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Anyone else using Designer and/or Photo for cartography / mapmaking? (Example)


diopside

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I'm curious if anyone else out there is using Affinity products for making maps? These days , probably >95% of cartographers make their maps almost entirely within GIS software, but I was always frustrated by the limited options and lack of precision for controlling stylistic elements on maps in those software suites (both QGIS and ArcGIS), so I figured why not outsource the styling to Affinity products :)  

For those unfamiliar, mapmaking is not unlike standard graphic design. You have a document comprised of a bunch of different layers, some of which can be vector (like road lines, point data, etc.) and some of which can be raster (like elevation maps, aerial imagery, etc.). The only real difference is they are all encoded with spatial information. So what I started doing is using the GIS software just to compile and size (spatially aware trim/crop) all my different layers of geographic data, and then exporting a bunch of identically-sized layers that I then reassemble in AD / AP (i.e export a PDF of *just* the road lines, export another PDF of *just* the water body polygons, export a PNG of *just* the aerial imagery, etc.). As long as I maintain identical pixel dimensions for the exported raster layers, and identical aspect ratios for the vector layers, maintaining the appropriate map scale / size and reassembling the layers in AD/AP is trivial. Once I have all the data in AD/AP, I can take advantage of those graphic design features that GIS software could never hope to do, like advanced masking and layer blending modes, brush-based editing, pixel-perfect label placement (HUGE), etc. Another great thing is this method gives you ultimate control over design of the map frame and you're not stuck using the preset layouts and scalebars that are baked into GIS software suites. 

The included example is a map I made for my mother last Christmas of the area where her ancestors settled 150ish years ago. Its sort of like a modern take on the classic USGS topo map styles from the 50's-80's.

(there are two typos I'm aware of, 'prairie' is misspelled in both instances, and 'convenience' is written as 'convenient' in the legend... if you see anymore, let me know!)

cheers

 

lakelimestone_mappreview.png

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That’s really lovely work.
Just out of interest, do you know about Assets (which are usable in all Affinity Applications) and Symbols (which can only be created in Designer)?
I only mention them as not everyone knows about them, or what they do, and using a mixture of both Assets and Symbols might help to speed-up the creation of things like this (a bit).

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  • Staff

Fantastic work, thanks for sharing. 

12 hours ago, diopside said:

if you see anymore, let me know!

It may be an Americanism but I do not recognise the phrase "Geologic Survey" as I am expecting "Geological Survey", and Google agrees, but perhaps the results are biased by my UK location.

Patrick Connor
Serif Europe Ltd

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The map is absolutely fantastic...brilliant!....work...I like the technique..

 

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6 hours ago, GarryP said:

That’s really lovely work.
Just out of interest, do you know about Assets (which are usable in all Affinity Applications) and Symbols (which can only be created in Designer)?
I only mention them as not everyone knows about them, or what they do, and using a mixture of both Assets and Symbols might help to speed-up the creation of things like this (a bit).

I'm not sure I know about "Assets" yet? But yes I do use symbols for all the icons and such! Thanks

How would assets help me out?

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3 hours ago, Oval said:

If a designer would have done this, we’d see better typography, the same level of iconicity, …

Ouch... thanks for your ... feedback?

The fonts and their stylings are near exact copies of the typography used in old printed USGS topo maps. In fact, pretty much every aspect of the map is, except for the terrain basemap image that includes the aerial imagery - you won't see that on any old topo maps.

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5 hours ago, Patrick Connor said:

Fantastic work, thanks for sharing. 

It may be an Americanism but I do not recognise the phrase "Geologic Survey" as I am expecting "Geological Survey", and Google agrees, but perhaps the results are biased by my UK location.

No, you're probably right. Formally that's always how its written, I should probably change that. I only hear 'geologic survey' here used by geologists in an informal way. But the LPGS is a made up organization anyway  :P I was using an old USGS topo map frame as reference, and that's where they had their organization name spelled out, so I figured i'd put something similar there for fidelity, lol.

 

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1 hour ago, diopside said:

I was using an old USGS topo map frame as reference

Hmm. It does seem that the United States Geological Survey produces “standardized geologic maps”! Go figure, as they say.

https://www.usgs.gov/products/maps/geologic-maps

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1 hour ago, Alfred said:

Hmm. It does seem that the United States Geological Survey produces “standardized geologic maps”! Go figure, as they say.

https://www.usgs.gov/products/maps/geologic-maps

Well if Americans are known for taking certain liberties with the english language, i think us geologists might be some of the worst of the bunch! Even among scientists they are infamous for making up / mutating words ad-hoc to describe things. ;)

 

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You have the skills of a master, and probably the patience of a saint. Great job! :D

Also, since we're on the subject of American English vs. English English here, the way the UK folk (and Australians to a slightly lesser extent) throw those totally superfluous letter U's into all their words makes me so mad. Armour, Colour, Toumaeto, Aeropluane. You don't pronounce them, so why are they there for? Are they flavor letters? Comeon.

And don't even get me started on gaol...

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12 minutes ago, Renzatic said:

You have the skills of a master, and probably the patience of a saint. Great job!

Or to put it another way, the skills of a master and the patience of Job. ;)

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20 minutes ago, MikeW said:

A better concept would be endurance.

Yeah, but (as somebody famous once said)...

That doesn’t help with the wordplay!

