Step 10: Create Graphs – Pie Chart

Go back to Step 9: Create a Locator Map from a Google Map

Each year, the new version of Adobe Illustrator comes out, with various improvements. Yet they STILL refuse to fix the graphing mechanism. ARRRRGH!

By “fix” I mean the ability to size graphs to your required specifications without having to break them apart first. Since it doesn’t look like they’re going to fix it this year (if ever!), let’s get started on building graphs. Today, we’ll look at pie charts.

Here’s our data from the Business editor:

CPS Energy’s source mix for electrical generation:

  • 42 percent coal
  • 25 percent nuclear
  • 19 percent natural gas
  • 11 percent renewables – purchased power
  • 3 percent other purchased power

Open a new document from your template. On the toolbar, select the Chart Tool>Pie Graph Tool.

Draw a box with this tool selected. We don’t have a lot of data points here, so we can stick with a one column graph. The result is a circle with a red line bisecting the top half of it, and a Notice I’ve actually drawn it smaller than the one-column width. You’ll also see a dialog box that resembles a spreadsheet. This is where you’ll enter in your data.

Whoops. That’s not what we wanted to see. No worries; it’s an easy fix. Just click on that transpose button (outlined in red) and then on the check mark at the top right to resort the numbers horizontally and make our circle whole again. (BTW: it works the other way as well. That’s a useful trick when you’re building graphs.)

Now that we’ve got our proper pie chart, we can start manipulating it. But first, we’re going to duplicate it for labor-saving purposes. We do this because editors have a nasty habit of changing the data on us just when we’ve finished the damn thing. So go up to the Layers panel and move it into one of your lower layers (in this case, I’m going to move it to “Imported elements).

Once there, I’m going to click the down arrow and duplicate the “Graph” item. (Note: don’t duplicate the layer, just the item.)

Now I’m going to move my new duplicate up to my “Other elements” layer and turn off the visibility for the “Imported elements” layer. This gives me an intact backup of the graph for correction purposes; the necessity of which is explained below.

With that <Graph> element selected, I’m going to go to Object>Ungroup (Ctrl-Shift-G on the PC, Cmd-Shift-G on the Mac). The following dialog box pops up. Select “Yes.” THIS is why we create a backup on another layer.

We now have an ungrouped graph.

But if you look at the Layers panel, you’ll see a LOT of unnecessary and blank layers that just clutter up your ability to edit the graphic. (I’ve expanded the layers to show you what I’m talking about.) For this graph, I just want those five little pie wedges.

There are two methods that will work to clean up the clutter: one is to manually trash the empty layers (which becomes necessary on other types of graphs, which we’ll cover in a later lesson); and two is to keep ungrouping until we’re left with only the elements we need left. Since all we need are the wedges, I’ll take the second option.

With all of the wedges selected, I’m going to change the stroke from 0.5 pt Black to 1 pt White. This will help “pop out” the wedges.

Now, I’m going to use the Rotate Tool (on the Toolbar) to rotate the circle until the biggest pie wedge is on the top. The reason for this will become clear later.

Now it’s time to add some color to the wedges. Normally, I would try to keep the wedges in the same or similar color scheme (depending on how many wedges I have), but in this case, the data points mean we can have a little fun with color. So I’ll give a darker color (50% black) to the “coal” category, an Apricot 3 to the “nuclear” category, a Denim 3 to the “natural gas” category, a Fern 2 to the “renewables” category, and a Butter 3 to the “other category.

Now, to make the graphic pop, I’m going to group all of the wedges, then apply a Drop Shadow to the group, using the settings below. I grouped it first because not doing so would have applied the drop shadow to ALL of the individual wedges, when what I want is just the outside edge.

Now, I’m going to paste my text into my “Text” layer. I’ll format it using my “Pointer box black bold” Paragraph Style. I’ll make the necessary style changes (swap out “percent” for the “%” symbol).

Now, I’ll cut up those text elements and place them appropriately on top of the pie chart, making edits to the text as necessary, and adjusting alignment as required. For the two smallest wedges, I’ll do callouts, using my “Black .5 rule with circle” Graphic Style to mark them.

Now I can add the other information from the Biz editor, clean it up and put it in our graphic style, add a few rules and the credit line, and the graphic is finished!

If you want to get fancy, and you have the time, you can bevel the pie chart using Effect>3D>Extrude and Bevel. Perhaps I’ll add that to this lesson at a later date.

Next lesson: bar charts.

Related posts