Lifestyle and Health – research


Infographic explaining how much physical activity to do

Everyone should be encouraged to reduce the amount of sedentary time by:

  • reducing time spent watching TV, using a computer or playing video games
  • taking regular time not sitting during work
  • breaking up sedentary time, such as swapping a long bus or car journey for walking part of the way

Declining levels of physical activity

People in the UK are around 20% less active now than in the 1960s. If current trends continue, we will be 35% less active by 2030.

Increasing car use is a major contributing factor to lower levels of physical activity in the UK. In 1961, 69% of households did not own a car or van, but by 2012 this had decreased to 25%.

Figures from the Health Survey for England show that 67% of men and 55% of women aged 16 and over do at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week.

Infographic showing how active we are

Lack of physical activity is costing the UK an estimated £7.4 billion a year, including £0.9 billion to the NHS alone.

Long term conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular and respiratory disease lead to greater dependency on home, residential and ultimately nursing care. This drain on resources is avoidable, as is the personal strain it puts on families and individuals.

Health Risk Reductions due to exercise 

Infographic showing the health benefits of physical activity

Physical activity is also important for people diagnosed with cancer and cancer survivors. Physical activity after treatment for cancer can help to reduce:

  • the impact of some side effects
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • fatigue
  • impaired mobility
  • weight changes

Macmillan has estimated that there are 2 million cancer survivors in the UK and around 1.6 million do not meet the recommended levels of physically active.

Other positive outcomes of physical activity include:

  • a sense of purpose and value
  • a better quality of life
  • improved sleep
  • reduced stress

Infographic showing physical activity rates per region of England

Healthy at work

With 70% of the adult population in employment, there is strong evidence that workplace physical activity programmes are effective. These can include:

  • flexible working policies and incentive schemes
  • policies to encourage employees to walk or cycle
  • information, ongoing advice and support
  • independent health checks focused on physical activity



Penguin Book Cover Submission – Animal Farm

As part our our course work we were asked to design a book cover for either or both of two classic books; Animal Farm by George Orwell or Naughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman.

I was immediately drawn to Animal Farm as I find Orwell’s work to be shocking and vivid. Animal Farm is his classic which uses the revolt of farm animals as an allegory for the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. The reason it’s influence is so long lasting and pervasive. Is that the topics explored of devious political maneuvering and corruption can be applied to so many administrations including contemporary ones.

While I found myself drawn to this book, it’s popularity was a double edged sword. As a result of its commercial success, numerous book cover designs have been created. To put it simply, a lot of the best ideas have been taken.


As you can tell, there is somewhat of a theme in the book. I had to find an effective and visual appealing cover that would not be simply a reworking of existing designs. Basically, make it look nice, be implicitly descriptive of the books themes and don’t just shove a pig in the centre of the page.

After experimenting with numerous ideas and visual style, I elected to go with an effect I have always been interested in. I wanted to build a silhouette of a windmill. After the image of the pig, the windmill is certainly one of the most important themes of the book.

I was very pleased with my early outcomes, the only bumps in the road I was worried about were the over simplicity of my designs, as well as the fact that the line tracing pieces were quite intricate in their own way and so would become very difficult to make out once all the cover copy was applied, the blurb and title would do a lot to obscure the details and diminish the effect.

I decided to stick with the windmill silhouette as i liked the contrast it gave my page and it has a rather gaunt and rustic look as if it was cobbled together by sentient farm animals. What I now needed to do was find a way of bringing more depth and texture to a very flat and sparsely detailed piece.

IMG_20180302_0002.jpgI used a number of acrylic paints to create a textured image somewhat reminiscent of a vibrant skyline. The colour was intended to combine a skyline with the thematically important shade of green. This colour clearly represents the ideology of the early animal farm, symbolising freedom from oppression.

I also painted and edited some of the key text from the book, First, i daubed the words ‘Animal Farm’ and then the most famous quote from the book ‘All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.’ These turned out very well.


I used black paint on white paper before inverting the colours and increasing the contrast to allow the type to sit perfectly on my silhouette without losing the rough edges that are so important to the painted texture effect.

