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Cartographic Illustration Essay

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Graphics and Illustrations

Merritt Cartographic - cartography and mapping company

Creative cartography and custom interactive maps for your publication or website

Prehistoric Globes

Merritt Cartographic produces detailed graphics and illustrations to meet the requirements of your design brief. In this instance, a series of illustrations showing the Earth during the Carboniferous, Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods.

Graphics and Illustrations

Merritt Cartographic produces graphics to illustrate a wide variety of topics. Often graphics are produced to depict Earth related processes but, particularly in relation to vector based illustration, the subjects covered are wide and varied. Ultimately, graphics are produced to fulfil the requirements of your unique design brief as successfully as possible. Utilising specialist 3D modelling and rendering applications, as well as illustration and photo manipulation software, Merritt Cartographic produces detailed graphics and illustrations for a full range of applications and purposes.

Featured Illustration - Meadow Grasshopper

A vector illustration of a female Meadow Grasshopper (Chorthippus parallelus). Whilst not a scientific study, the aim of this artwork, created almost entirely in a vector illustration package, was to reflect this insect in its environment as accurately as possible.

A series of photographic source materials were used in the compilation of this artwork. This allowed the finer details to be examined and, it is hoped, reflected more precisely in the illustration than may otherwise have been possible.

Merritt Cartographic produces digital, graphically rich maps for the purposes of illustration, education and the display of thematic information.

View our cartography

Maps for Children

Merritt Cartographic creates maps for the younger reader. Employing bright and colourful designs, these maps are tailored to suit the needs of children as they learn about the world.

See our maps for children

Interactive Maps

Merritt Cartographic designs interactive maps for deployment on websites and in applications. Using custom styles and dynamic features, we create maps that visualise your information.

Explore our interactive maps

Featured Illustration - Cafe Visualisation

This illustration was created to help an organisation who were looking to convert a building, which had previously been used as a church hall, in to a small cafe.

This visualisation was used to help the people planning the work decide upon the layout of the cafe. It was also used to raise awareness of the scheme to redevelop this building amongst members of the local community and the public in general.

Merritt Cartographic can provide detailed and varied graphic products and illustrations to assist you in meeting the objectives for your publication.

Graphics and illustrations

Purchase posters of some of Merritt Cartographic's most popular maps from this store. These custom designed map posters are ideal for direct display or framing.

Purchase maps from our shop

For more information regarding our services and how they apply to your project, or for more information in general, please get in touch. We look forward to hearing from you.

Featured Graphic - World Population Distribution

This display contains graphs and a thematic map. The main focus of this graphic was to highlight the variations in population density across the world. The series of 'spherical graphs' highlight the relative populations of each of the continents over time.

The main graphic on show here uses a three-dimensional approach to map the world's population by density. Utilising the third dimension in this way gives the viewer an immediate impression as to the distribution of the world's population.

Hello, my name is Ed Merritt. I am a cartographer based in Southampton (UK). I established Merritt Cartographic in 2006.

I am a graduate of Oxford Brookes University, receiving an honours degree in Mapping and Cartography. Having worked in the past for a large publishing company in central London, much of my current work is commissioned for inclusion in reference books. I also produce interactive maps for deployment on websites and in applications as well as products for use on public display panels and signposts. As a freelance cartographer, I have produced custom maps and graphics for a wide range of publishers, charities and media organisations. My work has been included in products published by Dorling Kindersley, Millennium House, National Geographic, Pearson Longman, Royal Horticultural Society, Taschen and Weldon Owen.

I enjoy being creative in my work and like to explore new approaches. As a map-maker, I have a natural tendency to pay attention to detail and also to work hard to ensure that I am being as accurate as I can in the work that I produce.

For more information on how Merritt Cartographic can best assist you with your project, please send me a message or make contact via the information displayed above and throughout the site. I look forward to hearing from you.

Prehistoric Globes
A selection of globe artworks showing, in a generalised way, the appearance of the Earth at different periods throughout its history. These globes represent how the Earth might have looked during the Carboniferous, Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods.

A vector illustration of a male Southern Hawker dragonfly (Aeshna cyanea). Whilst not a scientific study, the aim of this artwork, created entirely in a vector illustration package, was to reflect this insect in its environment as accurately as possible.

