Illustration-inspired techniques for visualizing time-varying data

Alark Joshi           Dr. Penny Rheingans

University of Maryland Baltimore County


Traditionally, time-varying data has been visualized using snapshots of the individual time steps or an animation of the snapshots shown in a sequential manner. For larger datasets with many time varying features, animation can be limited in its use, as an observer can only track a limited number of features over the last few frames. Visually inspecting each snapshot is not practical either for a large number of time-steps.

We propose new techniques inspired from the illustration literature to convey change over time more effectively in a time-varying
dataset. Speedlines are used extensively by cartoonists to convey motion, speed, or change over different panels. Flow ribbons are another technique used by cartoonists to depict motion in a single frame. Strobe silhouettes are used to depict previous positions of an object to convey the previous positions of the object to the user. These illustration-inspired techniques can be used in conjunction with animation to convey change over time.

Alark Joshi and Penny Rheingans, Illustration-inspired techniques for visualizing time-varying data, Proceedings of IEEE Visualization 2005, pp. 679-686.

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Last Modified:  Thursday, 22nd September 2005.