Ortelius Map Design Software for MacOS

Mapdiva was founded in 2008 by Graham P. Cox and Jill Saligoe-Simmel to empower people to design custom maps using extraordinary cartography tools on their Mac.

We were frustrated by a lack of software to make custom maps without requiring you build a database first.  We knew there had to be a better way.  So with a focus on the user, we created Ortelius (named after the 16th-century cartographer, Abraham Ortelius).  Ortelius is unique cartography software that meets the mapping needs of graphic designers, savvy public, historians, project managers, researchers, and people like you.

Ortelius is a unique professional creativity app that’s a hybrid between a vector drawing program and a geographic information system (though Ortelius is decidedly not GIS).

Ortelius adds tailored functionality for map design, such as connectable track tools, powerful style engine, library of expert styles & map symbols, and robust templates. If you’ve ever tried making a map in a standard drawing program, you know how tedious it can be. Or, perhaps you’ve lamented how difficult it is to make quality map graphics in a GIS.

Ortelius automates many of the tedious tasks in manual cartography with a clear eye towards high-quality graphics, so you can focus your creative energy on content and design.

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Mapdiva also makes Artboard® the vector drawing software to create crisp vector graphics, logos, icons and illustrations. Artboard features “smart” objects, direct select tool, a powerful style generator and stacked styles that go way beyond simple fill and stroke, providing a wide range of spectacular effects. It delivers with over 1900 styles and clipart include a wide assortment of maps, shapes, color swatches, pictographics, floor plan, and flowchart graphics. Exclusively for macOS.

Written History Needs Maps

Guest post by Pieter S. Burggraaf, 2015

Put it before them briefly so they will read it, clearly so they will appreciate it, picturesquely so they will remember it, and, above all, accurately so they will be guided by its light.

– From the pen of Joseph Pulitzer (1847-1911)

The telling of history needs illustrative maps. In a rather simple view, history is the movement of people across geography in the past. Henry Walker and Don Bufkin captured this idea in their wonderful reference book Historical Atlas of Arizona. According to these authors, “History is the story of man—his actions, his comings and goings, and his settlements. As most of mankind’s actions and travels and the places” where men and women settled are “controlled by natural settings—terrain, climate, geography, and even geology—an understanding of the land is essential to an understanding of history.”(1)

Unfortunately, in so many books today about historic events, and even many of the classic books of yesterday, the text usually screams for a map to illustrate where events happened and what the people of the times thought they knew about the lay of the land. In many written histories, the maps used seem to have been an afterthought with authors or publishers plugging-in whatever they could find. Many times, the maps used do not provide the details that are necessary to support the text where the maps are called out. Often the maps used are disconnected from the period of history being discussed. Or, large maps are crammed into a small book format rendering them illegible.

When I began writing The Walker Party, The Revised Story my goal was to put equal effort into the many maps that I felt the work needed. It took some time for me to get map-making right—almost six months—but I eventually taught myself some basic cartography and developed techniques that suited my limited skills.

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So, I have created each map in this book to fit legibly on a book-size page. Where possible, I have based the background geography and the positions of rivers, towns, and other geographic locations upon a period map. Each of my maps includes notation about its source. In addition, some of the maps in this book include reproductions of the original hachures—the classic symbols for representing geologic relief in cartography—from the source map.

Readers who are familiar with the areas depicted on the maps in this book will undoubtedly find misrepresentations compared to today’s maps. These should not be considered errors as such, but rather indicative of the incomplete knowledge of the territories of New Mexico and Arizona at the time. This will help the reader understand why the people in this story were often off by many miles when describing where they were or where they were going, or in many cases simply had no clue as to their whereabouts.

Finally, I have written extended captions that enable each map to stand alone with its intended information. I believe that you will find the maps that accompany this revised, more expansive story about the Walker party very informative, and I trust that the text will be equally rewarding.

by Pieter S. Burggraaf, 2015

Notes for Written History Needs Maps:
(1) Henry P. Walker, Don Bufkin, Historical Atlas of Arizona, Second Edition (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press,1986), iii.

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Excerpt from The Walker Party, The Revised Story: Across New Mexico and Arizona Territories and up the Hassayampa River, 1861-1863, by Pieter S. Burggraaf, available from Amazon.com. Used with permission. Read more about the book and view more of the maps in the Ortelius Showcase.

