View Full Version : Using CorelDraw, Illustrator, or other drawing software to teach cartography

Blake Gumprecht
06-15-2012, 11:30 AM
Are there college and university faculty members out there who use CorelDraw, Adobe Illustrator, or other drawing software to teach cartography?

If you do, do you use it in combination with other software or GIS packages? Do you know of others who use drawing software to teach cartography?

Like many geography departments, my department no longer teaches cartography. What students learn about the subject they learn in our GIS courses, but, in my experience, GIS courses don't do a very good job at teaching cartographic principles. Moreover, GIS is not ideal for many mapping purposes. I taught cartography using CorelDraw when I was a graduate student. I also use CorelDraw to create maps for my research.

I am contemplating creating a cartography course that uses CorelDraw, but I want to get a sense whether people whose focus is cartography still think this is an appropriate way to teach map making, or if other tools are now better for that purpose.

Thanks for any help you can provide.


Blake Gumprecht


Blake Gumprecht
Associate Professor and Chair
Department of Geography
University of New Hampshire
102 Huddleston Hall, 73 Main Street
Durham, New Hampshire 03824-2541
Voice: (603) 862-1930
Fax: (603) 862-4362
E-mail: blake.gumprecht@unh.edu
Website: http://pubpages.unh.edu/~gumprech/
Photo and map archive: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gumprecht/collections/
Visual Diary 2012: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gumprecht/sets/72157628671724587/

06-15-2012, 02:42 PM
Well, for real world cartography, as opposed to the fantasy stuff we mostly do here at the guild, it's going to be the integration of GIS and Graphics software, and the specialized graphic design principles specific to designing maps that are most important.

There might be an advantage to using whatever vector graphics software is used in graphic design courses at your Uni in that you could make an intro course there a prerequisite and save yourself having to cover the basics. Though there are also advantages to getting experience with more then one application for the same task. Adobe Illustrator is probably what's being used, but Corel Draw, Xara X, Serif DrawPlus, and Inkscape all do essentially the same thing. There are probably cartography specific extensions available for some of them which might be worth adding.

I use a mix of free/open source GIS and Graphics software, primarily QuantumGIS and Inkscape. This has the advantage of being free and multiplatform. Getting ArcGIS and Illustrator would cost close to $2000 and wouldn't run on Linux.

Depending on the amount of programming covered in your GIS courses, you can also do some in interesting things by attacking images and GIS data directly. But at that point you'd be mixing in a third discipline besides graphics and geography (maybe a fourth if you count all the math).

Good luck, I'd certainly have taken your course if it had been available as part of the GIS program I took.