How to Make Animated Line Charts in R

Sometimes it’s useful to animate the multiple lines instead of showing them all at once.

Animated line charts have limited applications, but in some cases, they can be useful to see change. A few years ago, Ed Hawkins showed this by visualizing global temperature:

Bloomberg did it too a bit earlier by drawing a line for each year. As the years play out, you can see overall temperature rising overall.

In this tutorial you learn to make charts that look more like this Bloomberg piece. You use R and the animation package to make an animated GIF, but first you start with static charts and then work your way towards the finished graphic.

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About the Author

Nathan Yau is a statistician who works primarily with visualization. He earned his PhD in statistics from UCLA, is the author of two best-selling books — Data Points and Visualize This — and runs FlowingData. Introvert. Likes food. Likes beer.