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#1
Amy Smith

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Here's a general map I made of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. I would love to hear what you think!

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#2
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Amy, Very nice map. I like the muted colors. Its also composted well, and easy on the eyes.
I wonder who is the audience? If it was general, then I would add county lines and labels, and some geoname indications (Vaca mtns, coastal mts, mt diablo, sierra nevada).
If it is environmental, I would want to see more definition of the Yolo Bypass and delta wetlands.
If its resource related, show protected areas, delta water pumps, etc.

I know stakeholders are always looking for updated and attractive wall maps of this area.

Hope this helps!

Chris

#3
David Medeiros

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I'm not sure what stage this map is supposed to be in, but if final it needs a bit more work. You are missing several major highways: 880, 92 & 13 near the bay; 505 north of Vacaville and Hwy. 50 through Sacramento. You have the line work for all of these but they are missing their shields and and the line styles are set to a lower class. In fact the road layer overall looks very haphazardly styled, you need to do significant research in assigning the road classes, making the correct connections beyond looking at the attributes in the road layer. Similarly I only see a handful of road names on some very tertiary roads. You've missed naming a whole bunch of more important 3rd class or county roads.

Stylistically it looks like your road lines are set to some transparency and possibly using a 'multiply' or 'overlay' transparency style so they change color and saturation slightly as they pass over other art.

Water features are not uniformly styled or labelled.

Labeling in general is thin and inconsistent.

The numbers for the Hwy shields are not sized properly for their symbols and appear to arc, could be thicker type style and should be straight across.

I like the overall attempt at a subtle, subdued style. I think you are headed in the right direction with that but the map content needs a lot more work. More consistent and deliberate use of styles, more generalization. Better, more complete labeling. More attention needs to be paid to the visual hierarchy. I like the move to push elements to the back but I think you may have moved everything to the same lower level, there needs to be more separation between feature classes.

Sorry for the blunt reply, take with requisite grain of salt! :)

GIS Reference and Instruction Specialist, Stanford Geospatial Center.

 

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#4
Amy Smith

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Amy, Very nice map. I like the muted colors. Its also composted well, and easy on the eyes.
I wonder who is the audience? If it was general, then I would add county lines and labels, and some geoname indications (Vaca mtns, coastal mts, mt diablo, sierra nevada).
If it is environmental, I would want to see more definition of the Yolo Bypass and delta wetlands.
If its resource related, show protected areas, delta water pumps, etc.

I know stakeholders are always looking for updated and attractive wall maps of this area.

Hope this helps!

Chris


Thanks, Chris! Your comments about the audience are very helpful. Maybe I'll make a series of these for various purposes. Do you work much with this area?

-Amy

#5
Amy Smith

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I'm not sure what stage this map is supposed to be in, but if final it needs a bit more work. You are missing several major highways: 880, 92 & 13 near the bay; 505 north of Vacaville and Hwy. 50 through Sacramento. You have the line work for all of these but they are missing their shields and and the line styles are set to a lower class. In fact the road layer overall looks very haphazardly styled, you need to do significant research in assigning the road classes, making the correct connections beyond looking at the attributes in the road layer. Similarly I only see a handful of road names on some very tertiary roads. You've missed naming a whole bunch of more important 3rd class or county roads.

Stylistically it looks like your road lines are set to some transparency and possibly using a 'multiply' or 'overlay' transparency style so they change color and saturation slightly as they pass over other art.


Hi David,

First of all, I'm totally flattered that you took the time to respond in such detail to my map. I wasn't expecting to get such pro advice! I guess I have some unconventional practices with mapping, such as the blends I used. I enjoy the change in saturation where layers overlap. Because I wasn't making this map for a client, I took a bit more creative freedom than I normally would. For the road classes, I used a variety of example maps of the Delta to decide on which roads to include and emphasize. I was using free data from the California Department of Transportation, and had a difficult time understanding the organization of the layer attributes. That's perhaps why things seem so haphazard. I can see I need to learn more about working with roads, both in GIS and graphically.

Water features are not uniformly styled or labelled.


The only thing that changed with the water labels from feature to feature was the color and size of the font. The color was based on the type of feature (for the most part, lake or channel). If the color didn't work well with the feature, I changed it. I thought it would be better to work with features individually while labeling them. My line of thinking was that features are all different, so why can't the labeling adapt to best suit them, while still maintaining some consistency? From your comment (which is well taken!) I gain that there wasn't quite enough consistency.

Labeling in general is thin and inconsistent.


Noted! I see that you have some labeling information on your website. I'll check that out. :) By "thin", do you mean the weight of the font, or the density of labels (or both / neither)?

The numbers for the Hwy shields are not sized properly for their symbols and appear to arc, could be thicker type style and should be straight across.


