Worst practice 3D bar chart

Final design in Illustrator

After an exhausting day at work, I started goofing around in Illustrator, and I got way too hooked on text manipulation techniques. At first, I wanted to visualize episodes of a TV series, and each letter would’ve been as high as the IMDB rating, but I struggled to find any shows that had as many episodes as letters. I hate when I have an idea in my head but can’t play it out. On Monday, I went out of the room to have something to eat, and I briefly looked at the embroidery my friend made me. It’s a typical Hungarian shopping list from our childhood that says milk, bread, salami, soap, beer, soda, liver paste. That led me to the consumer basket analysis I ended up with. For the high-resolution version, click here.

The mentioned embroidery

All the data is from the 2019 Standard of living of Households report, published by the Hungarian Central Statistical Office. To be precise, I’ve hidden the link in here, but I guess nobody would like to dig into numbers in Hungarian. Long story short, the more % of the income is spent on food, the poorer we are. And we are very poor. An average person spends a quarter of his earnings on groceries (excluding alcoholic beverages), while this number is below 15% in the EU. Sad Judit is sad.

What does the chart depict?

Easier than it seems, the consumer basket of an average Hungarian. The height of the text shows the percentage that is spent on each category. For the sake of simplicity, I divided them into two groups: necessities and supplementaries. I know that buying a Balenciaga Speed Sneaker for 600 EUR would barely count as a necessity, but you know what I’m getting at, right? I have to admit (with pride) that I stole the concept and the colors I used from Nicholas Rapp – and I would do it again.

It was a long time since I enjoyed creating something so much, and I’m not encouraging anyone to follow suit on this absolutely worst practice 3D bar chart thingy, but here’s a tutorial just in case.

The building process

I found two ways to go about this. Both start with the same thing – making your text 3D, with some differences. On my first try, I used the transform effect, which seemed cool, but had a couple of downsides. It was hard to customize the levels, and either I created an outline for the letters, or the text looked like a mess. After a couple of hours, I discovered another way to go about this, without the Transform tool.

Here’s a tutorial on how to make your text pop in both ways. Since kenyér csücsök (the end of the bread) is my favorite Hungarian expression, I used this one in my example:

Demo of both options

Aligning them was the trickiest part, but at the end of the process I realized, that if I map out the 3D words again, I can tell where the letters “start”. This is what ended up as the shadow version on the picture above. Fun fact: even though I spent an hour looking at the typos and exported the image 234729387 times… I still managed to leave eduACTION in. I guess this is what Hungarians mean when we say:

she doesn’t see the forest for the trees

Bubbye. 👋🏻

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