What does one do when a passion for historical people and events takes you to places you’ve never been only to find that there are no accurate maps to get you there? If you’re Billy Roberts you channel your expertise in spatial analysis, cartography, and passion for the Wild West into a nearly year-long research project that culminates in writing a book and launching your own map publishing company.
By day, Roberts is a is a member of the Geospatial Data Science team within the Systems Modeling & Geospatial Data Science Group at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). In his spare time, he is an avid fan of Billy the Kid and other notable personas of the Wild West.
‘After a lot of reading about Billy the Kid, I decided that I wanted to visit some of the places that I had just read about.’ says Roberts. ‘But I quickly found that there were really no good maps out there. Tourist maps are not hard to find but they tend to be less than accurate, incomplete, and feature covered wagons and stuff that isn’t really relevant to the story that the map is telling.’ he adds.
So, I went to New Mexico, talked to local historians and spent nine months researching locations that are part of the narrative of Billy the Kid and the Lincoln County War. Some of the locations I visited are on private ranches and sometimes the land-owners didn’t even know about them. I used historical maps as a reference and was able to verify that the places, buildings, or artifacts were there. Then I georeferenced everything and mapped it all out using MAPublisher.
Roberts has been using the MAPublisher plug-in for Adobe Illustrator for more than 8 years. ‘The combination of MAPublisher and Illustrator lets you do things you can’t do with other mapping software, and once you get past the initial learning curve, it’s easy to use.
Making maps of the Wild West presents some design challenges that Roberts is able to overcome with MAPublisher. ‘I work almost exclusively in MAPublisher. I use Geographic Imager to combine hillshades with digital old paper textures to get the background effects I want, then use MAPublisher for all the mapping and digitizing.’ For his Billy the Kid map, Roberts imported data sets stored as shapefiles into MAPublisher and used Illustrator to add fonts that were typically used on maps in the 1700s and 1800s to give them maps a realistic, authentic look. ‘I could not make maps the way I do with ArcGIS.’ says Roberts. ‘I can do so much more with the design in MAPublisher, and it lets me work quickly and efficiently. If at any time I have a problem or questions, I can contact Avenza and someone always gets back to me. I know that they have fixed bugs and implemented solutions based on my suggestions.’ he adds. ‘It feels like Avenza is on my team.’
Roberts has now published three maps based on the Lincoln County War which are distributed mainly through Roberts’ website. His Billy the Kid wall map, which in addition to being aesthetically pleasing, is also educational. The map has become extremely popular at festivals and in the museums of the historic town of Lincoln, New Mexico, even earning a spot in the visitor’s center. Up next for Roberts are more maps and a detailed book about Billy the Kid. ‘I want to tell his story from a geographic perspective because for me, seeing how things fit together spatially helps to make the story much more real.’
Avenza Maps v3.6 is now available for iOS and Android devices! This latest update includes new features and improvements based on user feedback.
A major theme for this release is navigation, as it introduces a suite of features in the new navigation tool set accessible in the new Map View toolbar. We have enhanced the app’s usability by adding the GPS and Tracking features to the new toolbar. The toolbar is easily accessible by swiping up in the Map View to reveal three options; GPS, Tracking and Navigation.
We’ve added some basic GPS location data to the toolbar including altitude information (frequently requested by users!) as well as bearing and accuracy information. Heading in a specific direction? Your course will change based on your average bearing to help keep you orientated!
What was previously the Record GPS Tracks feature has found a new home as the Tracking feature on the Map View toolbar (but it can still be accessed through the Map Tools in the bottom right). This tab includes some of the features from the GPS tab, and also allows you to track distance travelled, average speed and the duration of your tracks. Once you start tracking, swipe the toolbar down to reveal more of your map but keep those valuable tracking statistics viewable at the bottom of the screen.
Navigation within the app is intended to be a direct route to the destination (point-to-point). Navigation can be accessed in the new Map View toolbar but is also quickly available in the Map Tools (three dots)at the bottom-right of the screen.