Book Cover silloutte.jpg

At this point I started building up my layers. The key concept for this book cover was for the front cover to represent the beginning of the revolt. The infectious atmosphere of optimism and new found freedom. The windmill acting as a centrepiece and a symbol of all of the animals efforts.

The rear cover then, was the downfall of Animal Farm as an idea. The windmill is broken, as were the spirits of the animals and the ideology of Old Major. The sky has also turned red to symbolise the return of the human way of life, as now dictated by the pigs. The broken windmill was created by simply cutting parts from the complete windmill and arranging them in a dishevelled and dilapidated manner. I also wanted to fade the ‘Animal Farm’ text, but I decided to leave some areas lighter that would spell out the word ‘LIAR’ the symbolise the betrayal the the principles of Animalism that occurred.

Final Piece in minion.jpg

Here then, is my final outcome. I was very happy with the finished product especially since it was almost entirely the work of a weekend. Up until very near to the deadline I was tooling around with endless ideas that would not produce anything to the standard I wished to produce. This then is pretty much as good as I could do with the time I had. I’m very happy with it and it’s now simply a case of waiting for feedback from the Penguin Publishing judges.

Web Design

In the end I decided that I wanted to make an interactive website to project my visual work in one clean, easily navigated source. I had originally intended to build a website from scratch before finding out it would be beyond me to do so in the timeframe allowed.

From that point I had decided on an animation. However by happy accident I found that my earlier research on visual storytelling:


I decided to investigate website template products. I found that websites like SquareSpace and Wix could facilitate most of the effects I wanted without the need for coding. I was infatuated with the concept of parallax scrolling and other visual effects. These were available to me.

I wanted a double layered site. The front portion would be the meat of the site, the information, the graphics and written work. The background would consist of relevant images that would help guide the narrative. I also wanted the website to be entirely simple to use. Allowing a viewer to simply scroll down to access all of the information in a clean package.

Here is the result:

I have to mention, the editor fought me every step of the way, with elements moving and disappearing when I switched between devices and screen ratios. I had originally intended for the third animation (the 10 countries with the highest dog population) to include buttons in the shape of the countries concerned that would display further information when the cursor was passed over them. I did this only to come back to it, the day of the project and find that they had all been removed without explanation.

My Thoughts

This was a very exciting and challenging brief to complete. I honestly wish we could be set a task and then reset the same task again immediately after so that all the bugs and mistakes we made the first time could be eliminated and we could produce new work of much higher quality.

How to visualise my ideas

Visualising my information was one of the key points in my process. I needed something simplistic that would convey the message in a powerful way. I looked at numerous examples of modern illustrated infographics and found hem to have a very similar theme. There was a lot of colour and vibrancy.

While many of these pieces were actually very appealing. I didn’t want to make something that simply copied their work. So I looked at the idea of using silhouettes.

One further reason for doing this was that I originally intended on making an animated piece.

Charles Burns

Charles Burns makes beautiful cutouts of people he meets with nothing more than paper and scissors. He calls himself the roving artist because he wanders around and creates his pieces in minutes wherever he finds himself.

I love the way he captures such a lot of a subjects personality with nothing more than a blank piece of paper. It is a testament to creative minimalism and harnesses the human phenomenon of pareidolia (our instinctive recognition of human forms) to be effective.

I wanted to create this effect with my work. As I had been focusing heavily on evolution. My obvious first choice was the The March of Progress, properly called The Road to Homo Sapiens. This must be the most famous representation of evolution currently.


The illustration was commissioned by Time-Life Books for the Early Man volume (1965) of the popular Life Nature Library. It prominently features the sequence of figures, drawn by natural history painter and muralist Rudolph Zallinger (1919–1995).

From all of my research. One thing I have found lacking in this illustration, is the influence of dogs. The evidence does suggest that without our interactions and subsequent coevolution with dogs, we would not be the force we are today.

Screen Shot 2018-02-15 at 12.56.00

Here was my alternative. A simplified rendition of the original March of Progress with the role of dogs properly represented. Ad accurately as I could, based on the current knowledge of domestication of dogs, I have places a wolf like silhouette to show the transitional phase. And a Golden Retriever acting a docile pet to represent our current relationship with dogs.

