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Afghanistan in grayscale

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#1
MapMedia

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I have a draft of one map that I am excited to share - solely because I am frustrated at the way I tend to make these maps and my dis-satisfaction with the result.

It is a map of Afghanistan and part of Pakistan. The placement of certain geoplaces has been provided by the client/author, so the map is not intended to be a concise reference map.
The map is for a political/historical book.

I drew the map in Illustrator, drawing on mostly scanned maps and some GIS (updated provincial boundaries).

My bone of contention with the map is the need to provide relief and lots of labels in grayscale.

Only two Photoshop elements: relief and a dropshadow.

Would love to learn of other uses of Photoshop to make a map like this 'pop' while still being modern and clean. Any ideas or suggestions?

Thanks all!

-Chris

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#2
David Medeiros

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I like it. It has an old school social studies wall map feel about it. I think the labeling looks great. I'd like to see a little more variance in the visual hierarchy. It feels like most of the type is on the same layer. Maybe push the province type back a bit with a lighter shade of gray. This may not be an issue when printed. I really like shaded relief. I think your screen over Afghanistan and Pakistan is just subtle enough to go unnoticed but does a good job of cutting them out of the relief.

The legend symbol for Provincial Boundaries does not seem to match the actual boundaries. Neither does the highway symbols now that I look again. The legend box itself should be moved out or up a bit to balance the space between it and the frame. Although I find the International boundary pleasing to look at here, I'm worried that it will read as a road of some kind to layman's eye. That said I don't think I'd change it, except to perhaps give the center stripe a bit more gray.

One final note, and this is just some weird thing of mine. I always notice when a map frame uses reverse patterns that don't have matching corners. I don't know why that bothers me, and I have always failed to come up with a good solution in my own work. Nothing to change, just a comment.

Great work!

dave

GIS Reference and Instruction Specialist, Stanford Geospatial Center.

 

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#3
Charles Syrett

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First, thank you for posting a fine piece of work done the traditional way, with just the appropriate amount of GIS input. B) Designing for grayscale is always fun and challenging. A few things:

1. Visually, the international boundaries have more similarity to the highways than to the provincial boundaries. This is something I would definitely change. I'd go for a wider dashed line, perhaps with two small dashes as opposed to the one small dash for the provinces, so that it looks like a "senior" version of the same character of line.

2. The highways appear to be lost in all the relief. While it may actually be like that in Afghanistan, I think the highway casings could be darkened to make them more visible.

3. Type placement and other design elements are generally good. However, you may want to test print this on a couple of different printers. Sometimes grayscale maps can give you a surprise -- too light, too dark, subtle gradations lost, etc.

Charles Syrett
Map Graphics
http://www.mapgraphics.com


I have a draft of one map that I am excited to share - solely because I am frustrated at the way I tend to make these maps and my dis-satisfaction with the result.

It is a map of Afghanistan and part of Pakistan. The placement of certain geoplaces has been provided by the client/author, so the map is not intended to be a concise reference map.
The map is for a political/historical book.

I drew the map in Illustrator, drawing on mostly scanned maps and some GIS (updated provincial boundaries).

My bone of contention with the map is the need to provide relief and lots of labels in grayscale.

Only two Photoshop elements: relief and a dropshadow.

Would love to learn of other uses of Photoshop to make a map like this 'pop' while still being modern and clean. Any ideas or suggestions?

Thanks all!

-Chris



#4
Hans van der Maarel

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Very nice indeed!

Is there a reason why Hazarajat is in a serif font, whereas other geographic regions use the sans-serif? What about Selseleh-ye Sefid-Kuh? That seems to be a different style from everything else.
Hans van der Maarel - Cartotalk Editor
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#5
Casey Greene

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Nice Map Chris. I like it.
I do agree with the comments about the international boundaries. it does look like a road.
You know whats strange though is that i seem to really struggle with representing international boundaries on my maps. For some reason i seem to never be happy with them. Weird.
Casey Greene - Cartographer - Adventure Cycling Association
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#6
Dennis McClendon

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I think it's a really impressive piece of work. My only real gripe would be the mixture of various sans-serif faces. Unless I'm mistaken, I see Frutiger, Myriad, Stone, and Univers. I guess we all have our superstitions, and mine is that you never mix sans serifs. (I consider Optima a hermaphrodite, which can mate with anything).

