Webmaps and Map Design


Webmaps and Map Design

This Mini Project is about introducing you to cartographic design, showing you the differences between map designs, and what the designs might be used for.

You are going to design your own webmap in Mapstack, a free online tool from Stamen (a data visualization design studio known in part for their mapping efforts). You will use Mapstack to style your map for a particular audience that you choose. You will then justify your design decisions. Then you will answer some questions about map design, and what you learned in the process.

When thinking about an audience for whom you need to design a map, think far and wide. Nearly everyone needs or uses maps every day in some way!

Your job is to appeal to a particular audience to get them to look at and use your map (flashy maps that are painful to look at will not be graded well).Your map must be readable on-screen, without brightness/contrast being too high (i.e. don’t design your map like the Election cartograms with every state either bright red or bright blue). For guidelines, look at some examples provided in Step 9.

Consider (as your audience): ecological experts and landscape designers, rare book librarians, people reading their phones late at night (or at midday), comic book enthusiasts, people looking for the simplest navigation around a town, people looking for quiet parks to spend some time in… your audience can be organized around an interest, a specific need, a general theme… just think about it!
1. Read these three very short articles about designing maps for different purposes:

2. Follow the steps below to create your map

1) Go to http://mapstack.stamen.com
2) On the right side, click the green button “TRY IT”
3) Choose the map circled below to use as your background layer (the one with terrain shading on land and blue/blue-gray water)

Figure 1: Choosing the “Terrain” background layer

4) Click the red “X” to close the Edit Map Layer box. You can edit this later. The map tiles (rectangular sections) will load gradually – how quickly they do so will depend on your internet connection at the time (it might take a minute or so or might be almost immediate). Right now you will see a split screen with the map on both the left and right sides. As you add new layers to the map, you will see them stack on the left panel. You will also be able to edit and remove layers from the left panel. The map on the right is the composite of the layers.
5) Click the magnifying glass to access the search tool. Type the location you were given in the “MiniProjectB_StartingPlace_SP2015.pdf” documentin ANGEL in the Mini Project B folder (Figure 2).
Figure 2: How to search

6) Zoom into a level so that you can see the city and its streets clearly. You can do this by clicking the plus ( + ) and minus ( – ) buttons in the top right.
7) Note: In this project, you will be styling ONLY the buildings, water, and parks. DON’T change the background layer. DON’T use any of the preset maps in the gallery either. We know what they are! We want you to be a little creative.
8) Click the “Add A Layer” button at the top to add a new layer to the map (Figure 3).
Figure 3: Adding a new layer
9) Add the “water” layer under features.
10) Close the edit map layer box by clicking the “x”
11) Add the “Parks”, “Terrain Lines”, and “Terrain Labels” layers following step 10 above.
12) Start getting familiar with the interface. Click the “adjust this layer’s properties” button on the water layer to edit the Map Layer (Figure 4).
Figure 4: Editing a Map Layer

13) This will take a little bit of time to figure out. First, click “ON” for the Color Tint. Next you can change the color by typing in values for the Hue, Saturation, and Luminance. There are numerous resources online that can help you choose a color that you want. Here is one: http://hslpicker.com (on this website drag the top three sliders left and right to get the hue, saturation, and lightness values – also listed on the bottom right) (Figure 5). You will see that the hue is 44, saturation 100, and lightness 50. To make the layer more transparent, play with the opacity at the top of the edit layer box. To read more about this in your text, see Chapter 3, section Graphic Variables.

H: Hue. Reveals the true hue

S: Saturation. Reveals/suppresses “grayness”

L: Lightness. Reveals/suppresses lightness

Figure 5: Choosing a color
14) Change colors for the rest of the layers. Feel free to play with the other features in the edit Map Layer box to your liking. If you don’t like what you’ve done, you can always close that layer by clicking the X to the left of it and adding it back to the map.
15) Keep in mind that the order of the layers matters. Think of them as a stack. If you dragged the background layer to the top, you won’t be able to see any of the layers below it because the background covers the entire area. You can play with this feature by clicking the up or down arrows with the layers (Figure 6).
Figure 6: Moving layers up and down

16) Remember, you are making a basemap for an audience of YOUR choosing. Identify your map audience. Don’t just use the first color you find and settle on any old design, say “everyone” is your audience and call it a day. Those are unacceptable answers. You need to pick a specific audience that has some particular need (or at least can be assumed to have that need) and you have to justify your map design choices as they relate to meeting the need for that audience.
17) Don’t get discouraged! If you’re stuck (or need some inspiration), then take a different tack.Use MapStack’s design tools to copy one of these map styles as close as you can: http://stamen.com/clients/cloudmadeor https://www.mapbox.com/blog/woodcut-inspired-map/ (for that antique look).
18) Finally, when you’re all finished, click the <image> link (Figure 7).
Figure 7: Create an image of your map.
19) Click the thumbnail when the image is ready then right click on the image and select “Save Image As” to save it.
20) Insert the image and answer the questions in the Project Template. Attach the Template to your project submission in the DropBox and submit.
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