Lecture 3 - Computer cartography This lecture will cover: Essential map furniture:       North arrow Scale bars Legends

Colour spaces Help with choosing a colour scheme Colour blindness issues

Choosing colours:

Symbology and layering Issues arising in cartography:     Legibility / print quality and keeping it simple Copyright Subconscious messages Honesty about data quality

Metadata and archiving The future of GIS in archaeology:   The third and fourth dimensions Other areas of research

Essential map furniture Today we shall be talking about the production of maps that both look handsome and make sense to your readers. Cartography has been greatly eased by the invention of GIS, but still remains an art form that takes time and thought to master. We shall begin with the three essential elements of so-called map furniture. Firstly, every map should include a north arrow (or grid) and a scale bar. Scale bars should be in appropriate units to the scale of the map, and set to use sensible round numbers. Further, it is better to use a scale bar than a numerical rendering of map scale (such as 1:25,000), as you cannot be sure that a map will not be resized when inserted into a document or when copied after it leaves your direct control. With a scale bar and north arrow, it should be easier for readers of your map to then orient themselves and get a sense of the size of your region. It can also be useful to include a small inset map to show whereabouts your study region lies, but this is added most easily in an external image editor. Secondly, if you want readers to be able to interpret your map, you need some form of explanation of what it features. If used in a document, you will obviously describe the map contents in the figure caption, but it is also usually best to provide some sort of legend to illustrate the same visually. The legend construction system in ArcGIS is rather complicated and it can take quite some time to produce results that are legible and also coherent across a set of maps. Furthermore, if you have a lot of layers in your map, it is all too easy to fill the legend with unnecessary clutter. As such, best practice is probably to include just the layers that
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many of the standard colour schemes built into ArcGIS fall squarely into this trap. and any other layers where it is not obvious what the symbols actually relate to. Wise use of colour can help a user to intuitively understand what it is that you wish them to take in. as that is the way that they will have seen atlases coloured since childhood. meaning that poor selection of colour could easily make your maps nigh illegible to around 5% of your potential readers. Up to 10% of the male population (as it is caused by a defect on the X-chromosome) are red-green colour blind. Symbology and layering Choice of symbols is a less complicated area. Colour can be conceived of as a cone that varies in hue around the edge. It is very easy to produce horrifically garish looking maps. as an example of how this useful cliché could also be misleading. you can convey an awful lot of information in a single map. Essentially. white tones echo with the metaphorical yodels of the Alpine massif and would look rather silly when used to illustrate the altogether less heady peaks of East Anglia. by varying category according to hue and quantity according to saturation. with the paler colours intuitively conveying lower numerical quantities. but can still cause problems for certain readers. you should avoid using any colour schemes that oppose red colours against the green-blue portion of the spectrum. Different symbols can speak different messages. attributes that vary categorically should be displayed using contrasting colours. Varying hue can show quantitative change (through gradual movement around the cone) or categorical change (through picking colours that are widely spaced across the cone). Varying saturation is excellent for conveying messages about intensity. Websites such as Colorbrewer can help you to choose a good colour scheme that conveys the messages you wish it to convey. For example. using crucifix symbols to depict religious sites of all Page 2 of 5 (document version 1) . Another major stumbling block with colour scheme choice is caused by colour blindness. through brown and up to white should prove familiar to most readers. as would be the standard setting when using one of the preset ArcGIS elevation colour schemes. colour choice should follow one of two paths: attributes that vary numerically should be displayed along a colour scale. You should certainly include any layers in the legend that vary by quantity or by some category. and saturation travelling in and out of the centre. including at least two eminent Roman archaeologists that the author knows of. Symbol size can be used to convey numerical variation. size and shape of symbols. lightness vertically. Essentially. not all of them good.relate to your interpretation of the map in the legend. Unfortunately. Other forms of colour blindness are far less common. Varying lightness when attempting to use multiple hues will quickly cause your map’s colour scheme to plummet into the depths of mathematically different but visually similar murky greys. However. by varying colour. colouring a DEM by elevation so that it varies from greenish tones. As should prove apparent. Colours The choice of colour schemes is a surprisingly complex business. but poor choice can still lead to very ugly maps of unprofessional appearance. It is best not to ignore this issue: you could always try talking through your maps with a colour blind colleague to see how visually comprehensible he finds them. As a simple example of this. especially if you do not alter the standard ArcGIS colour schemes. It is possible to convey two attributes at once using colour. and symbol shape used to convey categorical variation.

