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Watershed Reference Map

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#1
Andrew W

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I've done all this in ArcMap. I don't have Illustrator on my machine. I was wondering what everyone thought of this design (changes/suggestions/questions welcome) and if you could think of any effects Illustrator would be useful for.

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Andrew R. Welti, GISP
Geospatial Analyst
Wetland Studies and Solutions, Inc.
www.wetlandstudies.com

#2
razornole

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Hello Andrew,

I'll put software aside for a minute, I am a little confused on the purpose of this map. You tell me that it is northern Virginia and that I'm looking at HUCs, however, there is not one complete or entire HUC on your map. It is a whole lot of portions of HUCs. Is there a specific place that you are mapping (other then the vague northern Virginia)? Perhaps military installations or possibly Dulles Airport because short of roads and streams that is all I see.

I guess that I could some up in one word that Illustrator would offer, legibility. However, you could also get that in ArcMAP with a little more strategy. I can't read any of the creek names, and I can barely see the creeks. These are kinda important in a watershed map.

There is a lot more I could say about this map, but my suggestion would be to concentrate on map design/techniques. A program is only as good as its operator. I'm not referring to all the effects such as drop shadows and halos, but communication.

You have the bones of the map in place, and I think that you can learn a lot from the comments that will get posted to improve this map. Thanks for posting.

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

#3
BioGeoMan

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I completely agree with Kru. It is unclear what you are attempting to communicate here. I am assuming this is one map in a series of maps, so there is some previous frame of reference.

Your stream annotation is not legible and the county boundaries are also difficult to discern. Public/protected lands may also need to be shown here since they often contribute to improved water quality...assuming the purpose of the map is to show natural water systems in this portion of VA.

As Kru stated, I would focus on simplicity and effective communication before attempting to apply "effects" to the map, especially if they detract from the intended message.

Thanks for posting...looking forward to the next iteration.

M.

Michael Scisco

BioGeoCreations
Albuquerque, NM

505-603-3636
biogeocreations.com


#4
Esther Mandeno

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I've done all this in ArcMap. I don't have Illustrator on my machine. I was wondering what everyone thought of this design (changes/suggestions/questions welcome) and if you could think of any effects Illustrator would be useful for.


Hello Andrew,

Thank you for sharing your map. I'll start out by saying what I like about your map. I really like the hillshade colors and the map inset (though you could probably drop the drop-shadow on the state).

Here's what I would like to see different:
Do you need the county lines? They seem to follow the stream channels and they obscure the underlying creeks. If you need the county lines, there is a way in ArcMap to offset the lines.

I would explore the font features in ArcMap a little bit more. How important is the background? Can you tone down the colors (add a transparency, say, like 40% or so) and then just use normal text (without the halos)? I have a series of maps that I have used the halos on and that is the biggest complaint on them. Though it would seem the halos would help, they actually don't. Alas, I can't change the design as I still have tens more in the series to complete - yikes! Anyway, I think if you toned down the background, you wouldn't need the halos.

I think if you were able to sort out those two things, the map would look much better. Well, that's my humble opinion. I could be totally wrong. I'm not very good at this either.

Now, as to what you are trying to show. What is the point of the map? Do you need to show which creeks are in what watershed? Or is this just a reference map? You don't have to answer the questions (unless you want to), I'm just putting it out there for you to think about.

Good luck Andrew. You have a good map started, just keep at it. ArcMap is capable of producing nice maps, it just takes a bit of work.

Cheers
------
Esther Mandeno
Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving. - Albert Einstein

#5
David Medeiros

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I agree with the other posters comments. The map is going in the right direction but needs a lot of clean up work. From a distance the first thing that I see on your map are the creek names and yet I have to zoom way in to actually read them. They occupy the fore ground while the streams themselves are pushed back (where they should be for this map). In general you've over used the white halo effect, instead try a different font, color or font size. Why do the watershed boundaries have a dashed line behind them? I think it just increases the noise on the map. The boundaries themselves could be a single fat grey or blue line line. The solid black makes them look like hard features rather than a hydrologic boundary.

Although it's customary to spread type for physical features on a map (like mountain chains) city names at this scale would probably look better more compact. The practice of spreading city names is usually done at larger scales where you are mapping the interior of the city itself.

I'm also wondering about the north arrow. Is top of page really north? From your inset it looks like you have Virginia skewed to the West (as if taken from a conic projection of the entire US and not re oriented to page north).

GIS Reference and Instruction Specialist, Stanford Geospatial Center.

 

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#6
DaveB

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In addition to the previous comments -
I'm not sure how the red polygon in the inset map relates to the main map... I'm assuming it's a locator, but I can't find the same shape on the main map.
Dave Barnes
Esri
Product Engineer
Map Geek

#7
MapMedia

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Andrew - Great start - thanks for posting it!

Less is more with watershed maps. Too much elevation data - go with a two color gradient, preferably muted - so reader understands terrain, not so much elevation details.
Go for a simple locator map - two color, without relief.

It may help to track down an example to take design cues from - such as a National Geo watershed area map. You may not replicate the design 100% but be conscious of the function of the design elements, and use some.

ArcMap has limitations, but you're definitely doing a great job within the constraints! I used to make lots of watershed maps in ArcMap too.

#8
Andrew W

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Thanks for the replies. Lets see if I can shed a little more light on what I'm doing. It is a HUC reference map, but the projects we work on are soley in the area that is shown on the map. Its important for someone in our company to be able to look at this map and know what HUC their project is in, not to what areas encompass a complete HUC.

I'm going to remove the airport / military installations because that seems to confuse people more. I added them in the last iteration for more reference, but it just clutters up the map more.

As for the stream text, its small (size 6 font) and hard to try and fit all the names on there, which makes it harder to read. I felt like they were harder to read without the halo, but if I fade the hillshade a bit more then I may be able to remove the halo.

I'll post again when I get time to make these changes.
Andrew R. Welti, GISP
Geospatial Analyst
Wetland Studies and Solutions, Inc.
www.wetlandstudies.com




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