boring data at the  beginning) I confirmed that the BYD electric car, particularly the E6 was the most popular car in China, according to the company, BYD’s E6 car model have a 300km battery range, so all I need to do was to trace 150km and 300 ranges from the stations over the roads of China to get a nice graphic

OSM_road_Network_and_stations-shenzhen.png

QGIS preliminary preview

I did this in QGIS, then I recoloured the map sections in photoshop to give it the desired aspect. For the print version I decided to leave only the range maps, but in paper the style doesn’t work so I create new versions of each of the maps. At the end I create four maps for desktop views, four to the mobile devices and five to the print version. Maybe is nice to mention I had a tight deadline, a week to do research, write the article, make the graphics, do the coding and make a print version of it.

Readers reaction was really good, the graphic reached the average views for our stories very fast, even becoming in one of the most read of this series. The print also was good, people in China got a copy and enjoyed, but I’m not sure how because the SCMP is banned in Mainland China

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Check the full visual story here

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Digital works, Print graphics

Nerd facts: Asian’s face characteristics graphic

About a year ago I move to Hong Kong from Costa Rica, in this crowded city I found many inspiration topics to do graphics, like lighting, statues, languages etc, but one of the biggest changes for me was Asians in self. I admire that many aspects of Asian culture that makes them unique, having that many different things around I was about to get crazy, even this simply every day stuff when I was traveling in the metro, walking in a street or wherever else, in my mind I was asking the same question:

What’s in the Asian face that makes them look Asian?

In all Asia are lots of cultures, ethnic groups with different characteristics, so I not ease to say Asians all together have this or that. So I try to look for major groups to talk about main groups.

maps

The GREG project (https://icr.ethz.ch/data/greg/) give me an idea of spread of groups of people and major ethnic groups across Asia.

The project to geo-reference ethnic groups conducted by Weidmann, Nils B., Jan Ketil Rød, and Lars-Erik Cederman in 2010 was very useful as a start point and to get a better understand of the topic. I use also plastic surgery medical articles to understand the structures and as a complement I collect samples of those major ethnic groups mentioned in the GREG project and Joshua project.

medical

Schemes of the article Blepharoplasty Plastics Surgery by Mark A. Codner and Renne M. Birke. 

ContactSheet-001

This are the samples of eyes of the major 63 ethnic groups in Asia based in data from GREG & Joshua projects 

 

I use the eye samples to create a graphic measuring the eyelid gap, inclination and length of the eyes based in the same iris size of each sample, the idea was to show that some times the inclination makes look narrower the eye.

eyes

Bottom section of the graphic showing from the narrower eyes to the wider gap.

I have to say that the suggestions and support of Marcelo Duhalde in this graphic makes the project a better final product. I believe that show the work and talk without filter is the best to create a better graphic, is a fresh new point of view and will improve your ideas.

13_eyeShape

Graphic process from sketch to published version

The online version of this graphic was the same information as the print, it have a small variations in the mobile including a few different graphics and shorted storytelling but at the end was just jpg images.

The funny part of this was that this graphics stays for a few days as the most read article of the scmp website and shared more then 10k times.

slide

Print full page version, desktop version and mobile version on the day of publication.

For this project I did the research in free short times in between other projects. I did keep hold this information for about a year awaiting for a chance to work on it and publish because we are just a few in our unit and there are many projects in the way. The production time was about a week, plus an other 10 days of research spread in to short times in a year.

Take a look in to the pint version in our print arcade:
http://multimedia.scmp.com/culture/article/SCMP-printed-graphics-memory/

Our in the online version released on July 04 2017:
http://www.scmp.com/node/2100532/

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Digital works

Nerd facts: On last Valentine’s Day (2017)

Every month have a particular celebration, or as I like to call it “a nice excuse to create a graphic”.

February is a love and music month, so a month earlier I started planning to create a way to visualise the language thought music, I have to admit that the SCMP is very open mind to explore new ways to tell stories or even just experiments like this…

concept_01

Speech spectrum of “I Love You”, the red dots are my key points to make a new sound.

Anyway, the idea came while I watched the spectrum of a voice record; there I began to think what if the instruments can be adapted to languages, how can sound a phrase of an instrument in Spanish, French, German, Chinese… and, if already some instruments have particular sound linked to a particular culture and language.

