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#1
Mike Breiding

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Greetings,
I put up some maps for review previously and I hope you all will apply the same candor and constructive criticism to the one I have posted today.

Some background on the project:

All data used is from U.S. Census Bureau TIGER lines.

I started out in ArcView 3.2 and when I had the layers and extent I need exported the project to Illustrator format.
The results as viewed in AI CS2 were a jumbled mess.
This was discussed:here

It was finally decided exporting the data from ArcGis 9 would produce satisfactory results. This was based on samples sent to me by Martin of Alpine Mapping

I contacted the WVU GIS Tech Center here in Morgantown and they agreed to export the shape files to AI for me.

And so the fun began...!
Prior to this I had only used AI one other time - for a simple golf course project.

After much work smoothing lines and adjusting overlapping lines the map began to look a bit more refined.
It took me a while to get the hang of the type on a path, but I think I am there.

I never had the option of using effects like inner/out glow and drop shadow in ArcView so I fiddled with them till I got something I think is acceptable. I tried not to get carried away and use some restraint - hopefully I was successful. Please let me know !

Over in the Software Applications forum I posted a message about work flow between AI and Pshop.
If anyone has and ideas or advise about this I would appreciate it.

I am excited about all the possibilities available now that I don't have to rely on clunky old ArcView any longer.

So, what it the map to be used for?
It will cover most of one side of an 18x24 glossy brochure being produced by the Dunkard Creek Watershed Association.
The brochure is an effort to educate and inform people living in the watershed as to what a watershed is, and how to keep it clean.
It was hoped having the map included in the brochure would give the inhabitants a feeling they were all in the same neighborhood, and they would be able to pinpoint where they live and see the local roads and creeks they are so well acquainted with.

Some specific questions:
Does this map need a legend?

How best to label roads? Although all secondary roads here have numbered route designations they are usually referred to by their local names. Such as Hornbeck Road instead of 76/119. Secondary Roads here have a dual numbering system which makes them problematic when trying to us the route numbers inside of a round marker.

The AI project file and a PDF are here.

OK! That's it. Let me know what you think.
Please keep in mind this is still a work in progress and not all the labeling has been finished, etc.

-Mike

Attached Files



#2
Martin Gamache

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Mike,

This is a very good start.

Here are some things I notice right away.

Drop shadow on the town labels is too much, it should be more subtle, lighter and not so far out.

If your river basin is the focus then all the streams should be emphasised, right now only part of the main branch are highlighted (but not labelled), I would bring out the tributaries a little bit more, you could do that by having the river network drop in line weight as it get further away and to smaller tributaries, but the way it is now does not show a network, just a big river in the middle. Try making a tapered brush for your streams, river networks really benefit from that kind of detail on the last segment.

I like the glow on the river but be very careful with that kind of effect. It is fine for web maps, but it is very difficult to output correctly from Illustrator for offset printing in CMYK. This is the kind of effect that migth be best built in photoshop as a raster effect.

Labels. There is not enough contrast between your tributaries and the mint green background (see above) and this applies even more so for your labels.

Check out this Imhof paper on labelling features on maps:http://www.alpinemapguild.com/ClassicMountainCartography/Imhof/Positioning_Names_on_Maps.pdf

Your labels should never be upside down (Smokey Drain, Roberts Run)and could use some smoothing of the paths and some tracking adjustments in some places.

Some of the Management areas get lost in the background, not enough contrast. And the long curvy labels for them are not always obvious.

Your inset map is illegible on my screen. I suggest making it larger.

Not sure if you have considered relief shading in this context...it is not necessary but might add an interesting element to your map and help delineate all those tributaries.

mg

#3
Hans van der Maarel

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I agree with Martin, adding some shaded relief can really create a very nice effect. Drop shadows on the texts are a bit too much indeed.

