It’s good to have a sister in a position to toss you work from time to time.
When it came time for an infographic from Westchester, NY’s Sav-a-Tree showing their best advice on where and how to plant trees in in their customers’ yards, Luann O’Brien asked me, and I was ready and up for the task.
She’d sent me their previous work. I knew the look they were after with regard to color: vegetation that ranged from the yellow-green of spring through the almost spruce blue-green of summer, to the browns and golds of autumn. I added purple to the mix, not realizing till late in the project how well it worked as a contrasting color.
The typography worked too, especially the fine type, though they had more than one face, which always bothers me. The display type, I thought, needed to convey a more down-to-earth, rural America feel.
I presented a moodboard, in which I included a rendering of our hero, the tree, that was nothing short of sad! I needed to find something that would demonstrate variations in size and shape and color, without complicating an otherwise crammed layout that was on the verge of crowding out the explanatory text.
I had a hand in consolidating and eliminating redundancies in the story the graphic was to tell. Soon it became clear there were four stories in one: distances from each other, the house and the curb; size classifications; consideration of shadows cast by trees as they grow; and digging techniques.
A sketch early on, after the moodboard, gave me an idea: to keep these four units from ever being confused for one aerial scene over a house, which would have been confusing and about tripled the production time (and cost), I’d have to resort to a shortcut: isometric drawings, devoid of perspective. In an isometrically-drawn overhead view of a box, the near wall is the same shape and size as the far wall, and so are the bottom and top. An isometric drawing of a cube would have the profile of a hexagon, which you break up into three equal four-sided shapes and shade them accordingly.
I realized, after some experimentation with randomizing filters in Illustrator, I had my simplified tree shapes too.
A late draft had white callout balloons with purple text, but they weren’t standing out from the artwork enough for the client, so I reversed them. She was right; it’s better.
I regretted being unable to hotlink the references, impossible in a monolithic wall of pixels destined to get passed and pasted hither and yon. I vowed to talk future infographics clients into including one short URL to return the reader to the graphic’s “home” post (driving traffic), and provide thorough footnotes and links.