Requesting constructive criticism of maps

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SierraStrider
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Requesting constructive criticism of maps

Postby SierraStrider » Sun Mar 03, 2019 3:54 am

Greetings, all. Recently I've decided to work in earnest on an idea which had its inception here--I'm starting a cartography business specializing in stylized hiking maps. In that pursuit I've been working very hard, but I find I need more eyeballs than my own to advise me on where my maps are lacking and/or what direction to move in.

I've gotten 2 maps to the "90% complete" draft stage so far--Point Reyes and Yosemite.


Image

Image

You can view either map in greater detail by right clicking them and selecting "open image in new tab" (on Chrome).

Bearing in mind that these maps are intended as wall art for the purpose of reminiscing on trips and/or visualizing them in an intuitive way rather than actual navigation, the specific questions I have are as follows:

Which icon style do you prefer between the Point Reyes and Yosemite maps? What would make them better?

For archaic-style maps such as these, is it more useful or immersion-breaking to have inherently modern points of interest such as gas stations, picnic areas, parking areas, and/or grocery stores, respectively? Relatedly, should I use the more commonly used modern highway numbers ("Highway 120") or use the less well-known but generally less inherently modern road names (Tioga Road") where possible?

How important are labels on roads, streams, peaks, lakes, and/or less well-defined features such as mountain ranges, respectively? Should there be labels on all, most, some, or none?

Any other tips or criticism are more than welcome.
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Iodo
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Re: Requesting constructive criticism of maps

Postby Iodo » Sun Mar 03, 2019 9:50 am

SierraStrider wrote:Bearing in mind that these maps are intended as wall art for the purpose of reminiscing on trips and/or visualizing them in an intuitive way rather than actual navigation, the specific questions I have are as follows:

Which icon style do you prefer between the Point Reyes and Yosemite maps? What would make them better?

For archaic-style maps such as these, is it more useful or immersion-breaking to have inherently modern points of interest such as gas stations, picnic areas, parking areas, and/or grocery stores, respectively? Relatedly, should I use the more commonly used modern highway numbers ("Highway 120") or use the less well-known but generally less inherently modern road names (Tioga Road") where possible?

How important are labels on roads, streams, peaks, lakes, and/or less well-defined features such as mountain ranges, respectively? Should there be labels on all, most, some, or none?

Any other tips or criticism are more than welcome.

I love them, they look great :P

Here's my first thoughts:

I think I prefer the icon style of the Point Reyes map, it's clearer and easer to see, the darker shade makes it stand out more, although the symbols look quite modern, is it possible to make them look more ''old world'' but to keep the dark shaded idea to make them stand out?

In terms of modern points of interest, I think that's needed if anyone ever wanted to use the maps for route planning even if they didn't take them out to navigate, it just helps people to recognize the landscape and features. How about renaming things so you don't spoil the feel. Provided you say on the legend what's what, rather than calling it a gas station you could call it a coach house, parking area: cart stop, grocery stores: market etc... Just an idea and those terms aren't accurate. Highway numbers I don't think would detract from it too much, you could put the road name on followed by the number in brackets so the viewer knew what they were looking at - Tioga Road (120)

About labels on roads, streams, peaks, lakes, and/or less well-defined features such as mountain ranges, I think large areas such as mountain ranges should be labeled to give visitors who aren't familiar with the landscape instant recognition. Maps are often a collection of local names over hundreds of years, because of this you often find tiny features like streams (that are little more than a farm yard ditch) have names, I don't think that level of detail is necessary, depending on the scale of the map of course. If the map was intended for navigation I'd say that anything big enough to count as a land mark should be named, however If you'd already done the hike and were looking at the map on a pub wall, you'd recognize the feature if it wasn't named, so probably not but labels add something to the feel of a map. I've made a few maps in the past and the problem is deciding how far to go with detail, if your not careful you can keep going for ever. What I did was stick with names I like, sometimes looking at a map you think ''well that really suits the place'' and names like that add to a map

The only other thing I'd add is your color choice. I think it looks great so stick with it, but the roads/hiking trails should stand out a little more. I'd say it's OK on the Point Reyes map but on the Yosemite map they're a bit tricky to see, I think it's because it doesn't stand out so well in front of forested regions

I hope what I've said helps :mrgreen:
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Elleth
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Re: Requesting constructive criticism of maps

Postby Elleth » Sun Mar 03, 2019 2:24 pm

Oh these are lovely! They make me miss Western forests again! :mrgreen:

But to answer your questions:

Which icon style do you prefer between the Point Reyes and Yosemite maps? What would make them better?

I don't think there's a wrong answer, but I personally prefer the Yosemite style with little buildings. They admittedly don't draw the eye as much, but I like the aesthetic.

