You are currently browsing the archives for the Illustrated Maps News category.

Archive for the ‘Illustrated Maps News’ Category

Visual Clutter and Maps

 :: Posted by admin on 01-04-2013

If you’ve ever attempted to read a geological map, you’ve probably noticed how difficult they are to understand. The traditional way of displaying the topographic base on a geological map involves a lot of detail, color, and clutter.
In recent years, cartographers have attempted to improve the readability of geological maps. It has been found that having a large number of point symbols can greatly hinder the reader’s ability to quickly perform common map-reading tasks. Having a lot of line symbols can also cause problems, but these are not as severe a hindrance.
The importance of color is also difficult to deny. Symbols that are coded by color, or by color and texture, are easier to find than symbols coded by texture alone. For long term recall, texture coding appears to be slightly more effective, but the difficulty in picking up textures on a map outweighs this benefit.
Typography is also important. Bigger text, lower-case lettering, and a sans-serif typeface all contribute to the readability of place names. These design elements are commonly found in illustrated maps, and are now becoming the design elements of choice in street maps and geological maps too.
Geological maps need to be accurate, so the abstraction offered by many illustrated maps would not be helpful. However, geological maps are highly specialist tools, and not something that the average tourist would ever need to make use of, unless they were going hiking, climbing, or orienteering.
Simplifying geological maps so that they serve the purpose of the reader (for example, highlighting only major landmarks and attractions or facilities that the reader would be looking for) is a good idea. In this, cartographers can learn from the designers of illustrated maps. However, going to the next level of abstraction and removing elevation lines and other important information would be a bad idea.

Satire in Illustrated maps

 :: Posted by admin on 12-01-2012

Many illustrated maps are serious in nature. Some are designed as artistic items, some historic illustrated maps have a religious significance, and some modern ones are simply playful, clear illustrations that are designed to make it easy for visitors to navigate the city they are visiting, or the festival that’s currently happening.
Some maps, however, have a more interesting purpose. Satire artist Fred W. Rose put together an interesting satirical cartoon map which laid out the status of Europe in 1877. That year was an incredibly volatile one for European politics. Rose’s map takes a traditional geographical map of Europe, and uses that as a framework for his satire.
At first glance, it looks like a normal map. Individual countries are colored in Red, green, orange, and yellow, and it’s easy enough to identify the countries by sight. The names of the countries are also provided.
What makes this map a satire is the way that he has merged anthropomorphic and zoomorphic maps. The countries are drawn vaguely in their own shape, but altered slightly so that they represent political figures and mythical animals.
An octopus is used to represent Russia, with tentacles reaching out to grab other countries. Turkey is depicted in national dress, aiming a pistol at the Octopus. Hungary is shown as being ready for a fight, but Austria is attempting to hold it back. Germany’s Emperor Wilhelm I is looking away from the conflict, but has a stockpile of ammunition ready, just in case. French general Patrice de MacMahon is depicted with a canon pointed at Germany, ready and waiting for the opportunity to avenge its defeat in the recent war.
The illustrations in this map are amazingly powerful. So powerful, in fact, that Japan made use of this particular illustration more than 20 years later as a propaganda image to win the support of Europe in their war.

Illustrated Festival Maps – Sanam Luang

 :: Posted by admin on 09-02-2012

Sanam Luang in Bangkok, Thailand, is home to the Thailand Kite Festival. Vasuphon Sanpanich has created a gorgeous illustrated map of the festival. The map shows local landmarks, and gives an overview of the area where the festival is held.
Information about the festival is written in the area around the main park on the map, highlighting that it’s the Traditional Sport of Thailand, and that the celebration involves song, prayer, and the Royal Ploughing ceremony.
The map shows quite clearly what happens at the festival. Participants can be seen flying kites, taking part in prayers, playing games, and enjoying other festivities. The map has a hand-drawn appearance, with bright colours and cartoonish people that are somewhat reminiscent of characters from The Simpsons.
As an example of how an illustrated map could work as an advertisement, Sanpanich’s work is outsanding. The message presented is that the festival is fun for all the family, with plenty of things for people of all ages to enjoy.
The water areas are represented by the familiar two-tone waves that are commonly used in modern illustrated maps. The Royal Garden is lined with bushes, and the vehicles on the road are abstracted just like children’s toys.
Abstraction is an important part of all illustrated campus maps. When a map is made too detailed, it becomes difficult to look at, and if you’re trying to get across a general point, such as “The Royal Garden will be home to a festival, where many activities will take place”, then that point is lost in the details. It takes an incredibly skilled artist to be able to find the perfect balance between abstraction, aesthetics, and clarity.
The only thing that could be considered to be missing from this particular map is a smaller traditional map that explains how a visitor could get to the Royal Garden.