Jet Streams
A diagrammatic illustration showing, in a generalised fashion, the location and movement of this particular meteorological phenomenon.

Earth's Structure
A cut-away model of the Earth's structure, highlighting the relative sizes of the core, mantle and crust. The heat flow processes that occur in the Earth's mantle, and cause the tectonic movements within the crust, have also been highlighted on this model.

A vector illustration of a female Meadow Grasshopper. Whilst not a scientific study, the aim of this artwork, created almost entirely in a vector illustration package, was to reflect this insect in its environment as accurately as possible.

Cafe Visualisation
A 3D illustration created to visualise the layout of a small cafe contained within a building previously used as a church hall. This visualisation was used to help the people planning the work decide upon the layout of the cafe.

A simulated three-dimensional model depicting the view of a hurricane over the Gulf of Mexico. This model was produced to provide an overview of the typical structure of a hurricane.

World Population
A graphic and associated graphs focusing on the world's population and its distribution. The main focus of the map was to highlight the variations in population density across the world.

A selection of illustrative graphs, highlighting a few examples of the many created to display your data. Merritt Cartographic is used to dealing with statistics and data and utilising methods to visualise your information.

An illustrative diagram of the intertidal zone between land and sea. This diagram was produced for a children's reference book focusing on the world's oceans. The illustration highlights the three main regions within the tidal zone.

Other articles

Cartographic Perspectives Essay

Michael P. Peterson

Department of Geography / Geology

University of Nebraska at Omaha

The incorporation of interaction in the display of maps may be viewed as a major accomplishment of the computer-era in cartography. Certainly, interaction has pervaded all forms of mapping, whether it is with a database of a geographic information system, a multimedia atlas on a CD-ROM, or street maps on the World Wide Web. A characteristic shared by all of these forms of mapping is the control that the user has over the resultant map.

However, interactivity is not new in cartography. In fact, it may be as old as cartography itself. While we don't know when the first map was made, it was very likely a product of an interaction between two individuals. It may have been much like the "paper-napkin map" of today - the kind of map that is drawn on any piece of scrap paper when words fail as one tries to explain where something is located. A common characteristic of these maps is that the person for whom the map is being made will ask questions that affect how the map is drawn. For example, the person might ask where a particular landmark is located to provide a point of reference. The map becomes a product of interaction when the maker of the map includes the landmark. It is likely that the first map was a product of this type of interaction.

If the first maps were interactive, what does this mean about cartography now? One way to answer this is to view the progression of cartography in three stages. The initial maps were interactive, perhaps drawn with a stick in sand. A major shift occurred long ago as a more stable medium was used and maps were transformed into static objects, first on clay and later on paper. This was an important transition because it made the communication of spatial information possible without the mapmaker having to be present. However, it removed the interactive component. With the help of GIS, multimedia and the web, cartography, now in its third stage, is becoming interactive again.

The first and third stages are both interactive, differing in how the interaction is achieved - human vs. computer. What do we call the intervening period? In geology, the time period in which we live is commonly referred to as an "interglacial," i.e. the time between major glacial events. In a similar sense, cartography may be seen as having been in an "interinteractive" period - a period when static maps were the norm. The ice is still melting from this period.

The transition to interactive maps is a difficult one for those accustomed to static representations. A "paper-thinking" envelopes us. It is a type of thinking that is difficult to overcome because we have been influenced by static maps for such a long period. It is the way we think maps should be. It is the way we have come to know the world.

We should remember that while we have adapted to non-interactive maps, many people have not. A large percentage of the population cannot effectively use these maps. They apparently do not find that the information is presented in a usable form. The one million daily hits on interactive mapping services like MapQuest are an indication that interactive maps are much more accessible to many people. While we might criticize the poor graphic quality of these maps, people seem to use them.

How can interactive maps be made better? A conversation is a good metaphor to use in understanding what interaction means with a map. An important aspect of a good conversation is that each participant responds in some way to what the other has said. A bad conversation is characterized by no response, a response that has nothing to do with the topic of the conversation, or does not relate to the previous point that was made.

