Tutorial for Maps 009-011 – North American Countries
Using the North America Country Maps
The maps in this series are for use in illustrating North American countries, including their states and provinces. Each series contains several map variations: landmass, states and provinces, country maps as a cutout (reverse of landmass). The cutout version provides a means of adding information and/or animation sequences not previously possible.
Some of the maps contain a lot of points and cutouts, making them a compound object. Their individual points are not editable; but you will still be able to change the fill and line colors, add gradients, and apply other special effects.
Customizing your Maps
Group and size as one field if you need to resize the map. The cutout versions of maps in this series are only one field, so you can resize simply by grabbing a handle on the graphic and moving it. To rescale (recommended), hold the shift key down as you resize – for both the grouped fields and the single-field graphics.
Color in accordance with your color palette, but be sure to use enough contrast so that the maps are clearly visible. Each state/province can be colored individually, and colors can be used to group the states/provinces into regions of the country.
The drop shadows look nice when used with the maps. The bevel isn't recommended, as there are too many points in these graphics.
3D works well with this if the depth is very short (3 points). Otherwise, the fields in the front obscure the fields in the back. You'll need to pay attention to layering, however. Usually the states/provinces at the top of the country are placed at the very back and the states/provinces at the bottom of the country are at the front. Layer the middle states so that they are layered back to front in this manner - top to bottom.
Shadows can look nice with these maps, but make sure that they are close to the edges of the objects, otherwise, the shadows will obscure the boundaries on the maps. Again, you'll need to pay attention to layers. Usually the states/provinces at the top of the country are placed at the very back and the states/provinces at the bottom of the country are at the front. Layer the middle states so that they are layered back to front in this manner - top to bottom.
Gradients, patterns, and pictures
As with any graphic, you can always import photographs into a field. Remember that the maps are multiple fields, so this won't be as easy as with other graphics. The landmass and cutout versions of the maps are one field, however, which makes it easier to import a photograph.
Download the animated example for MP009 for one possible animation scheme. Also review the Chart of the Month for November 2009 for another scheme. There is also a graphic download associated with this Chart of the Month that you will want to be sure you get.
MP010 also uses fields drawn for the regions to segment the country. The regions need to be drawn with as little overlap or gap as possible. Layering and sequencing is also important with these types of animations. The provinces have no fill and a white line, and they are on the top-most layer. The regions are on the middle layer, and the landmass is on the bottom layer. Sequencing might be important if there is any overlap or gap in the region fields (this is why you need to draw the regions very precisely). Be sure to download the animated example for MP010 to see how this was done.
See the Chart of the Month for February 2011 for another animation possibility.