Custom path axis with Charticulator

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If there is one stand-out feature of Charticulator…

…it is the ease at which we can design data visualisations along custom path axes. If you’re into the technical details, there is a paper here providing a good background into the project.

I’d always thought this was a neat trick, but had never really thought of how I could apply it. That was until recently when Maven Analytics launched their Space Challenge.

I knew this would be a popular challenge, so I was even more interested in doing something different with the data.

I’m often keen to design Dataviz showing as much detail as possible. I decided I would do the same for this challenge, and plot the visual in theme with space. As the data was about space launches, I wanted to create the impression of a space launch or orbital motion.

Which created a bit of a challenge.

Plotting data points from bottom to top would be counter intuitive to those used to reading time down the Y-Axis or across the X-Axis. It also made for quite a plain visual. Plotting data points over time in a radial plot, also did not make intuitive sense as the time was not cyclical. I had a lot of data points and wanted to maximise “surface area”, so I opted for an upwards sweeping motion. The only downside to this custom shape is that the inner plots are more condensed than the outer plots, though this effect is less magnified than on a typical radial plot. I was content with this, as the intent in my design was getting the ‘gist’ of the volume of space missions.

With some of the data points were overlapping, I added opacity. Being on a dark background, this did reduce visibility and made colour hue a little harder to distinguish. To complement this, I added a bar graph showing mission failures over time.

Video highlighting steps in the design process below:

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