Design considerations for optimizing storyline visualizations

Yuzuru Tanahashi, Kwan-Liu Ma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

111 Scopus citations


Storyline visualization is a technique used to depict the temporal dynamics of social interactions. This visualization technique was first introduced as a hand-drawn illustration in XKCDMovie Narrative Charts [21]. If properly constructed, the visualization can convey both global trends and local interactions in the data. However, previous methods for automating storyline visualizations are overly simple, failing to achieve some of the essential principles practiced by professional illustrators. This paper presents a set of design considerations for generating aesthetically pleasing and legible storyline visualizations. Our layout algorithm is based on evolutionary computation, allowing us to effectively incorporate multiple objective functions. We show that the resulting visualizations have significantly improved aesthetics and legibility compared to existing techniques.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6327274
Pages (from-to)2679-2688
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics
Issue number12
StatePublished - Oct 24 2012


  • design study
  • Layout algorithm
  • storyline visualization
  • timeline visualization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Signal Processing
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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