The use of multiple images to track or display change over time is an important tool for graphic designers. Not only for the communication of ideas, but also for self-reflection.
In one instance, the illustration of change is a powerful tool for visually expressing the dynamic qualities or aspects of a subject. The structured use of multiple images collected over time and presented in relation to each other offers a static view of a subject that the viewer can easily reference for instances of change. This perspective can relay countless types of information: communicate trends in systems, illustrate causations and their effects, show comparison and contrast of similar subjects, etc. The value of this type of visual display, when executed correctly, is a simple system for building understanding of complex subjects in a diverse audience.
From another standpoint – multiple snapshots of a subject can be helpful in the critical design process. There are many times that I will reference old projects, either for clips of artwork, inspiration, or for portfolio building. When I navigate to these folders covered in electronic dust – there is a window full of thumbnails waiting for me. Many of my projects go through several iterations – and after several horrific crashes, I tend to over-save my documents. With this collection of image thumbnails – I have a series depicting both my process, and the change in the project over time. Sometimes the changes are dramatic – sometimes you can see the project develop and the layout change with the addition of content and change in design. Many times, due to design compromise, when looking back to select images for portfolio content – I will find the earlier designs to be more appealing than the final.
In a broader sense – looking at thumbnails, or collections of pages from your portfolio of work can show you the development and change in your own style. Looking at these, you can see where you have improved, find areas to improve on, and reflect on the trends in your work. Like history in general – reviewing your history of work helps me not repeat the mistakes I have made in the past.
Finally, in both of these scenarios – I feel it is important to point out that while multiple images are great for showing change – they are just as good for helping to recognize what does NOT change. Sometimes these small changes can be so dramatic as to capture our attention away from the static nature of the rest of the subject. Either way the information that can be assessed or communicated from using multiple images to compare change is a valuable resource.
Sometimes a picture can say a thousand words – and sometimes a thousand pictures can say just one.