Tip: Map Design with Adobe Illustrator.
Designing maps involves a great deal of technique and precision. Though nowadays programs largely automate this century-old craft, keeping a well-organized Illustrator workspace will increase your efficiency. Jump past the break to see the four tricks that will streamline your workflow.
1. Set up baseline grid. Cameron Booth of Transit Maps suggests that ” the most useful grid to have is one that equals the distance between the centre lines of two adjoining route lines”. In the screenshot above, my lines were 3 points and the white space between the lines was 2 points, so the resulting grid was a 5-point one. I kept the snap to grid ON at all times to easily align features with the grid.
Next, I placed a guideline every 20 points or so (your actual figure may vary). These guidelines helped preserve geographic accuracy and kept things looking aligned and consistent.
2. Group related features when possible. I put all my bus lines in the same layer to quickly access their global properties. I also assigned a graphic style to the bus layer so changing global properties now only took a single click.
Likewise for typography, I utilized character styles to quickly swap font styles or adjust font sizes for the words / characters. These were defined beforehand in order to prevent any “orphaned” text later on.
3. Automate your tasks. Use the symbol palette for repeating elements such as bus labels, stop and transfer symbols. The master element is referred to as symbol, while a copy of that symbol is called an instance. Changing a master symbol will also update all existing instances to match the symbol. Nifty! I neglected using this feature in the past and wasted a lot of time fixing every single transfer symbol manually.
4. Corner Radius for 90° Turns equals the distance between the centers of two adjoining lines + corner R of the internal line. So, if line A was R = 5 pts and the distance between the center of line A and the center of line B was 4.5 points, then line B would have a radius of 9.5 points.
This rule, however, does NOT apply to 45° angles due to a peculiar nature of Illustrator’s Round Corners effect. Follow Cameron Booth’s workaround on this.
Got a cool mapping tip? Share it in the comments below!