Cartographic Concepts and Resources

Maps communicate through abstraction. Map symbology like icons, colour choices, and  legends are central to map design. Here you will find information on cartographic methods to create attractive maps.

Vischeck: Can someone who is colour blind read that map?

What is it?

Vischeck is a way of showing you what things look like to someone who is color blind. You can try Vischeck online- either run Vischeck on your own image files or run Vischeck on a web page. You can also download programs to let you run it on your own computer.

What is it good for?

Roughly 1 in 20 people have some sort of color vision deficiency. The world looks different to these people: they often find it hard to tell red and green things apart. This often means that they sometimes can't see things that 'color normal' people can see (examples).

Many pictures, documents and web pages are hard for color blind people to read because the people who designed them didn't think about the problem. Vischeck lets them check their work for color blind visibility. It is also interesting to anyone who is just plain curious about what the world looks like if you're color blind.

Daltonize will help you correct the colours.


Kuler: Colour Palette Generator from Adobe

kuler is brand new from Adobe Labs. kuler helps you explore, create and share color themes for your web pages, design projects and other creative work.

You can use kuler as an on-line application or you can download themes to use with Adobe Creative Suite 2 applications.

Try it out here:


TypeBrewer is an online map design help tool that gives mapmakers a chance to explore typography in a semi-structured environment. An interactive template approach is used for previewing over 300 unique combinations of typeface, size, density and tracking on the map. Printable specs and downloadable templates allow users to take chosen combinations away for use in working map projects intended for either screen or print media. Additional features allow preview with label highlighting, map terrain, or text only. Special components such as My Fonts or Font Checker show users the fonts on their computers and check whether they might be in a TypeBrewer template. Several Learn More opportunities describe template fonts and explain terminology in a cartographic context.

Color Palette Generator

From the Canadian Cartographic Association's weblog:

" has an interesting and useful little tool - not a cartographic tool for one that cartographers might find useful when completing a map layout. The Color Palette Generator takes any photo on the web and provides two palettes - one dull, one vibrant - of Pantone colors that match the colors in the image provided."