Digital works

2022: My Year in Graphics

Looking back at what was the year has become a tradition. Each year has brought a great diversity of projects and 2022 also meant a complete adjustment of life. In the midst of changing media, countries, schools, etc., these were my favorite details from the graphics that were born during my first year at the New York Times.

January: A new year, a new purpose

January was a tough month of transition, I spent a lot of time doing paperwork, looking for a place to live, and settling in at The Times. The learning curve on the internal tools and ways of producing it turned out to be longer than expected, but in my spare time I had some space to try out some new terrain processing stuff to start what would become almost a year in maps.

One of the things I enjoyed the most was playing with the elevation data to render images like the one above with Blender. It’s a bit of a fiddly setup, but once you’ve got it, it can spit out some really nice base maps.

February: Winter olympics ❄️

A month later, I was little more confided about the environment and the first graphics started to bloom. I enjoyed being part of the team covering the Winter Olympics. I learned a lot about disciplines that until this point I completely ignored.

Eileen Wu Jumping at the Freeski Big Air competition. Winter Olympics Feb. 2022.
Screenshot of the interactive feature. Photographs by The New York Times © 2022.

Some of the pieces included photometrics, 3D transitions, and basic vector graphics as well. The process was very effective, even though the competitions were at crazy hours for New York (like starting work at 3 am) the pieces were ready in a matter of hours, just in time for you to enjoy over breakfast. That was possible because of the collaboration of the team, many of us working together for each key competency, but also because these things were so much easier to achieve with the internal tools that the team has produced.

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If you haven’t seen it, or want to refresh your memory, you can enjoy one of these pieces here:

In my opinion, some of the coolest things were these almost-real-time pieces our team produced for social showing the performance of the skaters:

March: War.

By the end of February, the war in the Ukraine had arrived. However, in my case, March was the starting point of a coverage that has kept me busy all year. Hundreds of maps, 3D models, diagrams, illustrations and more have been the tools to inform our readers about the unfortunate stories that this ruthless war has spewed.

I’ve worked on dozens of updates to our breaking news maps page. This page is a quick response to events happening in Ukraine due to war or related issues, each entry delivered in a “small capsule” format that is published in no more than a few hours in a single shift.

Some of the maps from our coverage of the war. The New York Times © 2022.

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You can access the Ukraine maps page here:

Perhaps the most complex aspect of this page, in addition to the short times to create the entries, is the collection and verification of the information, which is often an arduous task. With the passing of the months, posting have become less frequent, but not because we left the coverage, but because many topics were deepened on a separate page since a small informative capsule was not enough.

April: The worst of human kind

Working in the news exposes you to know the worst of humanity. It’s true that in the coverage of a war you do not expect to receive images of fields in bloom, but sometimes it can take you to visit the lowest points of the human kind. The map below is part of a dark history of the bodies of Ukrainians murdered in the streets of Bucha, a small city north of the Ukrainian capital. These were civilians, who in addition to being killed in their own town, could not find respect and peace until the Russians left.

The New York Times © 2022.

Here’s a compilation of the coverage posted on twitter by the NYT:

The same week we were working on that piece of atrocities, a shooting in NY’s metro trains happened. I did a small collaboration for the piece.

May: A shrinking war and tons failed maps

As snow was melting away in Ukraine, the Russians were also forced to move away from many regions in Ukraine. That was the main story I worked on in April.

A way to show evidence of their shrinking ambition was to look at the fighting reports we had collected over months from official Russian and Ukrainian statements and other sources. That gave way to those little maps that open the story.

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You can access this story here:

May was also a good time to share a bit of behind-the-scenes work from the perspective of failure, of course. I collected failed maps from the first 5 months of 2022. Some were ideas I wanted to try while working on mapping the same areas of Ukraine over and over again, and other times just observations that caught my eye.

If you are into nerdy mood for maps, you may want to check that entry of infofails here:

Just because this has been the year of maps for me, I found some free time to continue exploring with terrain processing, this time adding unusual colored textures to the base-maps of my beloved Costa Rica.

June: Modeling

One of the things I enjoy the most of my work is the chance to diversify the things I do. 2022 was a lot a bout mapping, but sometimes like in June, I had the chance to use something else to communicate, in this case Cinema 4D to create models of Russian equipment, including this terrible weapon that breaks into small fragments and mini-bombs that probably still lie dormant waiting to detonate in many places in the Ukraine.

