Creativity in cartography – practical examples of map design in the publication entitled Prehistory of the genus Homo

Journal / Conference: 27th ICC - Maps Connecting the World (Rio de Janeiro, 24.-28. 8. 2015)
Authors: Jan D. Bláha
Year: 2015
Category of Publication: Contribution in Conference Proceedings
Pages, web: pouze abstrakt / only abstract
Link to full version:
Abstract: The theory of creativity in contemporary cartography was described by author in the article entitled “Creativity in current cartography” (Bláha 2008) as part of the symposium “Art and Cartography” (Vienna, February 2008). This contribution builds on the theory and delivers a practical demonstration of how an author can promote creativity within cartographic practice. Selected cartographic output from “Prehistory of the genus Homo” with the subtitle “who we are, where we are, where we are going” is presented within the poster. This is a unique publication, whose text originated nearly 20 years ago. The Czech cultural anthropologist Václav Soukup connects his knowledge of several disciplines in it, but also an extremely rich amount of visual images including maps. The publication is authored by domestic and foreign representatives of other professions: painters, graphic designers, photographers – and a cartographer. Although published in the Czech language, even those who have not mastered the Czech language will certainly be happy to become familiar with the publication, too, thanks to its plentiful visual images. A big positive is that an English language version of this publication is going to be published in the future. Due to the high number of co-authors, some unification of style was needed, which would form a compact unit of a book with over a thousand pages. The author’s requirement stated: to create where possible accurate, but stylistically fresh maps evoking oil paintings. Right now oil paintings are in fact being used within the reconstruction of the various stages of human development, including activities and the environment that surrounded humans. The bases of the maps were created within ArcGIS for Desktop including the exact location of archaeological sites based on aerial photographs, available U.S. topographic maps and GPS coordinates. Within the geodatabase, data from the freely available reference data layers of Natural Earth (mainly watercourses, land, establishments) was used. Old land from the period of glacial ages was created on the basis of older analogue maps. The base of the map is colour-modified digital terrain model (DTM). Subsequently, DTM (ocean bottom and land) was converted to raster format and graphically modified using art techniques in Adobe Photoshop. Vector data, including a description of objects was further modified in CorelDRAW. Map finalization was done in Adobe InDesign. This example of cartographic practice refers to some other problems which cartography will have to deal with now and in the near future. They are a) the need for cooperation with a number of other professions when collaborating on larger or smaller projects, during which you need to consider the fact that the requirements of authors are in conflict with the classical conception of maps created in GIS, b) increasing cartographers’ graphic competency, c) cartographer practice other than purely cartographic production, because self-published cartographic products will continue to be a negligible percentage of the production of maps.
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