Visual Analytics and Imaging Laboratory (VAI Lab)
Computer Science Department, Stony Brook University, NY

Infomages: Embedding Data into Thematic Images

Won Best Paper Runner-up Award at EuroVis 2020

Abstract: Recent studies have indicated that visually embellished charts such as infographics have the ability to engage viewers and positively affect memorability. Fueled by these findings, researchers have proposed a variety of infographic design tools. However, these tools do not cover the entire design space. In this work, we identify a subset of infographics that we call infomages. Infomages are casual visuals of data in which a data chart is embedded into a thematic image such that the content of the image reflects the subject and the designer’s interpretation of the data. Creating an effective infomage, however, can require a fair amount of design expertise and is thus out of reach for most people. In order to also afford non-artists with the means to design convincing infomages, we first study the principled design of existing infomages and identify a set of key chart embedding techniques. Informed by these findings we build a design tool that links web-scale image search with a set of interactive image processing tools to empower novice users with the ability to design a wide variety of infomages. As the embedding process might introduce some amount of visual distortion of the data our tool also aids users to gauge the amount of this distortion, if any. We experimentally demonstrate the usability of our tool and conclude with a discussion of infomages and our design tool.

Teaser: The collage below shows a few images generated with our design tool:

(Top row from left to right) A pie chart showing the number of hacking incidents by region embedded into an image of a hacker using a laptop; a line chart showing the traffic fatality rate in the US embedded into an image of a burning car crash where the structure of the fire supports the trend of the line; a bar chart showing the number of US troops in Afghanistan over three years embedded into an image of three soldiers walking.

(Bottom row from left to right) An overlay graphic using an aligned line chart visualizing the increasing cigarette consumption over time; a fill style chart with a single object radially divided, showing that over 2/3 of Americans are overweight; a fill style chart with multiple objects partially filled showing the increasing beer consuption at the annual Octoberfest.

Video: Watch it to get a quick overview:

Paper: D. Coelho, K. Mueller, "Infomages: Embedding Data into Thematic Images," Computer Graphics Forum, 39 (3): 593-606, 2020 (won Best Paper Award at Eurovis 2020) pdf ppt supplements

Funding: NSF grant IIS-1527200