What do Dr. John Snow, the 19th century English physician, and Jon Snow, the King of the North in Game of Thrones have in common?
Both use thematic location data and custom basemaps to explore the relationship between the natural environment and modes of human interaction.
Thematic location data: data that focuses on a specific topic or theme within a certain area
Basemap: the foundational layer of a data map’s visual hierarchy
In his 1854 cholera map, Dr. John Snow plotted water pump locations on a static lithograph projection of London, helping him draw a correlation between contaminated pumps and cholera outbreaks.
In Game of Thrones, Jon Snow relies on custom basemaps of Westeros’ seven kingdoms, whether for strategizing military campaigns or expeditions beyond the wall.
Let’s take a look at a custom basemap of the Game of Thrones world Ramiro, one of our Solutions Engineers, and Mamata, our Senior Cartographer, built using an open-sourced thematic dataset for pertinent character information as well as gvSIG’s ebook, Learning GIS with Game of Thrones.
We always design basemaps with specific components that help cartographers and data analysts tell better stories with location data. Here are three components of the Game of Thrones basemap:
Ramiro and Mamata decided to render the known world of Game of Thrones, including the continents of Westeros and Essos, by first removing both pre-designed basemaps, Dark Matter and Positron, available in Builder.
Instead, they chose a layer of solid blue color for the base (representing the seas) and added layers for rivers, roads, forests, cities, the Great Wall, and, of course, the ice lands beyond the wall.
The ability to add specific components to an unbounded solid color layer provided the freedom needed to build a land-cover map projection for a fictional world.
The geography of Westeros is a central feature in each character’s battle for the Iron Throne.
Ramiro and Mamata styled the basemap in order to highlight how transportation routes are distributed across the Westerosi landscape. Popular style techniques for display landscape include shading terrain, using color palettes to suggest elevation, and curvature.
They added parcel data related to regional terrain and kingdom to show land use across the continent. This basemap’s style invites map viewers to explore relationships between landscape and land use to determine different ways in which a character’s location helps or hinders his or her ability to play the game of thrones.
A well designed map does not overwhelm viewers with obtrusive text, labels, and annotations that may bury unexpected data.
One advantage of building a custom basemap is the ability to apply response styling features inviting viewers to explore the map further.
John Snyder’s mantra, “Overview first, zoom and filter, then details on demand,” is a useful aid in determining what information and in what sequence to present to viewers.
In Ramiro’s visualization, the overview shows most of the labels but as you zoom in, more labels may appear (like near Castle Black at the top of the map).
Want to chart your own path to the Iron Throne? You can insert Ramiro and Mamata’s Game of Thrones basemap into CARTO Builder today!
First, read our guide on inserting external basemaps.
Second, when asked for the URL source for your custom basemap, insert this link:
Third, click “Add Basemap” button in the bottom right-hand corner.
In our next post we will use this basemap while adding analysis features. Stay tuned!
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