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#48626 Specs and standards samples and templates...

Posted by David Medeiros on 19 March 2015 - 11:25 AM

With more time on my hands I might try something like this:



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#50669 Making 3D Terrain Maps

Posted by Tom Patterson on 24 January 2017 - 06:23 AM

Hi Everyone,


I am writing tutorials on making 3D terrain maps in Natural Scene Designer Pro and Photoshop. You can check what I have posted so far at the link below. Among the many illustrations, you will see my first 3D oblique map from the dark ages of cartography (pre digital), which I now find amusing.




I will add topics as they occur to me and as time permits.



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#49902 Manual Shaded Relief of the US

Posted by Tom Patterson on 03 January 2016 - 07:26 PM

Hello everyone,


I drew a generalized shaded relief of the 48 contiguous US states fitted to 1:10 million Natural Earth shorelines and rivers. The relief also covers southern Canada, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean.


You can checkout this new product, released as part of Natural Earth, at the link below.





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#48601 About that Google doodle’s blurb…

Posted by Strebe on 14 March 2015 - 09:06 PM

I complained to a friend at Google. He forwarded my comments, and within hours, they fixed it. The original blurb stated that Mercator was the first to create a map taking into account the spherical shape of the earth.


— daan

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#50774 Boring legends.

Posted by Daniel Huffman on 09 March 2017 - 09:28 AM

A couple of years back I made a map of US land cover using Penrose tiles. Just for fun; it's not really a cartographically-sound practice. Fortunately, the # of land cover classes I had happened to work out perfectly to create a legend using the tile shapes.

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  • lcnew-01.png

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#50716 Financial Transparency

Posted by Daniel Huffman on 13 February 2017 - 10:18 AM

I wrote up a blog post the other day on how my financial situation looks, as a freelancer, in an attempt to demystify the business side of things a bit: https://somethingabo...l-transparency/ — some of you may find it interesting to see how much money I make (or fail to make).

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#50592 Projection identification

Posted by Strebe on 07 December 2016 - 05:08 AM

It’s a Lambert conformal conic on authalic sphere, central meridian at 90°W, both standard parallels to 25°, compressed vertically by a factor of 0.97, and with a nominal scale of 1:23,000,000 at pixel resolution of 101 dpi. No, I have no idea why they chose the weird constant of cone for Lambert.

— daan
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#50347 National Park Service Map Symbols

Posted by Tom Patterson on 02 June 2016 - 05:21 AM

Hi everyone,


Just to let you know, we have added many new symbols—the tally is now at 229—and have regrouped them in somewhat more logical categories. The free symbols are available at the link below.




We create new symbols, some which are pretty esoteric, based on requests from park staff. We also occasionally tweak the design of existing symbols. For example, the updated amphitheater symbol now looks less like the ubiquitous Wi-Fi symbol.




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#50032 New world map projections in ArcGIS 10.4

Posted by Tom Patterson on 18 February 2016 - 06:25 AM

New projections include the Natural Earth, Natural Earth II, and Patterson, which for obvious reasons I really like ;)





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#49608 A Matter of Perspective

Posted by Daniel Huffman on 29 September 2015 - 10:04 AM

Just wanted to share here a project I am finally making public: a linear map of Lake Michigan. Basically, I cut and unfurled the lakeshore into a mostly-straight continuous line. Also, this is the subject of my upcoming PCD talk, so don't read if you don't want spoilers.


You can read in much more detail how this was made (and why) on my blog: http://somethingabou...of-perspective/. There's also a larger version there to browse through.


It was pretty fun to make, and I'm hoping to get through all of the Great Lakes, and then maybe put them all on an impractically-sized poster.

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  • Lake Michigan Small.jpg

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#48788 Not that I need an excuse for that next beer but...

Posted by david17tym on 30 April 2015 - 03:31 PM


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#48767 Accuracy and Precision in Geographic Coordinates -

Posted by David Medeiros on 28 April 2015 - 03:36 PM

Not sure if this qualifies as an info graphic, but it's not a map so I guess this is the best place for it.


At the SGC we always struggle with getting researchers to understand the issues involved with the differences between accuracy and precision; as well as false precision with too many decimal paces in a coordinate; and understanding why we don't measure in geographic coordinates.


This single page graphic is my attempt to provide a quick reference or cheat sheet for those issues in GIS. I found a few simialr sheets around online but nothing that put it all together.


