Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Our Titanic work

Most publications would have done some sort of graphics looking back to what happened to the Titanic 100 years ago. We decided to do two separate graphics. The first looking at the ship itself, which at the time was an engineering marvel. The second, published a day later on the anniversary itself, looked at the tragic events of the sinking. For both we negotiated a large amount of space at a full broadsheet page each.

The first graphic was done by myself. Obviously I started by researching. We knew this was coming up way ahead of time so could start researching early. The main source I used for the graphic was a special edition Haynes manual I ordered over the Internet. It was 150 pages of diagrams, photos and text covering every working part of the ship. I used this as the base for my deck plans and worked from there.

Haynes manuals have been made since the 1960s for almost every popular model of car. They are aimed at owners and professional garage mechanics, helping them to strip down and rebuild cars. This was a special edition launched for the 100th anniversary of the titanic.


Deck plans

After researching I started to plan out the graphic. I traced out the flat deck plans and used the Extrude & Bevel tool in Illustrator to try them at different angles to see which gave the best view to see every room. I then illustrated the whole ship at the same angle, dissected it into the correct slices and sunk in the floor plans which I'd drawn up in 3D. All as vector in Illustrator.

Later in the graphic I realised there was some updating to be done. Although the deck plans in the manual were attributed to the shipbuilder themselves, there were a few details which didn't match some other plans I'd seen elsewhere. After getting in touch with the publisher I found out the plans in the book were for the Olympic class of cruise liner in general. There were three ships built in this class and Titanic was one of them, but she also had a lot of individual modifications being the flagship liner.

The Discovery Channel also had some very detailed blueprints of the ship which I used to cross check. One obvious difference was the promenade and millionaires' suites on B deck. See below. The Haynes version on top shows an open promenade when the Titanic actually had this section turned into private promenades as part of the two millionaires' suites.

And in the graphic...

After checking the rest of the plans a few more alterations were made. Then labels and other parts of the graphic were added. 

End result

I worked on this graphic for months in between other projects and daily work. It was published on Saturday's back page. The day before the 100th anniversary.


The following day came the second graphic which looked at the disaster itself. This graphic, by Adolfo Arranz, had a completely different style. A more tragic feel, illustrated at night, and drawn mostly using Coral Painter in Adolfo's usual technique. Some Adobe Illustrator parts too.

The spread

This graphic ran on a spread inside the paper with a feature story on survivors.


  1. Beautiful artwork on the Titanic! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Simon, I would absolutely love to share your Titanic Deck layout illustration on my Titanic Facebook Page:

    I respect your copyright, can I get permission from you to do this?