Do you know the direction and distance to a particular location? Set the bearing and distance to your destination, and the app will place a placemark on the map as a guide. You can choose the bearing by either pointing your device in a direction (the heading will automatically be entered) or lock the compass and type in your own bearing. Select from different units of measurement for your distance like meters, yards, or even minutes by walking!
Navigate to Placemark
There are a few ways to navigate to an existing placemark on the map. Of course, you can select Navigate to a placemark in the navigation tab or you can elect to edit one of your previously placed placemarks on the map by tapping the Navigation button.
Enter Destination Coordinates
Know the specific coordinates of a destination you want to navigate to? We’ve got you covered! If you receive a set of coordinates you want to navigate to, use the Enter destination coordinates option which will place a placemark on the map, create a path between your location and the placemark as a guide, and bring up the navigation features to help lead you to your coordinates.
Once a navigation option is chosen, details such as speed, distance, and estimated time of arrival are shown in the navigation panel and can be accessed for the duration of your course by swiping the toolbar down. This will hide the compass, thereby allowing you to have a full view of the map and the course to your destination while still showing key statistics like speed, distance and the estimated time of arrival to your destination.
Cloud Import and Export Options
We’ve added more opitons for importing and exporting map features with support for cloud storage apps. When importing map features, and choose From Storage Locations to pull up every possible file storage option on your device. New options include Google Drive, OneDrive, Box and other third-party cloud storage applications.
You can now choose the declination for the app’s built-in compass as it now supports magnetic declination and magnetic north. Users can opt to switch to magnetic north in the Map View settings in the app.
About the Author
Andrea Becker is a member of the Support team at Avenza Systems and is excited to help navigate users through all of the wonderful new features in version 3.6!
Alison DeGraff Ollivierre caught the geo/carto-bug from an introductory geography course in her first semester at Middlebury College, quickly realizing that the discipline was the perfect combination of her diverse interests in global affairs, conservation, history, and sociology. Now a cartographer at National Geographic Maps, Ollivierre works on the Trails Illustrated topographic outdoor recreation map products from an office in Colorado, making it easy for her to always be planning her next hike or trip to a National Park.
Ollivierre began her professional career as a Geography Intern at National Geographic in 2011, working with NatGeo Live and the Giant Traveling Maps. During her internship, she had the opportunity to make maps for a few NatGeo Explorer lectures and Giant Traveling Map fact cards, but what really stuck with her was how the incredible breadth of geography was used every day at NatGeo (and meeting Sylvia Earle—she thought that was pretty cool!). Since then she has gone on to win multiple awards for her cartography and was recently recognized by xyHt Magazine as a 40 Under 40 Remarkable Geospatial Professional for 2018.
As a certified GIS Professional, with a master’s degree in Geoinformatics from the University of the West Indies, Ollivierre knows geospatial data and how to handle it but also understands that—while the data is important—there is more that goes into making a good map than just the data. ‘I believe strongly in the importance of great design.’ explains Ollivierre. ‘It has the power to make geospatial data more engaging, interesting, and accessible to its audience.’
Ollivierre started using MAPublisher—a cartography plug-in for Adobe Illustrator—in 2016 when she returned to work at NatGeo after facilitating a participatory mapping project in the Eastern Caribbean, working as a cartographer and GIS specialist in Maine, and conducting freelance cartographic work for organizations across the globe. ‘I had played briefly around with a trial version of MAPublisher before that and heard a lot of great things about the software, so I was excited to learn how to use it at NatGeo Maps.’ says Ollivierre. ‘We complete 99% of our daily tasks in Illustrator + MAPublisher so its power is clearly evident in our workflow.’
Making quality maps that bring to life complex geospatial data requires a mix of science, art, and specialized tools to get it right. ‘I love the process of turning raw data into a map that clearly (and attractively!) gets its point across.’ says Ollivierre. ‘For me, MAPublisher is the obvious choice to bridge that gap between GIS and cartography.’
Infographics are a great way to transform less than exciting data into a visualization that is both digestible and fun to look at. Adobe Illustrator and MAPublisher work perfectly together to make infographics simple like the one I made for National Spumoni Day.
