Family Tree: Metro Map Style

If My Family Was a Metro System by Colville-Andersen

Here is an interesting variation on how to represent your family tree. I love the idea! Here is what the creator said about this project:

So I was thinking. What if my massive family was a metropolitan transit system? What would the map look like? Well… here it is.

Family trees are a tricky thing to make. They have a specific structure that is difficult to avoid. It took a good 16 hours to finish this design. Most of it was spent working out the system of how to represent the different lines – as well as the many quirky variations like different dads for two kids from the same mum, etc.

The symbolism is interesting and I haven’t figure what all of it means yet but it is a brilliant infographic on a very complex family structure. Many family structures are not straight forward and simple and I really like this solution. How would your family metro map look?


Gift Idea #3 – Infographic

When we think of doing a history of someone it usually feels like an overwhelming project that we just don’t have time for, especially when it comes to the holiday season. So I suggest taking on a bite sized project of an infographic about an ancestor or family member to give as a gift. Infographics are a way to communicate some of the more important information about something in a quick to understand way. You can put it into a frame or turn it into a tradition and pick a new person each year and give each person a binder or scrapbook to collect all the info-graphics in. I did a post about the infographic I did for my mom for Mother’s Day. It will help you get started. You will need to gather some information about the person and a few photos or other images. Clip art can also be helpful. Just have some fun and see how this project can come together.

Mother’s Day Project for Iris

I found this example of a family infographic today. It is pretty cool because it is customizable and comes in three colors schemes and five sizes. If you want a family infographic but don’t want to tackle the design yourself this is a great option.

“by the numbers” by Kristen Smith at


Mother’s Day Project

Mother’s Day Project for Iris

This is my version of an infographics inspire by Nicholas Felton‘s 2010 Annual Report. I’ve never done anything like this, so it was a learning experience and I enjoyed it. There are so many facts about a person’s life and this is a fairly simple one page project. I will print it out 8″ x 10″ and put it in a simple frame.

Iris – layer 1 – background

I did my layout in InDesign with five layers. The bottom layer just has the background.After I put in the background color in an 8 x 10 box, I locked the layer so I wouldn’t accidentally select it. The background color is a 25% tint of the main text color. This way when I go to make another version for Bill’s mom I can change the text color swatch and the background will change too.

Iris – layer 2 – lines

The second layer is just the lines. The default 1 pt stroke was too strong so they are .5 pt strokes. In case you don’t know, if you hold down the shift-key when you drag out a line with the line tool it will be perfectly horizontal or vertical.

Iris – layer 3 – text

The third layer is for most of the text. I used Myriad Pro in weights from light to black. I really like it when font families have such a contrast in weights.

Iris – layer 4 – photos etc.

The fourth layer is for the photos. After I picked the three photos I wanted to use I edited them in Photoshop using color matching to give them all an old sepia tone look. This layer also includes the brown lines on the residences “chart”. I drew these lines in InDesign with the pen tool. I started with a map of the United States and used that as a guide for drawing lines from Rexburg, where she was born, to each city she lived in. Then I deleted the map leaving the lines.

Iris – layer 5 – white text & lines (shown with layer 1)

The fifth layer is for all the white text and lines. I added white dots of various sizes for each city. Bigger dots for the cities with the most address. You see it here with the background layer so you can tell what is there.

I added a sixth layer to block out some of the more specific information on my mom for posting on this blog. No reason to risk identity theft. By putting it on a separate layer I can turn the blocked out areas on or off as needed for output.

I have learned over the last few years that it is very helpful to think through a project and create layers for different elements. It prevents lots of problems when it comes to editing and rearranging your design. For example with the residence chart, I can lock all the layers but the two involved in the chart and re-size or move it with accidentally selecting the text or other lines nearby.

If you would like an InDesign template of this project send me an email to


From Felton Annual Report 2010

I came across a different way to tell someone’s life story recently and I had to share it here. From what I can gather Nicholas Felton puts together what he calls an “annual report” each year. For 2010 he put together the life of his father all presented in charts and graphs. It is a whole new way to look at life and the stories behind it. I want to use this concept in a project in the near future. I’m not sure which one yet but I’ll keep you posted. Maybe it will be a quick project for Mother’s Day.

Can you visualize a project that you could use this concept with? I’d love to hear about it.