Cartographic Map Design
Cartography or map making is the practice of creating maps or visual representations of a surface, as you would see it from above it. Traditionally maps have always been created using pen and paper, but since the introduction and wide spread use of geographic information systems (GIS) better computers, and the Internet cartography practices have evolved more into a variety of digital formats.
Most maps today are now generated using map software that falls into one of three main types; GIS, CAD, or specialized map graphic design software.
These days many consider cartography to be more precise, thanks to advancements in computer technology, satellites and GPS. Earlier maps, though, were created by hand using simple instruments with mathematical equations.
Ptolemy, a Greek cartographer from the 14th century derived a projection consisting of set of geographical coordinates to map the Roman Empire. Eratosthenes, another Greek cartographer was the the first person to determine the circumference of the Earth. Many centuries later, and still some of their techniques are still used by cartographers in map making.
Cartography | Basic Overview
A map utilizes a variety of colors, symbols, and labels to represent actual features and provide information on their existence, location, and the distance between them. It can also indicate variation in terrain, heights of natural features, and the extent of vegetation cover.
Maps often function as visualization tools for spatial data which is acquired from actual measurements and can be stored into a database, from which it can be later extracted for a variety of purposes. Current trends in this field are moving away from traditional methods of map making and toward the creation of increasingly dynamic, interactive maps that can be manipulated digitally, often known as Web GIS.
Most maps will contain a scale parameter that will allow the user to convert distance on the map to distance on the ground or vice versa. The ability to determine distance on a map, as well as on the earth’s surface, is an important factor in GIS and the spatial relationships between features. Other important key elements or features that you should find on a good map would be a title, a data frame, a legend, a scale bar, a north arrow, and citation information such as the date, the creator, projection, overview map location etc.