As for road numbers vs names, one of the things you have to consider IMHO is whether or not the intended audience is familiar enough with that area to know local road names.
Hans van der Maarel - Cartotalk Editor
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#4
DaveB

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Definitely could use a hillshade. It would add more context for the watershed and increase both the informational content and the appeal of the map. Maybe you could include more of the area outside the watershed, and make the hillshade even more subtle outside the watershed. For example, by making it gray only, without the watershed green and even lighten it further. Maybe even fade it out around the edges so there isn't the sharp boundary.

I'm not sure why some features extend further from the bounds of the watershed than other features. If you fade out the hillshade you could also fade out the features.

There is a strong contrast between some of the features, such as the main river, the town labels and the major roads vs. the creeks and lesser roads and parks, etc. Looking at the map when it is fitted to the window (kind of like stepping back to look at it from further away) is a good way to see the overall effect.

There is very little difference between the creeks and what I presume are minor roads. It's hard to tell which is which except for the networks they form. I think if you follow Martin's suggestions that will help a lot.

I'm not too crazy about the gradient fills on the inset map, but maybe that's just me. Also, the colors seem the wrong way around. The inset shows the area from the main map in purple, but it is green on the main map. And West Virginia is shown as green, but not shown at all (except for the boundary line) on the main map.

Having said all of that this is a very good start. :)
Dave Barnes
Esri
Product Engineer
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#5
Mike Breiding

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I agree with Martin, adding some shaded relief can really create a very nice effect. Drop shadows on the texts are a bit too much indeed.

As for road numbers vs names, one of the things you have to consider IMHO is whether or not the intended audience is familiar enough with that area to know local road names.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



Martin, Hans, Dave - Thank you!

I will begin making some of the suggested changes.
Some of them I am not clear on what is meant and I post to address those issues.

BTW - I am getting the distince impression the ammount of hours spent on any particualr map is immaterial to many of you. Is this the case?
In other words, by the time I finish this map I will have made about $2.00 an hour! :(

-Mike

#6
Martin Gamache

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BTW - I am getting the distince impression the ammount of hours spent on any particualr map is immaterial to many of you. Is this the case?
In other words, by the time I finish this map I will have made about $2.00 an hour! :(

-Mike

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>




Or less unfortunately, especially if you work for yourself and self publish, the payoff comes over long periods of time. Freelance or custom work can be fruitful if you have clients with deep pockets. But at the same time the equation is deeply skewed if you are learning the software while on the clock...you cant expect to be paid for that. Someone that knows illustrator very well can produce a map much faster than someone who doesnt, the hourly rate then goes up proportionately. Part of it is also billing a reasonable hourly rate, and not being outbid by someone who is more hungry or willing to undersell themselves....

#7
Hans van der Maarel

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Mike,

Some more comments:

I'd change the color of the Monongahela River to match the color you used for the main river running through the watershed. I'd also change the type size used for the label. It looks as though it's got the smallest size at the moment, whereas it's the largest geographic feature in the area shown.

You have several roads (?) and railways (?) extending past the boundary of the watershed on the south side, but hardly any on the north side. Is this a conscious decision?

Also, I think you do need a legend. My cartography teacher used to say that a map without a legend isn't a map. While I don't totally agree with that, I do think a small legend can help to explain matters here.

As for the amount of hours spent on a map vs billing rate... for me the main concern is producing a good, visually attractive map. After all, it's something that will bear my name. I've been burned in the past with quoting fixed prices to do something, although it usually involved a learning experience for me as well.
Hans van der Maarel - Cartotalk Editor
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#8
Matthew Hampton

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If you are not going to add hillshading then you might want to increase the contrast b/w the streams and the background. Maybe use a deeper green.

I was confused a bit by the dashed roads. I tend to use continuous lines for roads and dashed lines for boundaries (except 4wd backcountry roads).. At first I thought I was looking at subwatershed boundaries.

Since this is not a really a road map I think the only road you need to label is the major one.

