This graphic seeks to highlight the weaknesses of the Tiger Tank, to demystify one of the much heralded technologies of WWII.
There was no doubt that the Tiger tank, with ample fuel and on solid ground, was one of the most lethal vehicles of the war. Tiger tanks have symbolised the Ruthless Nazi Juggernaut in movies and popular culture.
The books of Thomas Jentz contain a lot of original and deep research, including some fascinating data from ballistics tests involving captured Tiger armour - it was these data that the left hand side graphic was based on.
It is fair to argue that these data are obtained in non-battlefield conditions, but the important thing for me, editorially is that the shed light on the idea that although the Tiger was the superior against all tanks of its day, those that came after had learned lessons, and by improving calibre and barrel length, guns could penetrate it's armour (leading to the further up-armouring to the Tiger 2).
One could also argue that I haven't included enough of the different types of projectile that would have different effects on the armour. This data has been excluded for expediency - the role of this graphic is to afford a basic understanding of the issue. This is something I am thinking a lot more about - is the initial impact of a graphic enough? and then we depend on text for the depth? - or how far can purely visual means go towards telling a compelling story, with many angles and complexity? (Answers to come in future posts)
The main issue here was the translating the tabular data into a graphic that showed two variables at once - the distance that A could lethally hit B and vice versa.
Maybe this should have happened in the sketch book but is was so sure that I had the right elements that I allowed myself to buck that principle
I started of with the tanks facing each other - this way I could have also kept a vertical or horizontal scale to show the progression of time /dates - a construct that is becoming increasing popular in this work as so much of it is about one side's ability to improve before the other.
Illustrations shown at early stages - dummy text etc
As the above pictures show a few experiments that were done with this element but the final version is better at conveying the Tiger's role as target/ the focus of this composition.
The page was more colour coded to begin with (using the colour scheme for the beligerent countries -
Basic colour codes for belligerent nations (anyone got suggestions for France, Italy or Japan?)
I considered using red text for the whole of the 'weaknesses' section, but further work showed it to be too much - such a surfeit of colour would be meaningless and would break a fundamental graphic rule - that bright colours are for highlighting important elements and are to be used sparingly.
Sample layout showing over-exuberant use of red text
The rendering of the tanks was interesting too - the representation of hardware is an ongoing concern. I am aware that there will be some readers who would like to see these machines portrayed in all their technical actuality, but my initial view was that they only need to be portrayed to support the needs of the editorial thrust of the graphic.
I have come round a little to the needs of the graphic to have a degree of visual richness - one of the graphic's purposes must be to attract and retain interest of the viewer's eye.
Different treatments of the tanks - which aid recognition and also keep the eye interested?
This is often frowned upon is some circles of information design - but short of full blown realism, there are positive qualities in the competent line rendering of these objects - just as in this pterosaur illustration in the NYC Natural History Museum.
Pterosaur display illustration, NY Museum of Natural History
The Lines are efficient in their communication of 'pterosaur-ness' but it doesn't seek to become fully rendered or realised and it is this level of render that i am keen on at the moment - unless of course the editorial thrust demanded a critique of an aspect of the engineering/ construction.
More on this approach to line drawing in future posts.
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