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Symbol design on 3D map.

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through this topic I am looking for some advise and your opinions too. I am a GIS student, and as GIS moves forward 3D is becoming a standard. But, I am a lucky GIS student - I had cartography courses with a cartographer working since early 70's in the map-making world, who did literally hundreds of publications and is an extremely strict professor. Yes, his first words about most of the maps are "This map is good for nothing" and than he explains every single messed up detail. I really don't want to receive such an opinion about my undergraduate thesis. And my professor is an expert in certain mapping questions, more than other, thus I seek advice here.

As not many guideliness or standards there are for 3D maps yet, I want to ask about 3D map symbol design. so first description:

A 3D interactive map of world's natural heritage. 3D means - a virtual spinning globe with places marked on it. World Natural heritage includes: The most stunning National Parks, Scenic spots, Underwater sceneries of the Earth. Now, each place of course will be placed on the globe.

1. Should all the points have the same symbol or should they be divided into three categories? It seems to me that it's better to divide, but I have a doubt that using different colors will create a certain mess on the map (the map will be phisical map of the world with bordes of countries mapped). What do you think?

*GE=Google Earth

2. The symbols itself , for me personnaly it's easier to read 3D dots/spheres than to manage with symbols like GE* pins (a pin on the GE globe is distracting for me). I would prefer to see 3d dots/spheres on the virtual globe. Would you agree?

3. A question, I did not map sea/ocean surface before. A symbol on sea/ocean surface is something new to me. As it is not land is a dot/sphere suitable? I know that coral reefs for example have a specific symbol, but what I map not always is a coral reef, I map an underwater scenic spot. And as a user how do you perceive a 3D symbol on ocean/sea surface? I noticed that I tend to replace GE pins with other possibilities, more flat, as well as idea of a "spot" on the ocean surface seems abstract to me. Maybe you have more experience with mapping on the sea/ocean surface?

4. My map is oriented to general public, should I think about designing a special set of symbols or doing it with something more usual? "Natural wonders" can have a special symbol design, but I don't personally see a purpose. Would you?

5. Colors. As generally warm colors are better perceived than the cold colors, does it stay the same on the screen? I noticed that GE uses very bright colors on a lot of symbols, not much of pastel color palette. Does this example imply that computer screen needs bright, juicy colors to create an impact on the user?

6. Are there any guides/books/textbooks you know and use about creating 3D maps/virtual Globe maps?

Thank you in advance,

In May the project will become a stnad-alone website!

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