Tag Archives: illustrator

Mapping the GIS Adventure: I Need a Doctor, but I’m Brown in Chicago

What really convinced me to stay in my new cartography course despite having already taken a cartography course was not only that I would be expected to utilize Illustrator, but also that I would be encouraged to make maps that relate to my work. As a graduate student, I am planning on studying Latinx, specifically women in Chicago and possibly San Antonio, and their access to healthcare and how their ethnicity and race affect it. For this specific map assignment, we were expected to create a grayscale choropleth map with an inset, of any area and it needed to help us with our work, and hopefully would be “interesting.” In this case, I thought it might be interesting to check out what the City of Chicago had by way of healthcare facilities and population data. Sure enough, the City of Chicago has plenty of data and fairly well organized. Although, they don’t seem to get back to FOIA requests very quickly…or at all (more on that later).

At first, I had planned to use block data for this map, but there were so many blocks the map was virtually unreadable at a large scale in choropleth form. So, I chose census tracts instead and off I went. I then chose to add all of their current hospitals and clinics according to the City of Chicago. And as you can see, Latinx are clustered in specific areas of Chicago – areas that are wanting in large numbers of healthcare facilities. I was really happy with this map, because it was the first clear picture I had on the area and demographic I was interested in studying. Plus, dealing with the Chicago data was a delight, and reminding myself how to use Census data was of course a great exercise.

With this map, I thought it was important to differentiate between the types of healthcare facilities, which I tried to do using stars, squares, circles, and triangles, though at this scale, it was a bit difficult when they were clustered together. The font I used was Berlin Sans FB, which I really enjoyed as part of the tone of the map. In the original that I turned in for class, I received feedback from my classmates that the font choice was strange for the legend – which was because at the time, it was bolded, so I changed that and I agree that it’s much easier to read. I was also missing a North arrow, which I fixed here. Other comments from my reviewers included a disagreement on using equal interval to display my data which I question, considering we’re dealing with whole people here, and equal interval allows an equal distribution among census tracts – allowing for what I believe, would be the most fair display of where Latinx people are in Chicago. One other reviewer offered the suggestion of using ratio data, and I do believe that percentages might have been slightly clearer to the map reader, but I think it still makes a point.

I added the Expressway because my professor thought a major road would help people anchor themselves locationally around Chicago. This was a bit difficult to do because the road lines are in pieces in shapefiles and I had string them together as a selection. I also am not familiar with Chicago, or its major roads – one friend suggested I add the “loop” which is something to look into. But the rest of the pieces on this map were pretty straightforward. It was this map that made me realize I enjoy having insets on my maps. They help balance the map.

Some Illustrator points:

  • The symbols for healthcare facilities have two lines, which is hard to see on the map but in the legend it goes, white fill, gray inner stroke and then black outer stroke. I created this by going into the Appearance tab and added a stroke, bumped up the thickness, and changed the line color.
  • I then used the Graphic Styles tab to add this as a Graphic Style (I do this for most things) and then selected each symbol and then selected the Graphic Style to change it. I love the Graphic Styles tool.
  • I don’t exactly know what I did to the dashed line to make it hide behind parts of Chicago, but I know that it’s not because it’s behind it in the layers, especially with the scrunched up areas later. I’ll play with that.

What are your thoughts?

Oh, and as for my FOIA comment – I originally was having a hard time getting the block data (before I realized I didn’t want to use it) from the City of Chicago’s website when it should have been available according to the website. So I called the Information people who sent me to a GIS guy for the City of Chicago, and he told me that I would have to submit a FOIA request and he would be able to send it over within the week. I did so, and as of 10/26/2016, still have not received the data. Luckily, I know how to use the American FactFinder (Do you?)


