Documenting your mapping process is really helpful. These days, I have a 6×9″ book layout in Affinity Publisher. It acts like a hard copy cookbook for map making. In this, I note the programs, files, processes, and thoughts. This post is referenced in my notes about setting up the NEPA Trails Map. Basically, I’m explaining to myself what I did.
Why is documenting processes important?
There are many ways to create a terrain. Depending on the aesthetic, I’ll use different approaches. And documentation helps to maintain consistency when I go to update the map years later.
Many aspects of a map are maintained in terms of style sheets, symbols, color swatches, etc. And in this case, I like to write notes to remind myself of hex codes I used for color or where I stored style sheets.
About this specific video
When I made the previous version of the NEPA Trails Map in 2015, all of the polygon layers were maintained in Illustrator. I used transparencies over the shaded relief.
Between the 2015 and the 2022 versions of the map, I had been working with watercolor effects applied to terrain that looked like this:
I’m often experimenting with a new approach. And it helps me to just turn on a screen capture. I may make another post about this specific map, but here’s a link to the video relating to the locator. And here’s the process I went through to originally make the map design. This video is about two hours long.
So, I began to try a similar watercolor approach for the NEPA Trails map. It didn’t actually give me the result I hoped for.
Ultimately, I went with a simple process that would be more easy to update while still looking good.
Process for preparing the base layer:
- Manage layers in QGIS
- Export to PA State Plane North
- 200 dpi, no anti-aliasing, create world file
- Open in Affinity Photo and denoise, where the luminance detail is 30% and all other settings are 100%
- Export as jpg
- import into Illustrator
There are many ways to do something. Keeping track of the process is essential for consistency from map to map.