Canada map update: working with large CanVec data sets

In a recent post I mentioned I’m working on a reference map of Canada. Well, even though I’m still chugging along at it, I submitted it to the map gallery for the NACIS 2017 conference in Montreal. Now I have to finish it! I want to have this done in mid-September so I can print out my first draft. Hopefully I will have a decent map for the gallery when this is finished. I've been working on this sporadically for the past few months but now I have only 3 months to finish it - an unrealistic deadline but I'm hoping not impossible.

Making a map of Canada as a personal project

I'm a Canadian cartographer and it's Canada's 150th birthday, and the government has so nicely provided so much data through GeoGratis, so of course my personal projects this year are maps of Canada. Hopefully I'll be happy enough with this map to submit it for the map gallery at the NACIS conference in Montreal this October.

Freelancing and Time Management

I usually have a plan in my head for the way I want to spend my day. But when I am working on maps I can often forget to take breaks, especially if I’m working on client projects because I want to get the draft to the client for review. I use Toggl Tracker to keep track of what I’m doing when on the computer. So at the end of the day when I wonder where the time went, I can easily see.

How I Make Maps

At conferences I often ask other cartographers about their workflows and the software they use, and can learn new tips and tricks to modify my own workflow. I follow Daniel Huffman and his Practical Cartography tips (#PractiCarto), and Tom Patterson recently posted his workflow for creating 3D terrain maps. A combination of Natural Scene Designer, Geographic Imager, and Photoshop with Illustrator and MAPublisher can make really beautiful maps, but open source tools such as qGIS and Pyramid Shader also give beautiful results.

Do you still use print maps?

When I tell people I’m a cartographer they often question whether anyone still uses print maps. Although many people have smartphones and use pdf maps or gps apps, not everyone has one. I always try to get a print map as well. I find it easier to see the big picture and since I walk everywhere it gives me an idea of how long the walk will be. I unfold the tourist print map and plan a walking route that takes me past interesting sights and tourist attractions.

Meeting Map Geeks

This is one of my favourite times of the year, when map geeks from around North America descend on a city and geek out (as geeks are wont to do) over maps. We look at maps and coo over them (ooh, aah, nice!), talk about making maps, and at the end of the conference compete to see who is the biggest geography nerd. It's so much fun!

Why do I make maps?

I don’t know what to write for my first blog post ever, so I’ll share why I am a freelance cartographer: I love beautiful maps. Maps have always caught my eye but I never thought of making them until I was laid off from an IT job at a large company and realized I didn’t want to do that kind of work anymore - I wanted to do something creative.