Over twenty years ago, when I first started working in GIS (geographic information systems), I had a willingness to learn and a couple of classes in Geography. And that’s about it.
I didn’t know anything about spatial analysis, geoprocessing, or cartography. I did have a quick learning curve and an eye for color. That got me by for a long time, but soon enough folks started asking for map products that could be more widely distributed, i.e., they wanted something that looked “professional”.
Yikes. What exactly is that? Professional? I always included a scale bar, the north arrow and a legend. Isn’t that enough?
Well, if you really want a well balanced, informative cartographic product, you turn to a cartographer.
What exactly do cartographers do?
Primarily, they combine the art of illustration with the science of geography, merging the two concepts until you have a readable, audience-focused map. I can not claim to be a cartographer. Maybe a budding cartographer, but my strengths are decidedly on the science end of the equation and not the art end. But I do have an appreciation for a great looking map. In my quest to improve my own map products, I have come across a number of useful websites.
One of which is: TypeBrewer.
TypeBrewer: A Map Design Help Tool for Selecting Typography
TypeBrewer is a free help tool that gives non-specialist mapmakers a chance to explore typography in a semi-structured environment. It is not mapmaking software. Instead of providing the functionality of a graphic design program or GIS, TypeBrewer offers a quick and easy way to explore typographic alternatives and see the impact that various elements of type have on the overall look and feel of a map. TypeBrewer is designed for mapmakers who want to learn more about map typography and get practical design specifications for starting a map project.
I haven’t had a chance to use the site yet, but I plan to for my next project.