You might have noticed, we like to celebrate national food days here at Avenza Systems. Instead of making just a map to celebrate this layered frozen delight, I made an infographic, containing not just one but two maps! Using a combination of Adobe Illustrator and MAPublisher tools, this infographic has graphs and two maps teaching you fun facts all about spumoni, gelato, and ice cream. Curious about how I made it? Keep reading!
What is spumoni you may ask? Spumoni is a molded gelato with different layers and, usually containing nuts and fruit! Spumoni is usually 3-4 flavours. Cherry, pistachio, and chocolate or vanilla are the most common.
The infographic consists of two different maps; one showing the amount of ice cream eaten per capita around the world, and another showing the amount of milk produced per year by country.
To create each map, an Excel spreadsheet was created with information about the countries milk production, as well as the average amount of ice cream eaten. Once the spreadsheet was created, I joined the tables in the MAP Attributes.
Once the tables were joined, I used MAP Themes to stylize the maps. MAP Themes are an easy way to stylize areas, lines, and points. I created a MAP Theme for each map, based on the attributes I created. One MAP Theme for the dairy production, and one for ice cream consumption. I used the ‘Batch Generate Rules’ option and chose 5 classes. I then chose the fill colour to be a custom colour group I created with spumoni-inspired colours.
Once I’d generated my rules, I applied my MAP Theme. I then followed the same steps for the dairy production map.
My favourite part of MAP Themes is that it’s super easy to create a MAP Theme legend after. To create a MAP Theme legend, select your MAP Theme Stylesheet and click the Legend button at the bottom of the window.
There are lots of options for customization when creating the legend. You can change the legend entries size, and the legend key font, size, colour, as well as details about the title, and the border.
Once the legend was created, I created the graphs using Adobe Illustrator’s Graph Tool. The graphs use the same colours as the maps, and for finishing touches I added the ice cream symbols and fun facts. Click below to see the finished infographic. Have fun celebrating National Spumoni Day, and have fun making your own infographics!
Importing map data into MAPublisher can be a time-consuming process if the data set is very large. You can reduce the time it takes to import by filtering the data first, isolating only the layers that you need.
This quick video shows you how to create layer filters by selecting attributes, and also using expressions.
For more How It’s Done videos subscribe to our YouTube Channel
We’re excited to announce the release of MAPublisher 10.2 for Adobe Illustrator. The MAPublisher product team has been working closely with our customers to build these features to improve map design productivity.
This update contains new features and performance improvements as well as fixes for reported issues. Some highlights are mentioned below, for the full release notes see below.
Filter layers and attributes with expressions on import. This feature that has been requested by many users in the past and we’re happy to say it’s finally here! While filtering attributes and geometry has been available since MAPublisher 10.0, the ability to filter specific layers and attributes using an expression was not available until now. This let’s you fine-tune your layer and attribute filter to only include (or exclude) specific data at the attribute value level. This improves Adobe Illustrator performance by reducing the number of map features and attributes being imported. The Filter Geometry feature has been renamed Spatial Filter and it retains the same functionality. In addition, these filtering and simplification tools reside together in an improved user interface.
Simplify complex art on import. Another new import feature that reduces the amount of data is Simplification. It allows for the simplification or generalization of vector line and area data during data import instead of after. Using simplification during import reduces the number of map features and attributes being imported and improves overall performance. Simplification can be applied to all art together or applied separately to lines or areas and use either the Douglas-Peucker or Visvalingam-Whyatt method for removing nodes and vertices.
New support for WFS 2.0, AutoCAD 2018, and OGR formats. Several new formats are supported and updated in MAPublisher 10.2. The WFS 2.0 specification improves on a number of functionalities including response paging. More than 1,000 features can be loaded from a WFS server now. The AutoCAD 2018 format allows you to import and export version 22.0 DXF, DWG and DGN files. Read and write capabilities have been improved by updating OGR import formats (GML and PostGIS) and OGR export formats (GML and GeoJSON).
Overprint option for MAP Legend art. Overprint is essential in print production and reduces unsightly edges that could appear if printing plates are not perfectly aligned. MAPublisher generated art from Scale Bar, Grids and Graticules, and MAP Theme legends now have an overprint setting to ensure that art can be maintained as MAPublisher objects without having to expand art as separate objects, strokes, and fills.
