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Urban Vector Map Design

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#1
Derek Tonn

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I thought I would FINALLY put some work out there for people to look and and pick-apart from our own design team, so I am providing a .pdf link to an interesting recent vector graphic that one of our designers, David Burley, created in Corel Draw 12. The link to that .pdf file is: Downtown Minneapolis (1.7mb)

There are no text labels on the piece as of yet, as it was designed as a "generic" base map that can be used for a wide variety of custom applications (with the "gray box" in the upper left corner being reserved for client info....logos, etc.).

I'd love to hear any feedback people are willing to share! This is a "static" image, but we are also planning to develop 360-degree mapping applications similar to this one in the months to come.

Thanks in advance for your feedback! Sorry for the BIG .pdf file size.

Derek Tonn
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mapformation, LLC

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#2
Matthew Hampton

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It's very detailed and I don't think 1.7mb is that large given the number of vectors.

I am wondering if there is a back-end to this (like a massing model in Sketch-Up) that makes it easy to rotate/pan so you can customize the view. It would seem like an awful lot of work to customize different views for different clients based on their different location in the city otherwise.

Maybe a little too detailed given the scale.

co-cartographic creator of boringmaps.com


#3
Hans van der Maarel

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Very detailed indeed, but very impressive. Could you give us an indication as to how much time went into this one?
Hans van der Maarel - Cartotalk Editor
Red Geographics
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#4
Derek Tonn

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Matthew,

No "back-end" in this one, although we are aggressively getting into the "Sketchup" business (as of just this week, actually). This was essentially a project for a client in the foreground (from this SW to NE perspective) but created in such a way where numerous property owners in downtown Minneapolis could make use of the graphic as well. It is meant as more of a "showpiece" or "what if" idea generator for illustrating our vector design skills....and a very congested urban core was an excellent method for us to showcase exactly what is possible via Corel Draw/Illustrator/Freehand.

Hans,

Related to the time question, it depends if we include field work or strict drawing time. "Drawing time" will typically equal about 45-60 minutes per building for us....but we put more emphasis into detail in the foreground, with lesser detail as you move further back into the graphic. Still, we are looking at about a 350-400+ hour design project here, given the level of detail found throughout the graphic.

It's one of those jobs where I lose money on the individual project, but more than make that money back in sales of other projects using that design as a portfolio piece. I usually embark on 2-3 of those types of jobs every year....taking a "hit" in the current year for future year's sales.

One other thought: Our intention with the piece is also that people could elect to simply use small sections of the overall piece as well....focusing in on a 4-6 block area instead of the entire downtown. You could, for example, take a 2" x 2" or 3" x 3" section of the map and enlarge it to 8.5" x 11" and beyond, and the graphical quality would remain very high! We also try and do this with most of our campus mapping projects....drawing details at 3000-6000+ percent magnification so that people could print their graphics as a billboard along the highway and have them still look very good in fine detail.

Thanks for the initial feedback!
Derek Tonn
Founder and CEO
mapformation, LLC

datonn@mapformation.com
http://www.mapformation.com

#5
Nick Springer

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I will echo the impressed sentiment of the other posters here. This is an incredible piece of work.

My design comments is that the detail with in each building is very high but the high-contrast of the line work is distracting. I would suggest bringing down the value of the internal line work on each building and keeping a solid black outline around the building's overall mass-shape (if that's a term).

We did this on our Philadelphia map.
Attached File  philly.jpg   147.87KB   361 downloads

Nick Springer

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Owner: Springer Cartographics LLC


#6
Mike H

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derek - that is an awesome piece of work. I will zoom about this for a while tonite....

m.
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#7
Derek Tonn

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Nick,

Thanks for the idea related to line work. One of the challenges with obviously having so many thousands of objects is having the image be over-powered by the line work. We originally used a 0.216 pt line width for all of the objects, but that was WAY too distracting when viewing the piece at small scales. Consequently, we shifted to a 0.1 pt line width....which helped a LOT (what you are seeing currently). We may even bump that down to 0.05 pt as well...as it draws more attention to building colors/features and less to the lines themselves.

The nice thing with this piece is that it is still a "work in progress", per se. The initial client was very happy with the final results, but we are still modifying the graphic for various "custom" applications. What I'll be interested to see is whether we can draw at this level of detail in SketchUp without grinding the .avi/.mov/swf/.skp animations to a halt! You can have a beautiful, detailed 360-degree tour, but if it takes forever to download and display, it isn't very useful IMHO.

I always groan after talking to folks at Corel (and occasionally Adobe), as one of my primary "wants" that I am always asking for in new software releases is improved sizing and compression technologies that will result in the smallest file output sizes possible! The answer I generally receive is "um....we aren't really working on that.", and when I ask why, the answer I get is that computers and internet connection speeds are getting faster all the time, so it is a moot point. Tell that to a prospective student on dial-up waiting 15 minutes for a gi-normous .avi or .mov file though........ ;)
Derek Tonn
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mapformation, LLC

datonn@mapformation.com
http://www.mapformation.com

#8
Nick Springer

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To be clear, I was refering to line color more than thickness.

Nick Springer

Director of Design and Web Applications: ALK Technologies Inc.
Owner: Springer Cartographics LLC


#9
Matthew Hampton

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one of my primary "wants" that I am always asking for in new software releases is improved sizing and compression technologies that will result in the smallest file output sizes possible!


That is a big desire of mine too, esp. for vector maps.

At the NACIS meeting in Salt Lake I approached an Adobe guy with that exact request. It was framed as an enhancement to Acrobat whereby you could adjust the vector simplification (smoothing/simplifying) of a file when saving a PDF. He liked the idea a lot and "said" he'd try to see what he could do.

I hope that simplying/generalizing (on a document level) while maintaining topology will be coming soon.

co-cartographic creator of boringmaps.com


#10
Derek Tonn

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To be clear, I was refering to line color more than thickness.


Aah, I guess I misunderstood what you meant by "bringing down the value". Line width is one that we deal with all the time, as hairline (or greater) line widths on very detailed drawing tend to turn those images to mud when reduced down to 800 pixels or below (even with proportional scaling). I agree though that using "softer" line colors (more in line with the facade colors of each building) would be a nice touch. Thanks for the suggestion! B)

I gotta have a little party tonight, because we just had a collegiate job go final after nine (NINE!) rounds of revisions! There weren't many/any errors on the graphic we created....just lots of different departments offering lots of different opinions and ideas. I love that though, as the finished images are always stronger in the end. It's just the extra few-week delay in wrapping up a project and getting paid that I could do without... ;)
Derek Tonn
Founder and CEO
mapformation, LLC

datonn@mapformation.com
http://www.mapformation.com

#11
BurleyMan24Seven

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This was a great project. My goal was simply to have fun and see just how far I could push the software. Even now, years later, people are shocked when I show them my portfolio and tell them that I drew this illustration with CorelDraw. :unsure:




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