Welcome to Map Practical, where the cartography gets done. These are the cartographic trenches, the domain of greasy hands, busted knuckles, and sore mouse fingers. This is the home of techniques, tutorials, and tricks of all things map. Here’s how we do it;
your job is to make it look good!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Width and Profile Tools for Tapered Streams in Illustrator

Another new addition to the quiver in CS 5 was the ability to taper individual strokes. The Profile drop-down in the Stroke Pallet offers several options to manipulate a line width along a path. Width Profile 4 is very useful for achieving a tapered stream style in a hydrological network. It will taper any stroke from the set point size at one end, down to a finite point at the other. In addition, the Width Tool allows you to modify that taper at any point along the line, allowing you symbolize rivers in a much more natural way. Combine with stream classes from GIS attributes, and one can create a realistic branching network that tapers from a trickle at the headwaters and expands to a torrent at the outlet. Incorporate this trick into your next map, and set it apart from the rest. The video lays it all out.

Shape Builder Tool in Illustrator

Trimming a lot of lines to a map extent has always been a real challenge in Illustrator. And there always seem to be extras coming out of GIS! There have been a number of third party plug-ins over the years like the Graffix cutting tools, but those no longer work in CS 5. The kind folks at the Swiss Federal Institute of Cartography (ETH) have a nice set of tools, including the Area Builder that does the job, but all the menus are in German (Google Translator sorts that out quickly). But now, Adobe has granted us the Shape Builder Tool, which natively joins overlapping polygons, like separated lakes, or creates polygons from overlapping linework. In its negative function, it can cut dangles right to our map frame, which is all we could have ever hoped for. Watch the video for a short demonstration of this practical and powerful tool.