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#1
woneil

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I've been profiting from the posts of cartographers working on book projects -- profiting by seeing how far I have to go!

Nevertheless, I am working on a book about the first half of the Pacific War (1941-43) and intend to do my own maps, or at least some of them. I'm posting here two maps I did recently for a report I wrote, which I think of as very early prototypes for some of the maps for the book. My idea is to have a coherent series of very small scale maps showing the progress of the war at intervals, supplemented with larger-scale scrap view maps providing more detail of speciific areas. Even these will be fairly small in scale, however, as the focus of the book is at the operational level rather than the tactical level of the war.

Although conceptually like the prototypes, the book maps will be grayscale (to hold down production costs), cover a somewhat smaller area (eliminating regions peripheral to the main action), and employ a completely coherent and consistent symbolic language.

I do not intend to try to show relief in the main series of maps but do plan to have one special map in the series with relief. I also envison that relief will be depicted in some of the scrap view maps.

In general, my philosophy is to convey the temporal and spatial aspects of the story as much as possible through cartography and graphs. I have always admired Colin McEvedy's series of books. While I have a lot of material to convey that does not lend itself to his sort of treatment, I do hope to capture some of the virtues of his books.

Will O'Neil
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http://analysis.williamdoneil.com/w.d.oneil@pobox.com

#2
Nick Springer

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Will,

Since these are early drafts I won't get into the small details, but there a couple of broad areas I think you can work on.

A) If you think these will be in black and white, start working in that palette now. B&W maps are actually more challenging than color since you have to work hard to maintain proper hierarchy and contrast.

B ) You have a lot going on on the first map, which makes it difficult to pull out any details. Try making more maps with smaller time intervals.

C) The symbology is very coarse, especially the outlines of the areas of control. The large circles and wide spacing make it hard to follow the overall pattern.

D) It looks like you are working in Photoshop. Since you have all line art, I would really recommend using Illustrator.

Good luck and keep us up to date on your progress.

Nick Springer

Director of Design and Web Applications: ALK Technologies Inc.
Owner: Springer Cartographics LLC


#3
woneil

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Will,

Since these are early drafts I won't get into the small details, but there a couple of broad areas I think you can work on.

A) If you think these will be in black and white, start working in that palette now.  B&W maps are actually more challenging than color since you have to work hard to maintain proper hierarchy and contrast.

B ) You have a lot going on on the first map, which makes it difficult to pull out any details.  Try making more maps with smaller time intervals.

C) The symbology is very coarse, especially the outlines of the areas of control.  The large circles and wide spacing make it hard to follow the overall pattern.

D) It looks like you are working in Photoshop.  Since you have all line art, I would really recommend using Illustrator.

Good luck and keep us up to date on your progress.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Nick,

Thanks very much for your response. Your points A, B, and D confirm what I had already suspected. Is there any book which addresses map-making in Illustrator? I'm still learning the software and would like to learn as much as possible from a book oriented toward my needs.

I am still trying to work out the question of level of fineness of detail. In this case, I have a printer which produces results that are comparable to those of the printer used for the final report. I initially found that the symbology which seemed appropriate on screen did not produce good results on paper. (These maps are 6.5" wide by 4.26" high as printed.) I have worked out how far I need to sit away from the screen so that at 50% the screen image subtends the same angle as the print image does at normal reading distance. But even this does not give an entirely reliable guide to the final map's readability because the contrast is so much greater on screen.

The coarseness of the outlines of areas of control reflects, at least to some extent, the uncertainties about where control actually did exist. The ratio of force to space generally was extremely low in the Pacific and Asia, resulting in ill-defined and porous boundaries. Quite a different situation than in Europe, although even there things were not always sharply defined. I'm thinking of changing to a soft border line to suggest places where control boundaries were not well defined.

Because the report will reach some users electronically and may get printed out in grayscale, I actually tried to design the maps to work either in color or grayscale. This accounts for some of the color choices, as it was necessary to consider how they would print either way. I think the results come out moderately well, but there is no doubt that working in grayscale from the start makes more sense when there is no thought of color printing.

Will O'Neil
Will O'Neil
Author and amateur cartographer

http://analysis.williamdoneil.com/w.d.oneil@pobox.com

#4
Rob

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Will,

I'd add to Nick's comment's these:

1. Try generalizing the coastlines/country boundary linework. It is choking up and creating areas rather than showing lines.

