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Souls, by Katarina Iliskovic

A different graphic representation of a family tree

October 27, 2016

[This is a guest post by Katarina Iliskovic*, about her personal data visualization project Souls]



Souls is a graphic visualization of my family tree, both mother’s and father’s sides. Created in a minimalist style, where shapes are defined in different geometric combinations and only black and white color.

(image: Katarina Iliskovic)

It was a student project. At the faculty we were asked to make a graphical presentation of a family tree in both printed and digital interactive version. Later on it developed into a personal project as I always wanted to learn more about my family. As I am kind of a person who waits for inspiration it took me about six months to finish it. In the meantime there were lots of combinations with different color pallets but I wasn’t satisfied. But then one day while I was presenting the current family tree to the professor it struck me, I realized how it should look and started from scratch.

How I came to the year 1918?

In the beginning of the whole process I didn’t know from whom should I start. Who should be the first relative? I decided that this should be the first relative that was alive when I was born and that I knew in person. It was my mother’s grandfather so my great grandfather. His birth year is the beginning of my family tree.

(image: Katarina Iliskovic)

Basis and the rules of reading

I used the grid points as a basis, for the better arrangement of relatives. Which later turned out as a good solution. If I would like to make additions to the family tree I would just continue the grid. Now there are 105 persons. You can read it either from the top or from the bottom. As there are two families I taught there should also be two starting points.

(image: Katarina Iliskovic)

Design of elements

While creating the elements I wanted to be simple. I chose circle, square and line and tried out many geometrical combinations till I came to these.

(image: Katarina Iliskovic)

The relations are represented through combinations of lines as a line is thin and sometimes fragile like the relations people have. Sturdy characteristic of square for the older generations as a sign of strength and ancient personality. Light and simple circle for the new generations.

No names

First I taught there should be information like: names, birth, death… But I concentrate on generations, marriage/divorce and number of children.


The idea is to collect general infomation with a short biography and archive it all. This version was particularly made to continue the discovery. Clicking on the elements in the legend it opens the appropriate section (each one opens/is uncovered) and clicking on iliskovic or nikolic the names would slowly appear on the surface. You can see the preview on Behance.

(image: Katarina Iliskovic)



*Katarina Ilišković is currently working on her master degree in Digital Art and New Media at the Faculty of Media and Communication, Belgrade. Interested in graphic design, video art and wire sculpture. See more of her work on Behance.

Written by Tiago Veloso

Tiago Veloso is the founder and editor of Visualoop and Visualoop Brasil . He is Portuguese, currently based in Bonito, Brazil.