Cartographer's Toolkit

Map Making Tips, Tricks, and Inspiration

Almost Done: Colors Booklet

October 22nd, 2010

I’m nearing the end of a 2-month long project to create a booklet of colors specifically geared toward the geoprofessional. While there are some great ways to “cheat” and develop a color palette (see Shell We? post), it does take some time to do it. The aim of this booklet is to cut out any semblance of actual work on the reader’s part, allowing a reader to pick a successful color palette instantly. :)

And, like Elmore Leonard said, “I try to leave out the parts that people skip,” meaning that the booklet is high on substance and low on fluff. I hope to announce its availability for download on this site very soon. Probably in the next two weeks, fingers crossed.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments. If there’s anything concerning color that you think would be great to have in the booklet let me know. I know there are geopeeps out there reading these posts regularly and it’d be great to get a discussion going (but perhaps not on the use of the term geopeeps which I know may be a bit too technical for some people).



  • Kevin says on: October 22, 2010 at 5:03 pm


    This sounds wonderful – I can’t wait to see it! As a geopeep it’s often difficult to find just the right color scheme for a map. And if I can, “cut out any semblance of actual work”, then all the better. Thanks for putting it together. It sounds as if it will be a great reference to have in my library.

  • Nat says on: October 22, 2010 at 7:13 pm


    Looking forward to it! I’m always looking for variants on a five-distinct-but-visually-equal palette for political areas. Particularly ones that omit green and blue, so as to save those for parks and water.

    Similarly, I’m often looking for distinct but visually equal colors that all work for small text printed offset, and so each containing 80%+ of a dark ink (C,M, or K) as one of its components.

  • Gretchen says on: October 22, 2010 at 7:26 pm


    I’m glad you’ll find it useful!

  • Gretchen says on: October 22, 2010 at 7:31 pm


    Great – that makes me happy since there will be a whole section of visually distinct palettes. I’m still trying to come up with a one-word introduction to those palettes. “Differentiated” doesn’t really have a ring to it. Maybe “distinct” would be better.

    As far as the CMK 80% or greater criterion, this reminds me that perhaps I should include CMYK. It’s got RGB and HEX and I was hoping people could look up CMYK equivalents if needed. I feared CMYK formulas in the book since I can’t guarantee print accuracy – it’ll be distributed as an ebook (PDF) with the idea that the user needs to do some of their own tweaking when/if needed (most users won’t need a 100% degree of accuracy anyway.) If you disagree and think CMYK is a must, let me know.

Cartographer's Toolkit

Map Making Tips, Tricks, and Inspiration