Last week I was honored to be an expert commentator for The Guardian’s live Q&A on reinvesting in your business.
Please take a moment to read The Guardian’s roundup post, where the best of the experts responses are posted. It is worth a read for anyone who owns their own business.
The Q & A from which the roundup was created was fun to be a part of and very informative, even though it was 5am in San Francisco, where I was at the time.
If you would like to read more about reinvesting in a mapping business, specifically, check out this earlier post.
I hope everyone in the states had a happy Thanksgiving.
Are you starting a new cartography career from scratch? Or are you trying to figure out how to add “map making” to your already long list of skills? Here are the basic areas to educate yourself in, as detailed in GIS Cartography: A Guide to Effective Map Design:
Once the basics are in place, it may interest you to have a cheat sheet to help you decide the type of map you want to make and some of the elements that will make it look its best. You can make your own shop book or start with the items in Cartographer’s Toolkit:
The general consensus among designers is that halos around text detract considerably from a design. The most common reason that map makers employ the halo technique is to provide added emphasis on text or to make the text legible on highly saturated and complex backgrounds.
However, when a halo—particularly of the “large and lumpy” type—is used, it subverts and obfuscates all the typeface designer’s original work. No longer does the spacing, shape, consistency, x height, vertical stress, apex form, incline, and counter size make sense. In short, it looks bad.
*As with any “rule”, this idea of halos looking bad is more nuanced than I’ve initially let on. Small halos, where the color of the halo matches the map’s background color, can be effective in allowing the text to be more separated from other intervening layers such as roads.
Let’s see this in action. Just to make things interesting, the example is of a very difficult situation involving a complex tree height LiDAR analysis, a riparian corridor, and a creek name label. There will be other cases that will be more simple than this, and in those, simply get rid of the halo or change the font’s size or color to achieve the kind of emphasis and contrast that you need.
In some cases, a halo of this type won’t work if the map reader will be scrutinizing every pixel that lies near the text. In this example, the map reader might misinterpret the light green halo as representing more of the equally colored tree-height pixels, incorrectly thinking there is more of that tree-height category than there is. For a map meant to be read at close-range for visual analysis, such as this one, the light green halo is not the ideal solution. Other maps will not have this problem (for example, if the background was a solid ocean polygon). The solution for this map is to get rid of the halo completely and lighten the saturation of the tree-height layer.
The following is a list of cartography quick-tips: random but good.
This is a new feature for the blog: map critiques. To start us off, I gathered three random salmon-related maps to display and make a few comments on. Any critiques you’d like to contribute in the comments are welcome.
This map gets good marks for color scheme, especially given that it’s vintage 2004, a time when these kinds of bold colors were just coming into map fashion. The choice of coordinate system leaves a bit to be desired with regard to the enormity of the Hudson Bay. The reasoning behind outlining Washington State and Main in white is not clear. The rivers, though obviously placed here due to stream-system applicability with the species in question, don’t, in the end, do anything but detract from the main message.
A lot of salmon maps have hypsometric tinting and hillshade backgrounds. I’m agnostic about that. What I really like about this map is that the red dots look like salmon roe. Was that purposeful? The labels for CANADA and U.S.A. creeping up the side are a bit odd.
Once you realize the pie chart sizes are related to proportional release size, the map makes a lot of sense. Overall, a decent map. One wonders if it could have had a simple background instead of the hillshade, and if there were a better way than pie charts to represent the data.
Unrelated News: There’s a new version of Natural Earth data, version 2.0.0. There are a lot of good things going on with this update including new “gray earth rasters” (terrain), readme and version files, and new economic geography data.
Opportunity for change: the list of contributors is all male.Correction via @kelsosCorner (Nathaniel Kelso) “Tanya, Melissa, Jill, Annemarie, and Kimi all helped with the earlier releases. 2.0 was mostly me with a few assists.”