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Colors For Maps


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#1
Gretchen Peterson

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I just released my latest effort: Colors For Maps. It’s a 40 page booklet in PDF format that contains 30 color palettes specifically chosen for mapping projects. Each palette is visualized in a sample map and in various combinations to make it easy to pick one.

It was peer-edited by Nat Case, Learon Dalby, Don Meltz, and Amanda Taub. (Thank you!)

Learon Dalby, the Geo Program Manager for the State of Arkansas, has this to say about it:
“I would use this information in this book. We are constantly making quick prints for executives (Governor or Legislature). There is an art and a science to portraying the information appropriately and you only get one brief chance to get it right. We have used [an online color-picking site] for several years but it doesn't always give us exactly what we need. This booklet takes the next step.”

Amanda Taub, GIS Analyst, GISP, says:
"This is well worth the $10 Gretchen is charging for the booklet. Maybe next we can persuade Gretchen to come out with a poster that we can print on our plotters." (Yes, great idea!)

You can find out more here!

Edited 11/4/2010 to include a link to my blog post that contains a sample page from the booklet.

#2
François Goulet

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I just bought it and I think it's brillant.

I vote for Amanda's proposition too... a poster would be great! :)

#3
sitesatlas

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Hi Gretchen. I just bought my copy and it looks great. Deciding on color schemes can be so time-consuming I tend to repeat the same ones over and over. Colorbrewer is a handy resource, but your booklet is even more practical, with a good collection of color schemes all in one file. Now, I just need to start trying some of them out...
Michael Borop
World Sites Atlas
http://www.sitesatlas.com

#4
David Medeiros

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Looks like a great idea. I'll have to wait until I get home to buy, but I have a question already... why not add to the PDF purchase pre-assembled color swatch libraries to drop directly into AI?

GIS Reference and Instruction Specialist, Stanford Geospatial Center.

 

www.mapbliss.com

 


#5
Gretchen Peterson

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David - that's a totally valid question, and one that I've already been asked. :) It will be my next project, after the poster and after the ArcMap custom .style file that I've also been asked for. :)

Thank you Francois and sitesatlas! I really appreciate your feedback.

#6
David Medeiros

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Ok I bought the book earlier today and have had a chance to look it over a little. I have another question and a few comments. The question is, why not put CMYK figures in the document? In my experience RGB and CMYK cover the majority of output scenarios (certainly for most novice mappers). HEX and RGB seem to both be used for web colors so probably cover similar users, while a print color scheme (CMYK) is absent from the doc.

I like the idea you're going for here, it takes the ColorBrewer concept a step further by looking at certain cartographic elements in color selection and how they play with the over all color scheme of your data. That said I'm disappointed in the production quality. Primarily in the maps used for the examples. The resolution is a little low and the detail is too high for such a small map (the hallmarks of a lot of GIS mapping). You could use a vector map as the sample to preserve the resolution. And generalize the lines a bit to increase legibility.

dave

GIS Reference and Instruction Specialist, Stanford Geospatial Center.

 

www.mapbliss.com

 


#7
Gretchen Peterson

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Someone suggested to me that I make one of the booklet pages available so prospective buyers can see what they are getting. To that end I've put the first of the coordinated palettes (page 9 of the booklet) on my latest blog post. I hope that helps people make an informed decision.

#8
Dennis McClendon

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What is the point of a booklet like this without CMYK formulae?
Dennis McClendon, Chicago CartoGraphics
chicagocarto.com

#9
Gretchen Peterson

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The booklet text states, "Next to the number codes are the HEX and RGB formulas for those colors. While there are many other color formula options, these are widely used formulas in GIS software and the Web. Programs that can convert between the various color systems are available online."

RGB to CMYK conversions are not always exact but the main aim of this book is to give GIS professionals new inspiration for various color combinations that they may want to try in their projects and the feedback I have received - including from some individuals who are already putting the palettes to use after only a day of purchase - is that it is working for them.