MAPublisher 10.2 Release Notes
Filter layers and attributes with expressions on import
Simplify complex art on import
Import support for WFS 2.0 and AutoCAD 2018
Export support for GeoJSON and AutoCAD 2018
Introduces MAPublisher with a Simplified Chinese interface option
Brazilian-based cartographer, Mirian Isabel Say, has two passions: making maps and traveling. Lucky enough to live in a large, diverse, and beautiful country as Brazil, she has extensively traveled through it to gain inspiration for personal growth and to find influences for her map designs. As an idealist, Mirian considers maps as works of art, not merely used to perform a singular function. Especially in a natural resource-rich country like Brazil, she believes that maps can help change the lives of its users, transcending the use of maps from a purely commercial purpose to a purpose that is appreciated and acknowledged.
For Mirian, the map design process is a huge personal journey, and having the right tools can be the difference between a published map and a map left unfinished on the computer. When Mirian began her cartography career in 1992, her choice of existing graphic design software was limited and didn’t include suitable tools specific to mapping. Even as the software improved, it didn’t support any of the commonly used geographic data file formats and she was limited to importing data that was not spatially referenced. For example, to accurately create a map scale by hand is very complicated—as any well-trained cartographer knows—and the functionality to do it digitally wasn’t available. Exporting to other cartography formats was not feasible since maps were not georeferenced. Symbols and labels were placed individually, often taking many hours of labour.
By 2004, graphic design and GIS software had become more advanced. Mirian learned about MAPublisher in-person at a GIS and mapping trade show and immediately liked how the many cartography and GIS tools were seamlessly integrated into Adobe Illustrator. She believed she finally found a cartography product that would be an all-in solution. When she returned home, she continued working in her existing graphic design environment, but continued to experience the many shortfalls of it. After some careful planning, she decided to take the leap and jump in headfirst to acquire MAPublisher and Adobe Illustrator.
Any major changes to a workflow including one that involves new software can be difficult at the beginning. Mirian began to adapt from her older graphic design software and learned the new MAPublisher toolsets through Avenza resources and working with the Avenza Support team directly with questions about workflows and best practices. “My type of work is not very common in Brazil and there are few engineers and cartographers who do it. Many years ago, I received professional critiques that my maps were beautiful but not accurate enough. Today, I’m very glad to say that I can create maps just as beautifully and more importantly keep them accurate.”
Mirian’s style of mapping is an immersive experience. When hired to produce indigenous and environmental maps for the Brazilian state of Acre government, she researched the region’s geography, read about its natural resources, and made a trip to visit to explore the culture, people, and food. She says she hopes that others can also see the human side of geographic space as she portrays it in her maps and that maps can provide not just information, but social change. She believes that her connection to and experiences of places make her a better cartographer. When she created the official tourism map for the City of Rio de Janeiro, her home city, she wanted to be “in the present” and decided to explore areas of the city intimately by foot to visit museums, beaches, and landmarks. The City also helped her understand the scale of the area by helicopter – a definite highlight in her career. The result was an appreciation of the city’s colour palette expressed on her map. “The sea was light blue, the green forests were intense, and the rock formations were magnificent. Rio de Janeiro is a very sunny and cheerful city so I used cheerful yellowish-green colors.”
Mirian continues to produce maps for many clients and has had her maps featured in several publications. She has also taught several post-graduate cartography courses at universities and lectures on cartography techniques and the importance of using the best cartography tools available.
In a previous post, we shared ideas about key elements that make great maps according to our friends atMap the Xperience. They presented awebinar on the subject, so we poached their ideas forPart 1 of this blog discussing the importance of map quality and connecting with the user. In Part 2 we’ll expand on the other two elements, Presentation & Design, and Accuracy.
After identifying the target audience and deciding on the level of detail required, putting all of the relevant data on a map while keeping it readable is a challenge. Good maps document what the reader needs to know at a basic level to prevent getting lost. Great maps highlights what the reader needs to know to fully experience the mapped area. It all starts with map accuracy and the readability imparted by the presentation and design of the information.