An additional and important aspect of a conversation is that each participant is building up a database of what the other has said. The database is fairly sophisticated at times. For example, I can remember stories that people have told me several years ago (although they have sometimes forgotten that they have already told me these stories - a flaw in their "who-have-I-told-this-to" database). We have not reached this stage of sophistication in interactive cartography. The system rarely remembers what it has already shown. (The closest we get to this is the short-term caching structure of a World Wide Web browser.)

Viewed in the perspective of a conversation, the type of interaction that we have with maps on the computer is simplistic. It is somewhat like talking to a person for the first time over and over again. There is no database of the interaction. The computer doesn't remember anything. Because it doesn't remember, it cannot raise the sophistication of the interaction.

Perhaps the conversational form of interaction with maps is not we want. Imagine if the computer responded with messages like:

" I've made this map for you before!

" Don't you remember where that feature is located!

"Can we move to a more intelligent level of interaction, please?

We apparently prefer a more shallow form of interaction with the computer. Perhaps we want to maintain the status of a master. We certainly don't want the computer to challenge us as another person might do.

Some computer games incorporate varying levels of sophistication. They adapt to a particular user and move them forward to more complicated tasks with rewards along the way. This, and the very high level of interaction that characterizes these games, maintain the interest of the user. The user is made to feel part of the game. The interactive map can create the same feeling on the part of the user.

How far we have come from that first interactive map? It might be said that with all of our computers and technology, we still cannot simulate the interaction in a "paper-napkin" map. We may be making more accurate maps and maps that are the result of greater analytical thought, but they may not be as interactive as that first map in the sand.

Cartographic Accuracy - Essay by Utnusner

Cartographic Accuracy Essay

I realize that there are some spelling mistakes and some of the 16xx terms aren't quite right but hey, that’s what this kinda of peer review is for. Right and yes its still incomplete..

Essay on "Cartographic Accuracy"

With the arrival of Grantville in 1631, among the host of things that came with it was a penchant for accuracy by the up-timers. This penchant has been seen in most of the goings on of the town and its people and has begun to carry over to the local down-timers that have come to expect the near wondrous measurements demonstrated by the up-timers. Maps are no exception the majority of the maps that would have come through with Grantville are mostly large scale maps (i.e. greater than 1:1,000,000). These maps can be found in the Goodes World Atlas, the Rand McNally Atlas and the various maps found in the many encyclopedias in the town. Another series of maps, those of National Geographic, also fall in this category. These large well-made maps are most easily compared to the work of Mercator and Anders Bureus. These maps generally define what large scale maps should be to the majority of the worlds populace. They are almost unusable for the purposes of Grantville. The Atlas's of Goodes and McNally are equally of little use for the common use of the people of Grantville or its leaders. Equally important is the equipment that has been brought back with them. Transits, stadia rods, tapes, and surveyor levels pretty much round out the available equipment.

Ability and knowledge

In the universe of 16xx there exist a small but able group of cartographers. These people are scattered throughout the nations of Europe and are mainly involved in creating large scale maps of various nations and coastlines. By today's standards and the standards of the up-timers these maps are pitiful. That is not say that there are not redeeming features of them or that they time that their creators took was wasted, just that the difference.

Creative Cartography: 7 Magnificent Books on Maps - Brain Pickings

newsletter Favorite Reads Related Reads Labors of Love Creative Cartography: 7 Magnificent Books on Maps From tattoos to Thomas More’s Utopia, or what Moby Dick has to do with the nature of time. By Maria Popova

I have a longstanding obsession with maps — a fundamental sensemaking mechanism for the world, arguably the earliest form of standardized information design, and a relentless source of visual creativity. Here are seven fantastic books that explore the art and science of cartography from seven fascinating angles.


Map As Art, The: Contemporary Artists Explore Cartography (public library ) is the definitive overview of today’s bravest, boldest creative cartography, featuring 360 colorful creations by well-known artists and emerging visual experimenteurs alike, including Brain Pickings favorites Maira Kalman. Paula Scher and Olaful Eliasson. Insightful essays by Gayle Clemans complement the maps and overlay a richer sheath of insight onto the work and creative process of these cartographic artists.

