I just finished chewing you out on another thread, so brace yourself for more!
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.
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?
(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.)