Digital works, infofails

#Infofails: Chapter 05, gold rush

I just realised that last time I did one of this chapters was last year, woow. My original idea was for me to publish one of these every three or four weeks … but reality has slapped me in the face: I don’t have time enough between projects.

Anyway, let’s talk about fails then.

That image at the top of this post is a QGIS render of the Amazon Basin made with data from Hydrosheds. It is part of the geographic data from my latest project on Reuters. But you may have never saw that thing anywhere in the project, unless not like that.

The Amazon Gold Project have a mix of styles including 3D, traditional sketching, vector works…

The 3D stage

I did some early versions of the maps using layers rendered in QGIS, a layer for terrain, base colour areas, borders, rivers etc. Then I re-pack all in Cinema 4D to create some side illumination.

Cycles C4D
Terrain layer test imported from QGIS, then rendered alone in C4D / Cycles

The idea was to try some alternative maps, at the end some illustrator labels and the dummy look something like this:

Map dummy with false text annotations

The 3D above was just a quick exercise while I was looking for styles. A bunch of images later, the things turned into flat images

And then to flat vector, probably taking out stuff from the map from crowded to cleaner to whatever…

Maybe I went too far because I really like how this was looking in outlines preview… someone should stop me at that time!

And it happened, in the end I went on to make other pieces putting pieces together on the page, bits of code, illustrations, etc.

If you already saw this project, you know that it has some illustrations, pieces that explain how illegal miners extract gold and contaminate rivers and destroy forests in the process.

Meanwhile I was also processing some satellite images, adding labels and looking for evidence of the miners from the space, then I saw some websites talking about the situation in Peru, so I look up the area in Sentinel and wooow!

I stumbled upon this place near the Peru-Brazil-Bolivia, border. Kilometres and Kilometres of devastation by the gold miners, a strip of more than 30km into the forest and actually I saw it for first time in false color, in near infrared, so the image was shocking to me.

Madre de Dios mining pits. Sentinel Hub, false color, near infrared.
Madre de Dios mining pit. Sentinel Hub, false color, near infrared.

Later we move to true color, trying to match the other satellite images that we had chosen earlier for this project, but still you have the feeling of the immensity of the destruction of these sites. I think that images have an immense power to present the damage dimension

5-6 km long section of mining pits at Madre de Dios. (Sentinel Hub, True color)
Sentinel Hub, true color.
Sentinel Hub, true color.

So, I’ll say, fails in here, YES, well I spend a lot of time looking for alternative styles, experimentation is nice I collected a lot of information, but maybe I went too far styling place holders… Anyway I enjoy a lot this project, but and I’m more than happy that is already over.

About #infofails post series:
I keep my beta graphics, those that never go public… Maybe they are tons of versions of a graphic or just a few concepts, part of my creative process. So, where all those things go? well, ends-up in #infofails –a collection of my fails at work.

Did you like #infofails?
Have a look to other #infofails Chapters here:

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Digital works

Crazy week of covid-19 stories

Around the world millions of people are still at home, waiting for this and other measures to take effect to face the coronavirus outbreak that has affected us for months now.  From the perspective of those of us who work in the media, these have been exhausting days.

In my particular case, this week, from my chair at home, I published two projects related to the virus and there are still many more waiting. You can have a look here: https://reut.rs/3cnZ7e8 and here: https://reut.rs/3etB13s

characters_draf
How coronavirus hitched a ride through China
For the first project I did a lot of illustrations, but also a bunch of graphics that you may not notice, there are about 135 maps (including different device sizes), also there are about 37,324 human icons, illustrator was about to set on fire my laptop while editing those icons 😂
characters

And some of the thousands of humans featured in the story:

icons


A breath of fresh air

The second project was a little different. Around the first week of February, I was curious about air quality in China and what could cause the lockdown, I discussed it with my boss the idea, but we never had time to go further and analyse the data. Few days later I did a quick search just to see if there was something interesting there:

nitrogen

Surface NO2 captures from earth.nullschool.net | on the right January 2020 day by day, at the left, February same logic. (Not for publish just to see what’s going on back then)

Then, I saw some other media and people doing nice stories about nitrogen dioxide, so, the idea stay in the back of my mind for a while. Finally, when April arrived, I was able to resume the project, and I took on the task of generating some basic visualisations and charts to share the idea with the team and a series of scientists from various disciplines.

final_mapseries

Part of the maps shown in Reuters story.

Of all this latest project, what I enjoyed the most was seeing the maps.

The pollution spots draw the high mountains in different parts of the world. I find it hypnotic to see those patterns without any labels or borders, just the data giving shape to the mountains, plateaus…

TIBETANPLATEAUHIMALAYASALPS

Anyway, I hope you enjoy these projects as much as I enjoy creating them.

