Cartographer's Toolkit

Map Making Tips, Tricks, and Inspiration

A Great Little Map

August 30th, 2012

In order to write this post I’m going to have to admit that I was reading . . . Better Homes and Gardens. Let’s just say a certain in-law keeps getting me a subscription every year. And what are you going to do, just throw it away?

In this month’s issue there’s a story about the NYC High Line, telling readers about the sundeck and the woodland. Yes, super interesting stuff, but what caught my attention was a small map in the sidebar. Here’s what was great about it:

 

  • The roads are denoted with simple strokes that vary in width ever so slightly. A bit arty but not too much.
  • Everything fades at the edges of the map, there is no border around the map.
  • There is a nice bit of blue to represent water, again fading at the edges.
  • Land is white, roads are gray, the High Line is olive green cased in a faint lighter green line.
  • Four simple black circles with white numbers indicate four spots that are discussed in the article.

 

But what is probably the biggest reason for taking note of this map is that it’s a perfect example of how a designer or illustrator sees the map makingĀ endeavorĀ as opposed to the GIS person.

I’m not saying you can’t be a GIS person and a design-oriented person at the same time. Indeed, that’s exactly what this blog is all about teaching. But the point is that a lot of GIS people, after having been told to make a map of the Manhattan High Line, would have created maps that look more Rand McNally than Lena Corwin.

I can’t show the map here for risk of copyright infringement, and they don’t have it online. But I can tell you that it’s just a simple little location diagram that works. So that’s the tip for today: if all you need is simple, take the time to simplify.

 

Related: this post on the High Line’s giant inflated globe

 

Cartographer's Toolkit

Map Making Tips, Tricks, and Inspiration