Alternatively. if you wish to produce professional-looking maps. with any context being kept to the necessary minimum. cost considerations also come into colour printing. Cartographic issues We have already touched on some of the particular issues that can arise when dealing with cartography. but if it elides the message being conveyed by your upper analytical layers. Page 3 of 5 (document version 1) . further problems arise when thinking about printing and publication. Colours on a black computer screen are built up (additively) from black using red. then switch it off for your substantive result maps. Central symbols provide another useful option. it is best to start with contextual layers at the back and move upwards in a logical order until you place your most important layers on top. Also. as many journals may only run a few colour pages (although they may allow more colour images for web versions). Careful ordering of the layers in your map is also important prior to the production of any final output. Subject to the consideration of colour choice discussed previously. triangles. Careful use of partial transparency can also enhance the story being told by your maps. However.) and only increase complexity when necessary. by using dot densities. white is maximum on all three channels. the results may be presented as either a choropleth map. In general. a river layer placed above a road layer will look rather silly (unless aqueducts are prevalent in your region). it is best to keep things simple: this is a good maxim for all cartographic work. but can be a little confusing if it is not made clear that the symbols represent the whole polygon rather than just its centre. just because you have a large number of map layers. to depict a vast multitude of different types of geographic object. such as survey transects or field systems.). as maximum yellow. However. In that situation. cyan and magenta actually looks quite brown). squares. does not mean you should switch them all on in your final maps. best practice is just to use the layers that are important to your message and interpretation. white is no colour and black is maximum colour of all three types (good printers use black ink too for colour printing. Secondly. For example. prior to the 1930s. colours printed onto white paper are subtracted from the white using magenta. Therefore. Generally speaking.types will very quickly get you into trouble with many readers. but can provide an excellent and very elegant way of displaying several variables on a single map. etc. it is generally best to stick to a small number of simple shapes (circles. it may be better just to save it for an initial context map. they are usually the simplest way of conveying information about this sort of data. but using swastikas in your maps would tell a rather different story today. the use of neutral shapes would be best practice. When dealing with polygon data. it has a considerable cost when it comes to printing. etc. green and blue prime colours. ArcGIS possesses a vast multitude of different symbols. In this case. Dot density maps are underused these days. Black is no colour. This is especially the case when it comes to submitting articles for publication. As a result of this. Returning to colour. a swastika would have made a fine symbol for a Buddhist temple. but there are several others that need to be discussed too. A DEM might provide excellent context. Whilst colour is free on the screen (and thus for maps posted to the internet. especially for black and white printing. cyan and yellow prime colours. if kept simple and clear. It is. printed colours can look quite different from the same colours on the screen. best to experiment before printing off too many maps. Therefore. thus. especially if using a lower quality printer. or by the use of a central symbol. make sure you consult with a journal’s guidelines for authors before producing your final maps. Choropleth maps are maps in which polygons are coloured according to some attribute.

but should always be accompanied by an explanation of any concerns in the figure caption. Metadata and archiving Finally. The software used and data format. but they must be used wisely so as not to tell false tales. Choice of specific symbols (such as the use of empty and half empty symbols) or clever use of transparency can be used to provide a visual clue as to any uncertainties in your data. Choice of symbol can also cause unforeseen offence to certain parties. you must think about archiving and metadata. A descriptive abstract of the data and its purpose. you should always be explicit about any concerns you have over data quality in published maps. such as the presentation of empires on maps of the world in blood-curdling red tones. Any concerns about data quality. When dealing with not-for-profit publication. The geographical projection and spatial extent of the data. as without it assumptions that might seem clear to yourself may be overlooked by any future researchers. if you wish your data to be accessible to other researchers. It is easy to use a cleverly constructed map to hide inadequacies in your data. The main things to record as metadata would include: A title. This can include yourself if you so wish. as they are inevitably a simplification of the real world. Page 4 of 5 (document version 1) . You must make sure to quote the copyright of any copyright holders for any layers in your map on your map. the licensing of Ordnance Survey data is complex and rather confusing: guidelines to the use of OS data can be found on the Digimap website. Who did the work. In the UK.Copyright is another thorny issue when it comes to publication of maps. Clichés can be a useful way to express a message that is familiar from countless previous maps. that will usually prove sufficient. so long as proper attribution is given of their rights. Choice of colour can convey hidden messages. The date at which the data was digitised. but we must be careful that the deception we present is an honest one. However. but to do so is dishonest. As such. Archives such as the Archaeology Data Service (ADS) collect large amounts of computerised archaeological data and maintain an updating system to make sure that it remains accessible to future generations. as previously discussed. We have already encountered the issue of subconscious messages conveyed by your maps. Any access or usage constraints. to submit data to such an archive. but it is always best to consult with copyright holders to see what they wish you to do. Any recorded precision or accuracy measurements. It is important to record metadata for your data in any event. The source. All maps deceive in some way. you must make sure you meet their metadata requirements. Google Earth imagery is licensed for not-for-profit non-textbook academic uses.

Further away into the future. and it is well worth absorbing oneself in the community to see what fresh insights these forthcoming solutions might bring to your ancient data. and also the use of GIS to study non-spatial variables in a spatial environment. GIS is a dynamic subject and always developing in myriad ways. If you wish your data to be usable by future researchers. however. Temporal GIS or TGIS remains primarily a research topic. GRASS is already fully functional in this regard. i.The data’s status. The biggest future change in GIS is the move into full three dimensionality. GIS is an exciting field to be a part of. including improved methods for viewshed and least cost path calculation.e. This is an important improvement in the way GIS is able to model the real nature of the world. is one area in which TGIS is beginning to make itself known and functional. then you should make sure to record as much of this information as possible. there are many other areas in which GIS continues to develop.e. is the move to fully four dimensional GIS. and some are being generated from within our discipline. Finally. is it complete or a work in progress. with what little commercial software there is available very restricted in terms of function. Animation of maps. but it should be a mandatory task. Referencing information. All this and more is included in ESRI’s metadata format for shapefiles. as good academic practice dictates. The future of GIS in archaeology Naturally. with new tools being developed all of the time. Page 5 of 5 (document version 1) . This is a process that has been going on for quite some time. Keywords and any relevant topics. GIS that also take into account time as well as space. Details of any updating schedules. Detailed metadata is the key to the survival of digital data: it may be a chore. i. Dataset language. including for web delivery. Many of these new avenues of research will come to be applied in time to archaeological material. and is approaching becoming a fait accompli. and ArcGIS is getting closer to the same goal. but true spatiotemporal analysis is still in the early stages of development.