Tufte’s micro macrocosm theory is a concept wherein all of his previous theories create a new layer of meaning to the audience. All of the ‘micro’ aspects of his other principles, the individual graphics and illustrations that I covered in my previous blogs, have combined together to create a ‘macro’ meaning. In my case, the illustrations and other graphics come together to create a children’s travel book teaching basic facts on European countries titled ‘Bertie goes to Europe’.
Tufte advocated strongly for the use of clarity when presenting information. I’ve tried to do this as much as possible in my book, especially regarding the fact that the target audience is young children. I have tried to keep every aspect of the book, from the art style in the illustrations to the information being presented in the graphics, as simple as possible to make it easy to understand.
To conclude, my final piece also has a layer of meaning that goes beyond it just being a single book. Hopefully, it will help the audience in the long term by not only by educating them but also inspiring them to travel in the future. I also like to imagine that my book could be part of a series wherein Bertie visits other countries in different continents, and broaden the audiences horizons even further.
Here I’ve presented the book covers and pages as a double page spread layout, as they would appear if it was made into a book. They are also clickable if you wish to view them bigger.
All of the graphics for my book were created by myself using procreate, a tablet and a graphics pen. Here I have compiled a reference list which includes image sources which I looked at to help me create the graphics and illustrations and also some references showing where I found out the information about the countries.
Flags references: Worldometer (n.d.) Flags of the world. Available online: https://www.worldometers.info/geography/flags-of-the-world/ [Accessed 05/12/20].
Maps references: Google (2020) Google maps. Available online: https://www.google.com/maps [Accessed 05/12/20].
UK Fact: London Gov (n.d.) How many Londoners do your tube journey everyday? Available online: https://www.london.gov.uk/your-commute [Accessed 06/01/21].
London Eye: Ellis, D (2017) London eye tickets and opening hours everything you need to know about the biggest ferris wheel in europe. Available online: https://www.standard.co.uk/reveller/attractions/london-eye-tickets-and-opening-hours-everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-biggest-ferris-wheel-in-europe-a3706426.html [Accessed 05/12/20].
Bus: London Bus Museum (n.d.) 1959 AEC Routemaster bus – RM140. Available online: https://www.londonbusmuseum.com/museum-exhibits/double-deck-buses/aec-routemaster-rm140/ [Accessed 05/12/20].
Underground sign: The National Gallery (n.d.) London underground logo – magnetic bottle opener. Available online: https://www.nationalgallery.co.uk/products/london-underground-logo-magnetic-bottle-opener/p_1036513 [Accessed 05/12/20].
The Netherlands fact: holland.com (n.d.) Functions of windmills in Holland. Available online: https://www.holland.com/global/tourism/travel-inspiration/traditional/functions-of-windmills-in-holland.htm [Accessed 06/01/21].
The Netherlands image: Oxford Mail (2018) Chance to buy your own 18th century windmill. Available online: https://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/16395839.chance-buy-18th-century-windmill/#gallery0 [Accessed 07/12/20].
Germany Fact: Lepores, D (2017) 13 Berlin fun facts you never knew. Available online: https://awesomeberlin.net/berlin-facts-fun [Accessed 06/01/21].
Germany Image: Lepores, D (2017) 13 Berlin fun facts you never knew. Available online: https://awesomeberlin.net/berlin-facts-fun [Accessed 03/01/21].
Italy fact: National Geographic Kids (n.d.) 10 facts about the colosseum. Available online: https://www.natgeokids.com/uk/discover/history/romans/colosseum/ [Accessed 06/01/20].
Italy Image: Brittanica (n.d.) Colosseum. Available online: https://www.britannica.com/topic/Colosseum [Accessed 19/12/20].
Spain fact: Culture Trip (n.d.) La Sagrada Familia: 15 amazing facts you need to know. Available online: https://theculturetrip.com/europe/spain/articles/15-amazing-facts-you-need-to-know-about-la-sagrada-familia/ [Accessed 06/01/21].
Spain Image: Discover more Spain (n.d.) Get inspired at La Sagrada Familia, the towering temple of Spain. Available online: https://discovermorespain.com/la-sagrada-familia/ [Accessed 20/12/20].
France fact: Lampkin, B (2017) 15 monumental facts about the Eiffel Tower. Available online: https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/70991/15-monumental-facts-about-eiffel-tower [Accessed 06/01/21].
