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Sierra Nevada Ecoregion Map

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#1
snowgage

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Hi all. I've been whittling away at this project for a while. This map is intended to show the generalized ecoregion of the Sierra Nevada. Land ownership designations are important as are political boundaries and natural features. Intended audience could range from .org conservationists to government to general public. There is a lot of labeling going on and I hope I was able to strike a harmonious balance between everything.

Thanks for taking a look!

-josh

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#2
Dennis McClendon

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Looks nice overall. Nitpicks:

Sierra Nevada Mountains seems redundant to this old copy editor.

Way too many text effects on the town and county labels. They don't need outlines or halos. And "Anyone who would letterspace lower case would steal sheep." The town names should have normal letterspacing so they cluster close to the dot. The county names should be uppercase so they can be letterspaced across a large area, and can be light yellow/tan so they don't need halos. A case like San Francisco is where your own local knowledge should overrule a simplistic database. It is the Combined City-County of San Francisco; one label will suffice. Same with Carson City.

On the other hand, all-caps river labels seem very odd.

Why is BuRec's color so much brighter than the others? I generally think that similar phenomena should have similar color brightness and saturation.

The lat-long lines seem overly prominent. It's doubtful that they're important to the readers.

The white centers on the Interstate shields make them pop out too much. You could make them look like actual Interstate shields, with white numbers on a blue ground, and a red crest.

Klamath Mountains label collides with Trinity County label.
Dennis McClendon, Chicago CartoGraphics
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#3
natcase

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It's a good start, but Dennis has pointed to some design choices that could use some work. I'll second what he said, and expand on some of his points.

Actually, there are a number of collisions between mountain and city type.

I'd make the city type smaller and not reversed out—you want symbol types to be more distinct. Given your saturated land-ownership colors, you're probably right to reverse park and forst labels out of them... they may not need the halo. Consider a bolder weight instead to make them distinct. If they still aren't reading right, adjust the kerning SLIGHTLY (despite what Dennis says :) )—I find reversed out type needs a little more kerning, like 10% tracking, to read the same as positive type of the same size and weight.

Is this actually land OWNERSHIP, or administration? Usually, at least out here in Minnesota, National Forests have significant private inholdings. Maybe in California it's different.

Consider whether you want to show Interstate highways different from ofther freeways, and also if an additional level of major non-freeway roads would be useful.

I think the county lines should be more texturally different from other lines; like some of the land ownership shapes, they denote a jurisdiction rather than a route. The highway line should be somehow different enough to make this clear... not sure what would work best, but I'd start with a much lighter tint but heavier weight line. Also, the color of the ecosystem border whould be different from the highway line.

I'm not sure about treating the ecosystem border as a dashed line. It still denotes a hard line, and ecosystems are fuzzily bounded. I'd look at options that involve vignetting/ghosting, blurring, or otherwise suggesting rather than delineating the boundary. Using such a generalized shape with a hard-ish line ends up looking like incompatible scales of generalization, if that makes sense.

Nat Case
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maphead.blogspot.com



#4
Hans van der Maarel

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In addition to the comments already made by Dennis and Nat.

I'd take a very good look at your labelling. You say you want to strike a balance, but I don't really see it. Aside from the numerous overlapping labels (which really should not have to happen) I think the city labels are way too big for their point symbols, and their placement could be much improved as well (Sacramento!). Placement of the county names is far from optimal too.

Some specific remarks:
  • Why is the Mono Lake label at an angle? And why is it not in the same style as Lake Tahoe?
  • Owens Lake (south of Lone Pine) is, as far as I could figure out, mainly a dry lake. There's some surface water there, but not nearly as much as you're showing

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#5
M.Denil

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A lot of good advice here, but some I would take with a bit of salt. No more than a handful. Here are a few remarks of my own.

Dennis is right about the graticule, but he doesn’t go far enough: there are simply not enough lines shown to even bother with it, yet it is a prominent drop out line with huge heavily outlined labels somewhere near the ends. Use fine lines (show at least two of each kind: probably more), and break the lines to accommodate the (small) labels in line.

I would also echo Dennis on the all caps river names: they should be mixed case, serifed faced, italic, letter-spaced appropriately, and CURVED.

Fred Goudy's attempt at a bon-mot about sheep stealing is very well known (albeit more often in quotation than in the original), but its popularity as an aphorism is far out of proportion to its value in map typography. In fact, the Englishman Eric Gill, who was just as prolific and respected as the American Goudy, strongly recommended and promoted letter spaced lowercase type over italic for emphasis in body text. A bit extreme for most folks' taste, perhaps, but Imhof hasn't a problem with letter spaced lower case per-se, and if-in its ho-kay wit Eduard I., by gum...

