Friday, February 8, 2008

Making Maps: A Visual Guide to Map Design for GIS

As noted, I am not a cartographer, nor a geographer. In fact I have drawn very few maps since Quastolia... However, I appreciate well designed maps, and John Krygier and Denis Wood have produced a useful guide for amateurs, professionals and students: Making Maps: A Visual Guide to Map Design for GIS.

Before they even get into the mechanics of how to make a map, the first chapters focus on what is a map and why they are powerful tools?
  • Why are you making a map?
  • Your intentions shape the form of the map.
  • Determine the data appropriate for your map.
  • Determine the tools you will use.
Next they provide useful information and tips on layout, symbolization and use of fonts and color. Instead of writing about maps, and working some illustrations around their text, they focus on images of maps, with many examples, illuminated by their text.

I appreciated the many illustrated examples of not only good map design, but a few bad ones as well:

Many of the illustrations are entertaining as well as informative:

Krygier, an Associate Professor of Geography at Ohio Wesleyan University, continues to offer tips and advice on his blog, Making Maps: DIY Cartography. There he outlines his intent:
I designed the book like I would design a map. The audience? Cartography courses, maybe as a supplement, GIS courses, certainly as a supplement, and individuals who make maps (or like maps) but don’t have a background in cartography, and don’t want to be academic cartographers. Then what? Coherent concept, a hierarchy of content emphasizing what is important and excising the rest, creative design to grab attention and make a point, all so that the book works as well as possible for its readers.

Making Maps is an accessible introduction to the principles of mapmaking that will lead to creative and useful maps for most purposes.

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