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#1
marinegirl

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I'm hoping to get a bit of feedback on a map I am producing to accompany a scientific paper I am writing on marine protected areas in the Philippines, before I submit it for publication.

To justify publishing a full-page figure, I need to fit as much data / information onto the map as can be done with clarity. Unfortunately, colour printing costs are prohibitively expensive, so I am trying to show as much as possible in grayscale.

A key message of the paper is the distribution of marine protected areas (MPAs) throughout the Philippines, so an overview of the entire county is important. Beyond that, points I am trying to illustrate are:
- relative size of MPAs (most are very small, a few are large)
- clustered distribution of MPAs in the area enlarged
- locations of different 'bioregions' and marine corridors, which are referred to in the paper
- locations of specific (labelled) MPAs which are highlighted in the paper for various reasons, e.g. largest, most isolated, oldest etc.

A few thoughts looking at the map now:
- I didn't really put any effort into choosing fonts... is there anything better I could use?
- the shaded 'municipal water area' reduces the clarity of the islands / coastline, but I think it is important to show as this area is used for calculations in the text. If anyone has any better ideas on how better to show this I would be grateful. I tried using a dashed line to outline the area, but that was awful.
- Is there enough differentiation between the grayscale tones used? It looks clearer on the screen than in print.

Any other feedback / suggestions gratefully received!

The map was produced in ArcMap.
Attached File  PhilsMPAs.jpg   476.96KB   362 downloads

#2
Hans van der Maarel

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Hi Marinegirl,

Interesting map, but I'm a bit confused about why you chose to display area features using a point symbol. Do you have the actual MPA boundaries? Have you tried showing those instead of the point symbols?

The hatching for the municipal water area is a bit light. Maybe you can enlarge it (thicker strokes, spaced further apart).
Hans van der Maarel - Cartotalk Editor
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#3
marinegirl

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Hi Hans, thanks for the feedback.
I don't have boundaries for most of the MPAs... the spatial data is generally very poor, usually a single lat / long point, at worst I have estimated locations using a gazetteer. Also, if you consider the scale of most of the MPAs (less than 1 sq km) compared to the scale of the map, if I did use the boundaries they would be too small to see clearly.
I'll try using thicker lines for the municipal water hatching, that might work!

#4
BioGeoMan

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Hello...I have a few suggestions:

  • The land/water differentiation is not clear, especially near the center of the map where there is a high density of symbology. Could you darken the land areas a bit more?
  • Are the marine bioregions named after the waterbodies? If not, maybe placing labels along their boundaries would be warranted.
  • On the inset, I am not sure which island is Sumilon Island.
  • Why is there no area measurement for Turtle Wildlife Sanctuary?
  • I am not sure if this is relevant or needed, and maybe you have another map that shows this, but should you have a world/regional location map of the Philippines?
  • You are correct, the MWA symbolgy reduces the clarity of coastal delineations a bit, but I think if you increase the contrast between land/water, the MWAs will not be as large a visual factor. I think adding a regional locator inset map without any other data except for the land outlines will also help the reader determine the configuration of the islands.
  • The fonts are a tad ordinary, but for this purpose I wouldn't attempt to do anything ornate.
Overall, you have created a clear and simple map that does a good job communicating the messages you are intending to convey (e.g. size and distribution of MPAs and locations of specific areas/features).

Thanks for posting and good luck on the publication of your paper.

Michael Scisco

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505-603-3636
biogeocreations.com


#5
razornole

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Hello MarineGirl,

You should concentrate on what the printed version looks like, since that is the intended use of this map.
Typically we make the water bodies gray and terrestrial areas lighter gray or white. It took me a while to figure out your basemap. I agree the hatch around your islands is a big distraction. Maybe try a medium gray field for open seas, a lighter gray field without a stroke for your municipal water, and white for you land. That would make the figure/ground pop.

Your graduated circles need a stroke around them to differentiate, they blend together and are non-communicative. Furthermore, six range grades that are almost the same size make it impossible to tell the area I am looking at. Instead of a serial range grade, try an idographic (i think ArcMap refers to this as natural breaks) range grade with about 3 or4 ranges. Remember what you stated "relative size", that would show your small, medium, and large areas. Do you even have an area >1000 km2?

