A Custom Bar Graph

If the basic bar graph feels a little boring, there are plenty of ways in Illustrator to spruce it up. In this tutorial, we’ll take the basic bar graph and embellish the bars with a photo.

1. Create a new document in Illustrator 1920pts x 1080pts. Download this image of coffee beans and then open this excel file.

2. Copy the data from the excel file.

In Illustrator, click on the screen with the Bar Graph Tool to make the width 1200pts and height 900pts, Click OK.

In the Data Window paste in the excel data and click the checkmark. Close the data window.

3. With the graph selected, go to the OBJECT menu > UNGROUP. This will permanently separate the graph from the data.

Then, select just the bars and go to the OBJECT menu > COMPOUND PATH > MAKE – the bars will be used in subsequent steps as a Clipping Mask. With the bars still selected go to the EDIT menu > CUT – this will copy the bars and remove them from the artboard.

4. Go to the FILE menu > PLACE and select the Coffee Beans.jpg. Drag the image over the entirety of the artboard, make sure it covers the entire graph.

5. With the rectangle tool, draw a rectangle overtop the placed image.

Change the color to the darkest blue from the DSMR210 Tutorials Color Palette (from the Pie Chart – Visual Analogy tutorial) or use #1b4168 in your color picker.

Go to the WINDOW menu > TRANSPARENCY and change the blending mode from Normal to Color – the Color blending mode will remove the color from the photo below and replace it with the color of the rectangle.

6. With the Black Arrow, select both the Blue Rectangle and the Photo ONLY. The best way to do this is to the make selection over a small portion of the upper right corner. Go to the OBJECT menu > GROUP.

7. Go to the EDIT menu > PASTE IN PLACE. This will paste in the bars from Step 3 in the exact location we copied them from.

8. Select the bars and the image and rectangle group and go to the OBJECT menu > CLIPPING MASK > MAKE.

9. Finally, some text formatting to make the graph look great. Select the text on the left-hand side and go to WINDOW menu > TYPE > CHARACTER (cmd/ctrl + T), click on the Character Panel menu and SHOW OPTIONS.

Change the height of the text to 36pts, the tracking to 300 and click the All Caps button at the bottom.

Change the numbers at the bottom to 36pts as well.

10. Delete the vertical line.

Then ungroup the horizontal line from the numbers.

Stretch the line out on either side – on the left it should go as wide as the longest word and on the right, it should go slightly beyond the tick mark. Change the weight to 4pts.

11. With the Black Arrow, Alt/Opt and drag a copy of the line to the top of the graph. Then, with the type tool, click above the line and type “Annual coffee consumption – kilograms per capita” Change the height to 32pts, the tracking to 200 and uncheck All Caps. Align the Type with the left-hand side of the bars.

The final customized Bar Graph.

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