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McFarlane River, northern Saskatchewan

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#1
sitesatlas

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I'm working on a 6 x 9" map for a book about a solo canoe trip down the McFarlane River in northern Saskatchewan. The author wanted a black-and-white topo map of the canyon near the mouth of the river. I used CanVec data and I'm really impressed with it, especially given the remoteness of this location. It is a bit complicated to use, though, because feature types and data files use a complex, seven-digit coding system. The symbols were automatically placed using the Irregular Pattern plug-in for Illustrator from the Institute of Cartography in Zurich. One of the advantages with the plug-in is that you customize the randomness and density of the patterns to suit your specific needs, and the symbols are not abruptly cut off at the edges like a regular pattern fill would be.

I haven't heard back from the client yet, and I'm curious to find out what others think of the map, especially whether the symbol patterns are effective and how the legend can be improved. Any kind of feedback is welcome...

Attached Files


Michael Borop
World Sites Atlas
http://www.sitesatlas.com

#2
Charles Syrett

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Very nice greyscale cartography! A few things:

1. I would experiment with greater contrast between water features and contours -- in some areas things look a little tangled.

2. I'm not sure how many readers could make sense of the contour detail at this scale. Have you considered generalizing? Or enhancing with shaded relief? (Yes, you'd have to dispense with the existing background tones, which may be more important than relief, depending on the specific map purpose.) Or maybe shaded relief and spot elevations, without contours at all?

3. A minor point of personal taste....I prefer spelling the name "River" in full when possible (especially when the river itself is a prominent map feature)....and a little letterspacing might be nice too.

I do like the patterns. Heck, it may be a goad for me to jump over to Illustrator (diehard FreeHand addict) just to use that plug-in! B)

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

I'm working on a 6 x 9" map for a book about a solo canoe trip down the McFarlane River in northern Saskatchewan. The author wanted a black-and-white topo map of the canyon near the mouth of the river. I used CanVec data and I'm really impressed with it, especially given the remoteness of this location. It is a bit complicated to use, though, because feature types and data files use a complex, seven-digit coding system. The symbols were automatically placed using the Irregular Pattern plug-in for Illustrator from the Institute of Cartography in Zurich. One of the advantages with the plug-in is that you customize the randomness and density of the patterns to suit your specific needs, and the symbols are not abruptly cut off at the edges like a regular pattern fill would be.

I haven't heard back from the client yet, and I'm curious to find out what others think of the map, especially whether the symbol patterns are effective and how the legend can be improved. Any kind of feedback is welcome...



#3
Dale Sanderson

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Overall I think it's a good-looking map... I know it's a challenge having to use black ink only. I agree with Charles - you might try it without the contours. Looks like there's only a 100 meter span across the map anyway, so I'm not sure it's worth the extra clutter. And, since you have spot elevations on the map, I'm curious about the elevation of Lake Athabasca... maybe you could label that in parentheses.
Dale Sanderson
professionally: cartographics manager for Dex One
personally: cartophile and road-geek (my website)

#4
Esther Mandeno

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Hello Michael,

Very nice map. I really like the trees, dots and shrubs. Cool plug-in. Too bad I only work in ArcMap. :(

Anyway, I don't mind the contours. I actually like them. I would consider smoothing the lines. The contour labels would use a mask behind them. By that I mean break (or make it look like there's a break) the line so the contour line doesn't run through it. Personally, I like it when the line doesn't go through the label. I would also consider using the same gray color for the spot elevations as your contours lines. Just a thought. Unless there is some reason why you need those highlighted. I just noticed that you have it in the legend, so maybe that's something the text is focusing on.

The scale bar seems in a odd spot, but can't think of where else to put it.

Other than that, I really like the map. Good job!
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Esther Mandeno
Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving. - Albert Einstein

#5
MapMedia

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Michael,

This is excellent. Always a challenge doing a topo in greyscale. I really like the simple design and that you acquired some natural resource data.
I assume the client would like the contours (topo map feel), so I would keep them in, even though they border on usability for this map.

If you are struggling to make the land classifications and contours 'pop', sometimes inverting the map reveals some ideas / options...

Nice job and thanks for sharing!

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#6
Dennis McClendon

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To me, the dots in the sand are too big and far apart. Sand should be lots and lots of tiny grey dots closer together.

