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Soil-Geomorphic/Veg Map Project

September 05 2007 | 0 comments
Categories: Cartographic Design

I am interested in creating s soil-gemorphic veg map but I am having difficulties laying out the design without it being to confusing with reader. I would like to landforms as the bottom layer and vegetation on top symbology might be to complex. Do you know of any such maps that display similar info? Do you have a advice regarding this? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Mapping Center Answer:

Response #1:

What you’re asking for is, in my opinion, a tall order. Each of those data types are typically shown on a technical map that is dedicated to that specific purpose. Though, if I had to do this, my general approach would be:

1. Soils on the bottom using simple, understated boundary lines with lighter, muted colors for the fill symbols—that leaves brighter and darker colors for other information on top. The labels’ colors would match the background color—so they will associate together and not with other information on the mp
2. I’d do geo-morph as a monochromatic layer, dark enough to see, but not be overbearing. Brown would be a good color just for the association with contours.
Vegetation would need to be treated as an overlay; it depends on how many classes you have. One approach would be to use line fills (45 degree angle with moderate spacing of 4-8 points). 3. I would label them using the same color, but create annotation and masks that knock out the line fills. So the idea would be to treat the major vegetation types as monochromatic layers in their own right.

At least that’s how I would start. One thing that would influence me is if I knew of some important combinations ahead of time. I would analyze the data and present them as being the most prominent information on the map—likely using something overt like circling them and using big callout labels.

I hope that helps you along,

Response #2:

I have worked with Soil-Vegetation maps in the past but I suspect that they are not exactly what you are talking about -- here is a link to some examples that are exactly like those we were working with -- this is from Calaveras County, CA. As you can see, the polygons are used to delineate areas that have common combinations of soils and vegetation. The mapping method is described in the document here called Soil-Vegetation Handbook. Although these maps do not have a hillshaded background, it would be easy enough to add one. In any case, if these are the kinds of data you are working with, then it’s a little easier -- you can overlay these polys on a hillshaded raster, and you would have to rely primarily on the labeling to help the map reader to distinguish the classes.

Because the vegetation information is nominal (that is, you are simply trying to distinguish categories rather than give a message of magnitude about some attribute) the symbology is a little easier, too -- you will try to pick colors that are as distinct from each other as you can without getting too garish. Again, the solution will lie in the labeling.

It is hard to give you solid advice on this without seeing what your data look like. If your data look like the example I linked to above, then these suggestions will probably work well. If your data are different (say, one layer for the topography or hillshade, one for soils and one for vegetation) then you have the tri-variate map and that is more difficult.

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