I think I would have chosen a dash for the political boundaries, rather than the double line. The double line might be a nice solution when virtually all the boundaries were rivers, but I don't think that's the case here. I also would letterspace the provincial names so they "occupy the territory" more. PUNJAB looks like it's trying to hide behind a big rock.
Dennis McClendon, Chicago CartoGraphics
chicagocarto.com

#7
DaveB

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Very nice! Black and white design presents its own challenges.

minor nitpick: why is Iran labeled twice?
Dave Barnes
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#8
Esther Mandeno

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Hello Chris,

First off, I think this is a great map. Easy on the eyes and clean.

When I first viewed the map, the only gripe I had was that, to me, it looked like Afghanistan and Pakistan are sunk or lower overall elevation than the surrounding area. I think that has to do with the subtle shadow you placed around your area of interest. That's the only thing that caught my eye and it just may be some strange optical illusion that my screen is playing on me. ;)

I, too, would like to see the state/region names (KANDAHAR, ZABUL, GHAZNI, etc.) with a bit more space between the letters. Other than that, it looks great. Good job.
------
Esther Mandeno
Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving. - Albert Einstein

#9
DMoore

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Excellent work! It's hard balancing all those labels in such a confined space. You've done an excellent job.
Dorn Moore, GISP
Green Space GIS

#10
Mike Boruta

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I agree with almost all the other comments, and I also agree that this looking very nice and bound to get even better.

The first thing I noticed: the two labels for Iran.
A couple other minor things: What is the hatched line symbolization supposed to represent? (near Nimruz and Zaranj).
And, some of the point symbols look like the letter 'o' next to the labels (see Lahore, Lashkar Gar, and others) - try nudging them up or down a bit.

#11
Fran├žois Goulet

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Great map!

I agree with the other comments. Also, I'd place the rivers on top of the political boundaries (either dashed or double lines). I thing that helps identifies the natural feature as a boundary.

#12
Paul H

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Is it Tajikstan or Tajikistan?

#13
razornole

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Very nice map.

For me the border (or two) is a big distraction. Make is feel like a framed and matted photograph. Furthermore, I found myself wondering why the dashes weren't symmetrical. That was time I should have been spending looking at the map and not the border.

Why are your labels graduated? Varying your font sizes implies a rank of importance. Is Turkmenistan less important then Iran or India, it would appear that way because it labeled in a smaller font. Same could be said with the tribal areas in Pakistan. North and South Waziristan are more important then Kurram, Oarkzai, ect...

Your legend does not match your symbology, but I think that has been covered. Something that I typically do on the legend is represent man-made features with linear line and natural features with curvilinear lines. The scale bar is not centered or justified. I think that the Turkmenistan label is competing too much with the legend, keeps pulling my eye over. Could you try moving it under the legend?

Finally I would drop the country label's hierarchy outside of your concentration area. A lighter shade of grey would do the trick. They just keep pulling my eye away from the area of interest.

Good luck,
kru
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Strabo 22AD

#14
MapMedia

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Thank you all for the review and generous comments.

I have gone off and 'fixed' the border and type issues (especially the letter spacing for provinces - great call!)

Some of the type are geonames (desert or mountains) and only one ethnic area (Hazarajat)

The line hatching indicates major dry lakes.

Thanks all! I really want to improve my grayscale map design. After working on this map a while, in Illy, I start to see it as a mess of computer generated vector lines and fills. Props to the beauty of hand drawn maps.

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#15
Dennis McClendon

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I still think the international boundaries would look much better as simple 2 pt black dashes, or long-short dashes that are something of a cartographic convention. The current boundary lines are too thick, too similar to highways, and don't sit on the same visual level as the country name A F G H A N I S T A N.

Coincidentally, I'm working on the same part of the world this week. I would say it's a little misleading to show Islamabad as "out at the end of the highway," when the network of roads from there south to Lahore, into the Punjab, and the rich flatlands of Pakistan and India is actually quite extensive.

Don't worry. I'll post my Kashmir map here tomorrow for slings and arrows. :unsure:
Dennis McClendon, Chicago CartoGraphics
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