Resources for learning to create data visualizations?

I’m interested in learning how to create the type of visualizations you see at http://flowingdata.com and informationisbeautiful. EDIT: Meaning, visualizations that are interesting in of themselves — kinda like the NY Times graphics, as opposed to a quick something for a report.

What kinds of tools are used to create these — is it mostly a lot of Adobe Illustrator/Photoshop? What are good resources (books, websites, etc.) to learn how to use these tools for data visualization in particular?

I know what I want visualizations to look like (and I’m familiar with design principles, e.g., from Tufte’s books), but I have no idea how to create them.

Answer

Flowing data regularly discusses the tools that he uses. See, for instance:

He also shows in great detail how he makes graphics on occasion, such as:

There are also other questions on this site:

IMO, try:

  1. R and ggplot2: this is a good introductory video, but the ggplot2 website has lots of resources.
  2. Processing: plenty of good tutorials on the homepage.
  3. Protovis: also a plethora of great examples on the homepage.

You can use Adobe afterwards to clean these up.

You can also look at the R webvis package, although it isn’t as complete as ggplot2. From R, you can run this command to see the Playfair’s Wheat example:

install.packages("webvis")
library(webvis)
demo("playfairs.wheat")

Lastly, my favorite commercial applications for interactive visualization are:

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