How to illustrate the coronavirus
How do you illustrate something you literally cannot see?
That’s a question that many news designers are likely facing as the demand for coronavirus graphics heats up even more.
Obviously the coronavirus itself is microscopic and can’t be seen with the naked eye.
— TVNewsMix (@TVNewsMix) March 6, 2020
It’s worth noting that searching for “coronavirus” on Google Image Search as well as stock photography services often brings up images that look similar to coronavirus but are actually of other related and unrelated viruses, so it’s important to read captions carefully.
For non-microscopic imagery there is a variety of options — but they should be used with care as well.
Stock photography sites are also becoming more and more crowded with images and animations of the virus, though it’s worth noting these may have varying degrees of scientific accuracy.
These sites are also offering a variety of images of people of a variety of ethnicities wearing face masks, but some critics have noted that using images like this could spread the misconception that such masks are reliable protection against the virus and possibly create shortages of the masks for health care workers who can benefit from using them.
It’s also worth noting that using imagery of Asian people or locations such as Chinatown have also received criticism for being offensive.
TV networks, meanwhile, are using a variety of imagery to help illustrate the story.
Some of these rely more heavily on typography and design elements that appear “medical” or “scientific” in nature.
Another common theme in the elements is the use of the color red — which is associated with alarms, blood and the red cross symbol for hospitals.