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#1
TimB

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I just joined the site today. I am looking for feedback and input on a work in progress map. I'm not a cartographer by profession, but I enjoy researching and looking at all types of maps. I'm compiling an historical map of Texas (1887) based on online info and some historical state data. I think this is something I'd like to market, or possibly work with someone to produce.

I have done some reading on the forum and have a few ideas on how I want to proceed after I'm finished with this project.

All work is done in illustrator. I've attached some shots of the map. Right now it's 2' x 3'.

I'm also at a crossroads in my career (laid off about a month ago). I'm exploring options, and would welcome any input about how someone with 12 years of IT support experience, but no job-related cartography experience can make a smooth career transition to map-making, if that's what I decided to pursue.

Is there a good market for artistic maps, and can a person do well on their own? Sorry if the questions are basic. Someone may have already covered this stuff in detail. I look forward to all feedback.

This seems like a great place to hang out!

TB

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#2
DaveB

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Welcome!

I'm not sure about some of the symbology and labeling choices.
  • Why are some rivers black and some gray?
  • Most cities have their label horizontal to the page, but a few have angled (or even slightly curved?) labels. Does that signify anything?
  • Is the gray stuff in the ocean and elsewhere some sort of texture? It doesn't come across well in these images (maybe it looks better on paper).
  • Railroads aren't often depicted in red. It's not wrong to do so, but think about "visual hierarchy". Red stands out so the railroads appear to be the main focus of the map. Is that the case?

A couple of suggestions:
Have you thought about adding terrain to the map?
When I'm doing historical maps I like to use fonts that contribute to the historical feel. I'm not sure what fonts might be good for your period/area, maybe someone could recommend some.
Dave Barnes
Esri
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Map Geek

#3
TimB

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Welcome!

I'm not sure about some of the symbology and labeling choices.

  • Why are some rivers black and some gray?
  • Most cities have their label horizontal to the page, but a few have angled (or even slightly curved?) labels. Does that signify anything?
  • Is the gray stuff in the ocean and elsewhere some sort of texture? It doesn't come across well in these images (maybe it looks better on paper).
  • Railroads aren't often depicted in red. It's not wrong to do so, but think about "visual hierarchy". Red stands out so the railroads appear to be the main focus of the map. Is that the case?

A couple of suggestions:
Have you thought about adding terrain to the map?
When I'm doing historical maps I like to use fonts that contribute to the historical feel. I'm not sure what fonts might be good for your period/area, maybe someone could recommend some.


For the rivers, I used different line weights for the major and minor rivers. Do you think it would look better to use one weight for all waterways?
I did angle some place names where they were close together. I'm sure I can figure out another way to present these.
As for rail lines, I haven't decided yet if I am going to keep them or not.
The grey splotches or marks are a texture that I was considering using.

I was going for a more hand-drawn, antique feeling. The fonts I used for the city names is Caslon Antique. For major towns and Austin, the capital, I used Blue Highway (more modern, but a nice sans serif font.)

I am considering adding terrain, but want to go for the same hand drawn look. I am experimenting with Illustrator brushes to create hills and mountains. Also thinking about re-inking the waterways with my Wacom to extend the hand drawn appearance.

Thanks for bringing up some good points. I would enjoy any other suggestions for improving what I have.

#4
David Medeiros

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It looks to me like you have decent grasp of Illustrator. It’s nice clean line-work, some interesting effects. Your labels need work but I see that were trying to apply some cartographic standards in their placement and visualization. The one thing I notice right away (aside from what was mentioned above) is where type crosses line work. Anytime a label crosses solid line work (dark thin lines as opposed to thicker screened back lines) you should use a knock/out behind the type to break that line. Or better yet, use type size, line breaks and placement to avoid crossing line work when possible. Where type crosses coast lines move it either all in or all out to avoid breaking the coast line.

As for work, with your IT background and obvious talent for map making I would look into getting a GIS certificate and finding GIS work somewhere. A lot of GIS groups are part of an IT department and are often looking for crossover employees. An IT background and eye for true cartography and not just GIS production should give you head start. I’ll let others speak to the artistic map production side of things but will just say that if you want to go freelance the best way to do it is to have a real job in mapping and do contract work on the side.

GIS Reference and Instruction Specialist, Stanford Geospatial Center.

 

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#5
peanut

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Oddly enough the University of Alabama has extensive online repository of Historical Maps of Texas.

The Texas State History museum had a great exhibit showing historical maps back in 2005.

Rich

#6
Dennis McClendon

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To be brutally honest, there's really no market. I think only one person in modern history (Stuart Allan of Raven Maps) has managed to make a living by producing beautiful maps that people will buy just to hang on the wall. As for historic maps, it's really hard to compete with people selling on eBay handsome reprints of actual 19th century maps, made from high-res Library of Congress scans found online. A modern re-creation of a historic map is neither fish nor fowl: it's obviously not useful for current reference yet it misses the wonderful visual clues, from typography and spelling to river courses and hachures, that make the actual historic documents valuable for research.

As for your work, I'm unclear whether you're tracing from a particular 1887 map or trying to recreate it based on "data" of some sort. One glaring problem is showing all those railroads converging in the northeast corner, without showing them coming in from St. Louis and Arkansas through Texarkana (my hometown). Same for the M-K-T coming out of Oklahoma. Check the spelling of Gainesville. Why is the T&P the only railroad labeled? Why are Comanches the only Indian nation shown? Why are some rivers in all caps, but others aren't? Also, rivers need to taper to lesser line weights as they near their sources. So the Colorado and Brazos and Red and Trinity should only be thick lines once the various forks have converged. And the Pecos was never a thick line, even in the spring!
Dennis McClendon, Chicago CartoGraphics
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#7
TimB

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The map is far from complete at this point. Maybe 30-40% done, if I had to guess. I plan on adding much more detail, including linking the rail lines to points beyond Texas. I will be adding many more labels and descriptions for various areas, within and outside the state.

I appreciate everyone's ideas and feedback.




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