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Need advice on selecting Software for trail map

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#1
GeoRock

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Hello Cartographers,
I am a new member, and am not among your profession. I will very much appreciate any advice given. I am trying to decide which software package to purchase to design a map that when completed, I will get printed and then sell wholesale to various outlets. I have already had a number of stores tell me they would buy the map for resell.

I have acted upon an idea I had last July, and have spent many hours manually mapping trails that are in a popular place but are not yet mapped in detail by anyone.

I plan on injecting a lot of fun information, such as fun places to stop and shop on the way; photographic opportunity stops; and beach/swim stops. Those are just a few of the items I am going to include. I will even put in water fountain locations.

I spent hours drawing on paper and writing notes of many, many details to gather all the information. I did not use a GPS unit because I do not have one, though in retrospect I likely should have. It would be possible for me to go back and do that if this group highly recommends it.

I can use U.S. topo maps for the roads and some other geologic features that should be marked on this map. I have no idea of how to do that, but I do know that the road locations will be my reference points for trail placement. Many of these trails are adjacent to the roads.

I figured to start the process of developing this map in a software program, that I will first need to trace the existing roads as input into the program, or somehow input GIS info which would include the roads (from a topo map), into the program.

Next, I am thinking that I can free draw the trails and points of interest into the map. I have also considered adding some thumbnail photos at the photography opportunity points.

I have no current experience with any graphics program. It has been nearly 3 decades since I used a graphics program, so I don't even count that. I am, however, very good at learning new programs.
I am also dedicated to finishing this project, not only for the hoped-for payoff, but also because it will benefit a great deal of people who currently get lost on these trails without a good map.

I do not have the funds to hire a professional cartographer to do this job, nor a graphic artist. Although I would love to do just that, I cannot spend money I do not have. I do have time. Plenty of it these days to finish this project. I also have no idea how anyone else could take my rough notes and piece them together, let alone understand them! So, my only option is to complete this project myself. Besides, I want to do this to learn the program. I have ideas of some other areas that I can make the same kind of map once this one is completed.

I have done a lot of internet research, which also led me to this site.

I have learned that there are professional mapping software programs, but I figured those are way more than I need. I also found a $49 program, but it does not seem to have all the functions I suspect I need.

I have been seriously considering either Corel Draw at about $400, or Adobe Creative Suite CS4 which includes Adobe Illustrator for about $600. They have a lot of options for their CS4 and I'm not really sure which one I would need for my PC running Windows Vista, but I think it is the $600 priced one through dell.com.

Do I need ArcMap or MapInfo or something like that also? Which software program(s) should I purchase?

A little more info: Topo lines are not really necessary. Just the roads, buildings, the trails, and many notes on scenic stops. Mileages, beaches, rivers, creeks, swim holes, bridges, these are the types of things I do need to include. There is not much elevation change on the trails. But there is a lot to see and do along the way, which is where my expertise comes in. And because there are a lot of trail junctures, people often get confused and lost on these trails. I have mapped them extensively, and can now show every single juncture and where it goes.

It seems a vector format would be best for printing. What do you think? I plan on having it printed on a water resistant paper, waterproof if the price is right, and in full color. I want the resolution to be the highest quality possible.

My object at this point in time is to complete the map using software, and then be able to walk into a few different print shops and ask for prices. It seems that shipping is very expensive, so I figured using a local shop would be best--if they have the equipment. What is your experience on this?

I know, I know. I have a lot of questions. Again, any help you can offer is absolutely appreciated.
I have come to fully appreciate your profession, having studied a lot of maps intensely at this point. I have seen many well-made ones, and some horrible ones, and have caught many mistakes on generalized ones of the area I have mapped.

Thanks for your help.

