Trip: Compton Verney – Information Design

Information design – The practice of presenting information in a way that is understood efficiently and effectively rather than just attractively or for artistic expression.

In November 2016 our tutor organised for us to visit Compton Verney, a local art Gallery housed in an 18th century mansion. Initially we were shown around the grounds and taught about the history of the building and art works. Then we were given a task in groups to cover the whole of an orange with a piece of paper, without creases or overlaps. This proved impossible and it demonstrated how, if the orange was the earth and the paper was a map, that it is difficult to get an accurate representation of the earth from a map. We discussed that although maps are recognised globally, they are highly inaccurate, for example the north pole is simply one small point on earth however on a rectangle map of the world it has been stretched out to be a continuous line which covers the same distance as the equator, but it is clear the point of the north pole does not have the same length as the equator…! To design an accurate map would be near impossible, there will always be distortion, even at a small scale!

We then went on to talk about the different type of maps you can get, topographic, plainmetric, topological, point of view map and illustrative.

Then we were given our brief – to design a map for Compton Verney, including the key features such as the grounds, the lake along with the local roads, house and galleries. It can be graphic or illustrative and must be different to previous maps they have produced. We must consider the type of visitors who would use the map and had a specific fold pattern to keep to.

I immediately knew that I wanted to approach this brief with an illustrative style. After speaking to staff about what type of visitors the gallery attracts I decided to cater for international visitors with limited English skills and also create a map that could be kid friendly. I began by researching similar maps and deciding what elements of them I liked and disliked. I then asked myself why I liked and disliked those elements, further understanding my personal design knowledge.

Using my graphics tablet, I drew sketches of the key attractions, exaggerating recognisable features so they would be familiar then digitally coloured them. This was good practice for me using my tablet as I hadn’t had chance to use it appropriately before and it was great to learn how to use it properly! I then placed these sketches onto a background showing the lake and relief of the grounds and added footsteps to show the direction to walk in.

Compton Verney Map front – Unfinished
Compton Verney Map Back – Unfinished

I got some great feedback from my classmates

Things they thought were good:

  • Not fussy
  • Drawings are detailed and clear
  • Has a friendly feel to it
  • Colours are complimentary and natural
  • Liked the idea of footsteps to show the footpaths
  • Exaggeration of features works well and adds interest

Things they thought I could improve:

  • Add shadows
  • Make images bigger
  • Car colour needs to blend in, isn’t in keeping with the rest of the colour scheme
  • Background red on front is too much and doesn’t fit in
  • Needs names (and maybe details) of attractions

I developed my design according to the feedback and finalised my map ready for hand in.

Compton Verney Map Front – Finished
Compton Verney Map – Finished

On reflection, I learnt colour schemes are important and having a contrasting colour (such as red) doesn’t always make the piece more exciting and interesting, I should take time to explore colour palettes. I enjoyed drawing the attractions and would try this technique out again when suitable. I would like to become confident with my graphics tablet and my drawings. I found it really interesting to learn about different types of information design and would enjoy looking into this further!

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