The New York Times © 2022.

Learn more about the featured story

What Hundreds of Photos of Weapons Reveal About Russia’s Brutal War Strategy:

July: Satellites

Having access to so many satellites is awesome. Those things flying over us all the time are a great tool to provide evidence for our stories. By July, I was working in a piece about the Azovstal Steel Plant in the city of Mariupol. That factory was a stronghold for the Ukrainians. But the development of circumstances led that industrial complex to become a horrible trap for civilians who ended up trapped with no way out for months.

Base img. by Planet Labs / The New York Times © 2022.

I used a large image of the plant to point out key locations, playing around with color and contrast of the things we really wanted to focus on first. But maybe the most interesting part of that piece was the radar data. I have use this data many times, there are plenty of ways to take advantage of the Sentinel missions data. The map below is the variance in the readings over a range of weeks, once processed it can show you where the structures of a city have being physically changing, in this case revealing evidence of damage by the war.

The New York Times © 2022.

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If you want to learn more about it, visit the link below:

August: Taiwan

August brought Taiwan to the main focus. China decided to show its muscles encircling the island with military exercises so we presented a visual analysis of the particular conditions of Taiwan.

To do that I have the opportunity to work with my friend the super-talented Pablo Robles. I have worked with Pablo in different countries/media and I only can say he has an exquisite sense for design and graphics in general. We worked together for the first time at the NYT to produce these series of maps and graphics showing how China may choke the island in order to push it for an outcome similar as they did with Hong Kong.

The New York Times © 2022.

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If you want to learn more about it, visit the link below:

September: war, sketches and hurricanes

Seven months of war had brought a lot of stories and hundreds of maps. September was also a turning point where the Russians have no option but back down its war. Ukraine managed to conduct some effective offensives taking advantage of some geographic conditions and Russian weakness. 

I always keep an eye on satellites data when a key development happens, in this case the thermal readings onboard of VIIRS satellites showed fire spots matching the advance of the Ukrainians.

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If you want to learn more about it, visit the link below:


Towards the end of the month, a group of colleagues was working on coverage of Hurricane Ian. They put together the map below showing the intensity of the flooding caused by the hurricane. I collaborated with a very, very small part, but the work they did seemed simply impressive due to the magnitude of what it communicated.

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If you want to learn more about it, visit the link below:

October: More about the forces of nature

The Hurricane Ian caused a lot of damage in Florida, I worked on a piece precisely about that checking the before and after after the storm wiped out dozens of buildings. 

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If you want to learn more about it, visit the link below:

Our coverage included realtime maps maintained by our team, I did my self some of that. Some maps were easier to update, and some other pieces included a little more of customization.

November: the return of the pencil

In early October the bridge connecting Russia to the illegal annexed Crimean peninsula got hit by an explosion. The structure wasn’t just a Russian symbol in Ukrainian soil, but a key supply line so its relevance was enough to trigger a large retaliation over Ukrainian structures in the following weeks to the explosion.

After analyst reviewed the evidence, we prepared a piece showing how it was very a difficult operation to plan, if it was planned that way by the Ukrainians. I thought an illustrated piece could do the main explanation well.

The New York Times © 2022.

Learn more about the featured story

If you want to learn more about it, visit the link below:

December: Trenches and bugs

On Dec. 1st, I have this idea to do a new entry for the Ukraine maps page about trenches, short story is the piece grow with so many things I found, that we move it to its own page instead. I think every little thing lined-up to do analysis, I found a lot of evidence in radar data, great HD images from satellites with very few clouds, the military experts also give me great material from a few interviews a found a lot of good references for illustrations… all was set for a nice piece to say good bye to the 2022 with a final report on Ukraine.

Learn more about the featured story

If you want to learn more about it, visit the link below:

December also bring me a nice memory from the past. I did a small collaboration before I left Reuters a year ago (times flies wow) this December I saw it published by the mates of Reuters, it was so nice to see this published after so much time. So many great memories came back to me.

This project was full with amazing illustrations by my friend the talented Catherine Tai. Hipper realistic illos of beautiful creatures.