One last note: The map on top of this post is about optical aerosol (AOD), based in data of GMAO/NASA. Picture of the day (March 01, 2020).
Many thanks to all the scientist and experts that help us to get that story out on time!

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blogging, Digital works, infofails

The last chapter of #infofails… [of 2019]

About #infofails post series: I have a lot of beta graphics that never go public, it can be tons of versions of a graphic or just a few concepts as part of my creative process. So, where all those things go? well, ends-up in #infofails –a collection of my fails at work.

This 2019 is almost gone, big media is doing their “year in graphics” collections, meanwhile I’m in the rush hour trying to fit one more graphic in this year. I’m looking back trough this year, and it has been a crazy one; many unexpected things and lots of changes for me. That’s the case of this project I want to share with you, is one of those unexpected results, or un-result to be accurate.

himalayas

Death rates at the Himalayas peaks

The Mount Everest project (screengrab above) started as a great opportunity for a data narrative, the story behind was the bloom in the climbers amount, many times resulting deathly for them; the whole team was doing pieces to get this story online, if you didn’t saw it, here’s the final result of the project: CLICK HERE. Have a look first, then come back to this story for a better context.

 

 

The fail story

My fails begun when I was trying to get an accurate model of the mountain, I first tried doing some elevation curves map, like the one on top of this entry. The main problem here was to get a good resolution, I was taking as base a 90m DEM produced by NASA, the files are great and works most of the times, but not to the level of detail I was looking for.

himalayas.jpg

90m DEM by SRTM/NASA. This was the starting point.

 

This thing works for a general overview of the whole mountain system of the Himalayas. To me, it was look in a good shape. By exaggerating the elevation, the idea was to add a color range or some other texture to visualize the heights, so then point out the mountains other than the Everest were the climbers usually go.

elevation profile.jpg

Version #1 Himalayas peaks

You maybe noticed that usually I do 1-5 versions of the images to try different ideas, in this case, I didn’t went any further because in the middle of the production some other projects came in. Fortunately my teammates got some other ideas, they took the project from this stage forward. I just jumped in again at the end to collaborate with the finishing touches and adjustments, so I can’t take any credit.

But going back to my fails, I did a few more pieces before the no return point in this project, one of them, a preview of the contours growing-up:

elevation.gif

Everest and surroundings, model based in 90m data by SRTM/NASA.

Also I try some more realistic look using a 30M DEM from the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission. That one was looking better, but I was already out of time:

crop06_0090.jpg

C4D textured model based on 30m DEM data by SRTM/NASA

basic_gshade.pn

Basic shading. C4D model based in 30m DEM by SRTM/NASA

wiref_01

Color ramp by height, Himalayas system. C4D model based in 30m DEM by SRTM/NASA

wiref_04

Mount Everest close-up. C4D model based in 30m DEM by SRTM/NASA

There was also an other idea to show in this graphic. I was thinking that maybe will be nice to show the equipment that modern climbers uses today in comparison with the equipment of explorers from 60 yeas ago when the mountains were the final frontiers of the unknown. Is incredible that teams went there with heavy and basic equipment and yet make it to the mountain (with great help from the Sherpas of course).

50s_sketch.jpg

Climbers equipment detail. Based in documentation of the British expedition of 1950.

Not sure if this graphic of comparisons will be published or not, so I’ll upload just a tiny little part without information or details, but who knows, you maybe see it next year either at Reuters website, or here as another of my fails for your entertainment haha.

It has been a pleasure to have your comments and readings this year, I hope we will read each other soon.

Happy holidays!

________
Did you like #infofails?
Have a look to other #infofails Chapters here:

–Chapter One
–Chapter Two
–Chapter Three 

Stay tuned for the next chapter in 2020! 🥳

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Digital works, infofails

Violence in Hong Kong // chapter 03 #infofails

About #infofails post series:

I have a lot of beta graphics that never go public, it can be tons of versions of a graphic or just a few concepts as part of my creative process. So, where all those things go?  well, ends-up in #infofails –a collection of my fails at work.

This time I’ll like to share a little bit of the backstage of the Hong Kong raising violence project. If you haven’t seen it yet, Have a look here first and come back to the article later to get a better context of this:

https://reut.rs/2qbMZdi

This year in the Asia Pacific region, one of the strongest topics of every day in the news is the protest in Hong Kong. Every newsroom here has been doing a lot of related work to the situation, and only seems to be worse and worse through the time.

sample

Screenshot of the section dedicated to the use of tear gas by the Hong Kong Police.

