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ArcGIS (Geospatial Analysis) to Adobe (Cartographic Design)

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#1
Matthew Toro

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Hello All,

I just joined this forum. It looks extremely rich and informative. I look forward to learning from you all.

I'm an intermediate/advanced Geospatial Analyst with very strong experience with GIS and semi-strong experience with Remote Sensing technologies.

I most often use ArcGIS for analyses and geovisualization, and up until now essentially all cartographic production from this work has been done in ArcGIS.

I'd like to take my cartography and map-design skills to the next level. I'd like to start producing higher calibre maps and geovisualizations. Specifically, I'd like to start integrating my primarily ArcGIS-based work with design tool likes Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.

I'd really love any advice any one has to give. Are there any good resources (websites, books, etc.) I should look into to learn the basics of map design with Adobe (from GIS)?

For instance, for starters, I'd love some insight on how I can start creating my own north arrows in Photoshop or Illustrator -- I'm sick and tired of the rather limited and boring north arrow options in ArcGIS.

Or, since I started with talking about basic map elements, what about my legend and scale bar? I want to break free from the pre-defined options of ArcGIS and add some more creativity and style to my maps.

I've attached what I consider one of my best maps to this message. Now, while I'm generally proud of this map, I recognize all of its many flaws and realize that it screams "amateur". I'd like to be able to start doing some "real cartography", not just GIS-based mapping, which, as I'm sure many/most of you know, are NOT the same.

Any thoughts? Thanks so much in advance.

Sincerely,

Matthew Toro

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#2
Charles Syrett

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I just finished chewing you out on another thread, so brace yourself for more! :rolleyes:

Perhaps the best place to start (after biting the bullet and paying for some good textbooks!) is simply to get feedback on the sample you've posted here. But nobody can really do that until you give us some basic background information:

What is the purpose of this map?

Who will be reading this map, and what will they be looking for?

What are you trying to communicate with this map?

The point is, cartography is a mode of communication. It's communicating specific information for a specific purpose. Without having any clarity about that, how can anyone evaluate the design?

It may also be useful to let us know what the medium is. Is this map a wall size poster for display in a museum? Is it to be posted on a web page, "above the fold"? Is it a 1-page illustration in a terribly expensive textbook? etc. etc.

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

#3
Matthew Toro

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I just finished chewing you out on another thread, so brace yourself for more! :rolleyes:

Perhaps the best place to start (after biting the bullet and paying for some good textbooks!) is simply to get feedback on the sample you've posted here. But nobody can really do that until you give us some basic background information:

What is the purpose of this map?

Who will be reading this map, and what will they be looking for?

What are you trying to communicate with this map?

The point is, cartography is a mode of communication. It's communicating specific information for a specific purpose. Without having any clarity about that, how can anyone evaluate the design?

It may also be useful to let us know what the medium is. Is this map a wall size poster for display in a museum? Is it to be posted on a web page, "above the fold"? Is it a 1-page illustration in a terribly expensive textbook? etc. etc.

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


Hi Charles,

Thanks for your response.

Don't worry; I don't feel "chewed out" at all. I'll respond to that thread (regarding my cartography textbook enquiry) separately.

And just to be clear: the point of my message wasn't primarily to get feedback on the design of that particular map; it was more to show this forum what level of cartographic "skill" (if you can call it that) I currently possess so that anyone willing to respond to my post would deliberately tailor his/her response to the audience of the response (me). I thought that by laying out some information about the audience, the respondent would be able to better relay his/her message. For indeed, communication is a reciprocal process.

In any case, since you ask:

Purpose & Intention
The purpose of this sample map is to convey the basic political/administrative and topographic layout of a study area on which an academic paper arguing a hypothesis regarding human-environment relations in the study area is being written. (But, with regards to my post, the purpose is to show that I'm not completely unexposed to basic cartographic principles.)

Medium & Audience
The medium will be an academic report (or, hopefully and eventually, a publishable scholarly academic journal article. Thus, the processes/phenomena occurring in the study area illustrated by the map will be exhaustively contextualized at length in the report/article. Again, this map is intended merely to introduce the reader to the location, administration, and topography of the study area in question. Prior to encountering this map, the hypothetical audience will be supplied with another map to precede it (a rough draft of which is attached to this post), which places the larger scale study area into a smaller scale map of Southeast Asia, the world-region in which the study area is located.

The map deliberately lacks a title because that will be supplied by a figure caption when the map is inserted among the text of the report/article. The same goes for the presently attached Southeast Asia map which, again, will precede this "Bolaven Plateau" map in the text.

Thanks for your enquiry regarding this specifc map, Charles. I appreciate any feedback on map design you and others may have for me.

The intention of the original post was more technical really:

How can I begin upgrading the quality of my map design by integrating GIS with more graphically-oriented software applications, like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator?

What is the general workflow to take data from GIS and bring it into the Adobe suite to finish the map there?

Thanks again!

Matthew Toro

(Also, I realize that the Southeast Asia regional map attached to this post could probably use some generalization; i.e., I realize that the nation-state borders, especially the coastal borders are too detailed for the purpose of this map . . . That leads to another question: Can I do generalizations with Adobe programs, or must I stick with GIS for that.)

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#4
Hans van der Maarel

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(Also, I realize that the Southeast Asia regional map attached to this post could probably use some generalization; i.e., I realize that the nation-state borders, especially the coastal borders are too detailed for the purpose of this map . . . That leads to another question: Can I do generalizations with Adobe programs, or must I stick with GIS for that.)


I wasn't going to post it right away, but you may want to check out MAPublisher by Avenza. It's a cartography/GIS oriented plug-in for Adobe Illustrator and will let you do a lot of the things you're already used to from Arc (such as working at a certain scale/projection and assigning symbolisation based on attribute selections), but with all the artistic freedom Illustrator offers you.

And yes, it will allow you to do generalization.

[disclaimer: I am the Dutch reseller for Avenza, so I may be a bit biased]

In my opinion, you can best learn cartography by doing it. Practice makes perfect (as far as there ever can be a perfect map, I'm also strongly convinced that a complex map is never perfect, or even finished) and peer review is an important part of this.

As for your 2nd map, here's some of the things I noticed:
- The lat/lon numbers seem very hard to read. It's okay to make them a bit more visible, but in that case I would only put them around the edges of the map.
- Your north arrow is probably not pointing north (hard to tell since it's so small). The meridians are converging, which means that the direction of north depends on the position on the map.
Hans van der Maarel - Cartotalk Editor
Red Geographics
Email: hans@redgeographics.com / Twitter: @redgeographics




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