My 2022 list of graphics

There are only a few more days left in 2022, looking back at what this year has been like, there are so many sad stories. I sincerely hope that 2023 brings us all happier things to read. My thoughts are with all the victims of the war, and I hope that it ends soon for the good of the world.

Please consider visiting the links above, this is just a glimpse of what’s in these stories. For practical reasons, I have omitted many details and perhaps a broader perspective is necessary.

Here we are again saying goodbye for another year. I’m very grateful to all my teammates at The Times for the patience they all had with me in helping me through this transition year. To you all my www-friends, I wish you the best in this new beginning.

Animation by @Kirun via Giphy

See you all in 2023, Merry Christmas!

Digital works

My fav little details of 2021 on Reuters

That time of year has come once again, the best of the year in my opinion. All us is doing the list of the best of the year to give a glimpse of what 2021 was like and, of course, to give a final push to their stories as well. So, like last year, I want to do a quick rundown of my favourite details of the 2021 projects. Keep in mind the pieces in this entry are out of context and you may want to take a look into the full story for better understanding.

January: The amazing Amazon rainforest

The 2021 kicked off strongly, during the first month of the year I worked various projects including some breaking news. My favourite details of January was a small graphic part of the project titled “Jungle Lab”. The graphic itself isn’t a super complex visualisation, actually it’s just a simple illustration, but the message behind it is very powerful. It makes you realise the relevance of the virgin rainforest right away. I truly believe that our work on infographics is not about fancy effects but powerful messages to our readers.

January highlight [ link HERE ]


As I said before, January was a busy month. Here are some other details that I also enjoyed working on, mostly breaking news.

You may remember the story of miners who were trapped in a mine after an explosion in Northeast China [link here]. There’s a small graphic showing dimensions of the rescue shafts dug by rescuers, that’s something really difficult to imagine without a familiar reference.

Aside from the miners, you may also remember the tragic accident of the Indonesian flight SJ182 [link here]. I recon working with those bathymetric maps helped to explain why recovering the black boxes was a difficult operation. Also kind of shocking to see a few incidents of airplanes around the same area.

February: Sand.

After a tight January, news continued to pop up everywhere, lots of stories with great potential for a visual project. I have the opportunity to do some experimentation with 3D assets using amazing high resolution images courtesy of Planet Labs. We created a detailed story of the massive landslide in India [link here]. Here’s also a short recording of the piece running in C4D: [Drive video].

However, a much larger project was published in February. For a long time we worked on a series of projects on a topic that impressed me. To be honest, I never thought about it before: Sand mining.

Sand mining and trade is a whole world itself, this commodity is unnoticed present in our daily lives. It have a dark side of illegal trafficking and mafias too and even it have sparked diplomatic issues for some countries.

But one key thing that came to mind when I started working on this was this: Why we don’t use desert sand to feed our huge demand? There’s plenty of it!

Well… the explanation is a little more complex, but in short, desert sand grains are too small and rounded. That is why we are dredging rivers, digging abysses in mountains and making beaches disappear.

February highlight [ link HERE ]

March: Rain.

2021 broke some records with extreme weather events, in fact I did an entry here about a 2021 failed project on floods. You probably remember the floods in Germany and China, but there were many more events like that throughout the year.

In March, eastern Australia suffered what the Australian government called the worst flooding in 60 years. That week I was working in a daily-graphics shift, so I did a quick small map to visualise the event, here’s a small part of the graphic:

Also in March, I did a small collaboration on the nice project “Bats and the Origin of Outbreaks”. I really enjoyed working on that piece in every aspect, from the story angle to the opportunity to work with a custom style. You may also want to take a look at that piece:

April: Volcanoes awakening.

April surprised us with a breaking news story, the Le Soufriere volcano violently covered St. Vicent island in ash, devastating the island infrastructure and prompting a sea and land evacuation of thousands of residents. It also released emissions at spectacular heights into the atmosphere. It was like the omen of a year full of massive volcanic eruptions around the world.

I collaborated in the story with different pieces, but my favourite piece was Simon’s map showing buildings, shelters and risk areas among others. Here is a small detail of that map:

April highlight [ link HERE ]

May: Space!

One other frequent topic on my daily work this year was space exploration. I did a good amount of small pieces on telescopes, comets, asteroids and spacecraft.

May saw the landing of the Martian explorer ‘Tianwen-1’ develop and successfully landed in the red planet by the Chinese. Here is a little detail of that graphic:

June: Olympics.