We spend a lot of time checking the information with the Police press releases and many different sources just to get simple charts to show/prove if the violence is increasing or not. I guess we spend more time taking care of little details rather than doing the visual display of the piece. That’s one of the best things I can highlight on the Reuters graphics team.

Police_gun_01_VZ

Concepts for the Police equipment display

social_02

Final version show in the story

It’s funny how this year I been doing so many illustrations for projects. I don’t see myself as an artist. In fact, I feel sorrow about my sketches because the quality of my drawings is not good enough, in part because I have friends with huge skills like Adolfo Arranz and  Daniel Solano but, talking about graphics, I feel that I should try things outside my comfort zone, no matter if it’s a 3D tool, hand made sketches, vector graphics or the result a few lines of code… It is an endless search for new ways to effectively communicate our stories.

The following concept of a graphic about the water cannon truck of Hong Kong Police is a piece I started for this project. The issue here was that the story was getting longer and longer, so, the editor decided to drop out the graphic. I always keep a folder with every version, sources and other related material, because you never know if you will need something of that later.

large

Large desktop version // ai2html L artboard

md

medium version // ai2html MD artboard

sm

devices version // ai2html SM artboard

xs

Small devices version // ai2html XS artboard

Finally, we use that same illustration in a launcher, with some minor adjustments in the amount of water released by the cannon. That’s the image at the top of this publication, on the right the original illustration, and on the left, the edited version for banners.

Something else in this project with a lot of versions was the opening illustration, just a few of the was about color, I have clear that color must match with the bar charts in the story, but anyway I like to give a try to some variations, that helps sometimes to go back a do little retouches to the final piece.

opening_versions.jpg

Opening color variations.

The most complicated thing to solve was smoke. It really asked me a lot to achieve the effects indicated there. We were looking for a subtle effect, otherwise will go as plain static cover image (which also was good) but I like to complicate my self for some reason:

 

social_03.gif

Opening loop, final version. (v14)

opening_v14

Version 13

opening_v7 copy.gif

Version 7.2

I like to think that little visual details make a big difference in the final product. So it’s fine if I spend a little more of time doing some variations and taking care of my stuff, even I do that in my time off. Literally, I can’t sleep if I haven’t solved an issue with a graphic… I know, I have a problem hahaha.

 

 

________
Did you like #infofails?
Have a look to other #infofails Chapters here:

Chapter One
Chapter Two

And Stay tuned for the next chapter 🙂

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Digital works, infofails, Motion graphics

#infofails chapter 02 (plastic bottles)

 

About #infofails post series:

I have a lot of beta graphics versions that never goes public. I do two or three versions of a graphic, sometimes just a concept as part of the creation process to get a better solution. Where all that material goes?  well, ends-up in #infofails, a collection of my work fails.

This time I’ll like to share a little bit of the backstage of the plastic bottles project published a few days ago. If you haven’t seen it yet, Have a look here: https://tmsnrt.rs/2PDRvhd

The opening of this project is a short video of plastic bottles covering a garbage truck and a standing guy. To get that piece I did a few testing versions, all together neede almost 400 hours of rendering including the final piece.

demo_192

Early attempt. The bottles just run away from the pile because of the friction and mass assigned

Just to keep a sense of scale I did also a few graphics for my self to be sure that all the calculations were correct and also to get a sense of what I was doing. But after talking with some experts and friends the numbers needed to be adjusted.

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One of the thing that helps me a lot was a plug-in for Cinema 4D from Cesar Vonoc. I was chatting with my bosses about how difficult it was to calculate the volume of organic objects in C4D, for the next day they had found this tool that literally gives me the chance to make organic shapes and keep the accuracy needed too. Thanks Matthew and Simon.

Here some ugly early testing drooping bottles and making piles:

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Technical part for nerds

My first idea on Cinema 4D was to use an object cloner to create 1 million of copies of my original bottle, then adding dynamics to them let them fall in a cascade, testing with a few objects was ok, but then I wasn’t able to load more than half-million before the computer crashes so for big fail…

1m_EMTT_0286

Particle emitter demo using 310,000 bottles

demo_0267

Render testing. The computer failed to render on the frame 267 of 1500

clons_160k_055

Cloner version, the computer crashed rendering any over 170,000 clones

Even using a very simple geometry for the bottles, my laptop wasn’t powerful enough to manage my crazy request, after I removed the fancy texture of each bottle it moved a little better, but not enough to reach 1 million of copies.

I solved the issue using a particle emitter for the 1 million objects during a little more than a minute, using a basic material to add textures and effects in after effects later, even with all these adjustments to the process the render took over one week to be completed. Lucky me my laptop is still alive!

clons

Demo to show the number of plastic bottles sold every second.