Presentation & Design
A map quickly becomes cluttered as additional layers of data are added so how do you present all of that in a way that doesn’t make people’s eye’s pop out? It pays to have some knowledge of design, or get some advice from someone who does. Can you use colour to convey any of the information on the map, and is the colour scheme pleasing to look at? Do the symbols make sense to anyone but you? Are they simple and not open to interpretation? Can shading or patterns be used to highlight map features? Map The Xperience takes the design process very seriously and highlights their 3D hillshading asone of the features that make their maps unique.
An equally important part of the discussion about presentation includes thinking about how and where readers will use the map. Is it in paper format or digital? Will they be reading it thousands of feet in the air in a hot air balloon, at a table studying the map with a group, or on a tablet in the middle of a forest? Anticipating how a map will be used helps to make design decisions such font and symbol sizes, label placement, and the use of legends.
What’s the point of a map that isn’t accurate? This is obvious and yet still worth mentioning. While lots of lovely art is made by taking liberties with the accuracy of map elements (that’s another blog post) maps for specific activities need to be accurate – spatially and in the supporting information. This can mean field testing maps in the way thatMapsynergy tests its ski resort maps by actually skiing the hills, andNew York-New Jersey Trail Conference constantly updates maps according to data collected by its members and staff. It can also mean augmenting physical data with local knowledge.Rhonda Lerner visits each of the businesses listed on her tourist map to verify that the the are tourist-friendly and current.Pixmap Cartografia Digital researches the local names for locations on their maps of Argentina and Chile, because in the end, who can knows a place better than the people who live there.
In summary, good maps are functional while great maps add to the experience of visiting a place by being, all at once, informative, accurate, easy-to-use and pretty to look at. It’s no easy feat to meet all of those criteria. Perhaps the pursuit of the perfect map is the reason why cartographers are so passionate and dedicated to their craft.
The Channel Management tool in Geographic Imager is excellent for quickly making false-color composites from multispectral images in Adobe Photoshop. In this blog, we’ll take a look at Channel Management and see how it can be used on LandSat 8 imagery.
Most satellite providers supply a tile or scene as several images while each image captures a different wavelength of the satellite’s electromagnetic spectrum. The LandSat 8 satellite instruments measure in the visible, near-infrared and shortwave infrared portions of the spectrum. Its images have 15-metre panchromatic and 30-metre multi-spectral spatial resolutions. Here is a list of all LandSat 8 band names, bandwidth, and resolution.
Band # | Type Bandwidth (µm) | Resolution (m)
Band 1 Coastal Aerosol | 0.43 – 0.45 | 30
Band 2 Blue | 0.45 – 0.51 | 30
Band 3 Green | 0.53 – 0.59 | 30
Band 4 Red | 0.63 – 0.67 | 30
Band 5 Near Infrared (NIR) | 0.85 – 0.88 | 30
Band 6 SWIR 1 | 1.57 – 1.65 | 30
Band 7 SWIR 2 | 2.11 – 2.29 | 30
Band 8 Pan | 0.50 – 0.68 | 15
Band 9 Cirrus | 1.36 – 1.38 | 30
Band 10 TIRS 1 | 10.6 – 11.19 | 30 (100)
Band 11 TIRS 2 | 11.5 – 12.51 | 30 (100)
Before starting, you can download some sample LandSat 8 imagery here and follow this tutorial.
To create different band combinations, we’ll first need to combine images into one image and then use Channel Management to assign band combinations.
1. In Adobe Photoshop, open all of the 30-metre resolution images:
Band 1 – Coastal Aerosol
Band 2 – Blue
Band 3 – Green
Band 4 – Red
Band 5 – Near Infrared (NIR)
Band 6 – SWIR 1
Band 7 – SWIR 2
Band 9 – Cirrus
When using Landsat 8 imagery, file names have a _B and the band number as a suffix (e.g. LC80450292013225LGN00_B1.TIF). Note that Band 8 wsa not used because it is has a different resolution.
