For this post, I’m taking a step away from music and focusing more on the design side of my work. This past week, I completed an infographic Desktop Computers – more specifically gaming computers. If you want to see the full image of the final result before reading the rest of this, scroll to the bottom!
To provide some context, when I was 13 my brother built his first gaming computer. We’d grown up playing Wii and Xbox together, and in the sleepy town of Newport (population 4,600), there wasn’t much else to do. After watching him build it and looking at the results with awe, I knew I wanted to do the same. Two years later, on Christmas, he helped guide me through the process and build my own. Since I’ve gotten to college, I’ve started spending less time on video games, but they’re still a hobby of mine and the experience of building my own computer was enough inspiration for me to dedicate this project to it.
This post will be less about the subject of the infographic, and more about my design process and how I went from conception to completion.
First, there was the prompt. As a part of the infographics class I’m in, our second project was based around “alternative storytelling”. My first infographic, 2019: Year Of The Dreamers was pretty straightforward with timelines, statistics, and other straight-to-the-point methods of communicating the story I was telling. This time around, we were required to present a story through other methods, such as a step-by-step process or a diagram.
Initially, I wanted this graphic to show the process of building a computer step-by-step. However, I ran into one slight issue – there are too many steps. Due to the variety in how different parts work across different brands, there was way too much information to fit tidily into one small infographic. I didn’t want to make a graphic that didn’t fully explain the process because at that point it wouldn’t be truly accurate or effective, so I opted to make a diagram illustrating the individual parts.
Once I’d settled on this idea, I was ready to get started designing. I wanted to focus on an isometric illustration style, so I found some isometric illustrations similar to what I was going for and got started on making a mockup of what I wanted the end product to look like.
After getting some feedback on the basic idea I realized there were a few areas I needed to improve, the most important of which was finding an angle to take. A diagram showing all the parts is cool but unless there was some reason for the diagram to be made in the first place, then what’s the point?
At this point, I decided to make the infographic less general and more specifically tailored to gaming, which informed all of the design choices I made from there. Instead of designing a fairly generic-looking computer, I tailored it around my own gaming computer. In the diagram, all the parts you’ll see are modeled after those in my computer, from the case to the CPU. This personal touch really helped me get more invested in the project, and reminded me of why I built my own computer in the first place.
Going forward, I spent the majority of the time designing each part and trying to come up with clever ways to put them together. My first instinct was to place the parts in a spaced-out isometric fashion with guidelines showing where the parts connected to one another. However, I ran into a problem here. When there are a couple parts, guidelines are fine. When there’s more than that, they become an obstacle. Just look at this IKEA diagram – tell me that isn’t at least a little confusing.
After seeking some advice, I decided the best way to approach this would be to bring the parts closer together, still maintaining enough space for them to be distinct without taking up too much space on the page. Without natural space to keep the parts distinct and separate, I had to come up with a new way to keep them from blending together.
After some tinkering around, I came up with the idea to put a colored outline on each part and a colored glow surrounding it, allowing the parts to be easily differentiated. I used these colors when making the lines that led to the descriptions for each part as well, maintaining some cohesion amongst the copy and the graphics.
After I’d perfected the main illustration, I created the smaller isometric illustrations for each of the points in the “Why?” section under the intro – a set of arrows in different directions to represent various customization options, a dollar sign to signify cost-effectiveness, a heart to represent the longer lifespan of a computer, and the logo of Valve’s Steam platform, which is the distribution service of choice for most PC gamers.
Lastly, to add a little more hard data to the mix, I made a comparison chart in the remaining space on the page to highlight differences between popular GPUs from this year. It made sense to focus solely on GPUs for this, as the GPU is one of the most important parts to consider when building a PC oriented around gaming.
With all the content fleshed out, I just had to develop the general style for the diagram. I chose a blocky, square font (literally named “Square Font”) for the headers to tie in with the computer aesthetic, and used the sans serif font Avenir to provide a cleaner, more modern edge to body text. For the background, I chose a pretty neutral shade of blue, as I associate colors like this with PC technology – no doubt in part influenced by the branding for Intel, one of the largest CPU manufacturers in the industry. I layered some gradients over the blue to give a little variation in color without getting excessive and topped it off with a tech-y digital wave photoshop brush to add some texture and depth.
With the graphic essentially completed, I fixed any errors I could find and made sure it was polished and Voila! As always, designing this infographic was a huge undertaking and I poured hours upon hours of my time into it, but thanks to some inspiration and personal attachment, I enjoyed every second of the process. Even those last few seconds as I finished it at 3 A.M. on a Tuesday night.