Tag Archives: Cartography

Graphic Art: Rainbow Compass

I’m in the process of developing a logo for a group that deals with geospatial (mapping, GPS data collection, cartography, etc.) consulting.  This is one of the doodles we’re working with.  Selecting colors for the points on the compass has been an interesting process.  At first, I picked the colors starting with the three primary colors (red, blue, yellow) spaced evenly, then filled in the rest with intermediate colors. When I had trouble making a gradient in the purple section, I thought, hey, these are digital numbers, why don’t I just do the math and pick the hue so that the numbers are evenly spaced?  The answer is that if you do that, you end up with very odd colors on each point, like muddy olive green.  That’s not attractive.  So the key was keeping all of the color parameters the same (saturation, lightness, alpha) the same and varying the hue so that it was visually appealing.


Favorite Cartographers: Erwin Raisz

Normal people don’t have favorite cartographers, but I think many geographers do.  I’ve simply fallen in love with the maps of Erwin Raisz.  How?  It’s not a name you hear too often, if at all, in the world of geography, it’s true.  I was introduced to his work by a writing assignment in one of my geography core classes for my PhD.  We were asked to write essays about famous geographers and directed to a series of volumes in the library containing short biographies of geographers.  I just started flipping through pages, found a cartographer, and went to work researching for my essay.  This is what I found:

Examples of Rasz's physiography from his book, Principles of Cartography.

Raisz developed this style of drawing maps that shows the landforms not as abstract symbols but as they look in real life.  They are seemingly more art than science, but appearances are deceiving in this respect because the man was a masterful cartographer.

An example of Raisz's style applied to the state of Michigan.

The detail in these maps and the amount of information is astounding.  This is really what I strive for in my own products – the combination of art and science that makes the subject feel so easy to understand, but conveys so much information.

Erwin Raisz's Armadillo Projection

And finally, if all the prettiness didn’t win you over yet, how can you not love the sense of humor in making a map projection in the shape of an armadillo?