Elaine, these questions pertain directly to the current work that I do. Very
timely issues for me.
> Question: we have an airbrush chapter. Are enough people doing real
> airbrush to justify retaining it? Airbrushes still are sold in art stores.
I think traditional airbrush is still used extensively and always will be,
but I also think that many people are doing airbrush in the computer as
well. For example, I switched from traditional carbon dust techniques for
developing shaded relief, to computer airbrush and have had good results,
especially when I am doing simple cartography. The computer techniques
aren't necessarily faster, but they allow for infinite correct-ability and
the ability to develop tremendous detail quicker. The thing that is missing
is the actual piece of finished artwork. Everything exists virtually, and
that is kind of odd. Anyway, I'm no real expert, just in the grind of
someone using the computer to do everyday textbook cartography with as much
quality as I can inject. I would benefit greatly from an overview of how
illustrators are using computer airbrush.
> Same question regarding charts and diagrams - another chapter. Most of
> these are done on the computer now. Should we include this topic as a
> separate chapter? Should hand techniques like cutting charting tape be
> included? Art stores are getting rid of charting tape and transfer type.
> I think the principles of doing good charts and diagrams/graphs need to be
> included. Perhaps these could go in one of the introductory chapters or in
> the basic computer graphics chapter. The principles apply regardless of
> the medium.
I agree, I do lots of charts and graphs, strictly computer work. I think
this chapter is essential because this kind of work is often thought of as
the mundane work of a scientific illustrator, anyone can make a chart right,
but there can be real thought given to the quality of good design so that the
information is as accessible as possible. And I often feel that sometimes
the Guild concentrates on the more showy aspects of illustration,
understandably, but those of us doing the more routine work are left out of
the loop a little.
I attended a lecture at the Cooper-Hewet(sp?) Museum of Design on cartography
and heard a graphic designer who had gotten recognition for his innovative
designs in charts for some of the more popular news magazines. So I know
there is creative work going on in this field. I also think of Edward
Tuffe's book on informational graphics and design.
> Cartography - same/similar problem. Is anyone using a scriber or any hand
> techniques to do maps? Clara Simpson's question about her
> computer-produced map illustrates this situation, I suspect.
Well, having spent 5 years scribing in the 1980's, I know that cartographers
rarely use the technique anymore. I think that it is certainly possible that
scribing still takes place, especially at large scales doing correction work
on older extensive map projects that are being updated. But new comers in
the field are no longer taught scribing. Computers have really
revolutionized the way maps are made. I get the feeling that when a fine
magazine wants a unique look to a map, they may go for the hand developed
techniques, but for the run of the mill geography textbook everything is done
The other way that computers are used is in the use of databases.
Cartographers use a great deal of public domain research accessed through
sometimes complex databases. Some cartographers I know are involved almost
strictly in the use of databases rather than more custom, illustrated maps
(GIS is an example).
I am part of a Guild of cartographers and work closely with people trained
strictly in cartography (I was trained as a artist and picked up cartography
on my own). I'd be glad to discuss cartography with you more, or to put you
in touch with respected cartographers here. The University of Wisconsin has
a fine department of cartography, probably one of the best in the country.
Thanks, Elaine, for addressing these issues and for thinking of including
them in the handbook.