Maps and Mappers of the 2024 Calendar – Amanda Robinson – January

This month’s map comes from Amanda Robinson

Tell Us About Yourself

I’m from Canada but I’ve lived and worked in London, England for 16 years. My main job is Associate Director at a consultancy that primarily works with local/municipal level government on things such as economic strategies and development. Mapping comes into the job because often for projects we produce graphs and maps using social, economic, and demographic data for the towns and cities we work in. The point is to understand how social/economic/demographic factors manifest spatially and what that means for local economies, development, and change in the future. I am also responsible for the overall data and evidence strategy of the company, which includes finding and testing new sources of spatial information and making sure the data visualisations we produce are clear, captivating, and high-quality. I also occasionally do little design projects on the side. Outside of work and making maps I enjoy reading, playing video games, and a long list of other rotating hobbies.

Tell us the story behind your map

I traveled around Mexico and Belize in February 2023 and, as you do when visiting the Yucatan peninsula, ended up seeing a few cenotes. Often when I learn about something new, I like to see if anything about it exists in map form. What’s immediately striking about seeing cenotes on a map is the wide semicircle they draw across the Yucatan. I wanted to design my own version of the ‘ring of cenotes’ that riffed on the concept of the ‘ring’. The ring theme is all over my map, from the symbol used for the cenotes to the very round typeface to the circles containing different elements of the map to the background of concentric circles. On that note, something I learned is that in the future I need to allow for more contrast between colours (and to do a test print). The two dark blues I used for the background elements are difficult to differentiate on my printed map, so apologies to anyone who’s struggled to see the design details!

Tell is about the Tools, data, etc., that you used to make the map

The data come from a couple main sources, the Yucatan government website and Geocomunes. I spent a bit of time cleaning the data using a combination of R and Excel, mainly to reduce the number of duplicates between the two sets. Next in the tools came QGIS, where I plotted the cenote data and added the Natural Earth layer. For most of my maps, I do all of the styling and layout within QGIS, but for this one I used a mixed approach. The Natural Earth and ocean waves layers I exported to PDF and recoloured to CMYK in Illustrator, while the cenotes I exported to .png so I could retain the layer blending, which uses the screen effect to make clusters of cenotes look brighter. I drew the ‘cenote types’ graphic in Illustrator and assembled the whole thing in InDesign.





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