25 June 2015

Link roundup for June 2015

The self-declared contender for the best poster. Not just academic poster, no.

Yes, that tap at the bottom? It works.

Coverage of this poster can be found here, here, and here. Probably other places, too. Hat tip to Jeffrey Bemis.

Back to science now, with a blog post about posters for Twitter.

This week on Twitter, I came across an image that was a hybrid between a science poster and an infographic. ... The simplicity of a tweetable poster makes it easy to highlight a project’s impact or identify solutions, and by sharing them on Twitter, the reach of these posters goes far beyond that of the traditional posters you find at conferences.

A reminder from Max Roser about why you should not use pie charts:

You will know the name from your font dropdown menus on your computer, all the way at the end: Zapf. An obituary of type designer Hermann Zapf is unexpectedly rich. Hat tip to Zach Seward and Amanda Krauss.

A poster! Hat tip to figshare.

A great look at science photographer Felise Frankel.

Frankel’s goal is to capture scientifically honest photographs that, in her words, “frankly, makes you want to look at it.” Since her first image ran on the cover of Science in 1992, her images have landed on some 30 journal covers.

While posters are generally static, there’s a lot to think about in this interview about turning nanoscale bioloical processes into movies:

In promoting the biomedical animations I should avoid overstating how accurately I have depicted the reality of the molecular world. It is vastly messier, random and crowded, and it’s physical nature is unimaginably alien to our normal perception of the world around us.

The Sociobiology blog has a post describing how to organize a fab small meeting. This particular meeting emphasized talks over posters, but I include it here anyway, since I am always hopeful conference organizers are lurking here.

18 June 2015

#SciFund poster class links

We’re in the thick of the #SciFund poster class now! One of the fun things for me about being involved is that we’re doing stuff that I haven’t covered in this blog.

In particular, Anthony Salvagno has written a lot about how to use Adobe Illustrator to make a poster. I had not used Illustrator before I started working on this class. It is powerful, but not simple. Anthony’s tips and suggestions are just the thing if you have been curious about using Illustrator for making posters.

You can download Illustrator and use the full version for free for 30 days.

I’m going to collect all the #SciFund poster class links here for archival purposes. As I post this, just two are up, but I will add the next three weeks as the become available.

#SciFund poster class links

Week 1: Focusing on message and getting started with Adobe Illustrator
Week 2: Developing a draft and building your wireframe with Illustrator
Week 3: Creating images and graphs
Week 4: Working with text
Week 5: The home stretch

11 June 2015

Critique: Shape perception

Today’s contribution comes from Arvid Herwig, and is shown with his permission. Click to enlarge!

My first reaction to this poster was incredibly positive. It’s an interesting mix of the bold and the restrained. The dark red bands surrounding each section are very large and visually dominant. Yet there are so few of them, and they are placed so precisely, that they don’t feel overwhelming. The muted background also helps calm the overall design.

To give an idea of how important those colour choices are, here’s a quick and dirty replacement of the brick red of the lines with a straight red, and the light gray grid with straight white:

Suddenly, the warmth is gone and you have a look that has all the appeal of a traffic sign.

The logos are corralled down in the corners, making them unobtrusive.

I’m impressed by how well the images and text fit within the section borders. Circles and triangles are not easy shapes to fit text or graphs into, but there is little wasted space here. The text and images follow the contours of the shapes very nicely.

The one problem I had was when I started to read it. I immediately read it the wrong way. I went from 1 across to 3, instead of from 1 down to 2. It seems that a major challenge for this poster is how to signal that it should be read in columns, not rows.

The first cue,spacing of the sections, tries to guide me. Section 1 and 2 are closer to each other than 1 and 3.

Part of the problem may be the labelling. The callout for “01 Introduction” is about the same distance, or maybe even a little closer, to “03 Methods” as it is to “02 Objective”.

Second, the labels for 01 and 03 point in the same direction. This provides a subtle cue that the two sections may be related to each other. I tried this alternate, making the headings for the first two sections match, attempting to strengthen the link between those two.

While I’m not sure this makeover works yet, I think the theory is sound. If you can get the reader to go down in the first instance, the rest falls into place.

Overall, some quite lovely work here.

04 June 2015

Critique: Many-body dispersion

This week’s poster comes from Jan Hermann, and is used with permission. Click to enlarge:

This is quite lovely. Everything is aligned. The text boxes are not enclosed in heavy lines. The colours are attractive and subdued. Even the institutional logo is done in a way that doesn’t detract from the rest of the poster.

There’s just one thing that I have mixed feelings about: that big “Summary & outlook” box.

There are several visual cues that this bit is important. The box is placed right in the middle. Its dark brown background contrasts with the much lighter background surrounding it. This is a well known trick for drawing attention. Look at this example (from here).

The summary box is like the Volkswagon in the ad above: it’s hard not to be drawn to it first. In some ways, this is good. Because it is a summary, you want people to be drawn back to that point.

There are some down sides to this. The summary box breaks the expected reading flow. You tend to look at the summary first, which is good. It’s not too hard to figure out where to go next: upper left corner. So far, so good.

Where the summary box loses some of its appeal is when I’m making my way back though the results. It creates a break. Two related text sections are forced far apart:

When I hit the left text box highlighted in the image above, the next thing I expect to look at, based of its place in the poster, is the top figure (1).

But the position of the graphs is not closely related to their references in the text. The call to examine Figure 1 is closer to Figure 2, and Figure 2 appears in the reading order before you reach the reference to it.

Thus, I have to do a bit of work to connect that text box split across two columns, because of that summary box in the middle. It’s certainly not a fatal flaw. The benefits of that strong summary may outweigh the inconvenience of trying to work out the reading order.

01 June 2015

Interview at Crastina

I did a short interview over at Crastina, which bills itself as:

A networking platform for the exchange of knowledge, skills, experience and opinion regarding scientific communication and science dissemination.

I like it. Check out the site beyond the interview!