map design fundamentals

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
  • List the variables used in the symbolization of map data for visual, tactile, haptic, auditory, and dynamic displays
  • Select effective symbols for map features based on the dimensionality and attributes of the geographic phenomena being mapped
  • Design map symbols with sufficient contrast to be distinguishable by typical users
  • Illustrate how a single geographic feature can be represented by various graphic primitives (e.g., land surface as a set of elevation points, as contour lines, as hypsometric layers or tints, and as a hillshaded surface)
  • Identify the visual variables (e.g., size, lightness, shape, hue) and graphic primitives (points, lines, areas) commonly used in maps to represent various geographic features at all attribute measurement levels (nominal, ordinal, interval, ratio)
CV-07 - Visual Hierarchy, Layout, and Map Elements
  • List the major factors that should be considered in preparing a map
  • Discuss how to create an intellectual and visual hierarchy on maps
  • Discuss the differences between maps that use the same data but are for different purposes and intended audiences
  • Discuss Tufte’s influence (or lack thereof) on cartographic design
  • Critique the graphic design of several maps in terms of balance, legibility, clarity, visual contrast, figure-ground organization, and hierarchal organization
  • Critique the layout of several maps, taking into account the map audience and purpose and the graphic design (visual balance, hierarchy, figure-ground), as well as the map components (north arrow, scale bar, and legend)
  • Design maps that are appropriate for users with vision limitations
  • Apply one or more Gestalt principles to achieve appropriate figure-ground for map elements
  • Prepare different map layouts using the same map components (main map area, inset maps, titles, legends, scale bars, north arrows, grids, and graticule) to produce maps with very distinctive purposes
  • Prepare different maps using the same data for different purposes and intended audiences (e.g., expert and novice hikers)
  • Describe differences in design needed for a map that is to be viewed on the Internet versus as a 5-by 7-foot poster, including a discussion of the effect of viewing distance, lighting, and media type
  • Describe the design needs of special purpose maps, such as subdivision plans, cadastral mapping, drainage plans, nautical charts, aeronautical charts, geological maps, military maps, wiremesh volume maps, and 3-D plans of urban change
CV-06 - Geodesy, Coordinate Systems, and Projections
  • Select appropriate projections for world or regional scales that are suited to specific map purposes and phenomena with specific directional orientations or thematic areal aggregations
  • Determine the parameters needed to optimize the pattern of scale distortion that is associated with a given map projection for a particular mapping goal and area of interest
  • Diagnose an inappropriate projection choice for a given map and suggest an alternative
  • Construct a map projection suited to a given purpose and geographic location
  • Identify the most salient projection property of various generic mapping goals (e.g., choropleth map, navigation chart, flow map)
  • Identify the map projections commonly used for certain types of maps
  • Explain why certain map projection properties have been associated with specific map types
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-04 - Scale and Generalization
  • Explain why the reduction of map scale sometimes results in the need for mapped features to be reduced in size and moved
  • Identify mapping tasks that require each of the following: smoothing, aggregation, simplification, and displacement
  • Illustrate specific examples of feature elimination and simplification suited to mapping at smaller scales
  • Apply appropriate selection criteria to change the display of map data to a smaller scale
  • Discuss the limitations of current technological approaches to generalization for mapping purposes
  • Explain how generalization of one data theme can and must be reflected across multiple themes (e.g., if the river moves, the boundary, roads and towns also need to move)
  • Explain how the decisions for selection and generalization are made with regard to symbolization in mapping
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.