France Image: Lonely Planet (2016) Eiffel tower to light up in the colours of the team with most social media activity during Euro 2016. Available online: https://www.lonelyplanet.com/articles/euro-2016-eiffel-tower-to-be-lit-in-colours-of-trending-teams [Accessed 28/12/20].
Tufte’s layering and separation theory will be also used throughout my book. It will mainly be utilised in the map graphics, which will be featured on each countries page within my book in order to illustrate where that particular country is located (as seen in fig 1).
Information is best presented when the individual layers are very distinct. In fig 1, Germany is the featured country and therefore the most important layer on the graphic. I needed to make it stand out more against the other European countries to ensure the viewer would clearly understand where it is, whilst still enabling the viewer to look through the main layer and still comprehend the background information.
I started by sketching the other countries in a much lighter shade so that they appear more faded. I then focused on making Germany stand out by outlining the border in a thicker line, colouring it in and writing the name in a bolder text. I will be adding colour to this graphic for the finished book, but it will still be following the same principles. Hopefully, it will help the viewer to clearly understand where the specific countries are located.
fig 1 – Map of Europe showing where Germany is located
Fig 1 shows an uncoloured illustration which will be the books front cover, which features the character of Bertie the Bee flying over Europe. The inclusion of the motion line drawn behind Bertie the Bee shows his flight path. This demonstrates Tufte’s specific time and space theory as it visually indicates that time has lapsed.
Another aspect how my book will show Tufte’s narrative over a specific time within a specific space theory would be how my chosen media is a book, specifically about travel. It is my intention that the viewer will feel like they are being taken on a journey when they read it and turn each page eager to find out information about each new place and see interesting illustrations of them. This might hopefully inspire them to physically visit the places as well in the future. I feel this can be summarised well by a quote for the children’s author and illustrator, Dr Seuss: ‘The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go’ (Goodreads, n.d.). The page numbers in a book are also a good indicator that time has lapsed, which I will ensure to include as well.
fig 1 – Front cover graphic
Goodreads (n.d.) Dr Suess quotes. Available online: https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/6806-the-more-that-you-read-the-more-things-you-will [Accessed 08/12/2020].
Tufte’s small multiples theory will also be utilised within the design of my book. It is where any information presented to the audience is done with clarity and simplicity. This theory is very important for me to consider because my book is aimed at children.
Fig 1 shows my page layout plan, where I will present the information about each country. I have chosen a simplistic layout which will show all of the relevant information in a clear, small space. Every country will have this same layout so that the viewer becomes familiar with it every time they turn the page and see the new information.
Fig 2 is of a more detailed plan of one of the graphics that will be shown on the left page. It depicts the countries flag along with their capital city, language and currency. I arranged these pieces of information together in small, equal sized sections, this ‘constancy of design puts the emphasis on changes in data, not changes in data frames’ (Tufte, 1990) hopefully educating the reader of the book. This section also utilises different colours to label the information in order to help the information become easier to understand.
fig 1 – my page layout plan showing the various sections
fig 2 – an plan of an infographic that will be shown on each page showing the countries information
Tufte, E. (1990) Envisioning information. Cheshire: Graphics Press USA.
For my creative campaign, I will be creating an illustrated children’s book focusing on the subject of travel. I’d like to inspire children to take an interest in travel, hopefully educating them through the use of facts and maps as I found out that ‘According to a survey of 1,000 children between the ages of six and 10’ ‘One in 10 children cannot find the UK on a map’ and ’41% . . . did not know that the UK is in Europe’ (ITV, 2012).
I will be applying Edward Tufte’s design principles throughout my book as well. Firstly, I’m going to apply the use of different colours, something that Tufte believed can be used to enliven designs. I have gone for a pastel toned palette (fig 1) as I feel that they compliment each other well whilst still looking appealing. The large selection of colours will hopefully prove eye catching for children as ‘The presence of colour in children’s books invites them to explore the visual spectrum of the world around them and to learn about it in an engaging and memorable way’ (Happy Designer, 2015).
fig 1 – my pastel toned colour palette
I will also be using relevant colours to label my graphics. For example, the map graphics will be coloured using blue to label water and green to label land, enabling the viewer to understand the map with clarity. This is also reflected in the colour choice for my character design (fig 2). I have used yellow and black which the viewer will instantly recognise that my character is a bee.
fig 2 – the use of colour within my character design of Bertie the Bee
ITV (2012) One in 10 children cannot find the UK on a map. Available online: https://www.itv.com/news/2012-04-02/one-in-10-children-cannot-find-the-uk-on-a-map [Accessed 08/12/2020].
