Data visualisation by hand: drawing data for your next story




We live in a world where data visualisations are done through intricate code and graphic design. From Tableau to Datawrapper and Python and R, numerous possibilities exist for visualising compelling stories. But in the beginning, all data visualisation was done by hand. Visualisation pioneers like W. E. B. Du Bois and Florence Nightingale hand-drew their visualisations because there was simply no other way to make them.

For Du Bois it was his team of black sociologists who explained institutionalised racism to the world using data visualisations, while for Nightingale it was her diagram showing the causes of mortality.

And, even as computers developed, it was often easier to visualise using analogue means. This article will explore the history of hand-drawn visualisations and the case for presenting them in this style. It will also show examples from experts who have opted for the pencil over the screen. You’ll also learn some top tips to help get you started.

Author(s): Amelia McNamara

Publication Date: 24 March 2021

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