[Footnote to my readers: This article originally posted on the Mapdiva.com website, I thought it surely worth reposting. Forgive the shameless reference to my own commercial ventures.]

Natural Earth Data: Worldwide GIS Maps

If you’ve ever tried to find good, authoritative sources of free, public domain small-scale world map data you know it can be a daunting task. But not for long.

Natural Earth is a public domain map dataset available at 1:10m, 1:50m, and 1:110 million scales. Featuring tightly integrated vector and raster data, with Natural Earth you can make a variety of visually pleasing, well-crafted maps with cartography or GIS software. It is a boon for geographers, cartographers, and GIS folks working from regional to world scales (small scale). I’ll predict it will also have tremendous impact in the geography education arena, where it is much needed.

This dataset allows you to make beautiful and authoritative political and physical world maps quickly – from the large wall map variety down to postcard size. Instead of spending time looking for data, you will be able to focus on using the map to tell your geographic story. You are able to map at the continent and country levels (including showing provinces and some local cities, regional, and “world” cities).

Tom Patterson and Nathaniel Kelso collaborated on the precursor to his first Natural Earth Raster project several years ago and they now preview Natural Earth Raster + Vector, a new free product that complements and expands on the previous work by providing detailed GIS linework at the 1:15,000,000 (1:15 million) scale and new versions of the raster product (including cross-blended hyspometric tints). The project was unveiled at the 2009 North American Cartographic Information Society (NACIS) annual meeting on October 7th.

From “First Look at Natural Earth Vector.” This is a NACIS and mapgiving co-branded product with assistance from the University of Wisconsin-Madison cartography lab, Florida State University, and others. You can read more updates on the project at Kelso’s Corner.

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Making Natural Earth is a collaboration involving many volunteer NACIS members and cartographers around the globe. Jill Saligoe-Simmel, Mapdiva LLC, volunteered her time as a Research + Production Cartographer collaborating with the team managing the first release of worldwide country administrative units.

Maps In Modern Web Design: Showcase and Examples from Smashing Magazine

In a world where digital mapping is exploding, Zach Dunn offers an excellent review of different types of web maps and their various purposes.

His article, Maps In Modern Web Design: Showcase and Examples (Smashing Magazine) explores existing trends, conventions and the possible future of interactive maps online.

This isn’t a lesson in cartography, rather a review of the important purposes that maps can serve in modern web design. Three main areas seem to represent the majority of tasks:

  1. Navigation and directions,
  2. Show relationships and trends geographically,
  3. Show points of interest.

Geared primarily toward a web-designer audience, this article is good review for GIS specialists and cartographers preparing maps for online content. Zach describes the different ways to navigate online maps (drill down for information, timeline, zoom, before-and-after, and points of interest), looks at future trends, and provides a nice showcase of maps for inspiration.

Archive of Artistic Shaded Relief Online

If you love older maps for their uniquely hand-crafted style, you are really going to love this new resource – Shaded Relief Archive.


Through the advancements of modern digital elevation technologies, we are quickly loosing previous generations’ hand-drafted relief maps to new techniques, closing cartography companies, and the trash-bins outside their doors. A few individuals are seeking to preserve these beautiful resources by creating a public digital archive of shaded relief maps for integration with modern cartographic products.

Tom Patterson, US National Park Service, and Bernhard Jenny introduced an archive of stunning artistically rendered shaded relief images at the 2010 NACIS Practical Cartography Day.

While digital elevation models and hill shading techniques are common in todays world of digital cartography, these data sets often fall short of communicating the natural relief patterns particularly for small-scale mapping. As is illustrated below, digital relief tends to offer too much detail (image 2). The manually rendered terrain (image 1) provides a sense of the terrain when looking at a large region or world view. Both images are registered to 1:50 million Natural Earth vector drainages.

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1. Manual shaded relief by Herwig G. Schutzler of Latin America.

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2. Digital shaded relief from downsampled SRTM data.

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The images are georeferenced so you can use them with your small-scale mapping projects. Some shaded relief images are georeferenced and adjusted to fit the drainage network of the Natural Earth vector data. Data is stored in the GeoTIFF file format, a world file and reference coast lines in shape format are provided for each georeferenced image.

To add a quality of fine craftsmanship to your next project, check out this amazing resource today. If you know of a source that should be included, contributions are welcomed (please contact the authors).