Happy Designer (2015) The importance of colour in children’s books. Available online: https://www.happydesigner.co.uk/the-importance-of-colour-in-childrens-books/ [Accessed 08/12/2020].
fig 1 – London the big smoke
Tufte’s theory of micro-macrocosm is where smaller (micro) details come together to create a bigger (macro) meaning. I feel that this concept links well to travelling as visiting small parts of this big planet can help to create meaning in a person’s life, as St Augustine once said ‘The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.’
The above graphic showing places to visit in London is a good example of Tufte’s micro-macrocosm theory. Micro-macrocosm also includes elements from Tufte’s other concepts, which my chosen graphic also demonstrates.
Upon first examination, you can see the basic outline of central London with the River Thames running through the middle. Some individual graphics of famous London icons are layered over this, showing where they are located. This is a good example of the layering and separation theory. Here, the different layers are presented in a distinctive way and the viewer can comprehend all of the required information in a concise way, which is something Tufte advocated.
A closer inspection of these graphics then reveal the smaller details, which include various borough outlines, place names and numbered labels linked to a list of nine things to do in London. These different areas are all divided up in a similar size and format on the map, which is a great example of Tufte’s small multiples theory as it is displaying these small multiples in a way that doesn’t confuse the audience. These aspects of the graphic also demonstrate the use of colour to label information. Colour isn’t just an aesthetic choice, it is used to identify key parts of the map like land, area boundaries and water.
The individual aspects wouldn’t makes sense in isolation, but when combined together, they show the whole picture to the audience which is the map of London. In doing so, they create another layer of meaning in presenting the audience with a mostly visual way of presenting viewers with places to visit in London.
(fig 1) Gosling, L (n.d.) London map print [Poster]. Available online: https://www.mapsystudio.com/products/livi-gosling/london-map-print [Accessed 06/11/2020].
St. Augustine (n.d.) Augustine of Hippo quotes. Available online: https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/6193-the-world-is-a-book-and-those-who-do-not [Accessed 06/11/2020].
fig 1 – map of amsterdam places you can visit with a wheelchair
The travel graphic above is an excellent example of Tufte’s layering and separation theory. All of the separate layers of information are shown in order of importance. The first layer that the viewer sees is the most important layer, here it is the graphics of the buildings to visit. The second layer is the main streets, and their names which are included in a darker shade of green. These streets stand out more than the side streets, which are displayed in white on the layer below. This shows that the side streets on the map are the least important pieces of information. The usage of different colours to label the different streets is also a good example of Tuftes colour theory.
Overall, the audience are able to easily differentiate each layer on the map and understand the separate pieces of information. This simplified method of communicating information is a concept that Tufte advocated. He believed that ‘Confusion and clutter are the failures of design’ (Tufte, 1990).
fig 2 – Visiting Tokyo poster
Above is another example of a travel poster that aligns with Tufte’s layering and separation theory. The posters aim is to showcase Tokyos top tourist sites to the viewer. Through the careful use of layering and separation, the poster doesn’t look cluttered. The designer has meticulously arranged each section of the buildings and locations using varying levels of fade. The bold and colourful bullet train and old buildings are in the top layer whilst Mount Fuji is on the bottom layer, faded to the point where it almost blends into the sky.
Compared to the graphic in fig 1, I don’t think that this poster is necessarily trying to highlight the key pieces of information in order of importance. I feel that in this poster’s usage of distinct layering and separation is to ensure the amount of information being shown isn’t too complicated or overwhelming.
I also feel that this poster shows some of Tufte’s micro-macrocosm theory. Here, all the smaller graphics of the tourist sites combine together and almost create a big view of the whole of Tokyo.
(fig 1) Rasink, S (2015) Map of amsterdam for beleef magazine. Available online: https://www.behance.net/gallery/25954645/Map-of-Amsterdam-for-Beleef-Magazine [Accessed 26/10/2020].