Them some pile shapes and concepts of how it will look at the end. I was adjusting the behavior of the particles, some adjustments in the textures, lights, camera position… many aspects to present a nicer view of this to the readers

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While the production continued, I did a second version of the website controlling the zoom of a giant render by scrolling the camera passing from the smaller pile of 1 second to the final visualization of 10 years. But the images were too big and the quality not good enough.

 

I have to say that this time I did around 22 versions of every single graphic, looking for the right elements, proportions… Every time I had a new version, we had a chat at the team to point out things that could be improved. Some just change shape, but others like the NYC model also change concepts.

v17_static_NYC

Testing textures for a plastic bottle pile over Manhattan.

static_NYC_v11

Testing textures for a plastic bottle pile over Manhattan.

tenYears_layer

An alternative version of the graphic using all the bottles spread out over Manhattan

v19_static_NYC

An alternative version to visualize the bottles sold over the last 10 years

v18_static_NYC

Uniform extension of the bottles sold over the last 10 years over Manhattan

city.png

A cutaway version to get a sense a deep

I did also an attempt to make all of the pieces in the same “3D look”, but at the time I was doing the information more confusing, finally, we just drop the idea and stay stuck to the original Sankey chart show what happened with the plastic created over the last 65 years

fate_v2

The fate of all plastic. Version 3.

This was an extremely interesting project, I experimented a lot with different things but maybe the time to verify each of the countless versions and polish the results really made the difference at the end. Thanks to my bosses Simon Scarr and Mathew Weber and my colleagues Manas Sharma and Alex Richardson who also contributed a lot to launch this project in good shape.

If you want to see the finished project and some other graphics, here is the link to the special feature on Reuters:
https://tmsnrt.rs/2PDRvhd

Or have a look to #infofails Chapter one:
https://mhinfographics.com/2019/09/03/infofails-chapter-01-pilot/

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Digital works, infofails

#infofails chapter 01 (pilot)

I have a lot of beta graphics versions that never goes public. I do two or three versions of a graphic, sometimes just a concept as part of the creation process to get a better solution. So, I want to start a new series of #infofails with all that material. Someone once said:

nobody learns from the mistakes of someone else

Of course, this is a statement to make your own mistakes but is sooo funny to see how someone else fails too 😁  so here my fails at work:

My first entry on #infofails is about this project we run a few days ago about the wildfires near the Arctic.

Map_Aug5

Wildfires project. 3D wold map or aerosol. Version 01

The map above is a Cinema 4D render, it was made based on NASA data of aerosol, basically, I took the GeoTIFF provided by NASA and using the hair module I create using that reference. Basically, each of the pillars in the map is hair:

c4d.png

Cinema 4D, hair map by July 24, 2019. Based on NASA’s aerosol data.

mod_24jul_elevation.jpg

Screenshot of the Geotiff of July 24. This determinated how high and where the pillar will rise.

My first idea on this project was to show the readers how the fires boosted up the aerosol levels and how it spread out around the world. the first version you saw on top was an attempt to show a little of that story. Later I move on an animated version of the map, as you saw bellow.

 

Map_Jul24

Wildfires project. 3D wold map or aerosol. Version 01.2

I was very happy with the look, but then I try to explain the map to the people and no one got it right. Also when you add “NASA data”, “3D model” and interactive in the same sentence things tend to become harder to explain in a quick and easy way.

I think the best feedback I get in the testing versions was that the earth map was too difficult to recognize. So I did some other versions.

aerosol_ed_14.gif

Wildfires project. 3D wold map or aerosol. Version 02

Then I got the idea to change the data, thinking that carbon monoxide maybe will be something more familiar, easier to explain and communicate.  So another version using different data come-up.

carbon-crop-map.gif

Wildfires project. 3D wold map or carbon monoxide. Version 02

 

carbon-md-ago8

But doing this I returned back to the main issue of the map, how to explain this map, the data and the main story here… too much to do it effectively.

I think this time I was trying to show something different and a little attached to use this technique. On top of that, I was working with dense data trying to say hey look here, near Siberia, see how crazy it goes but most of the people stay only trying to figure out the map…

final.png

Final version. Carbon data polar projection.

I end up using a polar projection on a regular map to tell my story. The map above is a frame of the animation, then I separate 3 key points at the bottom with little comments. I think now the story is clearer. I have to say that my editors made good points when they had a look into this project.

If you want to see full project and some other graphics, here is the link to the special feature on Reuters:
https://tmsnrt.rs/2PCvoYD

Stay tuned for the next #infofails

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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

process_2

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

cover_SQUARE_50

Permafrost cover

coverpermafrost02_W

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

DzSIIT0V4AAquso

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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