Have you ever heard of the Google Forest in northern Mozambique?
Botanists from the Kew Royal Botanic Gardens near London theorized there must be some virgin biodiverse rainforest-like territory near Malawi and Mozambique, nearly a mile above sea level.
They used Google Earth to search for likely spots and eventually zeroed in on Mount Mabu.
Bingo! The area proved to be as biologically diverse as hoped. Scientists have been studying it ever since.
This happened ten years ago. My friends at Graphics24 in South Africa celebrated this anniversary with an ginormous graphic that explains how what’s become known as the Google Forest was discovered and some of the species found there.
Click this for a much, much larger look:
Graphics24 graphics editor Andre Gouws tells me:
I had an idea for this one when I read an article that this forest was discovered by Western scientists ten years ago. I thought it would be great to show this amazing forest in all its beauty in an infographic.
I did the research, found the names of all the new species, and told Hanlie Malan about my idea to sketch the forest filled with all these beautiful creatures.
I love doing these kind of arty graphics with Hanlie.
Hanlie picks up the story:
This graphic was Andre’s great idea. He asked me to make sure to create the feeling that when you look at it, it must feel like you are inside a forest.
First I made a study of all the trees — I found a great site with all the info, then I proceeded with a rough drawing to be able to figure out where each bird/plant/insect etc must go. I discussed it with Andre first, and then I started the detailed drawing of the trees, after which I added the colors and effects. This took me one whole weekend and the following Monday nonstop.
After that was done, I started drawing each animal/insect separately, knowing it would facilitate the process as I go along, in case it needed to be made bigger or smaller or moved to add info later on.
The snake took many hours to draw.
Andre supplied a lot of info which helped me to me able to illustrate a lot of the newly found fauna and flora. I used a few different artist pens for all of the drawings. I added each one’s colors separately as well, and these took me an additional two weekends, but I also worked on this a few times during the weeks, when I had time, between my other work.
Yes, you are 100% correct by saying I drew it first, scanned it in and then added the colors in Photoshop. I drew everything quite big so that it could have a lot of detail afterwards, when scanned and reduced in size. I tried to make it look hand-colored with the effects I used.
And yes, I added the ‘halo’s’ to make them stand out, I am glad you say it works.
Andre finishes the story by adding:
I sent the graphic to the researcher, Dr. Julian Bayliss (he is in Malawi now)…
…and he very kindly responded with some additional info. He also asked for a copy of the graphic. He says he likes it a lot.
Graphics24 is the infographics division of South African media giant Media24. Among the company’s many holdings: Daily Afrikaans-language papers in Johannesburg, Bloomfontein and Cape Town, two large nationally-distributed Sunday papers — one publishes in Afrikaans and one in English — and a number of tabloids. I did quite a bit of teaching and consulting work for the company’s print operation between 2009 and 2011.
This graphic ran in the English-language Sunday paper, City Press. I’m told it’s possible it might also appear in City Press‘ Afrikaans-language counterpart, Rapport.
Hanlie Malan works out of the company’s Port Elizabeth office.
I posted about her work from time to time during my trips to South Africa. Here’s an example of her graphic work.
Here’s what I wrote about graphics editor Andre Gouws back in 2010, when Media24 appointed him to be graphics director:
Andre is very sharp and very organized. He has a ton of experience as both and editor and a manager, having worked in Cape Town and then at the Gulf News in Dubai.
When I was here [in 2009], I helped write a job description and recommended criteria for a departmental leader. Seems to me they’ve chosen wisely.
In November of last year, Andre and Hanlie teamed up to create a nice piece on the Berlin Wall. A month later, they worked on a piece that observed the 10th anniversary of the gigantic tsunami that affected the Indian Ocean.
Find the Graphics24 online graphics archive here.