Tufte, E. (1990) Envisioning information. Cheshire: Graphics Press USA.
(fig 2) Displate/Studio 324 (n.d.) Visiting tokyo [Poster]. Available online: https://displate.com/displate/1250715 [Accessed 26/10/2020].
fig 1 – Whitby night time-lapse
Above is a graphic by the digital artist Richard O’Neill. It illustrates the silhouette of Whitby’s lighthouses on the pier against a night sky full of star trails. ‘Star trails are the continuous paths created by stars produced during long-exposure photographs.’ They ‘reflect the earths rotation, or spin on its axis’ which usually takes a ‘period of about 23 hours and 56 minutes’ (McClure, 2019). The graphic is a good indication to the viewer of the passage of time through the patterns created over time by the stars.
I feel that this graphic follows a similar principle to the example in which Tufte used for his space and time theory. His example demonstrated how you can show the narrative over space and time through the movements of the dancers feet. This was shown visually through the musical notes as the patterns on the floor. On my chosen graphic, the narrative of space and time was shown through the patterns created by the stars.
fig 2 – Trans world airline travel poster
Above is a travel graphic which aligns with Tufte’s theory of space and time. It’s a vintage travel poster for the airline company ‘Trans World Airline (TWA)’. The graphic depicts a TWA airplane flying over Manhattan in New York at either sunrise or sunset.
I feel that it shows a narrative over a specific space and time, mostly by the fact that the airplane is clearly visible in the image. It infers that it has either just embarked or is just arriving, either to or from the destinations listed underneath. The trails in the river created by the various boats indicate movement and time. The sunrise/sunset is also used on the poster to indicate that a certain amount of time has lapsed – either a new day is just dawning or the day is now ending.
(fig 1) O’Neill, R (n.d.) Whitby night time-lapse [Poster]. Available online: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Whitby-Night-Timelapse-Art-Print/dp/B07KFNQ81G/ref=sr_1_4?dchild=1&keywords=whitby&m=A1PLXJE60ZIJLC&qid=1603100600&s=merchant-items&sr=1-4&th=1 [Accessed 19/10/2020].
(fig 2) Trans World Airlines/Soltesz, F (c. 1950’s) Manhattan, New York – trans world airlines twa – vintage airline travel poster [Poster]. Available online: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Manhattan-New-York-Airlines-Vintage/dp/B00JAUJN0O [Accessed 19/10/2020].
fig 1, 2, 3 – Mini travel guides
Above are some mini travel guides. Each one includes information about what to do and where to go when travelling around various cities. This visual information is all presented in a concise way, a method which aligns with Tufte’s small multiples theory. This method of designing graphics is an efficient way to present information to the audience without it becoming too complicated. Travel guides are often presented in more detailed formats such as books which may be too overwhelming to the audience.
They are part of a series of travel guides which all have this similar layout. Their design consistency aligns with Tufte’s small multiples theory. By seeing similar designs that don’t have many changes, the audience is able to understand the information as they will already be familiar.
fig 4 – 15 tips to become a sustainable traveler
This travel graphic is also a good example of Tufte’s small multiples theory. The graphic designer has divided the information about travelling sustainably into sections of the same size. These small sections coincide with Tufte’s idea of illustrations being ‘postage-stamp sized’.
All of these sections are designed very similarly despite showing different information. This consistency shows how, by only changing a small variable in the graphic (in this case, the illustration and the text), the audience are able to understand the different information coherently. By changing the information but keeping the constancy of the design, this ‘puts the emphasis on changes in data’ Tufte, E (1990).
Overall, these graphics all show how, by refraining from making the information overly complicated, it can convey information with clarity.
(fig 1, 2, 3) So she roamed (n.d.) Handy dandy mini travel guides. Available online: http://sosheroamed.com/mini-travel-guides/ [Accessed 14/10/2020].
(fig 4) Nomads RTW (n.d.) 15 sustainable travel tips to become a responsible traveller. Available online: https://www.nomadsrtw.com/travel-tips/sustainable-travel-tips/?utm_medium=social&utm_source=pinterest&utm_campaign=tailwind_tribes&utm_content=tribes&utm_term=1017734958_46756542_372793 [Accessed 14/10/2020].
Tufte, E. (1990) Envisioning information. Cheshire: Graphics Press USA.