Let me know what you think. This is not a primer on projections and coordinate systems, that graphic is still under development!

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  • Accuracy and Precision in Geographic Coordinates-01.jpg

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#48734 Cartographer, Adventure Cycling Assoc., Missoula MT

Posted by Jennifer on 17 April 2015 - 05:54 PM

Adventure Cycling Association is looking for a cartographer...if you ever wanted to combine your love of making maps with your love of bicycling, we'd love to hear from you. Check out the job description at:






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#48418 Overpass Turbo

Posted by Daniel Huffman on 28 January 2015 - 05:43 PM

I wanted to share what has proven to be a very valuable resource for data, which comes to me via Sam Matthews (mapsam.com): Overpass Turbo — http://overpass-turbo.eu/


It can look a bit intimidating, but it's pretty easy to work with. Go click the "Wizard" button, and then type in a query like "highway = trunk." It will grab the data and show every major highway on the map on the right. It pulls data for whatever area you've got shown on the right-side map. To download, click "Export"


Today, I needed all the major roads in a county. Normally, I can find a government dataset that either has a) every single road ever, or b) just the main highways. I needed something in-between those, and all I had to do was go to Overpass Turbo, and in the wizard do a query of "highway = motorway OR highway = trunk OR highway = primary" and it pulled the top 3 levels of roads for me. I downloaded them, kicked them in to Arc, and I'm on my way to my map. No need to sort through TIGER data picking out the roads I want.


You can make use of more than just roads data. Anything OSM has can be grabbed. Consult the handy feature list for stuff you can download: http://wiki.openstre...ki/Map_Features


Pretty handy stuff. If you want to get fancy, you can access the Overpass API with your own scripts, but if you don't know anything about scripting, or just don't care to make one, Overpass Turbo makes it easy to just look around and download what you want.

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#47817 Boring Cartographers Map Bland and Dull

Posted by Matthew Hampton on 15 August 2014 - 09:59 PM

BORING, Oregon, August 9th, 2014 -- Just in time to commemorate Boring and Dull Day on August 9th, a new piece of local artwork is available to the public.  Two card-carrying NACIS members from Boring, Oregon, have created an illustration showcasing the unusual alliance between three communities around the world who have unstimulating names. The thrilling threesome between Bland, Dull, and Boring has formed the League of Extraordinary Communities and the artwork contains detailed maps and factual information on each community, as well as a timeline detailing the development of this tedious triangle.  Local residents took advantage of purchasing the poster in person at the Boring and Dull Day community social at Boring Station Trailhead Park from 5-9 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 9, where cartographers, Matthew Hampton and Erica McCormick, staffed a pop-up map shop for boringmaps.com.  The nicely styled print “is a fine addition to any Boring home, in addition to Dull and Bland ones, not to mention any wearisome wall around the world,” Hampton said.


It all started with a bike ride.  A Scottish woman was cycling through Oregon and saw a sign for the town of Boring, reminding her of a town she lived near: Dull.  Soon, the Dull Women’s Book Club was informed and before long, the Councils of Dull and Boring were rolling up their sleeves.  From their enthused camaraderie, the Pair for the Ages was born, twinning Dull and Boring for all time.  International interest was piqued and a chord was struck in the outback.  The Shire of Bland, in New South Wales, Australia, was no stranger to the tired jokes Dull and Boring endure, and a kinship was formed.  Together, these three rural locales now comprise the League of Extraordinary Communities.  They were on the world’s mental map, but two particular Boring residents following the developments of the economic tourist partnership happened to be mapmakers and knew something must be done.  Hampton and McCormick met over a Boring Brewing beer and decided to tackle the project as a way to honor the trio and provide the finest crafted cartographic creation this tedious triad has seen.

“What intrigued us was the similarities between these three rural places around the globe and the cartographic challenge that one is a shire, one is a parish, and one is a community,” McCormick said.  They worked with local businesses and organizations throughout the process and chose a thick pearlized paper, rich ink, and a high quality design.  The result is a piece of art that is far from dull and bland.

The poster is frame-worthy so Hampton and McCormick hope folks will be proud to hang it in their homes and to offer as gifts for friends.  The Boring duo plans to expand the brand with related merchandise in the future and hopes that other mundane-monikered communities will join the League, which is why it was formed.  More information about their work, the Pair for the Ages, and the League of Extraordinary Communities is available at www.boringmaps.com.