Maybe you could make the park stand out a little more. I tend to think that parks and watershed knowledge make a good hierarchical match..
__
Matthew

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#9
Rob

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BTW - I am getting the distince impression the ammount of hours spent on any particualr map is immaterial to many of you. Is this the case?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


We've all had projects that eat us like this, and bottomline is you have to give the client what they want. I've handled this situation in the past by having a very detailed set of design guidelines discussed and agreed upon prior to starting a project. For me this usually includes the purpose of the map, information classes/theme & supporting data, audience, scale, format, special viewing conditions, reproduction considerations, distribution considerations, data classing strategies, accuracy, compilation/source material, projection, data or design constraints, amount and nature of typography, and a terrain representation strategy if desired. Once you know the full scope, you can bid the project, deliver the expected product for profit, and let them know that if major scope changes are required then additional fees will also be required.

good luck,

rob

#10
Mike Breiding

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The new PNG ishere

I have made the drop shadow this less prominent.

The decision to label only certain streams was the clients. They wanted only what they considered to be the well know and well settled streams to be emphasized.

As far as trying to grade the streams by line weight with a tapered brush - I haven't a clue as t how to do this and would not even no where to start.
Are you referring to dropping the line weight on every stream that is not labelled?
Would this mean drawing a path on all these segments with the feathered brush and then cutting and removing the stream line underneath?

I googled for "tapered brush Illustrator CS2" but could not find anything that seemed to be pertinent.

The glow on Dunkard Creek is not a raster effect? I have been using both RGB and CMYK colors. Is that going to be a problem?

I changed the labels and the stream colors for more emphasis.

I fixed the upside down able.
You refer to smoothing and tracking.
Smoothing the label paths, correct?
What does the Tracking refer to?

I printed out the Imhof paper and will read it over.

I deliberately made the WMAs and public lands a bit shadowy. I was concerned about them being to dominant. And in my very limited experience it seem the printed product always makes everything more prominent than it appears in a computer screen or a plot.

The client wanted the MD HistoicalPark to stand out so it has darker colors.

The inset map is junk and I will start from scratch.

I thought about shaded relief but I do not have the tools to produce it.
I was also concerned about stream alignment if it was used.

Whew!
This is way too much brain work for me!

Thanks for taking the time to reply so fully.

-Mike

Mike,


This is a very good start.

Here are some things I notice right away.

Drop shadow on the town labels is too much, it should be more subtle, lighter and not so far out.

If your river basin is the focus then all the streams should be emphasised, right now only part of the main branch are highlighted (but not labelled), I would bring out the tributaries a little bit more, you could do that by having the river network drop in line weight as it get further away and to smaller tributaries, but the way it is now does not show a network, just a big river in the middle. Try making a tapered brush for your streams, river networks really benefit from that kind of detail on the last segment.

I like the glow on the river but be very careful with that kind of effect. It is fine for web maps, but it is very difficult to output correctly from Illustrator for offset printing in CMYK. This is the kind of effect that migth be best built in photoshop as a raster effect. 

Labels.  There is not enough contrast between your tributaries and the mint green background (see above) and this applies even more so for your labels.

Check out this Imhof paper on labelling features on maps:http://www.alpinemapguild.com/ClassicMountainCartography/Imhof/Positioning_Names_on_Maps.pdf

Your labels should never be upside down (Smokey Drain, Roberts Run)and could use some smoothing of the paths and some tracking adjustments in some places.

Some of the Management areas get lost in the background, not enough contrast. And the long curvy labels for them are not always obvious.

Your inset map is illegible on my screen. I suggest making it larger.

Not sure if you have considered relief shading in this context...it is not necessary but might add an interesting element to your map and help delineate all those tributaries.

mg

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



#11
Mike Breiding

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If you are not going to add hillshading then you might want to increase the contrast b/w the streams and the background.  Maybe use a deeper green. 

I was confused a bit by the dashed roads.  I tend to use continuous lines for roads and dashed lines for boundaries (except 4wd backcountry roads)..  At first I thought I was looking at subwatershed boundaries.

Since this is not a really a road map I think the only road you need to label is the major one.

Maybe you could make the park stand out a little more.  I tend to think that parks and watershed knowledge make a good hierarchical match..
__
Matthew

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Hi Matthew,
Still waffling on the hillshade - even if I can get the tools to do it. I think hillshade/shaded relief are sometimes over or inappropriately used. Present company excluded of course!!