I think that your fonts and layout work well, you just need to clean up your data and basemap. Hope this helps and good luck,

kru
"Ah, to see the world with the eyes of the gods is geography--to know cities and tribes, mountains and rivers, earth and sea, this is our gift."
Strabo 22AD

#6
woneil

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All in all I would say that it's a good-looking and effective map. It would be very desirable if possible to proof it on a printer matching the one that will be used for production. I printed it out on my laser and it worked quite well, with some iffy areas as noted below.

I can see the problem with showing the acual MPA boundaries -- only the largest would show up at this scale. Since your largest symbol covers about 1000 sq. km. at this scale, your scheme seems generally appropriate. It would depend, of course, on what information you are trying to convey to readers. In particular, it is necessary to use dividers to measure the diameter of a symbol and match it against the legend to be sure which size category it falls under. If this is undesirable then you need better to distinguish among the various sizes of symbol.

I'm a little unclear why the Apo Reef Natural Park and Tubbataha National Park MPAs are shown with specific areas noted. I'm also surprised that it makes sense to specify the areas to five digits precision.

In the legend you should superscript the figure 2 in km2.

The scale bar in the main map seems a bit "loud" relative to the map, at least as it comes out on my printer.

I can see why the inset is needed. But in the main map the area it covers becomes clotted with symbols in a way that misleads the eye -- it seems that there are a relatively smaller number of relatively larger MPAs than is in fact the case, as revealed in the inset. This is true even on screen and could be a lot worse in print. Perhaps it would be better just to gray out this area in the main map.

In the main map I had no trouble distinguishing the municipal waters from land. In the crowded waters around Bohol Island in the inset, however, they are hard to make out in my printout. I would urge you to try the meaures others have suggested for improving visual contrast between municipal waters and land.

It might help to orient people if you were to label the main islands -- at least Luzon and Mindinao, and perhaps Palawan in the main map. In the inset I'd label Bohol and Cebu, and maybe Negros as well. These labels don't need to be prominent.

I would say that the strongest immediate impression conveyed by the map is the geographic distribution and density of MPAs through the archipelago. If this is what you want then I should think you're on the right track.
Will O'Neil
Author and amateur cartographer

http://analysis.williamdoneil.com/w.d.oneil@pobox.com

#7
MapMedia

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Great start!

- I would swap the land / ocean colors - see how that looks - my eyes tend to equate some color to water. Maybe a few placename labels on land to help with the distinction.
- Minimize scale bar - swap for simple line than two-tone fill.
- Add 0.5pt white outline to black dots (PMAs)
- Add water body name in enlarged view
- are the two smaller size classes of MPAs significant (0-0.1 and 0.1 - 1) - would be nice to simplify the breakdown into 3-4 classes.
- The black dot on gray dot is not 100% clear - would like to see: black dot = Marine Protected Areas, and black dot with white plus sign = No-Take MPAs. - then the size classes apply accordingly.
- Hand label Visayan Sea - should not overlay land - make it smaller and curved line
- FONTS: Try Garamond Pro italic for water - other than that you are fine. Your sans-serif font (Arial?) is doing fine - big clear letters - no need to get too design focused.

Best of luck with your submission!

#8
Matthew Hampton

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There have already been a lot of good suggestions. I would just add that you need to increase the differentiation in the size graduation of the points and give them a tiny (0.2 pt) white outline. It is too hard to tell the size differences. Also do the sizes of the points change for the inset map?

co-cartographic creator of boringmaps.com


#9
marinegirl

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Thanks for everyone's replies! It's the first time I have posted on this forum, and I'm very impressed by the response that I have received.

I'm going to have a play with the map this evening and try some of your suggestions.

In response to a few:

I will try swapping the land / ocean colours, but I'm not convinced that this will look good - as most of the map is water, it will result in a very 'dark' figure, which might be ok for a presentation or a book, but I think would be inappropriate for a scientific publication. This is probably a matter of opinion though. Also, I think making the water darker will make the MPAs less clear. I think the common colouring of dark water and lighter land is because most maps draw attention towards terrestrial, rather than marine features.

I will definitely play around with the shading on the municipal water area to try and make it clearer.

I will try making the scale bars smaller and less prominent.

I originally avoided labelling islands on the main map, as they are somewhat irrelevant in terms of the points that I am trying to illustrate, and are not referred to in the text. I thought adding them might draw attention away from other features. I would prefer people orient towards, e.g. the bioregions / water areas.

