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I have a gigapixel image - what software do I need?

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#16
craigspc

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Well, I've spent the last few days trying to get my head around illustrator and I must say that I'm highly impressed by what it can do. Admittedly I'm new to the program, but with the aid of the tutorials at lynda.com, I've got a basic understanding of how things work and I can really see a lot of potential.

Before I go ahead and purchase illustrator though, I’d like to run a couple of things by you all and ask for your opinion…

At this point I have tried tracing my raster map in two ways:

1) Selecting a colour range in Photoshop, and then creating a path from the selection. I’ve then managed to import the paths into Illustrator (as someone here proposed). This works fine after I scaled the traced vector paths down to match the maximum canvas size of Illustrator.

2) Loading small ‘chunks’ of my map into illustrator and using Live Trace. Unlike the 64Bit version of Photoshop, Illustrator could only deal with small images before hitting “out of Memory” errors.

Leaving aside the problem of handling large raster data in Illustrator (as tracing in Photoshop solved this issue), there is still one concern that I have. Will Illustrator really be able to work with such a large quantity of detailed vector data? It is clear that my entire map would consist of (at least) several hundred thousand anchor points in order to retain anywhere close to the detail level required. And this is just a base map without any additional layers or details. That being the case, is Illustrator really going to be up to the job?

Just in case the spec of My computer is applicable to this question, my Machine is a Windows based PC, with a Core i7 965 processor and 12Gb or RAM.

Thanks in advance,
Craig.

#17
rudy

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The Illustrator Help talks about complex paths and difficulties that might be reached with paths that are too complex but I can't find anything about how many nodes it takes for it to become complex . . . for some reason I think it is around 32,000 but I could be wrong. My question would be: do you really need it to be that detailed? How is the final product going to be used? As a paper map? On screen? What is your mapping scale?

#18
Hans van der Maarel

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There used to be a limitation of max 32000 nodes per path, but that was lifted a few versions ago. Even if it would be there, you can get around it by simply splitting up your objects into smaller bits.

It's hard to say what the limitations of Illustrator are. I quite regulary use it for quite large and complex maps. Others here taken it even further. I guess trial and error is the only way to find out for sure.
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#19
craigspc

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In the first instance, my aim is to produce a navigable/searchable online map, which, as I think I mentioned earlier in this thread - could be used in a similar way to google maps. I accept that such a large map is not necessary for a general overview of the area. However, I really want to show more & have the ability to 'zoom in' on specific areas in order to provide very specific local information. To put some perspective on this, please take a look at this image (you may need to expand it to view at full size):

Posted Image

In the top right hand corner of the image, you can see an overview of a lake. This lake has a surface water area of approximately 6 Square Kilometres (of a total of approximately 300 in the area). You'll see that I've highlighted a small portion with a red box and a full scale version of this highlighted spot is shown in the rest of the image.

As you can see, the full scale version shows a series of water chanels. These chanels travel through dense reed-beds and marshland & is home to some of the rarest wildlife in the country. Some of these water chanels are used for guided boat tours & there are also various nature trails, bird hides & information points scattered throught the area. Having such detailed maps would enable me to make Poster style guides for this specific location, which could be useful for the local wildlife trust. However, if I cut out detail at this stage, I fear that it will reduce my future possibilities. - hence my wish to find some way of keeping as much detail as possible.

Splitting my map down into several objects is not a problem. However, even with the relatively powerful home PC that I have, Illustrator is starting to 'bog down' with every additional piece that I add to my map. One thing I have noticed though, is that even when Illustrator is performing a task, it only seems to use a tiny portion of my CPU power. I guess it's not designed to make use of multi-core processors?

Posted Image

#20
rudy

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You may already know alot of this but Real World Illustrator has some useful tips on improving Illustrator performance, as well as a few others.

#21
frax

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Hi, I think that most Illustrator work (also goes for a lot of GIS display/database work) is more memory and disk intensive rather than cpu intensive. The latter comes in to play when you start to add raster effects etc. It looks to me that you have a raster effect by the way - you would improve display by turning that off until you finalise the map, or at least to turn down the display resolution (down to 72dpi).

Also press ctrl-y for the fast outline view.
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#22
craigspc

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Hi Rudy,

Thanks for the link. I'm familiar with the hardwarw related issues, but as I'm new to Illustrator, it would be safe to say that there's plenty of room for improvement on my technique. :)

Having said that though, I' do still wonder if Illustrator is the right program for creating my full scale master map. Presumably people 'in the industry' would use some form of CAD application for this kind of purpose (?)

#23
craigspc

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Hi Hugo,

Yes, you are correct in that the graphic in the example has a raster effect. However, this wasn't created in illustrator - it was from a previous experiment in Photoshop. In illustrator, I am just using the basic fill option to make the map objects visually workable.

Thanks for the tip on the resolution. I am using 72dpi, but this wasn't through concious choice at the time I started.

#24
Nick H

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Having said that though, I' do still wonder if Illustrator is the right program for creating my full scale master map. Presumably people 'in the industry' would use some form of CAD application for this kind of purpose (?)