Yeah, maybe I got too excited customizing the Hwy shields. Corbel probably isn't the best font for those.

I like the overall attempt at a subtle, subdued style. I think you are headed in the right direction with that but the map content needs a lot more work. More consistent and deliberate use of styles, more generalization. Better, more complete labeling. More attention needs to be paid to the visual hierarchy. I like the move to push elements to the back but I think you may have moved everything to the same lower level, there needs to be more separation between feature classes.


Thanks! I was slightly worried that the subtlety of the map might work against it. In print it came out much bolder. The visual hierarchy issues might be related to Chris' comment about the map audience. I didn't have anyone specific that I was catering to.

Sorry for the blunt reply, take with requisite grain of salt! :)


Aside from the brief public humiliation, I think your reply is very constructive. I appreciate the time you spent assessing my work!

-Amy

#6
David Medeiros

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I'm not sure what stage this map is supposed to be in, but if final it needs a bit more work. You are missing several major highways: 880, 92 & 13 near the bay; 505 north of Vacaville and Hwy. 50 through Sacramento. You have the line work for all of these but they are missing their shields and and the line styles are set to a lower class. In fact the road layer overall looks very haphazardly styled, you need to do significant research in assigning the road classes, making the correct connections beyond looking at the attributes in the road layer. Similarly I only see a handful of road names on some very tertiary roads. You've missed naming a whole bunch of more important 3rd class or county roads.

Stylistically it looks like your road lines are set to some transparency and possibly using a 'multiply' or 'overlay' transparency style so they change color and saturation slightly as they pass over other art.


Hi David,

First of all, I'm totally flattered that you took the time to respond in such detail to my map. I wasn't expecting to get such pro advice! I guess I have some unconventional practices with mapping, such as the blends I used. I enjoy the change in saturation where layers overlap. Because I wasn't making this map for a client, I took a bit more creative freedom than I normally would. For the road classes, I used a variety of example maps of the Delta to decide on which roads to include and emphasize. I was using free data from the California Department of Transportation, and had a difficult time understanding the organization of the layer attributes. That's perhaps why things seem so haphazard. I can see I need to learn more about working with roads, both in GIS and graphically.

Water features are not uniformly styled or labelled.


The only thing that changed with the water labels from feature to feature was the color and size of the font. The color was based on the type of feature (for the most part, lake or channel). If the color didn't work well with the feature, I changed it. I thought it would be better to work with features individually while labeling them. My line of thinking was that features are all different, so why can't the labeling adapt to best suit them, while still maintaining some consistency? From your comment (which is well taken!) I gain that there wasn't quite enough consistency.

Labeling in general is thin and inconsistent.


Noted! I see that you have some labeling information on your website. I'll check that out. :) By "thin", do you mean the weight of the font, or the density of labels (or both / neither)?

The numbers for the Hwy shields are not sized properly for their symbols and appear to arc, could be thicker type style and should be straight across.


Yeah, maybe I got too excited customizing the Hwy shields. Corbel probably isn't the best font for those.

I like the overall attempt at a subtle, subdued style. I think you are headed in the right direction with that but the map content needs a lot more work. More consistent and deliberate use of styles, more generalization. Better, more complete labeling. More attention needs to be paid to the visual hierarchy. I like the move to push elements to the back but I think you may have moved everything to the same lower level, there needs to be more separation between feature classes.


Thanks! I was slightly worried that the subtlety of the map might work against it. In print it came out much bolder. The visual hierarchy issues might be related to Chris' comment about the map audience. I didn't have anyone specific that I was catering to.

Sorry for the blunt reply, take with requisite grain of salt! :)


Aside from the brief public humiliation, I think your reply is very constructive. I appreciate the time you spent assessing my work!

-Amy



If I'm a "pro" then we're in trouble! :D I think I'm more of a semi accomplished hobbyist.

I hope I didn't really humiliate you, it's hard to critique and not sound... negative. Critiquing others work is, for me, an exercise in self evaluation as much as sharing knowledge. Sometimes it's hard to know what you think or know about a subject until you spend sometime looking at others work. Thinking critically about a map, any map, is a learning process and if you make yourself write those thoughts down and post them back to the author it really forces you to think about what you are looking at. And of course these should always be thought of as opinions, not rules.

Your map jumped out at me mostly because I'm local to the area and worked on street maps of these locations for years at AAA. That probably influences my expectation of what I want to see in a map of the area. My primary concern is probably related the the same question Chris had which was, who is the audience? I think the trouble we see with the hierarchy etc. comes from the fact that you were not focusing the map to a particular reader. And that's fine, if it becomes a base for a certain subject or user the transition in hierarchy will become obvious. A uniformly subdued map is far better than one that says everything on it is important.

