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In need of feedback on Map

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#1
chris henrick

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Hi everyone,

I have a working draft of a map that is depicting 7 historic vegetation habitats as well as a historic coastline / water layer over modern day Oakland, CA and surrounding area. The client requested a monochromatic base map showing major roads, specific landmarks, and neighboring cities. A single font for the document and a color palette was specified for the habitats and water area. In addition to color fills the client requested "subtle texture" for each historic layer. Finally a hillshade was requested in the base map layer.

A link to the map can be found here: Oakland Then and Now

I could use some feedback regarding solving these issues from a design perspective, and how other people might interpret solutions to them. Specifics I am in need of advice have to do with:

-are labels working? What could improve legibility / readability? Are they large enough? (smallest pt size is for hwy shields at 5pt)
-road styling (are the roads dark enough to stand out or do they need a different treatment such as a double stroke?),
-habitat color fills, are they working? (currently a .3pt solid stroke aligned inside the polygons with a 20% transparency fill)
-habitat patterns (currently have a transparency to reduce the solid black to a lighter grey. Are they working or not? what might help?)
-the map frame / size (a page size was specified which I'm doing my best to utilize but there is a lot of space outside of the habitat areas.)
-anything else you think might be helpful!

FYI I'm using adobe illustrator CS5.5 with Mapublisher and QGIS.

I look forward to your feedback.

much thanks,

-Chris
-Chris

#2
rick.nault

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Map looks great to me... I like the symbology a lot. A few of the labels (Lake Chabot, San Leandro Bay, etc) are difficult to read. Is there an option to "bring to front" of the layout? Perhaps it is just the resolution of your sample image, or the thickness of the font characters themselves. Other than that, I see no problems at all. Nice map!

#3
frax

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Hi,

It is kind of hard to see all the details with the resampled version that you linked to, but to me it looks nice and clean, and the fonts are clearly readable.

Some quick impressions/notes:
  • The contrast/difference between the different classes are hard to read out
  • What is the thick line in the colored area?
  • Maybe you could make note about what the colored area is?
  • I am not sure I am so wild about the color of the sea in the colored area... I feel that this draws the attention to this area, which is not so important in the map
  • I would consider dropping the frames from the two legend elements. You might want to merge them as well.

Hugo Ahlenius
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#4
chris henrick

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Thanks Rick for the praise, I appreciate it. All labeling (minus the hwy shields) are on top of the historic data. The text for the water areas may be getting lost due to not being a bold face italic though.

@Frax, contrasts are where I could use some advice. As far as the colors, I'm afraid I'm stuck with their color scheme because they are using the same colors for a webmap version. I'm sure I could suggest modifications though. The thick border is the city boundary which actually has a .75pt dashed 100K stroke with another 3pt 60K stroke aligned to the inside of the polygon. Legend items are in a very rough state, but I agree that dropping the frames may help (though I'd want the habitat legend to remain readable).

Unfortunately google doc's won't let me preview a larger image size, I can however send a link to one which I believe could be downloaded for anyone interested in taking a closer look: here's the link to a 28 MB JPG version

One last thing I forgot to mention is that there are water areas for the lakes that have a 30K fill, no outline at the moment. They don't show too well either so I'm open for suggestions on this as well.

Again, I'd like to clarify that I believe multiple maps will be printed from this one .ai file, a map per habitat layer (7 or 8 total). I still would like to retain a much contrast between habitats with the client's design preferences though.

thanks everyone, it's a big help.

-Chris
-Chris

#5
Dennis McClendon

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My main objection is to the outline of the various areas. It isn't necessary and it suggests a false precision to the data.

I don't understand how only the middle portion of the map has information in it. Perhaps you plan to crop to this area later.

Finally, it's very hard to understand current and pre-settlement coastlines. Perhaps use a thin but clear blue line for the current shoreline, but give no fill to the current water area. Here's an example where I did the historic shoreline that way:

Posted Image
Dennis McClendon, Chicago CartoGraphics
chicagocarto.com

#6
chris henrick

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My main objection is to the outline of the various areas. It isn't necessary and it suggests a false precision to the data.

I don't understand how only the middle portion of the map has information in it. Perhaps you plan to crop to this area later.

Finally, it's very hard to understand current and pre-settlement coastlines. Perhaps use a thin but clear blue line for the current shoreline, but give no fill to the current water area. Here's an example where I did the historic shoreline that way:

Posted Image



Thanks for the feedback Dennis. The middle portion only has information as I was given a rectangular page size to work with and spatial data that covers only a certain area. I'm not sure if the graphic designer is planning on adding other elements to the map or not, such as an area explaining the map's purpose, a logo, etc. If they are not planning on adding other elements I will surely suggest cropping the area to reduce negative space. As of right now this is a very rough framing.

I see your point regarding the outlines to the habitat areas, I chose to add the solid inner lines to help differentiate the various areas, but will see how they look without the outlines.

I like the way you treated the historic & current coastlines in your example, thanks for sharing. I am limited to a grey scale for the modern day layers, so perhaps I will drop either the gray coastline stroke or the grey water area/ bay fill.
-Chris

#7
woneil

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It's a terrific map, both attractive and informative. I trust that the time of "then" will be specified more precisely at some point. I know from experience in the South Bay area that the natural shorelines are actually rather variable over time and not terribly well defined in the many areas, so I wonder whether the crisp "then" shoreline is really called for.

One problem, depending on just how the map is to be presented and used, is the size of the legend patches. It is only by examining them quite closely that they can be reliably correlated with the shadings in the map. Since you cannot make the shadings bolder or more vivid I suggest that significantly larger legend patches would improve readability.
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#8
chris henrick

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It's a terrific map, both attractive and informative. I trust that the time of "then" will be specified more precisely at some point. I know from experience in the South Bay area that the natural shorelines are actually rather variable over time and not terribly well defined in the many areas, so I wonder whether the crisp "then" shoreline is really called for.

One problem, depending on just how the map is to be presented and used, is the size of the legend patches. It is only by examining them quite closely that they can be reliably correlated with the shadings in the map. Since you cannot make the shadings bolder or more vivid I suggest that significantly larger legend patches would improve readability.



Thanks Neil, I appreciate the praise. I believe the year of the coastline and habitat data dates back to 1859 and was digitized from a historic map. I'm sure this info will be explained either on the map at some point or in the area where the maps are to be displayed.

The actual map size is currently 16" x 8.5" so when looking at the printed version the legend is more readable. However this would probably need to be changed for a digital version meant to be presented on the web. Good point to bring up though so I will consult the designer on this and enlarge it if they feel it is too small for the intended audience.
-Chris

#9
chris henrick

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and here is a more updated version of the map, just some minor changes.

medium-high res jpg version 2.6 MB file size here
-Chris




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