“It was really exciting to interview our Dull friends and to be on the phone with Bland folks” McCormick explains. “The international nature of the project made it very rewarding.”  The League was formed to encourage tourism and will use the slogan “We’re Bland, Dull, and Boring, so come visit.”  Hampton and McCormick think everyone's journey to Bland, Dull, and Boring ought to start with a good set of maps.


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#46941 Wall map of Colorado's Terrain - plan oblique relief with landcover

Posted by jdvarner on 07 December 2013 - 04:49 PM

I've been working on a new wall map of Colorado (41 by 31 inches) that shows the terrain in plan oblique relief, combined with landcover coloration, with labels for all the major landscape features, towns, ski areas, etc.

I used Natural Scene Designer to render the plan oblique relief. I'm also experimenting with Patrick Kennelly's hillshading techniques using sky models: https://speakerdeck....terrain-metrics, which makes for a nice effect -- I like how it accentuates the shadows in deep canyons.


I showed an earlier version of this map (which used hypsometric tinting instead of landcover) at the NACIS poster gallery in Greenville.


Please let me know what you think! Is this relief portrayal effective? I'm trying to make the terrain easily interpret-able, with an immediately recognizable "3D" effect. What do you think about the label density, especially in somewhat crowded areas like the Front Range? Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!




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  • denver.jpg
  • sanluisvalley.jpg
  • legend.jpg
  • elks_sawatch.jpg

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#46797 The Appalaichian Trail

Posted by Rosemary D on 24 October 2013 - 02:16 PM

Hi Everyone,


Here is the Appalachian Trail map recently made at National Geographic Maps which we displayed in the Map Gallery at this year's Annual Meeting. We had a lot of fun making this map, it's a bit of a hybrid between our classic political reference map and a more physical styled map, and we had a great time getting some feedback from all the cartographers at NACIS. We hope to carry this style of map out to the other great trail systems across the U.S., and possibly the world!



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  • Appalachian_Trail.jpg

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#46781 Memory Roots: A Traveler's History

Posted by bswanson on 21 October 2013 - 09:20 PM

Thanks for the opportunity to post my map on Cartotalk! This map won second place at the NACIS Meeting in Greenville. Just click the map to view the full image. Note that it is a PNG and it is 2.6 MB in size.


This map documents my personal travels from my home base in Minneapolis to various locations around the country.



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#50609 TIN file to STL for 3d pritning?

Posted by David Medeiros on 16 December 2016 - 12:32 PM

I'll start a full thread on this later but wanted to at least update here with pics of the end result for this model:


The plastic model from Shapeways:



The silicone mold cast form the plastic print (filled with shapecrete):



The finished cement casting (with crack right down the middle):



I ran into two issues with this project, 1) the model I sent to Shapeways was a TIN with triangular facets for the model surface, but the print I got back was smoothed like a true terrain. I'm still working out the what the issue was, it may be that I used too detailed a TIN (too small facets) and opted for a "polished" print which may have further smoothed it. And 2) I obviously cracked the cement casting. That's easy to fix though, just don't handle the mold until it's fully cured! ; )


I've also learned a few new tricks for printing these models that I'll add to my doc and repost.

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#46283 Which is better, ALL CAPS or Title Case for map typography?

Posted by Hans van der Maarel on 05 August 2013 - 02:43 AM

In general I agree with what's been said above, it depends on the map and what you're mapping. I find title case easier to read, but all caps (combined with perhaps a bold letter, or different color)  is a great way to highlight important features.


One thing to keep in mind when labelling in title case is that when it comes to given names some languages have some odd rules about which letters to capitalize. For example, if there's ever a street named after me here in The Netherlands (just you wait and see! ;) ) it'd be "van der Maarelstraat", no caps on the v and d (also... to make matters more complicated... my last name should be sorted under m, not v...). However... should I be so lucky that a street in Belgium is named after me as well (hey... a man can dream... :P ) then it would be "Van Der Maarelstraat".


Another thing in Dutch is that the combination ij is treated as a single letter. So it's IJsselmeer instead of Ijsselmeer. And there's the case of 's or 't at the start of a word, which shouldn't be capitalised... (like 's-Hertogenbosch or 't-Harde)


So long story short, if you're labelling a map of an area where your not familiar with the local language and you're going to change the case (from whatever is supplied to you), be careful you're not introducing mistakes.

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