Cool SAS infographic, with custom 3-D effect


Here's an example that shows SAS is more than just a tool to create analytic graphics - it can also be used to create 'cute' infographics! :)

An infographic that recently caught my eye had a fleet of airplanes stretching from overhead out to the horizon, along with some interesting info about empty seats on airplanes (see screen capture below). I decided to create my own version (minus the 'snakes' nonsense), using SAS.

I created a radiant color-gradient sky/background by annotating concentric pies, of slightly different sizes, and slightly different shades of blue. The pies are a glob solid white pies of random sizes, with the text annotated on them. I display these annotated things on a blank Proc Gslide.

Then the tricky bit was the 3-D fleet of airplanes. I created a rectangular grid of airplanes by looping through the desired locations on the screen, and annotating a text label containing a font character shaped like an airplane. I mathematically size the airplanes such that the ones near the bottom of the screen are smaller (so they'll look farther away). And to get the 3-D perspective angle, I created a custom (non-rectangular) greplay template that "squeezed" the bottom of the grid of airplanes in closer together at the bottom.

Here's how it turned out:


Note that the non-rectangular greplay template trick does not work with non-SAS/Graph font characters (such as the airplane character in the Webdings font), therefore I had to create my own custom SAS/Graph software font containing an airplane. To do that, I worked out the coordinates for the desired airplane shape on graph paper:


And then I turned those coordinates into a SAS/Graph software font using the following code:

LIBNAME gfont0 ".";
data figures;
input char $ ptype $ x y segment lp $;
A W 100 200 0 P
A V 85 75 1 P
A V 85 85 1 P
(and so on...)
proc gfont data=figures name=figures
filled height=.75in showroman romht=.5in resol=4;

I think the results turned out pretty nice. Does this give you any ideas about custom font characters, or trick/3-D effects you might want to use in your infographic? Feel free to share your ideas in a comment...


About Author

Robert Allison

The Graph Guy!

Robert has worked at SAS for over a quarter century, and his specialty is customizing graphs and maps - adding those little extra touches that help them answer your questions at a glance. His educational background is in Computer Science, and he holds a BS, MS, and PhD from NC State University.

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  1. I think it turned out great. BRAVO!!! Hopefully, point and click module of the enterprise capable of similar abilities will come one day. Not that any statistical platform is currently on-board the infographic train.

  2. Miguel Maldonado on

    Bravo!!! Truly outstanding!
    I just ran this code and it was a lot of fun. Can't wait to tweak it to do some other fun stuff.
    Thanks for this post, truly remarkable!

    • Robert Allison
      Robert Allison on

      Thanks Michelle! ... Most of the credit should go to the SAS developers though, who created such a powerful/flexible software! :)

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