Dashed roads? There are none. The only dashed line is the WV/PA boundary line.

Only the heavy weight roads will be labelled. My main quandary was how to route labels with the dual numbering system or use just the colloquial names. Both are used on the road signs - where they actually have one.

I am trying to be careful not to have the parks ( except for Mason-Dixon ) end up being to prominent - thus the ghostly appearance.


Thanks for your feed back and point of view.
-Mike

#12
Mike Breiding

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Hi Hans,
I concur with you on the Mon River and will make the changes.

The reason some roads extend beyond the WS boundary line was for labelling.
I felt this way I could label outside the boundary area to reduce the clutter inside.
Make sense? Mebbee, Mebbe not!
The road sections on the far left are there at the request of the client to help with orientation. The north/south road is a major US highway and they wanted it on the map.

RE: The legend. I try to put myself in the place of the user. Once labelled, would not everyone figure out what was a road and what was a stream and what was a boundary line? I feel legends are so traditional the are sometimes used whether they are useful or not.

Concerning the hours on the map. You all are right. I am having to endure the learning curve with AI and I also need to raise my standards. I think too much about hours and money and not enough about producing a good product.

Thanks for input.
-Mike

Mike,
Some more comments:

I'd change the color of the Monongahela River to match the color you used for the main river running through the watershed. I'd also change the type size used for the label. It looks as though it's got the smallest size at the moment, whereas it's the largest geographic feature in the area shown.

You have several roads (?) and railways (?) extending past the boundary of the watershed on the south side, but hardly any on the north side. Is this a conscious decision?

Also, I think you do need a legend. My cartography teacher used to say that a map without a legend isn't a map. While I don't totally agree with that, I do think a small legend can help to explain matters here.

As for the amount of hours spent on a map vs billing rate... for me the main concern is producing a good, visually attractive map. After all, it's something that will bear my name. I've been burned in the past with quoting fixed prices to do something, although it usually involved a learning experience for me as well.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



#13
Mike Breiding

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Hi Dave,
Getting the impression I am in the minority about using hillshade. B)

The feature extension beyond the boundary is discussed/explained in another post.

I am going to rework the streams and the inset map. Both are unrefined and clunky.

Thanks for helping!
-Mike


Definitely could use a hillshade. It would add more context for the watershed and increase both the informational content and the appeal of the map. Maybe you could include more of the area outside the watershed, and make the hillshade even more subtle outside the watershed. For example, by making it gray only, without the watershed green and even lighten it further. Maybe even fade it out around the edges so there isn't the sharp boundary.

I'm not sure why some features extend further from the bounds of the watershed than other features. If you fade out the hillshade you could also fade out the features.

There is a strong contrast between some of the features, such as the main river, the town labels and the major roads vs. the creeks and lesser roads and parks, etc. Looking at the map when it is fitted to the window (kind of like stepping back to look at it from further away) is a good way to see the overall effect.

There is very little difference between the creeks and what I presume are minor roads. It's hard to tell which is which except for the networks they form. I think if you follow Martin's suggestions that will help a lot.

I'm not too crazy about the gradient fills on the inset map, but maybe that's just me. Also, the colors seem the wrong way around. The inset shows the area from the main map in purple, but it is green on the main map. And West Virginia is shown as green, but not shown at all (except for the boundary line) on the main map.

Having said all of that this is a very good start.  :)

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



#14
Mike Breiding

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<SNIP>
If your river basin is the focus then all the streams should be emphasised, right now only part of the main branch are highlighted (but not labelled), I would bring out the tributaries a little bit more, you could do that by having the river network drop in line weight as it get further away and to smaller tributaries, but the way it is now does not show a network, just a big river in the middle. Try making a tapered brush for your streams, river networks really benefit from that kind of detail on the last segment.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

<SNIP>



I posted about this over in Cartographic Design.

I was not sure if the Map Gallery was the right area to post it in.

-Mike




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