The size classes of MPAs used refer to analyses in the paper. Cartographically speaking, I agree that fewer size classes would look better, but ecologically, the difference between 0-0.1 and 0.1-1 is important.

The labelling of Sumilon Island and Apo Island in the inset, wasn't clear... I actually was labelling Sumilon Island Marine Reserve, rather than the island, and will correct this.

I will try outlining the MPA points to better differentiate them. I'm not sure how I would deal with some which have both a partially protected (grey) and no-take (black) area though.

I'm not sure how I can label the Visayan Sea so that it doesn't overlay land, given the archipelagic nature of the region!


Thanks again!

#10
razornole

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Hello Marinegirl,

All I publish in is scientific journals, with the exception of a few collegiate-level geomorphology books for Spring and Wiley. Many times the subjects are primarily aquatic.
I wouldn't make the water a 'dark' gray (something like 25-35% black). Keep in mind your map is there to help clarify your text. If you're lucky, most people will spend <10 seconds looking at the map, and you want them to comprehend as much info as possible. That is why there are standards based on human perception studies. As with any human studies, these are not laws, which allows you to deviate from the standard if you want. However, you run the risk of slowing your percepient down, and having them spend the time orienting themselves rather then focusing on the primary purpose of your map, the data.

The goal of my maps is to simplify, I'll spend hours trying to figure out how I can remove something. For the hard science I let my text talk, or create a table that people can refer to if they want.

With that being said, your map is publishable as is, and it is better then a majority that I see in the scientific field. Good luck,

kru
"Ah, to see the world with the eyes of the gods is geography--to know cities and tribes, mountains and rivers, earth and sea, this is our gift."
Strabo 22AD

#11
marinegirl

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Hi razernole.
I appreciate your point about perceptions of land and sea. I think I have been staring at a map of the Philippines for so long I take for granted that I immediately understand which is which, and it is quite a complex coastline! I have tried various different colour schemes, as you can see below. I agree that it is probably clearest when the sea is dark and the land is white. However, I don't think that the journal I want to submit to would print the map with those colours... to me it looks 'dark' and is certainly ink heavy, and doesn't appear to fit the visual style of the journal, which they are quite particular about. Having looked through past issues, I couldn't find any examples of maps with such a great shaded area. In most marine maps the land is dark and the sea left white. As you point out, for several of these it took me a few seconds to 'see' the land / sea shapes.
I have tried to devise a colour scheme which makes it clear which area is land and which sea, without having a large shaded area. My best attempts are either to include topographic shading on the land (which I had on an earlier version of the map, but removed because I felt it looked too busy), or to leave the land area white in addition to the deep sea area. Here I am hoping that the shaded coastal waters will trigger the dark = sea recognition. I would appreciate thoughts on whether either attempt is successful to any degree.


I have also tidied the scale bars, some of the labels and added faint outlines to the MPA points. These are much, much clearer when I don't need to downgrade the resolution to upload to an online forum!

Thanks again everyone!

Attached File  map1s.pdf   174.04KB   155 downloadsAttached File  map2s.pdf   368.14KB   137 downloadsAttached File  map3s.pdf   178.04KB   99 downloads]

#12
François Goulet

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Personally, I didn't had a problem with the grey land and white water. I always do the contrary because I label land feature and the water is there mostly for cosmetic purpose. So, I found it clearer to have a white background where I put my text label.

Now, you're labeling and working "in" the water so having it white worked for me. Maybe you could just have put name on some islands "Luzon Is." "Mandanao Is." would have help to quickly differentiate the land/water.

Just my 2 cents ;)

#13
razornole

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Hello Marinegirl,

Maybe it is just my training or style, but the first is the most efficacious at presenting your data. The second to my is real busy, and I don't think you refer to isohypsometry in your study. To me the third one has everything merging together in one big blob.
Which journal are you submitting? I can't imagine there would be a problem printing a greyscale map, but you never know. I have been forced to publish maps that deviate from cartographic standards, and I do what they require and remove any affiliation with the map/s. It is more important for me to get paid then credit.

Good luck,
kru
"Ah, to see the world with the eyes of the gods is geography--to know cities and tribes, mountains and rivers, earth and sea, this is our gift."
Strabo 22AD

#14
rico hizon

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Hello Marine Girl,

I can give you you coordinates of one of the MPA in Negros.. just email me up.. ricohizon99@yahoo.com..

thanks.




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