Further Complicating Matters

As I have already outlined in my blog, I have decided to combine a website and animation as a means of showing my info graphic designs. What I have now come to the realisation of, is that I would like to add another element to this. It is perfectly easy to have, in my online maps, hyperlinks which would then show further information. My idea is to create a series of maps detailing various worldwide statistics as well as highlighting the locations and dates of certain important instances.

These would include:

  • First archaeological evidence of domesticated dogs
  • Locations of important dogs (largest, smallest, most expensive, rarest, fastest etc.)
  • Locations of news stories involving dogs (disaster response, protection, lifeguard, firefighting etc.)
  • Working breeds (hunting dogs, guard dogs, sled dogs)

Other examples may follow but these are simply off the top of my head. I may have a short time in which to do this, but now that I have inspiration I will be able to proceed quickly and efficiently. I work well under pressure.

One other advantage to this idea is that the maps could double as printed ephemera with very little extra work. I will show my research and progress in later blog posts.

Refinement of my Idea

Throughout this task I have been determined to create a website as the basis for my infographic, a linear scrolling sight which would give the information in a narrative format. What I quickly realised in researching this, was the level of coding required to do this and my lack of said skills. I haven’t been put off however.

What I have now decided to do is create a series of animations. These brief slides will contain facts and figures, combining visual and typographic media to create a visually pleasing, educational animated video.

My idea here, is to create the clips individually before slicing them together with various transition slides and then possibly recording a voice over. The clips will hopefully therefore, become a seamless video. They will also, however, have another purpose.

Having kept these clips distinct from one another, I can turn them into gifs or other handy small file formats and paste them directly into a website. Using a template company such as Wix or WordPress, I can create something akin to the site I originally had in mind while avoiding the coding problem. I do actually intend to learn coding as the skill will be invaluable to me in future instances like this. But the tie constraints mean I haven’t got a chance of learning the method and creating the sight in the allotted time.

Here is my animated logo, which will double as the intro to my video. It is brief and simplistic, but I wanted a quick and concise method of information conveyance. One thing I have found consistently in my favourite examples of infographics is that they all follow relatively simplistic graphic style, there are minimal colours used and they do not contain any unnecessary clutter. It is for this reason, my video will consist of silhouetted figures and use only the monochromatic colour scheme.

Here is my second slide. This was the logical starting place for me as it goes back to our shared origins. It simply shows the first confirmed archaeological sights of wolf domestication with the approximate date along the bottom of the screen.

I will refer to this simplified world map a number of times in my work as much of our relationship with dogs is best conveyed on a global scale. Number of dogs compared to human beings. working dogs vs pets, countries categorised by treatment for dogs etc.

My Thoughts 

In every project i have undertaken thus far, I have always been working somewhat on the fly, not knowing until very late in the game, what my final product will resemble. In this project in particular I have struggled to pin down my ideas and be clear on what I want to create. This work however, has allowed me to focus my mind and refine what I want to create very effectively. Animation is a horribly slow and intricate process even to produce something as basic as I have. But every slide I complete is one fewer to worry about

Parallax Scrolling Website

One common theme among the websites I have been admiring and researching, is the fact that they are all ‘parallax scrolling’ websites. As the user scrolls down through the page, elements in the background move more slowly than those in the foreground giving the illusion of depth in a 2D space. This is the very first step for me if I want to create my own interactive info-graphic website.

I will be using numerous tutorial websites as well as videos from YouTube to learn more about this technique and the possibilities it provides. My first step will have to be evaluating whether this idea will be feasible in the time given. There are two weeks remaining in this project and if I need to learn to code and then build a website from scratch in that time I may be unable to finish.

One of the most beautiful examples of a parallax scrolling website I have found so far is the webpage for the video game ‘Firewatch’. It uses a simple colour scheme and a multi layered image to create very compelling and beautiful page that is a pleasure to mvoe through.

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I would love to be able to incorporate a similar effect into my own website. This page represents my best case scenario. I will update as I go regarding the progress i make in this endeavour.