GEOG 486
Cartography and Visualization

Lesson 8 Lab


Lesson 8 Lab

Multiscale Map Design in Mapbox Studio

In Lesson 8, we talked a lot about interactive maps, and how the recent proliferation of such interactive maps has brought the challenges of map generalization back into focus. To create an effective interactive map, cartographers must consider not only how a map looks at one scale and extent (i.e., as in a typical static map) but at all locations and every scale.

As suggested above, creating an interactive web basemap can be a challenging task. Fortunately, tools exist to make this process easier and more efficient. In Lab 8, rather than using ArcGIS Pro, we will be working in Mapbox Studio. Mapbox Studio is an online mapping platform for creating custom interactive maps. Mapbox maps can be used on their own, but they are also often used as basemaps in web-mapping applications and interactive thematic maps.

Before getting into the details of working in Mapbox, please be aware that the software is different than ArcPro. You need to remove much if not all of how you approach working with data in Mapbox. Aside from layers, there is little else in common between the way that Mapbox and ArcPro handles data. Thus, expect that there will be a bit of a learning curve with this lesson. 

Lab Objectives

  • Design an interactive basemap from the ground up using Mapbox Studio.
  • Build a creative map design inspired by a favorite piece of media and/or art.
  • Use your knowledge of map generalization to build a map that functions well at multiple scales.
  • Reflect on the experience and challenges involved in designing an interactive web map.

Overall Lab Requirements

  • Submit only one PDF document: this should include a link to your working map as well as a reflection.
  • Example art-inspired basemaps:
    • Standard (Scroll down to see Standard basemap design) by Saman Bemel Benrud
    • Blueprint (Scroll down to see Blueprint basemap design) by Amy Lee Walton

Specific Requirements

Mapbox Map
  • Use at least 12 different layers (total) in your map. Each layer should be individually styled: do not use default settings.
  • Include at least 3 label layers (example: road labels,(admin) place labels, (poi) points of interest labels, or other labels that relate to your theme).
  • For one of your layers, use one of the available Mapbox terrain layers.
  • Data should transition appropriately across scales. Your map will be checked at large (local), medium (regional), and small (world) scales – you will need to set zoom-level controls for some of your layers so that they either appear/disappear or change their styling as the user zooms in and out.
  • Draw inspiration from a favorite piece of media/art, such as a famous painting for favorite TV series – have fun with this – be creative!
Reflection requirements (250+ words)
  • Explain the inspiration source (e.g., movie, TV show, art)behind your basemap design – include an image or images for illustration purposes.
  • Explain key challenges you faced when designing your map, and how you overcame them.

Lab Instructions

  1. Create an account (with your PSU email) with Mapbox Studio.
    • All map design will take place within the Mapbox Studio web interface.
    • You will not need to download or upload any data to complete this lab.

Grading Criteria

A rubric is posted for your review.

Submission Instructions

  • Submit one PDF using the naming convention below.
    • LastName_Lab8.pdf
    • This document should include your written reflection as detailed above, as well as a working link to your online map.
  • Submit to Lesson 8 Lab for instructor and peer review. (Note: The critique/peer review will occur in Lesson 9.)

Ready to Begin?

Further instructions are available in Lesson 8 Lab Visual Guide.