Innovations in Visualization

Physical Template Tools for Authoring Visualizations

Tiffany Wun
Lora Oehlberg
Miriam Sturdee
Sheelagh Carpendale


Providing data visualization authoring tools for the general public remains an ongoing challenge. Inspired by block-printing, we explore how visualization stamps as a physical visualization authoring tool could leverage both visual freedom and ease of repetition. We conducted a workshop with two groups---visualization experts and non-experts---where participants authored visualizations on paper using hand-carved stamps made from potatoes and sponges. The low-fidelity medium freed participants to test new stamp patterns and accept mistakes. From the created visualizations, we observed several unique traits and uses of block-printing tools for visualization authoring, including: modularity of patterns, annotation guides, creation of multiple patterns from one stamp, and various techniques to apply data onto paper. We discuss the issues around expressivity and effectiveness of block-printed stamps in visualization authoring, and identify implications for the design and assembly of primitives in potential visualization stamp kits, as well as applications for future use in non-digital environments.

Supplemental materials available here


Preprint available here