Mapping the GIS Adventure: Finally, Illustrator – I’ve Entered Fantasy Land

So, my time in undergraduate consisted of two GIS classes and a thematic cartography class. I consider only my final project map from the thematic cartography course as worthy of showing to the internet, so I will post that later on. However, currently in my first semester of coursework in my graduate program, I chose to take another course on cartography, particularly because the course is focused specifically on teaching us Illustrator, which I have only learned how to use on my own time. What I’ve also enjoyed is that the maps are only assigned by “type” but I decide the data to use, which has been really fun and helpful.

But first, we were assigned the topic of “fantasy” and provided with fake data, on the two countries of Hopescape and Amberville. These were the basic requirements for the map:

  1. Use color
  2. Have a fantastical feel to it
  3. Use three different point symbols, three different line symbols, and three different area symbols
  4. Fit the standards set out by National Geographic
  5. Be a full page

So, I’ll admit right off, I believe I have a much less fantastical feel to my map than most fantasy maps, and that’s because I just couldn’t bring myself to use a font that was Serif and over the top. Ah well. But I definitely loved using color in this case, especially since I was armed with the wonderful colorbrewer.com – I highly recommend it whenever working on map color. This was especially important, given all the color I had going on. As for the three different symbols for points, lines, and areas, a table:

Area 1: Biomes
Area 2: Lakes
Area 3: Background Countries
Point 1: Country Capitals
Point 2: State Capitals
Point 3: Border Checkpoint
Line 1: Political borders between states and countries
Line 2: Rivers
Line 3: Roads

I had a lot of fun with the rivers particularly, primarily because I was using the pencil tool and dragging it around in Illustrator really made for interesting results. For example, the double river in the top right corner? Pure accident. But I kept it, because it looked pretty cool. There are other elements of this map that I had to hand-draw, such as the mountains and sand dunes, and of course, the “Amber Waves.” My professor is actively trying to get us to work in Illustrator and in this case, added incentive by expecting us to add “fantastical” details to the landscape. Hence, things like the “Pit of Despair”, my “Dusty Hope Dunes” and other things. I wanted to add some kind of creature to the pit but I honestly don’t quite yet have the Illustrator chops. The fun of this map was not really caring about accuracy, as in, if I wanted a lake to exist, but I didn’t want to have to worry about it’s name fitting inside of it, all I had to do was expand the lake. This map was just what I made of it, and I tried to really enjoy the artistic side of cartography that such a freedom warranted me.

As for skills I learned/honed on this map, they were primarily in Illustrator – I learned how to create the drop shadow (shout out to geographer Rachel Passer at “GIS & Mapping Tidbits” who helped me figure that out). I also learned how to create a dashed line, the true value of organizing your elements through Illustrator’s own “Layers” catalog, the proper use of their pen and pencil tools, and how to create a gradient. The best part is that while these are pretty basic, the fact that I learned them gives me hope, and should give anyone else hope – it isn’t that hard. I’ve assembled some basic reasons and suggestions to help you see the value of learning the aforementioned skills too (unless of course, you already have).

  • Drop shadow – it’s great because it looks cool, and it draws the eye to the focus of your map. As for completing the task, I followed the tip of a classmate – “select the layer/object you want, go to the “effects” menu at the top, go to “stylize”, and then choose drop shadow” but still had problems with getting the drop shadow to go around the entire polygon, which Rachel noted was because I wasn’t using a polygon that had a fill, just an outline. Change that, and your problems will likely disappear!
  • Dashed lines are fairly easy, but add such detail to your map. Draw your line, check out the “Stroke” tab, check that Dashed Line tab and mess around with the dash and gap spaces to created the desired effect.
  • As noted by a helpful Illustrator tutorial I took, the pen tool is great for straight lines, the pencil for not so straight lines. Mix and match as necessary.
  • Okay, it’s not that I didn’t know how to create a gradient, it’s that I didn’t know how to add colors to it. Using the most updated Illustrator gradient tool, double-click your sliders on the Illustrator tool and select your colors for either end. Have fun!

As for the final map:


Let me know what you think!