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Hand Drawn Map Association: Oodles of Love for the Hand Drawn Map

An all-time favorite site of mine is the Hand Drawn Map Association. As I dole out love for the hand drawn map, I’d be remiss not to feature this fav.
Hand Drawn Map Association
The Hand Drawn Map Association (HDMA) is an ongoing archive of user submitted maps and other interesting diagrams created by hand. The HDMA website features a clean and easy to explore gallery and collections of maps. In addition, “Connect” provides notable happenings such as the September HDMA lecture and book signing at the New York Public Library.

The HDMA is also about to release From Here to There: A Curious Collection from the Hand Drawn Map Association a new book available for pre-order (only $11.80 USD) from Amazon. The book features an exclusive collection of maps and will be available this September.

For map lovers young and old, this site is just plain fun.

Atlas of Explorations for the Pacific Railroad: Giving Some Love for the Hand-Drawn Map

Who doesn’t love the artistry of a hand-drawn map? I’ve been looking at some fine examples lately and wanted to share a few of my personal favorites.

I’m starting with Elbie Bentley’s “Atlas of Explorations for the Pacific Railroad” because it represents a mastery of hand-drawn cartographic technique – particularly hachuring – seldom seen today. I’m also a big fan of multi-media when it comes to mapping, and Elbie seems to effortlessly merge her hand-drawn maps and digital cartography with much artistry and clarity.

Akin to the fine tradition in architectural drawing, combining hand-drawn techniques with digital should (in my opinion) be more common practice in modern cartography. I was first introduced to Elbie’s work this fall at NACIS. Elbie was kind enough afterward to share more of her work with me. This talented young cartographer has produced an integrated narrative piece of expedition through a beautilfully illustrated, self-published, “Atlas of Explorations for the Pacific Railroad” (see a preview of the Atlas on sale at Blurb). Okay, I’ve been officially sucked-in by the multi-media maps and narrative approach of the Atlas. I find it refreshing and inspiring, not only by the well designed content and articulation of the narrative, but also the craftsmanship and technique employed.

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Here is a summary from the Blurb website: “The Gunnison-Beckwith expedition for the Pacific Railroad (1853-1854) produced a particularly intriguing report containing adventure, illustration, and topographic presentation. The intensity of the stories and the beauty of the artistic products contained within the reports remain, however, largely unknown. This atlas represents this significant historical event in an a set of maps organized to be read like a novel. The cartographic language of the nineteenth century topographic explorers is also mimicked in each map to recreate their world of incorporated illustrations, observation, and text.” Elbie is a recent graduate of Ohio University – Department of Geography.

Ortelius Map Design Software for Mac: We’ve Launched!

A big thank-you to all of our testers and reviewers – we’ve made it! Check out our new web site for all the details on Ortelius, including a downloadable trial version. We’ll continue to add tips & tricks and screencasts to our web site to maintain it not only as our product site, but also as a rich educational resource for map making. To celebrate, we are offering an introductory special of $79 until September 30th. Development continues and we’d love to hear from you.

Ortelius Will Be at AAG: You’re Invited to Learn More

Does your mapping software inspire creativity? Ortelius is a new breed of mapping software designed to make your mapping easy, fun and beautiful.

Come find out how Ortelius can help you create publication-quality maps without the high learning curve or costs associated with other software.

In this workshop we’ll introduce Ortelius and demonstrate its capabilities. Attendees will learn how to create custom maps from scratch and with templates. Learn about Ortelius’ robust tools and palettes, and how to create unique and inspiring symbols in a flash.

Attendees will receive a FREE Public Beta copy of the Ortelius software for evaluation. Come learn how Ortelius can work for you.
Location of the 2009 AAG Conference
Association of American Geographers
Workshop Details

10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Wednesday
March 25, 2009
Capri Meeting Room 108
Riviera Hotel, Las Vegas

Ortelius is Powerful Map Illustration Software for Mac OS X
Learn more at www.mapdiva.com

Using Text on Maps: Typography in Cartography

Typography is the art and methods of arranging type, type design, and modifying type glyphs. In traditional typography, text is composed to create a readable, coherent, and visually satisfying whole that works invisibly, without the awareness of the reader. Even distribution with a minimum of distractions and anomalies are aimed at producing clarity and transparency.  The goal is legibility and readability.

