Flying For Free
An infographic explaining the Great Albatross' flight mechanism

Type

Infographic

Tools

Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator

Client

Prof. Jodie Jenkinson (MSC2023H)

Target Audience

Science and bird enthusiasts, engineering/flight enthusiasts curious about natural flight

Date completed

March 5, 2022

Goals

To create an infographic explaining a naturally-occurring phenomenon

Process

I have always been fascinated by the flap-less Albatross flight and the length of duration they could fly for, but at the same time have never inquired further to the anatomical and environmental mechanisms that allow them to achieve this feat. This project started from a curiosity to understand this phenomenon. 

Ideation and concepting

Of course there are other adaptations the Albatross has that allow them to live in the Southern Oceans but for the purposes of this infographic I focus on those that contribute to its flight ability directly. In addition, I wanted to focus on the Great Albatross family since they are the most well known group of Albatross due to their large size (as tall as a child) and long wingspan. 

To start, I created a mind map that outlined the relationships for each category that I wanted to include in the infographic. Then, using those connections I drew a some rough sketches laying out the sections and concept. While doing background research I noticed a lack of visual explanation of how Dynamic Soaring works so I knew I wanted to integrate the flight pattern into the infographic directly as a centerpiece. 

I also created an info bank about different Great Albatross species of their plumage variation, size, habitat and population.

Maquette building

In ZBrush, I built a simple maquette of the Albatross using a primitive sphere and used various brushes to mold it into an appropriate shape. As the Albatross doesn’t flap during flight, building one maquette was enough to gain different perspectives of the Albatross’ form during Dynamic Soaring.

Comprehensive sketch

At this stage, I explored and chose a complementary colour palette based on the Albatross’ pink bill and a deep turquoise that is reminiscent of the Southern Oceans. The overall layout and flow of information was fairly dictated by the orientation of the Albatross birds across the page which made it easy to organize.

Render and compositing

The birds and background were rendered in separate layers in Photoshop (fun fact: the island in the background was referenced from Gough Island, the native habitat of the endangered Tristan Albatross), while the text and overlays were created in Illustrator. To give some depth of field and create focus on the most forefront bird, I utilized a Gaussian blur on the background and the other birds. Other than the main Dynamic Soaring section, I think the most successful feature of this infographic is the coloured tabs that allow the reader to quickly identify each Albatross species and locate their native habitat on the map adjacent. 

References

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