Designing a Topo Themed Map with Mapbox Studio

 

 

I've been interested in trying out Mapbox Studio for a while, so I thought I'd have a go creating a custom basemap myself styled like the Topo maps made by Land Information NZ. Despite some of the limitations of OpenStreetMap data that Mapbox uses as their data source, the final basemap looks pretty close to the actual thing.

Check out the interactive map below. Have a zoom around and check out the detail, click here for a larger window.

Since OpenStreetMap doesn't have all of the datasets found on New Zealand's topo map, I downloaded some extra individual layers from the LINZ Data Service and added them as Mapbox tilesets to help make the map a bit more complete. Mapbox has a huge range of options for changing the size, opacity, order and symbology of map elements at different zoom levels, which as a cartographer was really fun to play around with! The downsides are that labelling doesn't look quite as good due to automatic placement, but I was happy to let that slide for my first go.

Compared to sites like topomap.co.nz which shows topo maps as raster image tiles, Mapbox renders data using vector data which speeds up load times and allows for a greater range of zoom transitions and styling. It makes the good old fashioned topography map a lot more dynamic and usable on mobile devices. 

Posted by andrew, 8 comments
7 Day Cartography Challenge: A Recap

7 Day Cartography Challenge: A Recap

A little while ago, I set myself a challenge of creating seven maps over the period of a week, posting a new map each day on my Facebook and Twitter. It was challenging to complete each resulting map within the short space of a day, but were well worth the positive feedback and skills learnt.

Here’s a summary of all the maps I made during the challenge in one place. Enjoy!

1. Christchurch Cycleways Map

A map showing the major cycling routes that the Christchurch City Council is in the progress of constructing across the city. The bright route colours are reminiscent of a metro map, but with a much higher degree of geographical accuracy of the routes. Places of interest along the routes are represented by friendly bubbles, creating a circuit board-like appearance where paths meet and intersect.

2. Lakes of New Zealand

This one ended up being closer to an infographic than a traditional map, but came together beautifully as an effective visualisation of lake area size and depth, represented by order and colour respectively. Direct comparisons of lake size was eye opening as well; I had no idea how much longer Lake Te Anau and Lake Wakatipu were in comparison to Taupo, NZ’s largest lake.

3. Wellington 9m Sea Level Rise

My goal for this map was to put a twist on the familiar Wellington coastline by showing the dramatic impact of a 9 metre rise in sea level on the city. Evans Bay and Lyall Bay are now connected, Miramar has become a harbour and shoreline of Lambton Harbour resembles something closer to its historic boundary. LIDAR contour data provided by the Wellington City Council meant that it was possible to derive this hypothetical new coastline with high accuracy.

4. A Map of Puns: The Town of Bulls

The town of Bulls, located near the west coast of the North Island, is widely known for their bullish marketing of the town’s amenities. This map points out many of the pun-related (and real!) names of locations throughout the town. Unbelieva-bull!

5 & 6. Te Reo Maori Place Names of New Zealand

These ones were some of the most challenging ones to complete within a day, due to the amount of research required in finding the Te Reo names of places. I’m very happy with how it turned out though, and thanks to everybody that contributed corrections! Because of the interest, I plan to offer updated and revised copies on my store page.

7. Map Dots

For the last day, I focused on something minimal and beautiful. And circles of course, who doesn’t love those? The silhouettes of New Zealand cities using roads and coastlines made a perfect choice, for something I like to call ‘Map Dots’. They’re on the store right now! Thank you to OpenStreetMap contributors for the data used to create these.

A big thank you to everyone on Facebook, Twitter and Reddit who followed along and supported my 7 days of cartography. It was an ambitious yet very satisfying challenge to pull off. I learnt so many useful things (ideas, data sources, cartographic techniques) along the way out of necessity that will be very helpful in future situations, and of course, it helps to further demonstrate my cartographic skills to others.

I plan to refine some of the designs (some ideas need longer to mature) so keep an eye out for revised editions!

Posted by andrew in Blog, Portfolio Work, 1 comment

Blog Update March 2017: The Final Stretch, 7 Maps 7 Days

Those who know me personally are aware that I’ve been working hard on my Master’s thesis (more info) since early last year. I’m glad to say that after all this time, it’s nearly finished! With luck, I’ll be submitting my completed thesis on the 26th March. I must admit I have mixed feelings. Glad, because freedom is just around the corner, but anxious about the pressure of it all coming together on time!

Naturally, time constraints meant that there hasn’t been much time for new projects on The Map Kiwi as of late but hopefully, this will change soon after I finish. Here are a few projects I’ve got lined up:

NZ EV Charging Map

I’ve always wanted to learn how to make my own web maps, so I’ve got an electric vehicle themed web map coming up showing all the places in New Zealand that you can fast charge your electric vehicle (EV). I’m a big fan of electric vehicles, so I’m using it as a project to learn more about how to code web maps from scratch. It’s quite a change from the static maps that I usually make!