(A stylistic reference you might look at is the travelling map in the "Kingdom Come Deliverance" game. I've never played it, but some of the artwork I've seen suggests the style might have some inspiration you could use)

For archaic-style maps such as these, is it more useful or immersion-breaking to have inherently modern points of interest such as gas stations, picnic areas, parking areas, and/or grocery stores, respectively? Relatedly, should I use the more commonly used modern highway numbers ("Highway 120") or use the less well-known but generally less inherently modern road names (Tioga Road") where possible?


I personally find it immersion breaking, and like Iodo's idea of relabeling things with more in-period labels.
"traveller's rest" or the like.

Regarding numbers - I think I'd go for just names where possible, and either Roman numerals or old-fashioned naming conventions where not.
(eg, "Highway 123" might become "Smithtown-Jonesville Road" )
For that matter, a lot of highways (not all, certainly) are built over the path of older roads, and you might find original names on older maps. )


How important are labels on roads, streams, peaks, lakes, and/or less well-defined features such as mountain ranges, respectively? Should there be labels on all, most, some, or none?


Certainly one can go overboard, but I'd go with the rule of thumb that the more likely someone will refer to it as a land reference or waypoint, the more it needs a name.
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Re: Requesting constructive criticism of maps

Postby Bumr Blackbrand » Sun Mar 03, 2019 4:45 pm

Let me preface by saying that I love this idea and I definitely want one when designs are finalized.

I think the most important thing here is intent. If these are intended to be framed and put on a wall, then I think the Point Reyes version is more aesthetically appealing. I like the set-up of the Yosemite map more for reference, though. The key in both seems a little barren. One of the most important things to have on a legend is water, even if it's just water = blue. Built-up areas (cities, towns) are usually black/brown and roads can be red or black.

Another thing I'd consider is the scale of the map. They look pretty big, about 1:250,000? When I'm going out, I prefer to keep a smaller map of the area I'll be going to. I like having more detail and knowing exactly where certain things are. Maybe 1:50,000 or even smaller.

All in all, though, I love these.
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SierraStrider
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Re: Requesting constructive criticism of maps

Postby SierraStrider » Sun Mar 03, 2019 4:46 pm

Iodo wrote:...the symbols look quite modern, is it possible to make them look more ''old world''...

A question that's been plaguing me as well. Icons that convey modern meaning with timeless symbols...perhaps a waystone for the trailheads, rather than a pedestrian whose garb can't help but be dated.
Iodo wrote: you could put the road name on followed by the number in brackets so the viewer knew what they were looking at - Tioga Road (120)

Brilliant. I'm definitely going with this.
Iodo wrote:rather than calling it a gas station you could call it a coach house, parking area: cart stop, grocery stores: market etc.

"Market" is perfect! I also like Elleth's "Travelers' rest" for lodging where applicable. The others might border on obfuscatory, but I like the direction you're thinking in. Gives me an idea for icons as well...perhaps a wagon-type wheel for a gas station or parking lot.
Iodo wrote:the roads/hiking trails should stand out a little more

Thanks for the tip. I'm using the same symbology for both maps, but I may have them set to different levels of opacity. I'll check. Otherwise, you may be right that Yosemite's greater forest coverage may be what makes it look different.
Elleth wrote:A stylistic reference you might look at is the travelling map in the "Kingdom Come Deliverance" game.

Great thought. I'll take a look at their map and see what inspiration I can draw from it. "Banished" is another game that might be worth a look, come to think of it.
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Re: Requesting constructive criticism of maps

Postby Straelbora » Sun Mar 03, 2019 5:40 pm

SierraStrider wrote:
Iodo wrote:...the symbols look quite modern, is it possible to make them look more ''old world''...

A question that's been plaguing me as well. Icons that convey modern meaning with timeless symbols...perhaps a waystone for the trailheads, rather than a pedestrian whose garb can't help but be dated.
Iodo wrote: you could put the road name on followed by the number in brackets so the viewer knew what they were looking at - Tioga Road (120)

Brilliant. I'm definitely going with this.
Iodo wrote:rather than calling it a gas station you could call it a coach house, parking area: cart stop, grocery stores: market etc.

"Market" is perfect! I also like Elleth's "Travelers' rest" for lodging where applicable. The others might border on obfuscatory, but I like the direction you're thinking in. Gives me an idea for icons as well...perhaps a wagon-type wheel for a gas station or parking lot.
Iodo wrote:the roads/hiking trails should stand out a little more

Thanks for the tip. I'm using the same symbology for both maps, but I may have them set to different levels of opacity. I'll check. Otherwise, you may be right that Yosemite's greater forest coverage may be what makes it look different.
Elleth wrote:A stylistic reference you might look at is the travelling map in the "Kingdom Come Deliverance" game.