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@diopside

Assets can be thought of as your own ‘stock items’ and, as such, can be used in multiple documents simply by dragging them from the Assets Panel into your document as required.
For example, all of your map symbols – Church, State Highway Marker, etc. – can be Assets which you can drag out when needed without having to copy/paste them from another document.
Note that Assets are ‘fixed’ and – unlike symbols – will not automatically update if you change one but once you have dragged an Asset to your document you can make that a Symbol and update all the duplicate symbols – in that document – at the same time (if you want to).
One further note: An Asset can be created in, for example, Photo which uses a Photo-specific feature – e.g. Live Filter – and then that Asset – including the ‘extra’ functionality – can be used in Designer. This way you can use Photo-specific functionality in Designer, up to a point.
You don’t need to use Assets if you don’t want to but if you find yourself using the same things in multiple documents then you might want to think about using Assets to make that easier.

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7 minutes ago, GarryP said:

Note that Assets are ‘fixed’ and – unlike symbols – will not automatically update if you change one

Assets are fixed if the ‘stock items’ that you add to the Assets panel are fixed, but you can add Symbols to the Assets panel.

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On 8/28/2020 at 6:01 PM, diopside said:

The fonts and their stylings are near exact copies of the typography used in old printed USGS topo maps.

A designer (of maps) does not only use fonts. Here: Foreigners do not know if there are three or two words because of the bad text on path. Just this one example for those who are unfamiliar with design.

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4 hours ago, Oval said:

A designer (of maps) does not only use fonts. Here: Foreigners do not know if there are three or two words because of the bad text on path.

Ah! That's constructive criticism. The first comment just seemed vaguely dismissive. I agree the labeling of the minor hydrological features could be vastly improved. For the longer paths I think I need to stop at a reasonable upper limit for the letter spacing and just increase the word spacing more to compensate

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11 hours ago, GarryP said:

@diopside

Assets can be thought of as your own ‘stock items’ and, as such, can be used in multiple documents simply by dragging them from the Assets Panel into your document as required.
For example, all of your map symbols – Church, State Highway Marker, etc. – can be Assets which you can drag out when needed without having to copy/paste them from another document.
Note that Assets are ‘fixed’ and – unlike symbols – will not automatically update if you change one but once you have dragged an Asset to your document you can make that a Symbol and update all the duplicate symbols – in that document – at the same time (if you want to).
One further note: An Asset can be created in, for example, Photo which uses a Photo-specific feature – e.g. Live Filter – and then that Asset – including the ‘extra’ functionality – can be used in Designer. This way you can use Photo-specific functionality in Designer, up to a point.
You don’t need to use Assets if you don’t want to but if you find yourself using the same things in multiple documents then you might want to think about using Assets to make that easier.

Makes sense... I can already envision many contexts where I could use this. Thanks for the rundown

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Here is another example in a similar vein.

I started with an archival scan of a 1978 geologic(al) map of Nevada and used Affinity Photo to clean it up (removing stains, stamps, handwriting, stickers, etc.). Then I used Blender to render the map image onto a 3D mesh prepared from modern elevation data, followed by a final touch-up in Affinity Photo. Compare to the source image here: https://ngmdb.usgs.gov/Prodesc/proddesc_16377.htm

I'm still experimenting with how to get my added / edited text to perfectly blend in appearance-wise with the older scanned text. I tried a combination of the slightest gaussian blur and outer glow effects. Its passable at a glance, but the difference is quite noticeable at higher zoom levels.

 

nvgeolmap_previewLessthan20MB.png

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  • 4 months later...

I love your rail symbol! Did you successfully figure out how to draw rail lines in an easy way? I've been struggling with it a lot. I've been trying to duplicate ties along a text path but its finnicky at best. I assume there might be a way to make a brush that creates rail ties on a nice path but I'm less familiar with making brushes.

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  • 2 months later...
On 8/29/2020 at 5:38 AM, Renzatic said:

You have the skills of a master, and probably the patience of a saint. Great job! :D

Also, since we're on the subject of American English vs. English English here, the way the UK folk (and Australians to a slightly lesser extent) throw those totally superfluous letter U's into all their words makes me so mad. Armour, Colour, Toumaeto, Aeropluane. You don't pronounce them, so why are they there for? Are they flavor letters? Comeon.

And don't even get me started on gaol...

Ahem, what is a toumaeto? I think the word you're looking for is tomato - pronounced as tom-ah-toe, not tom-ay-toe as you American chaps do. As far as I'm aware no English speaking country spells aeroplane with a U. The U is generally only used as in colour and armour. There are hundereds of words with silent letters, why should poor old U cop such a pounding? I think it's just because Americans are too lazy to make the effort and write an additional character... 😉

 

Edited by McJimbo
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Lovely map! I've been wanting to make some fantasy-style maps for people as gifts in Designer at some point.

As far as the difference in spelling... There's a more passive aggressive reason for the different spellings. The short version: When compiling his American dictionary, Noah Webster chose spellings not typically used in British spelling. (Although British spelling wasn't entirely standardized back then anyway, which probably made it easier for him to pull this off.) He did this to differentiate American English from British English. And our language  has had this contrived divide in it ever since. Some will argue that Webster merely chose spellings that he personally preferred, but Webster was a smart guy, close to the founders, and my opinion is that he did nothing without consideration. I mean, there's not much that's less random than a guy cataloging an entire language. It requires mad organization, attention to detail, and frankly, obsession.

Anyway, I still prefer "grey" to "gray." And the u's don't bother me at all. But then, I'm an English lit major.

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