map design fundamentals

CV-08 - Symbolization and the Visual Variables

Maps communicate information about the world by using symbols to represent specific ideas or concepts. The relationship between a map symbol and the information that symbol represents must be clear and easily interpreted. The symbol design process requires first an understanding of the underlying nature of the data to be mapped (e.g., its spatial dimensions and level of measurement), then the selection of symbols that suggest those data attributes. Cartographers developed the visual variable system, a graphic vocabulary, to express these relationships on maps. Map readers respond to the visual variable system in predictable ways, enabling mapmakers to design map symbols for most types of information with a high degree of reliability.

CV-05 - Statistical Mapping (Enumeration, Normalization, Classification, Dasymetric)
  • Discuss advantages and disadvantages of various data classification methods for choropleth mapping, including equal interval, quantiles, mean-standard deviation, natural breaks, and “optimal” methods
  • Demonstrate how different classification schemes produce very different maps from a single set of interval- or ratio-level data
  • Write algorithms to perform equal interval, quantiles, mean-standard deviation, natural breaks, and “optimal” classification for choropleth mapping
CV-09 - Color Theory

Color is the result of the visual perception of an energy source. It is described by its physical characteristics, mainly as a tridimensional variable modeled into a color space. Online tools exist to facilitate the use of color schemes to design a color palette, for artists, web designers, statisticians, etc. Colors in maps and visualizations must be combined to promote the visual hierarchy and harmony, balancing legibility, perceptual processing, and aesthetics. Color is a powerful visual variable and requires understanding the perception of color relationships. Existing color schemes are very useful to select a suitable color palette. As color is not experienced similarly across all map readers, issues about real-world connotations, conventions, specific color contrasts, and adaptation to color visual deficiencies and devices, are also to be taken into account when designing a color palette. This entry describes the main guidelines regarding color theory and related design practices as applied to map or geovisualization design.

CV-07 - Visual Hierarchy and Layout

Mapmaking, by digital or manual methods, involves taking complex geographic information and building a visual image with many components. Creating effective maps requires an understanding of how to construct the elements of the map into a coherent whole that executes the communicative purpose of the map. Visual hierarchy and layout are the cartographer’s tools for organizing the map and completing the map construction. The cartographer layers the mapped geography in an image into a visual hierarchy emphasizing some features and de-emphasizing others in vertical ordering of information. Likewise, the cartographer arranges the components of a map image—title, main map, inset map, north arrow, scale, legend, toolbar, etc.—into a layout that guides the reader’s eye around the horizontal plane of the map. The visual hierarchy and layout processes work together to create the structure of the map image.

CV-04 - Scale and Generalization

Scale and generalization are two fundamental, related concepts in geospatial data. Scale has multiple meanings depending on context, both within geographic information science and in other disciplines. Typically it refers to relative proportions between objects in the real world and their representations. Generalization is the act of modifying detail, usually reducing it, in geospatial data. It is often driven by a need to represent data at coarsened resolution, being typically a consequence of reducing representation scale. Multiple computations and graphical modication processes can be used to achieve generalization, each introducing increased abstraction to the data, its symbolization, or both.

CV-09 - Color Theory

Color is the result of the visual perception of an energy source. It is described by its physical characteristics, mainly as a tridimensional variable modeled into a color space. Online tools exist to facilitate the use of color schemes to design a color palette, for artists, web designers, statisticians, etc. Colors in maps and visualizations must be combined to promote the visual hierarchy and harmony, balancing legibility, perceptual processing, and aesthetics. Color is a powerful visual variable and requires understanding the perception of color relationships. Existing color schemes are very useful to select a suitable color palette. As color is not experienced similarly across all map readers, issues about real-world connotations, conventions, specific color contrasts, and adaptation to color visual deficiencies and devices, are also to be taken into account when designing a color palette. This entry describes the main guidelines regarding color theory and related design practices as applied to map or geovisualization design.

CV-09 - Color Theory
  • List the range of factors that should be considered in selecting colors
  • Discuss the role of “gamut” in choosing colors that can be reproduced on various devices and media
  • Explain how real-world connotations (e.g., blue=water, white=snow) can be used to determine color selections on maps
  • Exemplify colors for different forms of harmony, concordance, and balance
  • Estimate RGB (red, green, blue) primary amounts in a selection of colors
  • Plan color proofing suited for checking a map publication job
  • Select colors appropriate for map readers with color limitations
  • Specify a set of colors in device-independent Commision Internationale de L’Eclairage (CIE) specifications
  • Determine the CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) primary amounts in a selection of colors
  • Select a color scheme (e.g., qualitative, sequential, diverging, spectral) that is appropriate for a given map purpose and variable
  • Describe how cultural differences with respect to color associations impact map design
  • Describe the common color models used in mapping
  • Describe color decisions made for various production workflows
CV-08 - Symbolization and the Visual Variables

Maps communicate information about the world by using symbols to represent specific ideas or concepts. The relationship between a map symbol and the information that symbol represents must be clear and easily interpreted. The symbol design process requires first an understanding of the underlying nature of the data to be mapped (e.g., its spatial dimensions and level of measurement), then the selection of symbols that suggest those data attributes. Cartographers developed the visual variable system, a graphic vocabulary, to express these relationships on maps. Map readers respond to the visual variable system in predictable ways, enabling mapmakers to design map symbols for most types of information with a high degree of reliability.

CV-07 - Visual Hierarchy and Layout

Mapmaking, by digital or manual methods, involves taking complex geographic information and building a visual image with many components. Creating effective maps requires an understanding of how to construct the elements of the map into a coherent whole that executes the communicative purpose of the map. Visual hierarchy and layout are the cartographer’s tools for organizing the map and completing the map construction. The cartographer layers the mapped geography in an image into a visual hierarchy emphasizing some features and de-emphasizing others in vertical ordering of information. Likewise, the cartographer arranges the components of a map image—title, main map, inset map, north arrow, scale, legend, toolbar, etc.—into a layout that guides the reader’s eye around the horizontal plane of the map. The visual hierarchy and layout processes work together to create the structure of the map image.

CV-05 - Statistical Mapping (Enumeration, Normalization, Classification, Dasymetric)
  • Discuss advantages and disadvantages of various data classification methods for choropleth mapping, including equal interval, quantiles, mean-standard deviation, natural breaks, and “optimal” methods
  • Demonstrate how different classification schemes produce very different maps from a single set of interval- or ratio-level data
  • Write algorithms to perform equal interval, quantiles, mean-standard deviation, natural breaks, and “optimal” classification for choropleth mapping

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