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Archive for ‘Visual Communication’


On the Drawing Board:
The Visual Communication Project

airline safety card

For a while now, I’ve been working on my not-so-secret project: a big nonfiction comic about visual communication across disciplines.

This blog will continue to be pretty quiet while I toil away at the book, but bits and pieces have been showing up in my visual lecture as well. If you manage to catch me on the road anytime in the next year or two, you’re bound to see evidence of this particular obsession.

Visual communication and education have been a long-standing fascination of mine. Nonfiction comics artists, data journalists, educational animators, visual facilitators, signage & wayfinding experts, visual presenters, even those who study facial expressions and body language; they’re all engaged in the struggle to better understand how we learn through seeing. But they’re too often knocking on the same door; trying to reinvent the wheel; unknowingly stumbling upon the same principles as their distant colleagues.

I’m hoping that I can articulate some of those common principles and help stitch together those disparate fields in a useful way. I don’t have a title yet, but I often describe it as “an Elements of Style for visual communication.” [Update: possibly a mistake, according to Neil Cohn who directed my attention to this.]

I’m hoping it won’t run quite as long as the last book. Right now, I’m doing research enough for a very long book, but I’m hoping to apply it toward writing a short one. We’ll see!

Anyway, don’t expect a lot of blog updates for a while. Follow me on Twitter for more frequent chatter on various topics (including politics—sorry!), but when the book is finally ready, I’ll certainly post about it in both places.


Well, Here’s an Awesome Gift Idea

The legendary Todd Klein (quite probably comics’ best all-time letterer, and an old pal of mine from my DC production department days) and artist Shawn McManus have released a truly unique comics gift for the upcoming holidays: A Freelancer Game Board!

Order yours here, learn more about the creation of the board here, and get a closer look here.


Design Matters

The story of Steve Jobs and Apple is more complicated than most news outlets would lead you to believe, and there were plenty of great minds that led to the original Mac and that contributed to all that followed.

But anyone who thinks that Jobs’ contributions to society can somehow be reduced to “marketing” or “fashion” betrays a complete ignorance of the power and importance of great design.

Great design can and does change the world. Poor design can and does ruin lives.

To Steve Jobs, and to everyone trying every day to put their own dent in the universe, thank you.


PLAY!

I like this interactive series by Vincent Morisset a lot. Makes me feel like a kid again.

A weird, lonely, kid.

In space.

It has some of that same haunting atmosphere that made Welcome to Pine Point so memorable for me (another recent offering from Canada’s legendary NFB). I’d love to see more work along these lines.

[via Lori Matsumoto]


Chicago Follow-up

Just a quick note this morning (’cause I wanna get back to drawing!) but just wanted to thank everyone who came out to Northwestern yesterday for the lecture, and all those who contributed to making this year’s Comics and Medicine conference such a success.

Porcellino's latest: A collaborative exploration of suicide, which I read on the plane back and highly recommend.

Had the great pleasure of finally meeting David Small and Phoebe Gloeckner, getting better acquainted with John Porcellino, Brian Fies, Ethan Persoff, “The Man at the Crossroads” Paul Gravett, the good folks at Quimby’s (the only store I know that’s so cool, they actually alphabetize their minis) and several new cartoonists and creatively-inclined scholars and medical professionals doing important work in an area of study that I’ll bet many of you hadn’t even heard of before last week.

One of these days, I’ll have to cook up some kind of grand unified theory of visual communication (hint: that IEEE conference in Norway from two weeks ago and the Comics and Medicine conference have more in common than you might think) but for now, thanks to the organizers for a lovely trip to the windy city.


LLAMA FONT!

And the Internet justifies its existence, yet again.

(via Jen Wang)


Norway through Thor’s Day

I’m off to Bergen, Norway this week, Monday through Thursday. Back to blogging Friday or Monday.

EuroVis 2011 is an IEEE conference focusing on data visualization, an area I’ve grown increasingly interested in, and a field which comics may increasingly find common cause with this decade.

My dad was an engineer and had hundreds of old IEEE Journals on a giant bookcase in the basement. As a kid, I’d read to him from their articles (he was blind). Years later, when I was actually cited in one, I think Mom could finally relax; secure in the knowledge that I had a real job.


UC and UX

Great little article at UX Magazine applying some ideas from Understanding Comics to icon design and related issues.

I’ve given some talks on similar issues during web design workshops; focusing on the challenges of what I’ve been calling “cognitive load time”: how fast do users grok what’s on their screen, regardless of how fast it all renders/downloads? Looks like the idea is just as relevant in other UX circles.

One of the important benefits of fast-loading, iconic imagery is that we not only understand each piece of an interface more quickly and intuitively, we can also absorb the whole screen’s many relationships or patterns more easily. Knowing the Parts = Appreciating the Whole.

Chapter Two… Glad I wrote that one.

[via Tom Crawford and Nathan Bashaw]


Dial-A-Face, Continued

Well, speaking of How-To videos (see Monday’s post), here’s a great video on creating facial expressions, à la Making Comics and The Grimace Project, in Anime Studio, using “Rudiger’s MorphDials script,” whatever that is. Pretty interesting stuff.

Had fun in Atlanta Tuesday, having fun in New York today, hope you’re having fun wherever you are!


The Periodic Table of Storytelling

This is cute. Seems to have gone up about a week ago. I think… Hard to tell with these things.

I like the suggestion that it would make a good dartboard — and that Hollywood should never be allowed to play.

Might be fun to use with Rory’s Story Cubes (maybe for 24-Hour Comics Day!)

[link via Byron Woodson]