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Info on best workflow to redraw maps

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Dear friends,
A tiny publishing company would like to create a fairly high number of maps - each covering a 4x4km area - to be published on a series of books devoted to British historic places..

In order to avoid the dreaded Ordnance Survey copyright claims on derived work, we are going to use a series of data which are either copyright-free or for which we have got copyright clearance. They are mainly NASA World Wind satellite images, Demis WorldMap data, UK contour maps from NASA SRTM v2 height data and OS maps that are more than 50-year old.

As a first step, we created a multilayered Photoshop file of a test map containing all the data we can use for retrace. And we would like to use a recent Mac application - Ortelius by MapDiva - to trace the main roads and footpaths, and to add all the text. An experienced watercolour illustrator we have at hand may paint the relief shading and background colours on a separate sheet that we can scan and add to the PS layers.

Unfortunately, we don't have any specific experience on mapping, so we are a bit perplexed on the best way to use the available bitmap data and how to blend, retrace and redraw them in order to get the best results over a "bearable" working time. We are looking forward to finding the easiest workflow to draw these maps and any suggestion or comment you may have would be extremely welcome!

Link to multi-layered Photoshop test file (28MB)
Link to a pdf map representing the "optimal" result we'd like to achieve (2.8MB)

Thanks for your help!

David Medeiros

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Do the maps need to be Geo-referenced in a GIS? If not then I'd look at doing most of your work in Illustrator & photoshop. Photoshop can handle the raster pre-processing and Illustrator will do all of the digitizing work and final output.
GIS Reference and Instruction Specialist, Stanford Geospatial Center.


Dennis McClendon

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I have never used Ortelius, but this is pretty straightforward using Illustrator or FreeHand.

Decide first on the area to be covered, and whether it will have shaded relief.

Import the various background files and register them to each other as best you can. Having a layered Photoshop file is a bit curious, because you want to see various background layers in the drawing program, not in Photoshop. If you are using shaded relief, place that first, draw the rivers and roads that follow the terrain, and register other features to that. Otherwise, you may use National Grid squares, town locations, or similar features.

Now start doing "heads-up digitising," or what I call "intelligent tracing." Based on your vision of how much detail the map should have, and how precisely accurate it should be (will you show every bend in a road between two towns 40 miles apart?), you can start drawing. I usually go feature class by feature class, giving them appropriate styles and putting them on the right layers. First water, then roads and railways, then towns and labels. Unless your layers align precisely, which is rare, you will need to shift them a little as you go. That's when it's useful to have fixed points, such as rivers lying in the valleys, towns placed based on the most trustworthy source, or NG lines. Otherwise you slavishly trace one type of feature and it doesn't fit with a different type from a different source with a different projection. That's where you put the intelligence in intelligent tracing.

This is the kind of mapping I do every day, so further questions are welcome.
Dennis McClendon, Chicago CartoGraphics

Jill S-S

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Hi Bryn,
Your project sounds quite interesting and is just the sort of mapping that Ortelius was designed for (that is the vector work, not the hill shading). Dennis provides a good overview of the workflow. Illustrator and photoshop are certainly options, though I'm obviously biased towards Ortelius' features that are designed specifically for cartographic applications ;). As a new product, not everyone is familiar with Ortelius quite yet - we're working on that too. We have a couple of authors using Ortelius working on similar projects, one with about forty such maps, and we are happy to help you nail down your work flow for your specific project.

In addition to deciding on your source maps and layers, relief, etc, that you'll be including, there are some initial steps that can really help you streamline your work. Setting up your project template files and a project symbol library will be among your first steps. Your template file(s) would be set for the page size, scale, and drawing layers. Once you are set up with these, pasting the background layer for tracing, and tracing the roads, footpaths, etc. as per Dennis' "intelligent tracing" technique. Please don't hesitate to contact us, we're here to help.

- Jill

Jill Saligoe-Simmel, Ph.D.
Ortelius™ Creative Map Design Software for the Mac

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