Typography for cartography can be more complex than traditional typography because of complex text placement and potential density of features, visual hierarchy, and overall look and feel. On maps, text often represent features as symbols in their own right. There is often interplay between text and other multi-layered map features such as symbols, background colors, and textures. However, the overall goal of legibility and readability remains the same.

Felix Arnold (2004) lists several ways in which cartography differs from traditional typography:

  • On maps and plans, text competes with the graphics; in books and magazines, they normally work alongside one another
  • Cannot be placed over backgrounds that share the same color as the letters
  • Typically placed over many various types of backgrounds – which are usually dark – instead of a common white background
  • Small text can be difficult to read when placed over complex, textured backgrounds
  • The eye reads text on a map letter-by-letter, instead of through word shapes
  • Single lines of text often run across the page diagonally, or on a curve
  • Type size and style changes quite a lot on maps
  • Much map text is set in quite small point sizes

Understanding Typeface

A typeface (also known as font family) is a group of fonts, designed to be used in combination and exhibiting similarities in design.

map typography font families
Typographic font families

One member of a family may be rendered in italic, another bold, another condensed or using small caps. Each font of a typeface has a specific weight, style, condensation, width, slant, italicization, ornamentation, and designer or foundry (the variants). For example, “ITC Garamond Bold Condensed Italic” means the bold, condensed-width, italic version of ITC Garamond. It is a different font from “ITC Garamond Condensed Italic” and “ITC Garamond Bold Condensed,” but all are fonts within the same font family.

Individual letters, number, punctuation mark, or other symbol, called the type glyphs, are created and modified using a variety of illustration techniques.

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Serifs are semi-structural details on the ends of some of the strokes that make up letters and symbols (also known as Roman).

Serifs, highlighted in red

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A typeface without serifs is called sans-serif, from the French sans, meaning “without” (also known as Gothic). In traditional print, sans-serif fonts are more typically used for headlines than for body text.

Sans-serif

 

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 Weight, Stretch, Size

The font weight refers to the boldness or lightness of the glyphs used to render the text. The font stretch indicates the desired amount of condensing or expansion in the glyphs used to render the text. The font size refers to the size of the font from baseline to baseline.

As cartographic methods became more mechanical in the mid-20th century, the Leroy Lettering System was developed to help cartographers produce consistent, legible text. The Leroy type style is popular on maps of that era.  Today, the font “Sublime” closely mimics the Leroy style.

Leroy Lettering System (1) Phillips, R. J., Noyes, L. and Audley, R. J. (1977). The legibility of type on maps. Ergonomics, 20, 671-682.

Selecting Fonts for Cartography

The following should be considered in your font selection (Arnold, 2004):

  • The typeface must be legible in small sizes
  • Typeface must also be slightly narrow, to avoid line lengths running too long
  • Different styles and weights of the typeface must be clearly differentiated from one another
  • Individual letters must also all appear different from one another, to help minimize misreadings and misunderstandings
  • Typeface must be able to form good word shapes, which will also directly increase legibility

TypeBrewer is a highly recommended place to begin your selection of type for your map. In the TypeBrewer system, “Formal-B” and “Informal-B” are good choices if you are using pre-loaded system fonts. “Formal B” is a good choice for web fonts. Other listed type schemes require that you obtain fonts from external sources. These provide excellent solutions for cartography, though they can sometimes be expensive.

There are many sources of fonts available for free and for purchase via the web. For example, Cisalpin is a contemporary typeface marketed as the ideal typeface for cartography.

Cisalpin commercially available typeface for cartography

Cartographic Lettering Conventions

 

The following table presents the lettering conventions of a few cartography publishing houses:

Cartographic lettering conventions (The Guild Handbook of Scientific Illustration, Second Edition)

Cartographic convention says to pair a Sarif type family and a Sans-sarif type family on your map. Within each family different variants, sizes, and colors are applied. Most professional cartographers have their favorite pairings. For example, on the CartoTalk forum, the following were listed:

  • Frutiger with Meridien
  • Rotis and Univers
  • Myriad (sans) and Kepler (serif) and/or Adobe Jensen (serif) (traditional look)
  • Nueva (serif) and Tekton (sans) (modern look)

Arrangement

The overall arrangement of type involves the selection of typefaces, point size, line length, leading (line spacing), letter-spacing (tracking), style, effects, and kerning.  In typography, kerning is the process of adjusting letter spacing in a proportional font. In a well-kerned font, the two-dimensional blank spaces between each pair of letters all have similar area.

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