There are real, world-class experts here who are much better qualified than I am to answer this question. However, to get the ball rolling I'd suggest that if you were starting from scratch it would have been preferable to have used a GIS package from the outset. Then it would have been possible to calibrate your raster base-map, trace the areas of water and save them as vectors in a shape file.

But this isn't where you are, you've done the really time-consuming job of tracing and have the shapes in raster form. So, what to do? This is where the experts will have to take over. It would be nice to think there was an easy way of auto-tracing your big map of the areas of water, in sections, saving the auto-traces as vectors (SVG, PDF or whatever) and then converting these to DXF or SHP files for use in GIS, but there would be problems in doing this.

Out of interest, do you know what the extents of the section of map in your first post are? The grid coordinates for the bottom left-hand corner and the coordinates for the top right-hand corner, I mean. The map is for somewhere in the Broads I guess.

Regards, N.
Caversham, Reading, England.

#25
craigspc

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Having said that though, I' do still wonder if Illustrator is the right program for creating my full scale master map. Presumably people 'in the industry' would use some form of CAD application for this kind of purpose (?)


There are real, world-class experts here who are much better qualified than I am to answer this question. However, to get the ball rolling I'd suggest that if you were starting from scratch it would have been preferable to have used a GIS package from the outset. Then it would have been possible to calibrate your raster base-map, trace the areas of water and save them as vectors in a shape file.

But this isn't where you are, you've done the really time-consuming job of tracing and have the shapes in raster form. So, what to do? This is where the experts will have to take over. It would be nice to think there was an easy way of auto-tracing your big map of the areas of water, in sections, saving the auto-traces as vectors (SVG, PDF or whatever) and then converting these to DXF or SHP files for use in GIS, but there would be problems in doing this.

Out of interest, do you know what the extents of the section of map in your first post are? The grid coordinates for the bottom left-hand corner and the coordinates for the top right-hand corner, I mean. The map is for somewhere in the Broads I guess.

Regards, N.


Hello Nick. Thanks for your feedback.

Converting the raster image into vector data is no longer a problem (managed to figure that bit out :) ). The problem is really trying to understand what kind of design software I need to focus on. Adobe illustrator certainly seems an excelent tool and sits at the top of my list of to buy list, but if there's a more suitable alternative for my map, I'd rather invest the bit of money that I have in the right program from the outset.

With regards to the co-ordinates of the first image, perhaps this link will clarify things. Just give it some time to load the overlay:

http://www.finalcity...SamplePage.html

The above link should take you to a test page that I created with map cruncher. It's essentially a trnsparent PNG overlay on Bing Maps.

Regards,
Craig.

#26
Nick H

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Hi Craig,

I don't have Illustrator but I believe it's possible to export vectors from AI as DXFs. I think most GIS software can open DXFs, including some of the free stuff, but there would still be the problem of 'calibration' (this is not the correct term, but you'll undersand what I mean).

Just thinking about your web work, perhaps the OS OpenSpace might help here. You can put in markers with pop-up boxes as required and it happens that the mapping of water features is pretty good. Here's a very simple example, roll the mouse wheel to zoom.

http://confound.me.u...ml?f=Barton.gpx

Regards, N.
Caversham, Reading, England.

#27
craigspc

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Thanks for the suggestions, Nick. Indeed, Illustrator does offer a DXF export option, though I'm not entirely sure which GIS software would be most suitable. Someone mentioned GlobalMapper earlier on in this thread, so I may go back and take another look at that. I know that this program can calibrate/georeference raster images and perhaps it would be possible to do the same with vector graphics too.

With regards to OS OpenSpace, this looks fantastic. It would certainly take away a lot of work. However, I would dearly like to develop something using my own map graphics. One thing really did stand out when reading the OpenSpace website though ....

Just like Google Maps, the Open Space website refers to making use of their API for developing maps. Now, I must admit that I'd always avoided the Google Maps option because I have absolutely no Javascript experience and the word 'API' scared the life out of me. However, the OpenSpace site suggests that people without any experience in javascript can make a map using the examples and help that they provide. Could it also be that the Google API is also a feasible option for people with no coding experience whatsoever? Perhaps I never gave it fair consideration?

#28
Andrew Patterson

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There used to be a limitation of max 32000 nodes per path, but that was lifted a few versions ago. Even if it would be there, you can get around it by simply splitting up your objects into smaller bits.


Illustrator still has the 32,000 node limitation per-path. I just tried it in CS4 and I can say with authority it won't change with the next version either. You get a 'SEGM' error when you add the 32,001st point. Appropriately, this is still in the headers for the SDK:

/** Maximum number of segments in one path */
#define kMaxPathSegments 32000

So as much as I'd like it to be different, AI is still stuck with 32,000 per path. Now, that said, you can create compound paths that chain 32,000-segment paths together. It's not quite the same, but largely there's no difference. The only real limitation in Illustrator is you can't create closed paths of more than 32,000 segments, since compounding pieces of a larger area doesn't work.
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