"Geography and our identification with it, give us a sense of place."
Maps are challenging information design challenges containing many layers of spatial information melded together into a flat, 2D document. Our philosophy is to use every design tool available to present geographic information as clearly and elegantly as possible.
Since the early 2000's, we have evolved a unique and compelling shaded relief map style which has proven popular with hikers, mountain bikers, runners, and even other map-makers. This style has been progressively refined as a result of feedback from map users. Art of Geography maps were the official map at a number of California State Parks.
Similar to the discovery phase of a website project, the first step is understanding who the audience for the map will be. If it will be a hardcopy map, then the print size is going to have a huge impact on downstream choices. Depending on the scale of the map, a projection may need to be chosen based on the map goals and audience.
If the end product is a paper map, mockups are made to show how the folded map might look. Not every printer can handle every fold option, so getting the printer locked in will help with the fold options.
For most of our map projects, we use a variety of GIS tools to compile a complete geospatial dataset for the area being mapped, usually including data from field observations. Recently QGIS has been the GIS tool of choice, but we've used Cartographica and GlobalMapper.
Then once the GIS data is complete, it is exported so the final map can be designed and refined in Adobe Illustrator. Inevitably a number of proof and review cycles occur so that the map can be tested by real people. When the map is ready, it is imported into InDesign so the complete brochure can be laid out.
Then once the GIS data is complete, it is exported so the final map can be designed and refined in Adobe Illustrator. Inevitably a number of review cycles occur so that the map can be tested by real people. Then it is time for submitting to the printer and reviewing their proof prints.
Maps remind us of where we’ve been and where we’d still like to go.