Matthew Cusick, ‘Fiona’s Wave,’ 2005
Cusick’s oversized collages are painted with fragments of vintage atlases and school geography books from the golden era of cartography, 1872-1945. Qin Ga, ‘Site 22: Mao Zedong Temple,’ 2005
In 2002, China’s Long March Project embarked upon a ‘Walking Visual Display’ along the route of the 1934-1936 historic 6000-mile Long March, and Beijing-based artist Qin kept tracked the group’s route in a tattooed map on his back. Three years later, Qin continued the trek where the original marchers had left off, accompanied by a camera crew and a tattoo artist, who continually updated the map on Qin’s back.

I wrote about it at length here .


You Are Here: Personal Geographies and Other Maps of the Imagination (public library ) is a beautiful and meditative compendium of maps and musings on maps exploring, in the broadest possible terms, the human condition. Divided into three sections — “Personal Geography,” “At Home in the World” and “Realms of Fantasy” — the book features 50 full-color and 50 black-and-white cartographic illustrations, ranging from a humorous diplomatic atlas of Europe and Asia to a canine view of the world to hand-drawn maps of shelters along the Appalachian Trail.

A selection of diverse essays, from the academic to the personal to the humorous, contextualize the maps within the larger conceptual narrative exploring humanity’s compulsion to map and chart its place in the universe.


From Here to There: A Curious Collection from the Hand Drawn Map Association (public library ) is exactly what it promises — a delightful anthology of ephemeral documents that give direction, from quirky doodles to remarkably detailed drawings on anything from Dallas skate parks to questionable tourist routes in Bulgaria’s mountains.

Eccentric yet unassuming, From Here to There offers a charming visual treat and, in the process, reveals fascinating slivers of human stories.


An Atlas of Radical Cartography (public library ) is as much about the art of cartography as it is about social activism, pairing artists, designers, architects, urban planners and cultural institutions in an ambitious volume that explores mapping projects across social justice, globalization, energy, human rights and more.

It features 10 eye-opening maps on everything from marginal land settlement in Calcutta to the Los Angeles water cycle by 10 different artists. alongside 10 compelling essays on sociopolitical issues examined through the prism of cartography.

An Atlas of Radical Cartography comes from The Journal of Aesthetics & Protest . an inspired editorial collective hosting dialogs and initiating art projects that facilitate idea exchange and pro-social action.


Based on the excellent blog of the same name, Strange Maps: An Atlas of Cartographic Curiosities (public library ) features 138 of the most fascinating, absorbing and remarkable maps from the blog’s 3-year history of culling the world’s forgotten, little-known and niche cartographic treasures. From the world as depicted in Orwell’s 1984. to a color map of Thomas More’s Utopia. to the 16th-century portrayal of California as an island where people live like the Amazons, the book is brim-full of priceless anecdotes from our collective conception of the world over the centuries.


Since antiquity, humanity has had an ongoing fascination with the nature of time, struggling not only to understand it but to also visualize it and thus make it more digestible, more tangible, more graspable.Cartographies of Time: A History of the Timeline (public library ) traces the history of graphic representations of time in Europe and the United States from 1450 to the present. The gorgeous, lavishly illustrated collection of timelines features everything from medieval manuscripts to websites to a chronological board game developed by Mark Twain. BibliOdyssey has a sneak peek.

Cartographies of Time is easily one of the most beautiful books to come by in the past year, both a treasure trove of antique artwork and a priceless cultural timecapsule containing humanity’s understanding of time and place in the larger context of existence.


On a most fundamental level, maps are visual storytelling about the world — about what exists in it, what matters in it, and where we belong relative to it. In Maps of the Imagination: The Writer as Cartographer (public library ), Peter Turchi explores how some of greatest storytellers in literary history employed maps as narrative devices, revealing some remarkable similarities between mapmaking, traditionally perceived as an analytical science, and the art of writing fiction. From Melville to Nabokov to Stevenson to the Marx Brothers, the book features hundreds of extraordinary illustrations from and about iconic works of literature.

Maps of the Imagination is a genre-defying gem that straddles art book, writer’s manual and cultural critique in an utterly captivating way that makes you look at both old maps and familiar fiction with new eyes.

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