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Experiment with a hand-drawn map

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#1
Hans van der Maarel

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I've volunteerd to do a map in support of the Haiti earthquake relief efforts. This is supposed to be a map that's going to be printed in a book, alongside hand-written letters. So with that aspect in mind, I decided to try and go for a hand-drawn (ballpoint pen to be exact) look.

Attached File  Haiti2.jpg   96.08KB   179 downloads

I set up the coastlines in Illustrator with MAPublisher, then rasterised that in Photoshop and manually traced them using a Wacom tablet. All other information was added using the tablet too.

Since there's 1300+ individual camps, I figured it wouldn't be meaningful to show all of them. Instead I've identified 6 major clusters of camps and just tallied up the numbers (# of camps and # of displaced households). Keeping in mind that I'm trying to emulate something a local aid worker would scribble on a piece of paper, I think this mor fitting than showing individual camps.

This is my first foray into hand-drawing a map for publication, so I'm looking forward to any comments you may have.

Edited by frax, 25 November 2010 - 03:27 AM.
Fixed the image attachment

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#2
Nick H

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Excellent. A simple snapshot taken at a point in time, so perhaps a date? I guess the people looking at the map will know the approximate number of persons per household.

Regards,
Nick.
Caversham, Reading, England.

#3
Hans van der Maarel

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Excellent. A simple snapshot taken at a point in time, so perhaps a date? I guess the people looking at the map will know the approximate number of persons per household.


Good point about the date, I'll add that.

As far as the # of people per household, all I got in terms of data was the # of displaced households per camp. I have no idea how that would relate to the number of people but supposedly the target audience has.
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#4
rudy

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Simple, very hand-drawn but I would have it in black as opposed to blue. Would make it a bit easier to read. Also - you wouldn't have to worry whether the book is being printed in black or colour.

#5
DMoore

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I love the simplicity of the map and the idea to get it to fit in with the rest of the book.

My eye gets a little confused by what's land and what's not. It's really only where the land mass in the northwest corner comes into the scene. Maybe it's just me though...

Excellent.
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#6
DaveB

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I can't open the map. I just get the red x and "Show picture" doesn't help.
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#7
Hans van der Maarel

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I can't open the map. I just get the red x and "Show picture" doesn't help.


How about this one?

Attached File  Haiti3.jpg   440.89KB   137 downloads

Added some hills on the island, so that should make it clear what's what. Also added a title with date.
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#8
DaveB

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That works.
Very sketchy map. ;)
I think it does what you want it to do, that is to look like a quick hand-sketched map that conveys some basic information. The hills help with the land vs. sea, I think.
Dave Barnes
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#9
David Medeiros

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A little too hand drawn IMO. The lines need a little more weight or depth. I'd like to see some definition between land and sea (a light texture to either would work). The mountains need more "mass" so to speak and should be tighter in some spots, laying in front of and behind other peaks.

I did something sort of similar a while back for a short novel (never published). I used a mountain symbol set I got online where the mountains are a text object with three types and I laid them so that some appeared to be receding and others in front for depth. For semi hand drawn (but still smooth looking shore lines) I used the calligraphy pen to drawn in my shore lines. The varying thickness of the pen gives the line a natural look. I also allowed the line to break open in spots to represent a lifting and resetting of the "pen".

Using the calligraphy pen but still using it with splines gives smooth bezier curves overall but allows the cartographer to force naturalistic looking changes in the line that give the impression of hand drawn work. Using the pen and tablet to me forces too much of an actual hand drawn look and makes getting smooth curves where wanted very difficult.

See example here.

Edited to add: I missed the fact that the book will print hand-written letters. I see what your trying to do now and it does work very well for that. My example would be too smooth and generalized but I still think you could move your map a little in that direction and not loose the realism you're going for.

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#10
Teeds

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Interesting, but I have to agree that a change in line weight or two would improve the readability of the map.

It is easy enough for me to infer the location of land vs water, but beefing up the line would help a bit for the casual observer or untrained eye. This can be accomplished by simply tracing the coastline again. I often retrace lines when I am doodling in order to create a sense of emphasis.

I need to explore getting a tablet for my desktop when I get it's guts rebuilt. Thanks for including the steps of your process.
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#11
Christina Z.

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What if you drew some small waves into the sea area? Just some scattered around would make the "that's water" distinction pretty clear but still maintain the sketchy aspect, I think.

Otherwise, I like it. Do you use a tablet often for your maps? I've been kicking around the idea of getting one but wasn't sure how useful it would be.

#12
DanM

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Nice Hans, I like the idea and have been playing around with some hand-drawing as well recently.

The only comment I'd add is that some of the type is kind of difficult to read (numbers) if it's suppose to be legible enough for clarity. I'm also having some trouble distinguishing land from water still--maybe varying the stroke widths some would help with this?

Out of curiosity I quickly drew this in Illustrator to play around with some of the ideas listed above for hand drawing--I might as well share it since I took the time to make it :D .


Attached File  island_sketch.jpg   653.88KB   104 downloads

#13
Hans van der Maarel

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The only comment I'd add is that some of the type is kind of difficult to read (numbers) if it's suppose to be legible enough for clarity.


Yeah, that's my concern as well. Handwriting on the tablet is quite difficult, at least for me at this moment, I'm sure it could improve with excercise and experience. I've been considering using a handwriting-like font, there's a few freeware fonts used for comic lettering, those might be suitable. But then it'd look too consistent... Another thing I've considered is actually handwriting it on paper and scanning it.
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#14
Nick H

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It's just fine as it is; a page from an aid-workers notebook saying that on this date the number and distribution of displaced families was roughly as shown on the map.

Added later: looking at your comment in another thread, content *is* more important that style.

Regards, N.
Caversham, Reading, England.

#15
Gretchen Peterson

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I think it is a great idea. I second the thought that the lines need more weight, even on hand-drawn maps the lines need to look as if they were drawn by a steady hand. In landscape architecture classes we had to practice these steady-hand lines over and over again in drafting classes. You wanted to aim for a consistent line thickness even at the very beginning and very end of the line (hard to do as the pen tends to add more ink at the beginning and end and the pencil tends to be light at the beginning and end.)

My BIG concern for you, before you go any further with this, is to ask the publisher what they will accept. I really wanted to have hand-drawn sketch-maps in my book and I spent a heck of a lot of time making some. In the end my publisher would not accept anything hand-drawn at all. Your mileage may vary though, especially given the fact that they are publishing hand-written notes. So just ask first - before you spend the time. I hope you do get to go through with it as it is a great concept.




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