You have immediately understood, I am sure, the reference of the bestseller “Steal like an artist” of Mr. Austin Kleon https://austinkleon.com/steal/ , which I highly recommend the reading. In any creative job, you have to try, to imitate, to fail and learn to be able to improve. There is nothing bad in getting inspiration from others... but and that is the topic of this blog entry: please ask for the copyright, before using any picture or modify them on a visualisation.
I am a passionate, and if I create a visualisation about a topic or a brand, I am not searching any gain out of it, I do it because I like the topic. So when I decided to enter the Ironviz Literature and books contest, I was just hoping to have a remote chance to be chosen to compete on the final.
For the Iron Viz Contest, I choose to represent a story about Tintin, a famous belgian comic book, better known in Europe than in US ( probably not the best choice in term of strategy), but a real love choice.
I immediately began to viz, but I found very few data online, so I decided to create my own database, on the location visited by Tintin and friends, but also the appearance of the character by book and page. But I am old school, I don’t know how to program an automatic image recognition, I have no machine learning skills. So I did it myself with an Excel and a lot of patience, entering manually for each page of each book the number of time a character appears on a box.
But after some days and 1503 row later, I thought that it will be cool to add some visuals about the characters and use the cover of the books... and here an unknown problem began, because I needed to ask for permission. The Iron viz competition is a 3 weeks contest, so I needed the quick approval of the company Moulinsart for the reproduction of some visuals.
After losing some time, identifying the right contact person, I needed to adapt my creative vision to the reality :
- No adaptation can be done on a Tintin’s visuals,
- the title of the books need to be 100% accurate but also the name of the characters. Which is, I have to say totally fair .... but that means EXTRA care to check and cross check.
What does it means in term of design ? :
- I needed to change the colouring on the slice of books, in order they match the real ones
- You also have to add a disclaimer and a special symbol in front of every image you are using with the © symbol.
- If I wanted to use the official visuals of the characters, I cannot modify anything on them, meaning that I needed to keep the colour in the background. So I decided to keep the background colour to characterize the characters. These colours will not have been my initial choice, but at the end, I have an harmonized and clean dashboard matching the copyright settlement.
During the full approval process, I was very worried, and I asked myself, what about of all these hours invested creating a real dataset + visuals, if I cannot use them for copyright reason... But thanks, I obtained it 3 days before the deadline...
Other design choices :
Apart for the design imposed by the copyright rules, I tried to give the dashboard a Comic strips style, with the use of
- bubbles to symbolise the discussions between two characters,
- round elements to accentuate the boxes feeling
- some graphical elements have a large white border to give the readers the feeling that he is reading boxes on a comic strips.
- I limited myself to the minimal use of picture, because I prefer to create a visual in Tableau, than by copy paste a picture in internet... For instance the spider web is a Tableau graph.. the same for the book covers.
- in term of colour, I use as few colour as possible because I already have the one for the 6 major characters.
I limit myself to yellow and white for the global analysis
The only exception was when I used a different colour than white/yellow or the color coding by character for the below viz, because I wanted to compared across books and characters. The same divergent colour coding for all the character seems a good choice for me.
- I add "?" windows, which give further information on the graph and the legend, and clear out the design...And yes, I put the legend in the viz in tooltip, or at least it seems so
It was an hard work, but I had so much fun on the process… I could have continue during month, because the information I discovered about Tintin is really huge, especially because Hergé always draw about the news at that time, and it is very funny to discover the world at that time... but it will be a subject for another time.
I hope you enjoy the viz, and if I fail.... at least, I tried to make something different by getting inspired and I finished on time.. and if by any chance, this viz makes you read again Tintin, I will have complete my mission.