#2
ProMapper

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Wow, you seem to know a lot about maps as your planning is impressive. But you say that you are willing to purchase various software including ArcGIS which will drill a big hole in your pocket and not advisable if you want to make one odd map. If your area of interest is of an average city or town, I think any cartographer would be willing to work on your project for half the cost of the software you are planning to purchase or even lesser than that. And then you need to learn the software too. If you want I sure can give it a try to get you a rough draft.

Anu
http://www.mapsandlocations.com

#3
David Medeiros

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First, on software purchases I think you would be fine with the standard version of Illustrator CS4. You do not need Arc for this. If you have the money, MAPublisher (a GIS plugin for Illustrator) would help a lot. You’d be surprised how much base data is available online. Start by collecting free GeoTiff topos of the area you are working with and see if any of the trails you are looking to highlight are already shown there. If they are you’re ahead of the game since you can place the topo image in Illustrator and digitize whatever features you need.

You mention that these maps will hopefully keep future hikers from getting lost but you also say you plan to free hand the trails. If the maps will be sold as a form of navigation, and the distances are at all great, you should re-consider this approach. On a map where it can be reasonably expected that a traveler will go off trail, not having accurate trail data can cost someone their life. It would be better to digitize them from other reliable sources if available (topo’s, air-photos or forest maps) or use a GPS device to collect the trail alignments.

GIS Reference and Instruction Specialist, Stanford Geospatial Center.

 

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#4
razornole

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I couldn't see myself making a hiking map without ArcMap or some kind of GIS software. However, it is expensive and has a steep learning curve. As Anu said, you might be better off out-sourcing that work and spending your time learning a graphic program to make your map look good and add all the data that you have collected.

As for printing (although I am not the most experienced person on this site), I have found that it is more difficult to find a print shop that can actually fold the map. It takes another large and expensive piece of equipment (aside from the printer) to fold a medium to large map (say 24x36 and up). I recently researched companies who could provide this service on waterproof paper (24x36) and was quoted roughly 3.00 a map for a run of 3,000. Expect the cost to increase with less quantity and decrease with more quantity.

Hope this helps,
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

#5
Rick Dey

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My object at this point in time is to complete the map using software, and then be able to walk into a few different print shops and ask for prices. It seems that shipping is very expensive, so I figured using a local shop would be best--if they have the equipment. What is your experience on this?


DO NOT complete the map and then go to printer. More than likely you will find size and production limitations that you were not aware of or will discover minor changes that you could have made early on that could make substantial differences in production costs. Once you have some general ideas as to size, material, and colors (4/c process as opposed to spot colors), contact some printers. This is not a quick print job and will require a printer with decent sized equipment. You may well also need to work with a separate bindery in order to fold the map. Even the type of fold can make a huge difference in who can do it for you. An estimator at a print shop will be more than willing to help you out with some suggestions that will help your project go more smoothly. Please contact them before getting into your final design stages.
Rick Dey

#6
Dennis McClendon

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Illustrator should be fine for your purposes. You can just put the local topo maps and aerial photos from Bing or Google Maps as background layers, and draw your trails and features based on that. Sounds like you're talking about easy tourist hikes, not serious back-country or dangerous terrain. I don't see that GPS or GIS would add anything very useful.

Presuming you are planning on printing CMYK on paper smaller than about 24 x 30 inches, you should have no trouble finding printers. As for local printers, the Internet has flattened the world a lot. Vendors such as printplace.com, ebaprinting.com, or lewiscolor.com are set up to run 4-color jobs all day every day, with very efficient workflows. They can undercut many local printers by 50%, which makes shipping insignificant.
Dennis McClendon, Chicago CartoGraphics
chicagocarto.com

#7
GeoRock

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I am mulling over all the wonderful advice I have been given: Thank you all.

I will update with my actions.

And yes, the trails are very easy ones. They would never be used by backpackers and do not go into the wilderness. As I mentioned, many of them are very close to roads.

I have mulled over the use of topo lines on the map and decided they are truly unneccessary for such simple hikes with very little elevation changes.

Please keep the advice coming; you Carto's are terrific!




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