A good map uses both parts of the brain: accurate and informative data to satisfy the left hemisphere, and beautiful and interesting design to delight the right. Stamen has published five gorgeous map tile overlays anybody can use to for their own digital map data needs to spruce up the tired old base design. Like many open API creative developers, Stamen’s goal is to “spread the wealth” for a better, more expansive public domain buffet, and has thus provided tool kits for map libraries including Modest Maps, Leaflet, Open Layers, and Google Maps.
Talk about artistic maps, Watercolor is downright incredible. Inspired by the Bicycle Portraits project, the watercolor map applies raster effect area washes and organic edges over a paper texture that brings a handmade, otherworldly element to data visualization.
Toner’s high-contrast B+W (black and white) maps are featured in Stamen’s Dotspotting project. They are perfect for data mashups and exploring river meanders and coastal zones. Available in six flavors: standard toner, hybrid, labels, lines, background, and lite.
Trees, Cabs & Crime combines three data sets (street tree locations, taxi cab GPS positions, and crime reports) with subtractive blending to reveal halftones hidden in the urban fabric of San Francisco. Cool!
Terrain showcases advanced labeling and linework generalization of dual-carriageway roads. Terrain was developed in collaboration with Gem Spear and Nelson Minar. Available in four flavors: standard terrain, labels, lines, andbackground.
Burning Map use toner-lines as the foundation on which to draw fiery animations. Zing! Requires a WebGL-enabled browser, such as Google Chrome.
We hope to see more in the world of open mapping API – where there’s a way, people make the most incredible things. Cheers to open information!