Two Maps are Better Than One

 :: Posted by admin on 12-30-2012

If you want to make sure that people can get a birds-eye view of the area, and also navigate at street level, having two maps is a good idea. Illustrated maps are a powerful tool, but they tend to abstract out a lot of important details. This means that they’re useful for highlighting that the cathedral is in the northern part of the city, but not so handy for someone that wants to know how to get to the cathedral from their hotel.
One interesting example of how illustrated maps and detailed maps can be vastly different from each other is the fictional world of Achaea. This text-based game features two maps on its website. One is an illustrated map of the entire game world, which offers a simple overview of the locations of important cities. The second map is a location by location map of every single “room” in the game. There are thousands of “rooms” in the game, and the detailed map is so complex that it makes a map of the London Underground look like a child’s sketch.
A new player, or a first-time visitor, looking at the detailed map would be confused and bewildered, and would probably give up before exploring it in any detail. The illustrated map provides enough information for such a casual observer, and offers it in a more familiar, and much more easily understood, form.
It’s unlikely that you, as an event organizer, would need to produce a map on a level of Achaea’s detailed map (although some trade shows do have a huge number of booths these days!). However, the lesson remains the same. By putting usability first you can ensure that your visitors get the best possible experience, and don’t end up feeling lost before they even set foot in the area.

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 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.

Review: Campaign Cartographer 3

 :: Posted by admin on 11-02-2012

Campaign Cartographer is an interesting piece of software which can be used for map illustrations as well as to create illustrated maps. This program was developed by ProFantasy software, and is broken down into several different modules. The core application is designed for creating world maps, which can either be traditional illustrated maps, or the “hex-style” maps used in many strategy games.
Campaign Cartographer 3 is popular with people that enjoy role-playing games. It is often used by game masters to design maps to support the games they are playing, however this is not the only use of this application. Many fantasy authors use the software to create maps for their books, and it’s also useful for creating attractive maps for other purposes such as brochures and leaflets.
The software is primarily designed for gamers, and as such many of the map elements that are included with it are fantastic in nature. Instead of having modern buildings and landmark symbols, it focuses on taverns, castles, dragons, and orcs. Trees, mountains, and other standard symbols using for architectural illustrations are included, however. In addition, you aren’t restricted to just the symbols that come with the software. You can import PNG images to add your own flavour to your illustrated maps, and there are a lot of websites that offer CC3 ready packs for users to import.
Campaign Cartographer 3 is not a demanding piece of software. It will run on almost any machine that is capable of running Windows XP, however, you’ll have a far better user experience if you have a big screen and a good mouse. You don’t need to be a particularly talented graphic artist to use the software, but it can take a while to get used to its quirks. However, if you’re patient, and willing to rely on the stock symbols for most of the art, even a novice can put together some beautiful looking illustrated maps.