Great thought. I'll take a look at their map and see what inspiration I can draw from it. "Banished" is another game that might be worth a look, come to think of it.


I think the above list of changes will help. I prefer the Pointe Reyes map in overall style (and now I want tamales). I agree with reworking modern references to 'ye olden times' style when available.

Technical issues aside, they're both beautiful works of art. Congratulations.
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Greg
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Re: Requesting constructive criticism of maps

Postby Greg » Sun Mar 03, 2019 7:16 pm

I find them both visually quite stunning. I consider both locations to be old favorite haunts, so it's fun to see them in this light.

However:

If you're earnestly after archaic styling, I feel like the slanted look-down perspective rather than a perfectly flat, top-down view feels inherently modern. It feels more topographical than archaic...almost like a hand-drawn stylized Google Maps terrain view. I'd personally prefer something a bit more line drawn, with less shading, etc. It may just be that Point Reyes lends itself more to having a Tolkienesque feel given that it's got a substantial body of water on it, or that Yosemite doesn't lend itself as well to this style because of the sheer amount of topography involved.

BUT.

I think these are really cool...so there's nothing inherently wrong with what you've got here already. Two cents!
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SierraStrider
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Re: Requesting constructive criticism of maps

Postby SierraStrider » Sun Mar 03, 2019 10:21 pm

Bumr Blackbrand wrote:Let me preface by saying that I love this idea and I definitely want one when designs are finalized.


Once in production, I'll definitely post a coupon code here as thanks for everyone's help. True to my experience with this being one of the most pleasant places on the internet, it's the only place I've been able to find good critique, and I'll be happy to pay that back if I can.

Bumr Blackbrand wrote:The key in both seems a little barren.


Very true, but primarily because any changes I make need to be reflected in the keys, so they're the last thing to be fully populated. On your suggestion, I'll be sure to add the water.

Bumr Blackbrand wrote:Another thing I'd consider is the scale of the map. They look pretty big, about 1:250,000?


Well eyeballed. For the 18"x12" size Yosemite map the average scale will be almost exactly 250,000:1. A map double that size (24x36, 125,000:1) will also be available. I say average, because the forced perspective looks all wrong without foreshortening so the "Y" axis is 57% shorter than the X axis (318,000:1 vs 184,000:1.) Incidentally, the Z axis is about 172,000:1, so the relief is almost exactly to scale, by happy accident. The point Reyes map is only about 50,000:1.

To your point, these particular maps are for overviews of specific parks or other areas, not detailed navigation. I don't think most folks would buy a " 1/4 of Yosemite" poster.
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SierraStrider
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Re: Requesting constructive criticism of maps

Postby SierraStrider » Sun Mar 03, 2019 11:59 pm

Greg wrote:I feel like the slanted look-down perspective rather than a perfectly flat, top-down view feels inherently modern. It feels more topographical than archaic...almost like a hand-drawn stylized Google Maps terrain view... It may just be that Point Reyes lends itself more to having a Tolkienesque feel given that it's got a substantial body of water on it, or that Yosemite doesn't lend itself as well to this style because of the sheer amount of topography involved.


Many old maps, being concerned primarily with sea travel, were quite sparse on topographic details. Those that had them did often resort to a sort of false perspective for things like mountain ranges--probably because a row of triangles is a lot easier to draw than an actual, accurate mountain range, and it would take a brave soul to try and blindly traverse the complex landscape that row of triangles represented. That said, you're right; they didn't apply any foreshortening to speak of. I tried this a few different ways--using an isometric projection of the landscape without foreshortening, closer to what is seen in authentic ancient maps--and I can only say it hurts the brain to look at. Things are stretched in a way that looks subtly but undeniably wrong. Perhaps a better artist than I would be more capable of making it work, but to my chagrin my skill is far more in modern data manipulation than anything approaching real art.

Though maps just like these may never have existed, I genuinely think they could have. Barring the development of contour lines in the late 1700s, isometric maps like this might be the best way to accurately convey topology, and while far less precise, are a more intuitive continuation of the preceding techniques than modern topo maps. I could definitely see a scholarly hobbit with a burrow in Petaluma spending a few years with a compass, chain and quadrant to draw that map of Point Reyes. That it took me a few days with data collected from the Space Shuttle is merely leveling the playing field for my meager human lifespan.

You're ABSOLUTELY right about Yosemite. The point Reyes map is far more striking and was a LOT easier to make, but not because of the sheer amount of topography--almost the opposite, to my mind. Yosemite's glacier-hewn granite is characterized by high plateau and rounded, rolling features. V-shaped river valleys and jagged horns present much more definition and lend themselves far better to this art style than the roches moutonnées and U-shaped glacial beds around Yosemite.

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