An Impressionistic Cartographic Solution for Base Map Land Cover with Coarse Pixel Data
Several everyday cartography applications do not require sharply precise base maps, and in fact benefit from their generalization or deliberate obscuration, such as tourist or transit maps. Additionally, raster data fine enough for a given map scale are not always available. We present a method of creating an impressionistic land cover base map for topographic mapping in which the above two conditions are true, using the National Land Cover Database (NLCD) of the US Geological Survey (USGS). The method is based on reclassification, upsampling, constrained randomization at class boundary edges, and deliberate use of colors with very similar lightness values. The method spans both scientific geospatial data treatment and artistic cartographic design, and both generalizes and enhances the data. The processing, automated in ArcGIS™, is detailed, and examples of the product are provided.
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