Author Archives: kate

3D terrain map & demo

3D-printed map

I participated in How to do Map Stuff, a virtual cartography workshop, and gave a live demo of the process to create this 3D-printed terrain map.

3D map resources

Talk: Analysis of online print services

I ordered a copy of the same cartographic image from 14 different online print services and compared the results. In my talk at the annual NACIS conference in Tacoma, I revealed the customer experience and print quality of each.

Someday My Prints Will Come: Comparison of Online Print Services

You’ve designed a map and want a to print a small run to sell or distribute. There are many online companies clamoring for your business, but their services vary widely in areas like pricing, available sizes, texture, customer experience, and quality. How do you know where to order and what to expect? To answer this question, I ordered prints of the same cartographic image from over a dozen online printers. In my talk, I’ll share the resulting prints and what I learned.

Talk: What to know about printing maps

In October 2018, I gave this presentation at the annual NACIS conference in Norfolk, VA. I designed and gave the talk, and the printing expert who provided the content (and a video cameo) was my late and greatly missed colleague Bruce Daniel.

Imprimatur: Printing Maps in Today’s Digital World

If you want to print a map, what do you need to know about printing terminology and methods? How much will it cost? What should you expect when working with a print company? How can you prepare your files to avoid costly corrections? Ultimately, how do you ensure that your map shines even more on paper than it does on the screen?

Talk: Getting the most out of a conference

I gave this talk, about how to create a presentation about a conference, in October 2018 at the annual NACIS (North American Cartographic Information Society) conference in Norfolk, VA. While it’s focused on the NACIS conference, the guidelines are applicable to any conference.

Be a Cartography Expert in Three Easy Steps 
1. Attend the NACIS conference.

2. Follow Kate’s tips and guidelines on what to record about the conference while you’re here.

3. Dazzle your local colleagues and geo community with a presentation about the highlights of the conference.

We all know NACIS is overflowing with fascinating cartographic content. You can show off presenters’ research, creativity, and eye-catching maps to raise your own profile back home, while promoting NACIS and the cartographers whose work you highlight. Kate will equip you to be a cartography maven by sharing what she’s learned from three years of giving presentations about the NACIS conference.

Vector tile basemap

As soon as Esri released vector tiles, I taught myself how to create, publish, and manually style them. I then created a vector tile version of the raster basemap I maintained for the City.

At the 2017 Washington GIS Conference (URISA), I gave two presentations about what I learned: one on how to style existing vector tile maps, and one on how to create a vector tile map in the Esri platform.

I gave the latter presentation again in October 2017 at the annual NACIS (North American Cartographic Information Society) conference in Montreal.

The Journey from Raster to Vector Basemaps with ArcGIS 
Esri customers are watching companies like Mapbox dazzle the cartographic world with vector tile mapping and wondering when the benefits of vector tiles will be within reach. Now they are! In late 2016, Esri removed the “beta” label from their vector tiles, and vector tiles can now be authored by anyone with ArcGIS Pro and published to ArcGIS Online. Vector tiles offer enormous promise: high-resolution graphics, client-side rendering, significantly smaller storage and bandwidth needs, and the ability to apply multiple styles to a single tileset. With all these benefits, what do you need to know before taking steps to leave your raster basemaps behind? I recently developed a vector tile basemap for the City of Seattle, and I’ll share what I learned, good and bad. Topics include: paradigm shifts in basemap organization; technical details; best practices; workflow; advice on working efficiently; and lots of tips, tricks, bugs, and stumbling blocks.

Where I Stand Maps series

I’m raising money for vital non-profits by selling beautiful and striking map art decals for your phone. I created six designs, each inspired by a different cause that’s under attack right now. All proceeds from each design will go to a non-profit working for that cause. I’m supporting:

I selected non-profit organizations that are fighting on a national level, to have the greatest effect. All of them have a rating higher than 90/100 on Charity Navigator, indicating low overhead, good financial management, and transparency (except Black Lives Matter, which doesn’t make enough income to be rated).

Firefly style map

This fall, I attended my second NACIS (North American Cartographic Information Society) conference, which has become a highlight of my year. One talk I found particularly inspiring was John Nelson‘s presentation on Firefly Cartography. I could explain what that means, but an image makes it pretty clear.

A firefly map of U.S. military bases, by John Nelson

I was excited to make my own firefly map. At the same time, I was knee-deep in roads data for my employer, the City of Seattle, and had been wondering about the public staircases I noticed there. So I seized on that theme, and created this map in a few hours, using only ArcMap.

As John noted, glowing things have a white center surrounded by opaque color, then increasingly transparent color. I didn’t take the time to make perfect gradient icons in Illustrator; instead I just repeated the layer several times in ArcMap. The staircases are classified by length, so longer stairs are greener and brighter.

After I finished I was pleased with the look, but I wanted to take it a step further and make it really glow, not just look like it was glowing. So, I had it printed on glass!

It’s easier than you might think – you can order glass prints from Shutterfly (promo codes are usually available for a discount off the list price). Now my map truly glows.

Washington Poison Center map series

I created a series of 74 static maps for the Washington Poison Center to help them communicate the scope of their work to legislators, hospitals, and other stakeholders. I also created a near-real-time dashboard for their call center to help highlight unusual trends.

Static map examples:


Click to read a letter of recommendation from the Poison Center.