05 July 2012

Critique: Bison dung fungus

I’m pleased that Jacquelyn Gill took time out from preparing for her doctoral dissertation today (which you can watch live at 1:00 pm Central time!) to provide me with a poster for critique. It’s one of the first examples of a poster that has some elements featured in another poster I critiqued on this blog. Click to enlarge!

Recognize the influence? It’s from Kristina Killgrove, whose poster was featured back in April! Both divided the poster into elliptical quadrants.

On Kristina’s poster, I noted a problem was confusion about whether to read across or down. Jacquelyn’s answer to this is to provide a clear, but unobtrusive, cue in the center of the poster, with numbers showing the reading order.

Within each quadrant, the multiple rows and columns make it a little tricky to decipher the order I’m supposed to look at the figures in. I’m pretty sure it’s from left to right, though.

As I mentioned with Kristina’s poster, it is difficult to fit much some material into curved spaces. Graphs, in particular, are rectangular, and they need a lot of space around the corners to avoid the “about to pop the balloon” tension. Jacquelyn generally does a good job of this on the top. Not having top or right axes on the graphs helps. The bottom graphs are less comfortable, particularly on the right.

I am generally against putting text on photographic backgrounds. It’s not bad here, though, because the top half is just a colour. The bottom, though, could be more of a problem. I would have tried to make the interiors of the ellipses even a bit more opaque, though perhaps not completely white. In particular, quadrant 3 in the lower left has graphs with the finest details on top of the background.

The circles on either side of the top quadrants are nice little attractions for passers by. I would have put a bison picture in the upper left if possible. The upper left is the more critical position, and the bison is more recognizable than the fungus (at least, I’m presuming that’s what’s in the upper left circle). Normally, I’d mirror the picture Jacquelyn used to make the bison looked to the right, into the text. The numbers on the ear tags would make this tricky to do for this picture, as they reversed numbers would give the effect away!

The poster uses classic movie poster colours, orange and blue, for some contrasting “pop.”

Jacquelyn shares a poster from a couple of years ago by way of comparison. She called it “awful”, but I have to say, it’s far from the worst I’ve seen. Yes, there’s a lot of text, but at least the reading order is plain.

I’d have to agree that her new poster is better, though!

Postscript: That’s Doctor Gill now. She succesfully defended her thesis.

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