Now that the band images are open, we can continue to combine the images into a single image using the Adobe Photoshop Merge Channels feature to store the spectral information. Each channel is grayscale which can be used to store different information.
2. Go to View > Channels to open the Channels panel. In the panel options menu, select Merge Channels. In the Merge Channels dialog box, the Mode will automatically default to Multichannel because there are eight channels. Click OK.
The Merge Multichannel dialog box will immediately appear. In this dialog box, we’ll specify each image to use for each channel. It’s very important to assign a channel to the according image. In this case, the naming convention of the images makes it easy because the images are in the correct order. In addition, when combining multiple images, it is good practice to ensure that all the images have the exact same image size and are georeferenced the same.
3. Notice the “Specify Channel 1” text, you’ll assign the Band 1 image to it. Click the Image drop-down to display all the images that are compatible to be merged. Select the first image which ends in _B1.tif and click the Next button. For “Specify Channel 2”, select the image ending with _B2.tif and click Next.
4. Repeat the steps for the remaining images until all eight channels have been assigned an image, ensuring the channel number matches the image band number. The only exception will be Channel 8 which uses Band 9 – Cirrus (_B9.tif) because we didn’t include the panchromatic band 8 which has a higher resolution and different georeference.
The images are now merged into a single image in Multichannel mode. Since an image in Multichannel mode is not compatible with Geographic Imager, it will have to be converted to Grayscale mode.
5. Go to Image > Mode > Grayscale. This will assign the first alpha channel (Band 1 – Coastal Aerosol) to use the Grayscale colour space.
6. In the Channels panel, rename all the channels to their corresponding bands.
Alpha 2 -> Band 2 – Blue
Alpha 3 -> Band 3 – Green
Alpha 4 -> Band 4 – Red
Alpha 5 -> Band 5 – NIR
Alpha 6 -> Band 6 – SWIR 1
Alpha 7 -> Band 7 – SWIR 2
Alpha 8 -> Band 9 – Cirrus
Renaming channels makes assigning band combinations easier in later steps. It is recommended to save this image as the source for all band combinations and use Save As to create a new images when saving band combinations.
7. In the Geographic Imager panel, click the Channel Management button.
The Channel Management dialog box shows the current colour mode is Grayscale.
8. Change the Color Mode to RGB Color.
Now the fun begins, we can easily create any band combination. A traditional color infrared image (CIR) is band combination 5-4-3. This refers to what band is assigned to the RGB channels, respectively. CIR is good at determining the health of vegetation; the cell structure of leaves strongly reflects near-infrared light and the stronger the light sensed, the healthier the plants are.
8. Assign Band 5 as the Red channel, Band 4 as the Green channel, and Band 3 as the Blue channel.
9. Click OK to complete the process.
We now have a image which can be used to determine healthy vegetation which is shown in bright red. This makes it easier to determine different types of vegetation making it easier to identify crops and wetland.
Some other common Landsat band combinations are:
Natural Color: 4-3-2
False Color (urban): 7-6-4
Color Infrared (vegetation): 5-4-3
Atmospheric Penetration: 7-6-5
Healthy Vegetation: 5-6-2
Natural With Atmospheric Removal: 7-5-3
Shortwave Infrared: 7-5-4
Vegetation Analysis: 6-5-4
Another band combination of 6-5-2 can show how healthy vegetation is.
10. Use the History panel to go to the previous step.
This will reset the Channels so that another band combination can be configured easily.
Another great way to make non-destructive edits is to use Adobe Photoshop adjustment layers. Adjustment layers layer can be used individually or in combination to adjust settings such as levels, exposure, contrast, brightness, hue, and saturation to make it easier for the human eye to identify features. It is not recommended to alter an images resolution if it is going to be used in third-party remote sensing software.
There are several options when saving an image like this and it depends on whether you want to maintain the channels or not. When the channels aren’t needed, GeoTIFF is a popular format and is compatible with most spatial software applications. In the TIFF save options, you can uncheck the option for Alpha Channel and Spot, which will prevent saving the alpha channels and will create a saved copy. You can also simply save it as a PSD file (a default reference file will be created) and with all the alpha channels intact. Note that including channels will increase the size of the file.