2. the symbology of the Japanese perimiter get's quite lost over the Philippines; think about the overall theme of the map and create a symbology that supports that hierarchy, such as are the Japanese perimeter's more important than the movement of forces?

3. Add some type of directional symbol (arrowheads?) to the major troop movements because it isn't clear which way the movement is happening.

4. Once you have your basic design solidified, maybe think of adding more descriptive text to the movement lines that break down the actual sequence of movement more thoroughly, although at the scale you are working at there could be some tight placement.

5. At this scale I think the Allied force concentration line/area symbology is a neat convention that shows an area of influence. I'd keep the idea as you work through creating a B/W hierarchy.

From prior experience, I'd also urge you to start designing in the colors (or lack there of) that this will be printed in. Will save much time at the end of the project.

As for books on cart in Illustrator, I don't know of any off hand, but there have been some tutorials posted to other places on this board. If you need some ideas/tips on getting data into Illustrator there are plenty of people on this board that can help you.

Look forward to seeing your next draft.

Cheers,

Rob

#5
frax

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Some extra comments: the first map has a lot of things going on, i would also consider splitting that up to two maps to make sure the time aspect gets presented properly.

I would also consider dropping the grid altogether, or make it much more subtle (every 2nd line compared to now?) and/or present in a much more discrete way (it doesn't really add any information, just a vague impression on the spheriness of the map)
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#6
DaveB

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Good points already made.

Other things to think about:
Visual Hierarchy - Especially in relation to the line work. Rob's suggestion to generalize the coastlines will help. You might also consider using a thinner line for the coast. And maybe lighten or thin the graticule lines and possibly place them behind the land.
Purpose of each map - What is the map intended to convey? What is the main subject? If you have the luxury it might be better to make more maps that concentrate on smaller time frames where needed to keep the individual maps from being too cluttered and therefore difficult for the reader to understand.

I like Colin McEvedy's historical atlases, too. Almost forerunners to animated maps. You can flip from page to page and compare differences. They are clean and easy to read, but still convey a lot of information. Of course, the accompanying text expands on the information and points out specifics, which I'm sure your book will do, too.

I think you are off to a good start.
Dave Barnes
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#7
Mike H

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Will,

I try to embrace the concept of "design without the line". As you explore black and white, you will have to set up a figure-ground scheme for land/water. The intracacies of your coastline may work well if you use only a fill, without a stroke (line), on the land polygons. That will allow the more important data, the 'story', to be more visible. Reduction of non-essential linework gives more strength to the needed linework.

m.
Michael Hermann
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#8
woneil

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    Will O'Neil

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the first map has a lot of things going on, i would also consider splitting that up to two maps to make sure the time aspect gets presented properly.


I wanted it to give the impression of how tightly the Japanse had choreographed their attack, but I went too far in that direction. For the book I plan to adopt a shorter time interval. That will mean that in some of the later periods there will be little obvious change from map to map, but that tells something important, too.

I would also consider dropping the grid altogether....


The virtue of the grid, so far as I am concerned, is to give (1) a local scale of distances and (2) an impression of the extent of local distortion of shape. (I chose the Robinson projection because it gives a good compromise between constancy of scale and good shapes, and did not believe conformality was terribly important for this purpose.) I will tell the reader at the beginning how to interpret these cues. Some will not be interested, but I want to cater to a wide range of interests and levels of sophistication.

With all that said, I am interested in alternative ideas that will involve less clutter. I do plan to tone the grid down as much as I can without making it vanish.

I like Colin McEvedy's historical atlases, too. ... Of course, the accompanying text expands on the information and points out specifics, which I'm sure your book will do, too.


Did you know that McEvedy was really a psychiatrist and that the books were just a sideline? Amazing man.

One of the things I plan to do is to make a lot of use of graphical timelines as a way of protraying the time dimension. I'm thinking about ways to link the spatial maps and timelines to give the reader a clear idea of the relationships in time and space.

I try to embrace the concept of "design without the line"


That's a very interesting idea. I can imagine how that helps to clarify and simplify the map.

Thank you all for the very helpful and forwarding comments. When I get the next generation try ready I'll post that for comment.

Will O'Neil
Will O'Neil
Author and amateur cartographer

http://analysis.williamdoneil.com/w.d.oneil@pobox.com




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