My favourite from June was the singular Olympic sports story. Can’t imagine the adrenaline rush of a 200m obstacle swimming competition. Jumping over boats and diving again to be the fastest hurdle swimmer of all times, they sure had a lot of fun there.

Here’s a small diagram of the course of the Paris games of the year 1900:

June highlight [ link HERE ]

July: Space! (again)

By mid year the news put me back thinking in the outer space. The Hubble Telescope was literally an eye-opening for the scientific community and for all of us in general. Even more so if you stop to think that this magnificent achievement of science was designed with technology from the 80’s. I can’t believe how the old computer from the 80’s still worked there. Here’s a small detail from a daily basis graphic that explains where the telescope problem was. ( The 80’s computer SIC&DH )

This 2021, I spent a little more time making small single-day graphics. I enjoyed the small break from big projects, and the quick and intensive research part you have to do to get it done in a single day. However, I think the best part was going back to the long-medium term projects that were almost done to finish them, with my mind clear and fresh.

August: Wildfires & aircraft data

August was a very busy month too. One of my favourite pieces was this sad new record: For the first time in the records, smoke from the fires reached the north pole. Check out the graphics thread below. There’s a third graphic in that thread, click on it if you want to see some temperature records too:

The second part of the month was infused with the chaos surrounding the US departure from Afghanistan. We did a few pieces on this, overall my favourite was the spaghetti drawn by the aircraft around the airport. It’s really cool how when you are digging into the data many stories pop up, and often many questions more.

August highlight [ link HERE ]

September: Ice.

Like what happened to me this year with the sand, there are things that you never expect to be so interesting. Ice is more than frozen water, ice cores are cool stuff. These things can help to retrieve ancient records, they are like windows to the past of our planet. On September we published this story about that.

The sad part is that we are loosing those records due global warming, and it’s not slowly loosing them, it happens at freaking vertiginous fast speed. The graphic above shows the average of how much ice melts in the world EVERY DAY! The amount is equivalent of placing a gigantic 273m-high ice cube in NY’s Central Park.

September highlight [ link HERE ]

October: Rainforest.

The forests stories returned in October. This project took many days of 3D scene testing, hundreds of calculations to put thousands upon thousands of trees in place, modelling objects and illuminating leaves to show how quickly we are removing the things that are keeping us alive. We are nuts isn’t?

Not just ice, but we are also losing trees on an incredible rate. On average, 67,000sqm of rainforest is lost EVERY MINUTE. The following video begins at ground level, right in front of 3 people and a logging tractor, all to scale. In order to see the portion of the forest that we lose, you see people and tractors as ants.

There were also other quick projects on this month, one of them was the story of the Chinese incursions on the Taiwanese ADIZ. Since then, many more events had happened and tensions only continued to escalate between both sides. Thinking about the region that has been my home for so many years, I hope this doesn’t go any further. Unfortunately, there are always chances that this will get out of control.

October highlight [ link HERE ]

November: Pollution.

India is a very particular place. During the last months of each year, northern cities are suffocated by pollution trapped at the foot of the Himalayas. There are many reasons behind this such as seasonal crop fires, fireworks celebrations, and many others. However, southern cities avoid polluted skies. That was the subject of a one-day quick map, here’s a detail of it:

December: spin, spin and throw it.

Back to outer space news! …or kind of.

Near the end of last month (Nov.) I was working in one more of those small pieces for the daily basis. This time my mind blowed up with this idea of launching things into space without rockets.

The idea is to spin a projectile in a vacuum chamber, gain momentum, and propel it into orbit around the Earth. I imagine something like throwing a hammer at the Olympics, but on an enormous scale. Here is a small detail of the graphic in mention:

My 2021 list of graphics

Just a few days more of the 2021 are left, so many stories have crossed under my Wacom and keyboard, it was a great year. Hope you enjoyed this sneak pick of all the stuff I worked on over the year. I hope you also considered visiting the stories mentioned, just hit the link at the end of each month’s entry to get a better context of each of the details highlighted here.

2021 was a great year, I’m very grateful to Reuters for all the good things, also to my teammates, for everything we did together and how much I learned. There is no better way to say goodbye to this year.

Animation by @Kirun via Giphy

See you all in 2022, Merry Christmas!