Sunday, February 5, 2017

Cartographic Skills: Design & Visualization

This weeks class we dug even deeper into the use of Adobe Illustrator for map design. We designed an informational map referencing map objects in the Florida Keys. 

We used a Florida county data set from the U.S. Census Bureau and zoomed to the Florida Keys, near the city of Marathon. We added a scale bar and inset map for referencing the location of the Keys in relation mainland Florida. Then we exported to Adobe Illustrator. Once in Adobe Illustrator, we mostly started with a blank canvas, adding all the major map elements within AI..There was a lot of trial and error this week as we used many of the AI tools from last but also new ones.

We added map elements for hydro features, areal features (islands) and point features. We followed guidelines from our text book for properly adding labels to our features. We used mapping guidelines/standard practices as highlighted from our text. These mapping standards greatly helps portraying map objects. Simply using your own "off the street" method of adding labels and icons would be a mess without guidelines. Examples of these guidelines is the proper use of type (ie; font) for labeling features. Did you know you can only use italic for two types of features on maps? Italic type should only be used for Hydrographic and data source features. I didn't know this before this weeks assignment and I love to use italic type. Having mapping guidelines and standards helps viewers understand features better as all maps should follow a standard of uniformity  As in the italic example, when you see an italic label on a map, you can assume it's related to a water feature.

We added points of interest for cities, an airport, a golf club and a state park. I chose to make these features stand out more by using Halo’s around their labels. This allowed me to place the label directly over the areal feature. The detail in the land features are not of high detail and that detail is of minor importance for this map.  Therefore, you can place labels over the land feature for clarity of the label even though you hide away the land feature. I also used matching colors for labeling features to match the color of their symbol. This way you can clearly understand which label goes to which symbol by color.

I also chose to do a drop shadow under most of my map objects. This gives objects more clarity and in a way it helps separate features from each other when they overlap. The labels almost appear to be hovering over map objects.

Using drop shadows gave the map a look as if the sun is casting a shadow from the west. So I chose a bright fading gradient color for the background outside of the neat line. Using this bright color appears as if the sun is the background, casting the drop shadows. Using a bright color background also gave the map some well needed flare as I used basic colors within the map space.

This was a very challenging project this week with a lot of trial and error. Control+Z (undo) came in very handy. However I feel comfortable now with the major features but it seems we've only scratched the surface with AI. I look forward in developing more AI skills in the weeks to come.

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