I started by adding key points to phrases like “I love you” in different languages, and then I should try to explain that to musicians, editors and partners (that does not goes very well at the beginning), but after many sketches they got the idea and the process began.

spec_love

Sounds synthesized from voice recordings

languajes

Synthetized instruments spectrum

I create a few concepts for this graphics before get the final data using Google translate, with the inspector tool I catch the speech, then I create a new sound with synthetizers, and back to the visuals again to work with an approximate spectrum.

translate

Google translate, voice render.

Layout_progress

Visual layouts for the project.

The results were interesting, so next we make records of some people speaking in the final selected languages (English, Spanish, French and Cantonese) that suppose to be reference point to the musician, but we didn’t use his interpretations because the deadline was approaching and he don’t send us the files on time. So at the end the instrumental interpretations were made by synthetizers. If you are interested in learn more about the making of the sound, visit to the special feature and tap on “How it works”

Take a look in to the project:
http://multimedia.scmp.com/culture/article/valentine/#

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Digital works

Nerd facts: The Rule of Law World Index

score

Rendered view of the World rank of rule of law 2016

This is a project based in data of the “World Justice Project Rule Of Law Index, 2016″ by the SCMP infographics team. Our goal was to show the information in a simply visual interactive tool, to give our readers also a perspective of Hong Kong and the world overview.

This was a very fast-build graphic, the idea was to show the world rank moving up and down from the last year to this year and also a visual report of each country/region.

screen-shot-2016-11-02-at-10-00-23-am

Country report assets. The graphic is generated by json data thought js, this svg assets are rotated, scaled and positioned according the country data.

This graphic is a combination of css, svg, js, and json data. But only uses 8 files of a simply vector shape, so load very fast. The main idea was to give a comparison tool, to view the countries of interest side-by-side but also their position related to other countries in the region, that is the irregular shape, according to the scale, the average of each of the 7 regions is added via js to every country.

screen-shot-2016-11-02-at-9-59-58-am

Seven region average index layers

The graphics evolved to an more effective visual representation, in my work is usual to create at less five previous concepts, from data reports like excel pivot tables to paper concepts and finally to vector graphics. The most effective way to show the data, some times come on the fifth or seventh iteration, but is the best way to create some informative and usable infographic.

screen-shot-2016-11-02-at-10-00-41-am

Early concepts for the Rule of Law global index

 

Also, maybe thats the reason of some mistakes in the data, text or color codes in this images, the building up of this graphics always have the main ideas to guide the next versions, so it needs the text and visuals in more than simply Lorem Ipsum

rank

First version of the index change (2015-2016)

Hope you enjoy the graphic story, please take a look in to the final version here: http://multimedia.scmp.com/news/world/article/rule-of-law/

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Digital works

Project: Land of Giants

A few months ago I start this project about the tallest statues in the world. My intention was to show in someway the tallest structures without the noise and distortion of pictures. I love photos, but for this things is really hard to get a full picture of structures from different countries in the same conditions, so the solution was to make drawings of more than hundred statues around the world.

process_1

Illustrator process, fist stage.

The Gutenberg project has a collection of tall statues from all over the world, that was my first source, but a corroboration of each of the 125 statues founded was just the begging. High resolution images of reference, hours of google earth to get a location in a interactive pop up map, data of completion, theme, date of build start… When all those data facts was corroborated 98 statues was the result of two months of investigation (not at full time of course).

maps

Every country section has a sort information about the statues located there, but also is popup launcher for an interactive map.

I start the drawings in Illustrator, on the maximum canvas size to be sure to capture many details as posible, then I move to photoshop in layered document for each group of statues by country, day and day of drawings almost make me crazy but at the end I trust the result will be nice.

process_2

Statues drawing and painting process

Even on a spread page on the SCMP the print version will never be enough to fit all the 98statues with all this data, this project born on digital but also was required a print version, so I take China -the top country builder- and the local Hong Kong statues, some facts around the graphic are only in the print version because the idea was to make it complementary rather than same graphic in different platform.

print_final

Print version of the statues project

This project shows the statues grouped by country, from the top quantity country to a group of only one statue per country, but also has interactive maps and a little things like the rank in the bottom, you can click each and the page will scroll to the statue position.

rank

This are the images used for the world rank, 98 in total

It was a very long project, but not the last one. Hope you can enjoy all version of this project (Print, Desktop and Mobile) all of them different, take a look at the main project here:

http://bit.ly/2iBbwPH

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