Generally, there is a lot of problem with the symbol and labeling hierarchy. The towns should be very small black dots or squares, with the names well associated and curved where appropriate. The county names should lose the halos so they can visually hover in and out of notice. Letter space and curve where needed: don’t paste the name across the shore or county line (the San Bernardino county name, for instance, is balanced on the county line).

The mountains and other natural features could use the same serifed type face as I suggest for the rivers, albeit in roman. Adding coherent variety (explicitly: adding a serif face) to the typography would give a lot more options without resort to effects. You could use the serif type for the various parks, too, and you should definitely drop the annoying “N.F.”s, “N.P”s, and “N.M”s scattered everywhere. You can spell out the repeating words (National Forest, etc) in a smaller type size well associated with the name. Save the abbreviation for where you absolutely need it.

An appropriate aphorism is one used in boat building: “Nail where you can, screw where you must, and bolt where you have to”.

Why are there heavy lines around the color patches in the legend? As well, the legend need more space around it: get rid of the fancy floating box with the drop shadow and use that space to make a simple, flat panel to hold the legend and the scale bar (and an RF? and the projection? and a date (ownership changes, if nothing else)). ..oh, and some intermediate tics on that scale bar….

Mark Denil
National Ice Center

#6
DaveB

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I like the title font. Maybe you could use that as your serif font in the map.

The legend really stands out to me and the style doesn't fit the rest of the map. It's this big bright thing floating above the rest of the map pulling my eyes to it. The scale bar almost seems like an afterthought.

I'm thinking you should drop the roads altogether. They're not going to help anyone navigate and I don't think they really help to bring out the theme of the map or add useful information. (I may be nitpicking because I've spent more time driving on the east side of the Sierras and you don't show any roads there)

Seems like there are a number of big blue lakes, especially on the east side, that are probably mostly dry.

What are Oregon/California Lands?
Dave Barnes
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#7
snowgage

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These comments have been extremely helpful. After looking at a project for a while I eventually cannot see some of the things that need to be changed.

I've put a good deal of work into changing the fonts and re-balancing everything. There is still some work to do but I think its coming along.

Here's some info about the OC lands

http://www.blm.gov/o...s/OChistory.htm

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#8
Dennis McClendon

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Looking much better, but lose the halos behind the city names.

I would redeploy BuRec yellow as a good color for (very thin) county lines and county labels. Use a darker ocher or something for BuRec.

Try extremely short dashes with rounded ends for the ecoregion boundary, like the top example shown here:

Posted Image

Sometimes for a map like this I like to divide my information into natural and cultural categories. So I might use white and light yellow only for political boundaries and names, and retain black and dark colors for natural landscape features. This helps to reinforce the idea that the landscape came first, and humans have artificially imposed boundaries and settlements on it. For mountain range names, perhaps a 20% gray would keep them readable without putting them in the wrong "category."
Dennis McClendon, Chicago CartoGraphics
chicagocarto.com

#9
natcase

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The serif type on the public lands isn't working for me, partly because the smaller examples are likely to fill in, partly because that ownership is more akin to the counties and cities—named human property—rather than physical features.

I do think the counties and roads are looking a lot more appropriately emphasized. However, the county text is now disappearing into the relief. One possibility you might try is to set the transparency of that type to "darken" or "multiply." Or find a darker and contrasting hue to put counties labels and lines in. Or make the relief lighter.

And I still think the towns are overemphasized. You shouldn't need the haloing.

And Mark's right about the salt. One shaker should do it.

Nat Case
INCase, LLC

Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
maphead.blogspot.com



#10
MapMedia

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Really good map. I think you are almost there...whatever your end goal is (report, outreach, etc).
I used to make umpteen maps of the Sierra ecoregion when I was Wildlands coordinator for the Ca. Wilderness Coalition, so I feel your pain :)

I would scale back all labels and detail outside of focus area so you, as the mapmaker, have better focus on the important stuff. A map of the SN ecoregion should have all of the major rivers labeled (i.e. American, Yuba for starters).

I sense you are using this basemap for other SN ecoregion maps? This one is 'Land Ownership', others may be 'Landcover' etc.?

As for land ownership, you may try using more typical US color scheme (i..e pale green for USFS, darker green for NPS, etc.)

And please put Davis, CA on the map, and some smaller foothill towns (Angel's Camp).

Great work and thanks for sharing

#11
kkraz

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Nice map, thanks for posting.

Just a critique from a bi0logical, geologic perspective. I believe you have extended the northern boundary of the ecoregion too far. Most of the maps I've seen of the Sierran Nevada Ecoregion have a northern extent of either Lassen National Forest or Plumas National Forest (I've seen both). Soil parent material changes from the granitic Sierran Batholith to Volcanics north of Plumas NF, which is why I believe the northern boundary usually ends there.

See these maps to check your extent:

http://landcovertren...eco5Report.html

http://www.fs.fed.us...duction_map.htm

Cheers,

Kraz




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