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Illustrated Star Maps

 :: Posted by admin on 11-20-2012

Celestial maps give viewers an almost god-like view of the stars, and let people view the earth as if they were in the heavens. They became fashionable during the 17th century, and artistic celestial pictorial maps (rather than simple astronomer’s charts) were a must-have item among the wealthy of that time.
Andreas Cellarius designed an ornate celestial map in 1660, for publication in the Harmonia Cosmographica, his grand “atlas of the stars”. He included 29 star maps in the Harmonia Cosmographica, but the copper plate titled “Hemisphaerii Borealis Coeli et Terrae Sphaerica Scenographia” is perhaps the most worthy of note.
In the plate, the earth is positioned at the centre of the universe. The sun, stars, and other planets orbited around the earth. This earth-centric positioning was a major part of religious belief during the 17th century, and was generally accepted as being a fact.
The copper plate shows the constellations of the northern hemisphere, as listed in the 2nd century by Ptolemy. The stars are mounted on a crystal sphere which covers the earth. The illustrations are carefully done, with fine line drawings and lots of subtle shading and colour. The writing on the map may look strange to modern-day readers, the lettering, and type-setting of an old-english style.
The atlas itself was a labour of love for Andreas Cellarius, and the illustrations that he chose went beyond simple geography and science. Cellarius included astronomy, myths, and religious belief in his creation. His intention was not simply to chart the universe, but also to define earth’s place within that universe. Many of the traditional stories that explain the constellations, such as the story of Calisto and Zeus, make an appearance in this map.
Surrounding the map are a number of people, including young children, observing the heavens, studying books, and making careful calculations.

How Cartographers Make Maps Easy To Read

 :: Posted by admin on 08-19-2012

Maps contain a huge amount of information, and as such they are a usability nightmare. Making maps easy to read is a challenge that cartographers struggle with constantly.
A lot of research has gone into making maps more readable. One area that gets a lot of attention is eye movement. Technology makes it pretty easy for usability scientists to track eye movement, but understanding the data that is gathered can be difficult. Eye movement tracking equipment can give a rough idea of where people are fixing their attention, but on a densely packed map the spot that is being stared at might not always be the spot which contains the symbol the reader is looking at.
When someone is searching for a location name, it appears that they simply read every single name they come across on the map. They aren’t looking for names that look similar to the name in question, just “reading” the map, although they did linger longer on places that looked similar to the place they were looking for. Maps with large fonts used for place names were found easier to scan than ones with smaller fonts.
Densely packed, detailed street maps were found to be harder to read than abstracted illustrated maps. This is a classic case of information overload, and is part of the reason that tourist offices offer both types of map. A day-tripper may want a simple map that will help them navigate the general area of the city. Someone that needs to get to a specific place that is more “off the beaten track” might find an illustrated map lacks the detail required to find that one specific location. It’s not practical to abstract every map, and detailed road maps do have value for specific needs, but illustrated maps are generally far more usable.

Hand Drawn Illustrated Maps – Hokkaido

 :: Posted by admin on 07-19-2012

Hand drawn illustrated maps are perhaps some of the most charming kind. Hokkaido is a small Japanese island that is home to the Ainu, the indigenous people of northern Japan. There are only a small number of Ainu remaining, but they have managed to hold on to their roots and stay true to their indigenous culture.
One of the most interesting things about their culture is their traditional “Yukar”, which is a form of “oral literature”. The Hokkaido hold a lot of festivals, religious celebrations and craft fairs. If you want to see a different side of Japan to the high tech, bustling streets of Tokyo, then a visit to Hokkaido is a good way to get a taste of the history and culture of old-fashioned Japan.
These festivals are collected together in Deborah Davidson’s hand-drawn map of Hokkaido. This map illustration is clear, simple and bold. It includes traditional thematic elements such as crabs, shells, and dolphins to highlight water bodies, and uses carefully positioned flowers to highlight cities and festivals. This, combined with the ink lines and bright colors, produces a unique, striking, and easily understandable illustrated map.
As with most illustrated maps, the geography is simplified to preserve a strong and clear style. The key point of this map is to show the locations of the festivals and other cultural attractions that a visitor to the island would be interested in.
This beautiful map also includes a hand-written key that includes a lot of detail about each location. the key is detailed and informative. The penmanship is clean and clear, and adds to the charming flavour of the map.
The artist that created this map also does a number of other hand-drawn art, including Etegami art. If you enjoy their style, you can pick up some of their illustrations on Etsy.

Abstract Illustrated Maps and Japanese Culture

 :: Posted by admin on 07-04-2012

The Japanese enjoy rather different forms of art to many western cultures, and that is reflected in everything from their modern entertainment choices to the way they put together their Illustrated maps.
Artist Masaku Kubo has created some beautiful illustrated maps of Japan. One of his recent pieces is a map of Kamakura, Japan. This map covers Sagami Bay and the area surrounding Kamakura Station. To the west, is Enoshima, and to the north, Yokohama, but htese are not shown on the map.
The map is not a faithful scale representation of the area, although it does follow roughly the right shape. Instead, it picks out some of the most interesting attractions of the area, such as the Museum of Modern Art, the Hachimutsu-en Honey Shop, and the Zuisen-Jiu temple, and highlights those.
As a tourist guide, this map is beautiful – it contains lots of information about the area, informing tourists that they “Must ride this adorable Enoden train”, and that it’s a long walk to the temple. These points are illustrated with large, clear pictograms that any traveller would understand, regardless of the language they speak.
There are few geographical elements highlighted on this map. The bay is shown, as are a few hills and green areas, but most of the map features built- up areas and attractions, describing roughly where they are in relation to the nearest train station. The bright colours and the simple, rugged “stamp effect” make this an interesting piece of modern Japanese art.
Masako Kubo is a prolific illustrator. He has produced everything from stamps to maps and campaign posters for environmental campaigns. He has also produced book covers for several authors, including some English Language authors. This means that everyone can own at least some of his works.