I'm not crazy about the side views of evergreen trees to represent forest, but I haven't thought of any really good alternative. Even though it usually connotes deciduous trees, I might try some sort of "branch" pattern in white reversed out of the grey forest tint. For maps this size, I often find it preferable to work with the Noise filters in Photoshop to create a good-looking texture and then just paste that inside the polygon that needs the pattern. Doing everything as vectors is sometimes more work than it's worth for a page-size greyscale map.

I agree about letterspacing slightly and spelling out the river name. I'd also put L A K E A T H A B A S C A in all caps, and lowercase rapids since they don't have names.
Dennis McClendon, Chicago CartoGraphics
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#7
sitesatlas

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Thanks for all your input! I'm going to make some changes and I'll post a revised map next week (hopefully, I'll have the author's input by then as well). I know he wanted contour lines to appear on the map so I'm going to keep those, but it's true that the contour labels would look clearer with the line behind them knocked out.

I really liked the suggestion of inverting the colors to see what stands out. One thing that really highlights is that the sand pattern needs to be improved, as Dennis pointed out as well.
Michael Borop
World Sites Atlas
http://www.sitesatlas.com

#8
Boundary Maven

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Michael,

This is excellent. Always a challenge doing a topo in greyscale. I really like the simple design and that you acquired some natural resource data.
I assume the client would like the contours (topo map feel), so I would keep them in, even though they border on usability for this map.

If you are struggling to make the land classifications and contours 'pop', sometimes inverting the map reveals some ideas / options...

Nice job and thanks for sharing!


I find this map very hard to read. Sorry. :(

#9
sitesatlas

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I'm posting the final version of the map. The author wanted a scale of both miles and kilometers and corrected the spelling of MacFarlane. I introduced a lot of the changes that were suggested here, such as putting Lake Athabasca in caps, changing the sand pattern, adding lake elevations, making the spot elevations the same color as the contour labels, and knocking out the contour lines behind the labels.

Thanks for all your input!

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Michael Borop
World Sites Atlas
http://www.sitesatlas.com

#10
MapMedia

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That looks read tight Michael!

#11
razornole

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Hello Micheal,

I may be abit late on this, but I "can't see the contours for the trees!" To me the patterns are a huge distraction. It is all that I can focus on. You are only mapping 3 ecological zones, which could easily be represented with shades of gray and text. Four words could sum it up... wetlands, sand dunes, forest (along with a more contrasting shade of gray for each). To me that would reduce 90% of the noise and focus my attention on the MacFarlane River and the surrounding geomorphology.

kru
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#12
sitesatlas

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Hello Micheal,

I may be abit late on this, but I "can't see the contours for the trees!" To me the patterns are a huge distraction. It is all that I can focus on. You are only mapping 3 ecological zones, which could easily be represented with shades of gray and text. Four words could sum it up... wetlands, sand dunes, forest (along with a more contrasting shade of gray for each). To me that would reduce 90% of the noise and focus my attention on the MacFarlane River and the surrounding geomorphology.

kru


Thanks, kru. I've finished the project, but I really appreciate your comments.

There seem to be two schools of thought on the use of the symbols -- some think they add to the map, some think they're a distraction. I rather like them, but I could definitely have tried thinning them out so they don't distract too much from the contour lines.
Michael Borop
World Sites Atlas
http://www.sitesatlas.com

#13
Richard Nie

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beautiful map.i like the grey pattern.

i'm a color weakness cartographer.i like your map.lol.

I'm working on a 6 x 9" map for a book about a solo canoe trip down the McFarlane River in northern Saskatchewan. The author wanted a black-and-white topo map of the canyon near the mouth of the river. I used CanVec data and I'm really impressed with it, especially given the remoteness of this location. It is a bit complicated to use, though, because feature types and data files use a complex, seven-digit coding system. The symbols were automatically placed using the Irregular Pattern plug-in for Illustrator from the Institute of Cartography in Zurich. One of the advantages with the plug-in is that you customize the randomness and density of the patterns to suit your specific needs, and the symbols are not abruptly cut off at the edges like a regular pattern fill would be.

I haven't heard back from the client yet, and I'm curious to find out what others think of the map, especially whether the symbol patterns are effective and how the legend can be improved. Any kind of feedback is welcome...


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