Before the ‘How it Works’ Discovery Channel and YouTube explosion, Neil Ardley and David Macaulay’s The Way Things Work book was oftentimes the go-to source for satisfying the natural itch of wondering how things do what they do. The book, which was first released in 1988, provided (and still does) hours of brain-fertilizing goodness for young curious minds through its detailed and entertaining illustrations of everyday machines and technologies.

More recently, Portland, Oregon-based graphic designer Jacob O’Neal has taken the concept up a notch and has created a series of ongoing projects that explain how things work with animated gifs in his series, Animagraffs.

With animated explanations explaining everything from ‘How Speakers Make Sound‘ to ‘How a Handgun Works‘, the highly-communicative method of describing system processes is so great, it should become a new standard for communicating design intent in engineering and design school presentations.


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O’Neal, whose expansive graphic design portfolio is heavy on infographics, runs Animagraffs as a one man show, from concept to research to finished deliverable. On his website, he states that he is “obsessed with solid, hiqh-quality research and design presentation.” Yeah, no kidding.

“If you’re gonna do something you might as well do it RIGHT. Right?”

Be sure to check out the ongoing series, which also includes a breakdown of the Moonwalk, in-full over at Animagraffs.


Simon is a Brooklyn-based industrial designer and Managing Editor of EVD Media. When he finds the time to design, his focus is on helping startups develop branding and design solutions to realize their product design vision. In addition to his work at Nike and various other clients, he is the main reason anything gets done at EvD Media. He once wrestled an Alaskan alligator buzzard to the ground with his bare hands… to rescue Josh.