As for roads. Base data is always a mess and it takes a lot of research to get the right names, classes and alignments for a map like this. A single road layer on a properly finished map will often have come from many different sources, all of which need to be treated with suspicion until you actually drive the road! ;)

GIS Reference and Instruction Specialist, Stanford Geospatial Center.

 

www.mapbliss.com

 


#7
BioGeoMan

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Hi Amy,

A couple of notes:
  • Perhaps making use of different font styles would help differentiate what elements are being labeled on the map. I am finding that between roads, rivers, parcels, etc. it is difficult to discern between them because of similar fonts being used. Think as if you were completing this map in B&W...could the reader still understand what is being labeled and where?
  • The "Sacramento River Deep...." has a road line running through it. Maybe placing it on the NW side of the channel would work better
  • I am not a fan of rotating road shields to be parallel with roads, but that is your call.
  • Not sure what the purpose of the map is, but your logo is a bit big unless it is strictly for portfolio/marketing purposes.
  • The linework on some of the creeks is a bit intermittent and spotty. Maybe you should spend some time researching your data to see why this is. Is the stream data only showing perrennial sections of the streams? There are quite a few "stream fragments" that are orphaned.
  • Sacramento River annotation is overlapping the river
  • I agree with a past comment that your hydrology symbology doesn't match. It seems your major hydro data is darker than you minor hydro data, which is strange because the bay in the lower left is light in color, but a major water body
  • Overall, I like the style and colors. However, there is significant work that needs to be done to the linework, especially the hydro and attention needs to be paid to style and placement of annotation. It seems that the basedata was exported from ArcGIS without much processing in your graphics program.

Thanks for posting!

Michael Scisco

BioGeoCreations
Albuquerque, NM

505-603-3636
biogeocreations.com


#8
David Medeiros

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[*]The linework on some of the creeks is a bit intermittent and spotty. Maybe you should spend some time researching your data to see why this is. Is the stream data only showing perrennial sections of the streams? There are quite a few "stream fragments" that are orphaned.


The hydro system for the delta has a lot of man made connectors of various types which can get lost when selecting lines to display from the GIS data. From looking at the map again it may be that the hydro layer used is just the NHD area and not the flowline data? Depending on which NHD data are used you can end up with missing segments a well.

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#9
Dennis McClendon

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I think the East Bay is studded with dozens of large regional parks and open space preserves in county ownership that you don't show.
Dennis McClendon, Chicago CartoGraphics
chicagocarto.com

#10
Amy Smith

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If I'm a "pro" then we're in trouble! :D I think I'm more of a semi accomplished hobbyist.

I hope I didn't really humiliate you, it's hard to critique and not sound... negative. Critiquing others work is, for me, an exercise in self evaluation as much as sharing knowledge. Sometimes it's hard to know what you think or know about a subject until you spend sometime looking at others work. Thinking critically about a map, any map, is a learning process and if you make yourself write those thoughts down and post them back to the author it really forces you to think about what you are looking at. And of course these should always be thought of as opinions, not rules.


It was a fleeting humiliation. :D I put my work up on this forum knowing that I would get a critical response from people who have much more experience than I do. I truly appreciate the critique. The learning experience is a humbling one.

Your map jumped out at me mostly because I'm local to the area and worked on street maps of these locations for years at AAA. That probably influences my expectation of what I want to see in a map of the area. My primary concern is probably related the the same question Chris had which was, who is the audience? I think the trouble we see with the hierarchy etc. comes from the fact that you were not focusing the map to a particular reader. And that's fine, if it becomes a base for a certain subject or user the transition in hierarchy will become obvious. A uniformly subdued map is far better than one that says everything on it is important.

As for roads. Base data is always a mess and it takes a lot of research to get the right names, classes and alignments for a map like this. A single road layer on a properly finished map will often have come from many different sources, all of which need to be treated with suspicion until you actually drive the road! ;)


I made the map to distribute at the CalGIS conference, as a sort of extended business card. I knew that a lot of folks attending the conference work on Delta issues. I have to say I'm more familiar with the water features than the roads at this point. It's these sorts of comments that will help me make this map stronger. Thanks!

-Amy

#11
Amy Smith

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I think the East Bay is studded with dozens of large regional parks and open space preserves in county ownership that you don't show.


Thanks for the input, Dennis. Do you know of any freely available park and preserve data for this area, or am I pretty much on my own?