Those individuals who already have a well-honed sense of color and who are many years into cartographic bliss with CMYK will not need this booklet. Those who seek new combination inspirations (there is a great variety presented) will still find it helpful, even if they have to convert to CMYK for print purposes.

The Adobe system to convert from RGB to CMYK is widely used. I should also mention that anyone who wants a tremendous variety of colors to choose from, both in CMYK and RGB, in print form, should check out Jim Krause's Color Index and Color Index 2 books. These are not mapping specific books, however.

#10
David Medeiros

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I did read the information that came with the booklet on the color spaces chosen... I guess my question is since you have the room, why not include CMYK conversions (or nearest approximations)? It can only make the booklet more useful to cover the print color space as well with numbers that can be entered directly rather than having to convert.

I don't think output type breaks down neatly along the line between Arc and Adobe. People working in both GIS and graphic software can make use of either color space, and often do. In particular a lot of GIS output goes to print.

I disagree that predefined color schemes like this wouldn't be useful to a seasoned print cartographer. I bought it ;)

GIS Reference and Instruction Specialist, Stanford Geospatial Center.

 

www.mapbliss.com

 


#11
nonie3234

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Not to pile on, but our maps get printed on a four color press so we only use CMYK here, too.


I did read the information that came with the booklet on the color spaces chosen... I guess my question is since you have the room, why not include CMYK conversions (or nearest approximations)? It can only make the booklet more useful to cover the print color space as well with numbers that can be entered directly rather than having to convert.

I don't think output type breaks down neatly along the line between Arc and Adobe. People working in both GIS and graphic software can make use of either color space, and often do. In particular a lot of GIS output goes to print.

I disagree that predefined color schemes like this wouldn't be useful to a seasoned print cartographer. I bought it ;)



#12
sitesatlas

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What is the point of a booklet like this without CMYK formulae?


Sure, the booklet would be more useful if it had CMYK values -- there's definitely some valid criticism there. But to suggest that the booklet is worthless without CMYK is silly and unconstructive. A lot of us either work in RGB or use Illustrator and other software that converts to CMYK very easily.
Michael Borop
World Sites Atlas
http://www.sitesatlas.com

#13
Charles Syrett

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What is the point of a booklet like this without CMYK formulae?


Sure, the booklet would be more useful if it had CMYK values -- there's definitely some valid criticism there. But to suggest that the booklet is worthless without CMYK is silly and unconstructive. A lot of us either work in RGB or use Illustrator and other software that converts to CMYK very easily.


I wouldn't say that was "silly and unconstructive" -- I would assume it's an honest question. For me, I never even heard of RGB until the mid-90s, which was relatively late in my career. Certainly CMYK is far more intuitive and easy to work with than RGB. As for HEX, it's even worse -- a hex on it!! ;)

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

#14
sitesatlas

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I wouldn't say that was "silly and unconstructive" -- I would assume it's an honest question. For me, I never even heard of RGB until the mid-90s, which was relatively late in my career. Certainly CMYK is far more intuitive and easy to work with than RGB. As for HEX, it's even worse -- a hex on it!! ;)


Good point, maybe that's just the way it came off to me. One thing I value most about CartoTalk is the healthy nature of the criticism here and a constructive atmosphere that encourages people to participate.
Michael Borop
World Sites Atlas
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#15
Dennis McClendon

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Even the vast majority of GIS maps are printed on CMYK plotters, are they not?

To suggest that it's sufficient to let Illustrator or similar software "just convert" from RGB to CMYK shows a real misunderstanding of the significant differences between the possible gamuts:

Posted Image

It's only one step removed from going to the hardware store and getting some paint chips you like, then scanning and sampling them in Photoshop. I'm always greatly amused at the highly trained and well-paid graphic designer who, when asked about colors for a CMYK piece, gives me a couple of Pantone numbers!
Dennis McClendon, Chicago CartoGraphics
chicagocarto.com




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