A quick work in progress screenshot:

I hope to add some extra layer controls, and extra information about future and planned EV Fast Charger locations, as well as some ‘coverage’ areas for each – contours representing the driving distance to the chargers – useful information if you need to know how much battery range you need to reach one.

7 Maps in 7 Days

Another idea that’s been floating around is to try a 7 Maps, 7 Days challenge after the thesis is out of the way. The aim is to create a new map every 24 hours over the course of a week and share it on the site. It’d certainly be a great way to improve my skills under pressure and on a range of different maps.

What sort of maps would you want to see me make in this challenge?
Where would the be? What would they be about? How would they be made?

Send me your ideas here or on the Facebook page. I might just award a free map print to the person with the best idea! 🙂

Posted by andrew in Updates, 0 comments
New postcards have arrived!

New postcards have arrived!

A new package full of Map Kiwi designed postcards has arrived, including a recent design which look great!

Below is the colourful Christchurch Property Map, now in postcard form.

The iconic New Zealand Metro Map, in postcard form:

 

Both of these postcards are now in stock from the store individually. If you’re interested in bulk amounts, please get in touch.

Check them out on The Map Kiwi Store here! I hope to have these in a few retailers in the near future, so stay tuned!

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Colourful Property Boundary City Maps

A colleague recently shared with me this map of the US counties that was surprisingly colourful and intricate. I thought I'd have a go at making a similar map for Christchurch and Wellington, this time taking property parcel boundaries from Land Information New Zealand and applying a random colour ramp to the data. This has the effect of artistically representing every single property parcel in the area in random colours, while leaving the roads white and well contrasted.

I think they looks pretty cool, and I hope you do as well! Check out the results below.

Interested in prints of these maps? You can get the Christchurch one here, or let me know using the contact form or on The Map Kiwi Facebook page!

 

 

Larger versions covering a larger area of each city are below:

Posted by andrew in Portfolio Work, 0 comments

Christmas discounts on The Map Kiwi Store!

What a year it's been, and it seems that Christmas is already upon us. To celebrate the holiday season, a number of products on The Map Kiwi Store are being discounted for the next 6 days (December 11th - 16th)! Remember to order soon if you want it to arrive before Christmas!

Looking for that perfect Christmas gift? Look no further than these great prices on State Highway Metro Map posters and t-shirts! A smaller A2 poster print is also now available as an option.

For a beautiful map design, why not get the Christchurch Typography map? It looks great on any wall.

A few of my other maps are also discounted for the holidays:

 

Separate New Zealand State Highway poster prints are now available for special order. Since these are printed on demand, they'll take a little longer to be processed. These individual maps also feature State Highway shield labels, making it easier to identify routes.

Once again, I'd like to thank everyone that has shown their support for The Map Kiwi this year, and I look forward to creating many more maps in 2017! Be sure to follow us on Facebook or Twitter to keep up with the latest.

Posted by andrew in Blog, 0 comments

A new typography map and a new store!

Some exciting news - the New Zealand Metro Maps are now for sale right here on my own site! I've just launched the Kiwimapper Store, where you can get poster prints of not only the New Zealand Metro map, but other maps such as the Highways of Australia Metro map and my various terrain maps.

It also contains a brand new map I've recently created - a typography map of Christchurch's streets.

christchurch-typography-map-web-version-01

It represents the layout of Christchurch using only street name type, with major thoroughfares taking bolder prominence over smaller ones. I also included parks, railway lines and waterways; if you look carefully you should be able to see the Avon River meander along the path it takes from the west to the east through the city.

If you like this, or any of my other work, you can get prints from the store below.

I greatly appreciate the huge amount of support that I've had since I started making my maps available, and I don't intend to stop!

Posted by andrew in Blog, Updates, 0 comments

The Great New Zealand Road Trip – Story Map

 

For the New Zealand Esri User Conference Story Map competition, I created a story map that takes you on a tourist sightseeing tour along New Zealand’s State Highway 1 from Cape Reinga to Bluff, highlighting the points of interest along the way.

You can check it out by clicking here.

Story Map Thumbnail

Posted by andrew in Blog, 0 comments

Blog Update – August 2016

Hey guys, a few personal updates from me.

I will be giving talks at the GeoCart Cartography conference in Wellington at the end of August! I’ll be talking about creating the State Highway Metro Maps, procrastination mapping and my experiences as a student cartographer. I’ll also be giving a talk about my thesis topic: ‘Gaining Insights into Public Transport Passenger Satisfaction Using Crowdsourced Information’. Public speaking instills a lot of nerves, so fingers crossed it goes well! A big thanks to Land Information New Zealand for supporting my travel to GeoCart.

On a different note, I’ve heard that making commitments to goals publically provides much more motivation to actually achieve it. I’ve never really been satisfied with my ability to program in Python, so here I am; committing to an hour a day improving my Python programming (for those interested, I’m using Learn Python the Hard Way as a starting point).

Lastly, feel free to share any ideas for cool maps, as my procrastination mapping has reached an alarming low. Time for a new project I think!

Posted by andrew in Blog, Updates, 0 comments
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