-Amy

#12
Amy Smith

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Hi Amy,

A couple of notes:

  • Perhaps making use of different font styles would help differentiate what elements are being labeled on the map. I am finding that between roads, rivers, parcels, etc. it is difficult to discern between them because of similar fonts being used. Think as if you were completing this map in B&W...could the reader still understand what is being labeled and where?
  • The "Sacramento River Deep...." has a road line running through it. Maybe placing it on the NW side of the channel would work better
  • I am not a fan of rotating road shields to be parallel with roads, but that is your call.
  • Not sure what the purpose of the map is, but your logo is a bit big unless it is strictly for portfolio/marketing purposes.
  • The linework on some of the creeks is a bit intermittent and spotty. Maybe you should spend some time researching your data to see why this is. Is the stream data only showing perrennial sections of the streams? There are quite a few "stream fragments" that are orphaned.
  • Sacramento River annotation is overlapping the river
  • I agree with a past comment that your hydrology symbology doesn't match. It seems your major hydro data is darker than you minor hydro data, which is strange because the bay in the lower left is light in color, but a major water body
  • Overall, I like the style and colors. However, there is significant work that needs to be done to the linework, especially the hydro and attention needs to be paid to style and placement of annotation. It seems that the basedata was exported from ArcGIS without much processing in your graphics program.

Thanks for posting!


Thanks for your comments, BioGeoMan!

I'll look into my hydro data further. The data come from the California Spatial Information Library. According to the metadata, the features were digitized from USGS topo maps. I'm downloading some of those maps now to see which features I may be missing.

What exactly do you mean by the linework of the hydro data? I spent a lot of time in Illustrator working on the various map layers, but I can't say that I did much to the lines themselves, other than alter the color and transparency. What sorts of things would you recommend?

Amy

#13
James Hines

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I like the visual appeal of this map, easy going on the eyes, & no attempt to over complicate the product by adding too much information. There are problems with it that can be fixed to make this map better such as the scale bar with italic text and almost as dominate to elements for eg. why is scale text in the surround more dominant then parks?

And I have noticed that some cartographers tend to use different shades of cyan to represent water features. For example open water or water connected to the ocean is a different colour then lakes. Also I have noticed that there are no shorelines/coastlines. Is there a reason to this, perhaps it's more of a pain in the neck to create line features especially based on your license with ESRI?

One thing that interests me with this project is the fact that I have been studying up on database design & reading on hydrology. I wonder are you taking this project further then just making a map & creating a geodatabase either using Access, SQL server, or Oracle? Using relationship columns for eg creating a field called "WaterID" in such a way like matching water flow features with another drawing which contain waterbodies. What about watersheds using a DEM, for GIS analysis?

"There is much beauty that we fail to see through our own eyes teeming with life forms that give us that perception of our reality.  Leaves on the trees blowing gently in the wind, or scarily, the waves pounding through high surf, or lightly on a warm summer’s day; that opportunity to sit or swim in the water on a white beach.   That comfort to shout, “The universal conscious do you hear me?  I am alive, guide me dear logos towards the path of rightnesses.”  Earned what has been kept, no longer to be absorbed into a life filled with cold damn winds and  that stubborn fog clouding  my vision with nothing but darkness."


#14
Amy Smith

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I like the visual appeal of this map, easy going on the eyes, & no attempt to over complicate the product by adding too much information. There are problems with it that can be fixed to make this map better such as the scale bar with italic text and almost as dominate to elements for eg. why is scale text in the surround more dominant then parks?

And I have noticed that some cartographers tend to use different shades of cyan to represent water features. For example open water or water connected to the ocean is a different colour then lakes. Also I have noticed that there are no shorelines/coastlines. Is there a reason to this, perhaps it's more of a pain in the neck to create line features especially based on your license with ESRI?

One thing that interests me with this project is the fact that I have been studying up on database design & reading on hydrology. I wonder are you taking this project further then just making a map & creating a geodatabase either using Access, SQL server, or Oracle? Using relationship columns for eg creating a field called "WaterID" in such a way like matching water flow features with another drawing which contain waterbodies. What about watersheds using a DEM, for GIS analysis?


Thanks, Hasdrubal. I'm happy you made the comments about the scale bar text and shades for water features. I'll probably work those into my edits*.

I have likewise been researching database design and hydrology. I've been thinking about creating a Delta geodatabase, and maybe a base map for web services related to research going on in that region (there's a lot of it at the moment). I don't have an ArcGIS Server license, so I'm looking into ways I could do this using open source GIS. I'm also doing this totally on my own time, so it's a bit of a slow process. Your thoughts are encouraging!

- Amy

* I've been editing the map and saving it with the same name and location. The link to my map at the beginning of the thread will reflect those changes.

#15
Agnar Renolen

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I see you are using a font which have text figures, that is, numbers that both have descenders and ascenders. The purpose of these is partly to prevent the numbers to stand out too much in running text, compared to numbers written with lining figures.

Personally, I find text figure less suitable for cartography - a map doesn't have running text, although in some cases, they may provide some character to a map. However, on number shields, they are unsuitable in my opinion.




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