Join Amy Balliett for an in-depth discussion in this video How to add colors, part of Data Visualization: Best Practices.
- [Instructor] Now that you've created your chart or graph and ungrouped it from all of the data, you'll see that you can directly select various elements in a pie chart or bar graph. All of these elements can then be stylized to add visual appeal. Let's start by adding colors. I've decided to keep all of the bars in this bar graph grouped together. I've done that very intentionally. If you recall from previous videos, I've explained how colors have a lot of meaning. If each bar in this bar graph was a different color, it would imply that each bar had a very different meaning.
Since I want every single bar to stand together, I've kept them grouped together, because it's much easier to change the colors in one group versus having to select each bar individually and change them to the same color. Now there are multiple ways you can change the colors of a bar graph. The most natural way for me is to use the color changing tool on my left-hand side here. But there's an extra step you need to take when you do that. For instance, if I simply decide to select all of the bars, double-click on the color, and change it to a dark red, you'll see that everything turns to a dark gray instead.
That's the trick with changing the colors in a chart or graph and using this tool on the left. Your first thing that you have to do is actually turn the colors off before you can jump in and choose the color you want. Now I'm going to go ahead and hit Command-Z, for your computer it might be Control-Z, to undo what I just did and go back to the original bars. I'm going to show you another way to change the colors of these bars that's actually far easier, and that's your Swatch tool.
When you click on the Swatch tool, you'll see it comes pre-loaded with multiple primary colors. Now of course, you probably won't be using these colors in your design exactly, but you can add the colors that you're using for your design directly into the Swatch tool so you can quickly select them. For the purposes of this example, I'm going to select the orange. Notice when I select the color from the Swatch tool, the color changes immediately. I did not need to take the extra step of canceling out the color first.
Now when I look at this bar graph, there's one glaring problem, and that's the stroke outline around each bar. That stroke outline makes things feel novice and a little cheap. So I'm going to select the bars again, I'm going to choose the Stroke option over on my left, and then I'm just going to turn it off. While it's such a subtle change, you can see how much quicker things look clean and easy to digest by simply getting rid of that stroke.
Now from previous videos in this course, you might've noticed that the bars in the bar graphs had a little bit of depth to them. Well, let me show you how I did that. First, you'll select the Rectangle tool. Then, pick a place where you want to put that rectangle on your bars. I personally suggest that you place it around one-fifth to one-sixth of the size of the bar, all the way to the right or to the left of the bar. What you don't want to do is put it in the center of the bar or make it too much larger, because people might feel that there's an extra meaning to that color, or extra data visualization that isn't necessarily meant to be.
Once I've created the rectangle, I'm going to change the color of it so that it stands out. I'm going to choose this gray. Now if I just kept it as that, it would feel really weird. So I'm going to change a few more things. First, I'm going to turn off the stroke on that rectangle. Things still feel a little weird, though, because the colors are so starkly different. So I'm going to select that gray again, and then I'm going to go to my Appearance menu or my Transparency menu.
When I click on that, I'm going to choose one of the transparency options. Multiply is a great option. What Multiply does is it takes the color that you have and creates a darker version of that shade with whatever layer you have on Multiply on top of that. Let me show you what I mean. Once I've hit Multiply, I now have that gray turned into a darker orange. But if I were to take that and drag it on top of this gray, you'll see that now it's a darker gray. I'm going to hit Control-Z to put that back in its place.
As you can see, I've now created a bar that has a bit more visual appeal. If you want to do this to every bar in your bar graph, a quick way to do it is to click, hold down your Option or Alt key, and drag it over. You can see that I've now duplicated the bar. Now all I have to do is make that bar the same height of this bar. I'm going to zoom in and select that bar, and then simply change the size of it by dragging up to the top of the original data bar.
As you can see, I've quickly replicated what one bar looks like to the other. I could do this for every single one and create a nice, clean design. Now let me show you how to improve pie charts. Let me just zoom into this pie chart for you. One of the most popular types of pie charts is a donut chart. People actually don't like traditional pie charts as much because they feel like they've come from Excel or something novice and simple. People instead really prefer custom design, and there are two very easy ways to create a donut chart with a pie chart.
The first and most simple way is to select your Ellipsis tool. Once selected, you'll see cross-hairs. When you hover those cross-hairs over the very center of your pie chart, and on your keyboard you hit Option-Shift, you'll see that you have a circle around your cross-hairs. If you click and drag, a perfectly-proportioned circle will appear in the middle of your pie chart. Now the circle that shows is gray.
If I use the Eyedropper tool and simply eyedropper the background, suddenly it looks like we have a donut chart. The problem here, though, is if you put that donut chart on a different background, like say, a dark gray background, you'll see that again it looks novice unless I change this color again. But you don't want to keep changing the colors over and over again, especially if your background has a pattern or a gradient.
Instead, it might easier to just cut out the center of your pie chart. I'm going to hit Control-Z to move the pie chart back in place, and show you how to cut out the center. The first thing you're going to want to do is select everything, the top circle and the pie chart. Next, grab your Pathfinder tool. The Pathfinder tool has a myriad of options, all of which are meant to help you cut, slice, and dice your design. I'm going to choose the Divide option.
When you click on Divide, a couple of things happen. First, it's going to cut every single layer up based on how you have your circle layered on top of the different slices of your pie chart. So now I have a layer that looks like Pac-Man, and I have a little small pie slice here. I have a layer here, and a layer here. But the second thing it's going to do is it's going to group them all together. So when I click, they're all one big group. I'm going to right-click and ungroup the design.
Now that I've ungrouped, you'll see that I can simply pull layers out or delete them as I wish. I can select and delete. And now I can drag this pie chart over to any background I want, and you'll see that the center has been completely taken out. If you want to dress up the pie chart even more, changing colors makes a big difference. I'm going to change the color of the fill from black to the orange that we're using in the design. Let me zoom out and go the simple route of direct-selecting with the Eyedropper the orange color.
Once you have the color being used somewhere else in your design, you no longer have to change colors through the left-hand color change tool or the right-hand swatch tool. Instead, all you have to do is eyedropper the colors you want to change. I also want to get rid of the outer stroke in the gray part of this pie chart. I'm going to select this piece and simply turn off the outer stroke. And there you have it, a very simple and quick donut pie chart. In the next video, I'll talk about some subtle changes to the grid that will further dress up your design.
To succeed in design and marketing today, one must know how to interpret and properly visualize data. This course, developed and led by Killer Infographics CEO, Amy Balliett, walks you through the ins and outs of creating accurate and compelling data visualizations. Amy focuses on best practices, not tools, although she does provide an overview of Illustrator graphing features. Using these tips, you'll learn how to stand out from the crowd and create charts and graphs that combine precision with visual appeal.
- What charts and graphs work best for different types of data
- Putting data into visual and textual context to ensure it is accurate
- Visualizing data that doesn't lend itself to imagery
- Adding visual appeal without sacrificing accuracy
- Using the Adobe Illustrator graphing tools
- Avoiding common data viz mistakes