It’s that time of year again—the time when we request your submissions for Esri Canada’s 2022 Map Calendar Contest! This year’s contest includes a public voting element, so make sure you have all the information that you need to prep your entries. Read this blog post to see how past winners have made it onto the shortlist.
Tip #1: Focus on Canada
Every year, we use the Esri Canada Map Calendar to spotlight excellent work being done in and about Canada. Take a look at any past year’s calendar, and you’ll see that when choosing our final 13, we select maps depicting parts or all of Canada. When you’re considering which maps to send in, choose the ones with Canadian map extent.
September 2019’s map, entitled “Active Transportation & Air Pollution: Healthy Commute & Playground Use at Calgary Schools” by Alberta Health Services, investigates the location of schools in Calgary, Alberta in relation to air pollution and active transportation.
The January 2020 map from Esri Canada’s 2019 Map Calendar, entitled “Antique Prince Edward County, Ontario” and produced by KBM Resources Group, highlights the timeless features of Prince Edward County in Ontario using an antique look and feel.
Tip #2: Consider colour
When we review contest submissions, colour is always a major consideration. Maps don’t have to be vibrant (see the Prince Edward County example under Tip #1), but the colours should be harmonious and serve the story the maps are trying to tell.
In the March 2019 map, “The Ancestral Landscape of Sikniktuk” by Lost Art Cartography, the map uses colours that reflect the colours of the natural landscape.
In the October 2017 map, “Residential Building Construction Dates Revisited: 2003 vs. 2016” by the City of Toronto, the cartographer used bright colours because of their high contrast. Using bright, vibrant colours makes it easier to see the differences between the 2003 map, which didn’t take into account building construction dates when assessing fire risk, and the 2016 map, which does.
Tip #3: Make it legible
More people will be able to understand, make sense of and enjoy your map if it has clean lines and is clearly labelled. Make sure that your labels contrast with the background they’re on, and that you save your map in high resolution so that the labels and features don’t blur. The better we can understand your map, the better your chances of making it onto the shortlist.
November 2019’s map, “NWT State of the Land January 1, 2018” by NWT Centre for Geomatics, makes excellent use of large labels that are easy to read. Smaller black text with a white outline emphasizes specific towns. Wherever the cartographer has used gray text to label the different land management areas, they’ve made sure to include a white outline for some additional contrast and to increase the font size so that the labels—despite being de-emphasized—are still easier to read.
Tip #4: Choose vector over raster
This one’s simple: it’s easier for us to print a map that comes to us in a vector format! Raster files aren’t lossless, so they can get blurry and pixelated when resized, whereas vector files resize with perfect fidelity. High-quality maps like these allow us to produce a calendar that’s a beloved work of art year after year.
The December 2020 map, entitled “Hope Bay Greenstone Geology Belt, Nunavut, Canada” by TMAC Resources Inc., has wonderful curves of bright colour pouring down from the top to the bottom of the image. Because of their complex shapes, a map like this is best provided in vector format so that we can minimize pixelation during the printing.
April 2019’s map, “2041 Regional Transportation Plan Network Map” by Metrolinx, has a lot of finely detailed elements—linear and nonlinear alike—layered on top of one another. Receiving this map in a vector format meant that the final print map came out looking sharp and that the labels were clear.
Tip #5: Follow the contest rules
Having a beautiful map is only part of the work! To be considered for the shortlist, make sure you follow our contest rules. You’ll need to satisfy all of our eligibility criteria, fill in our web form completely and provide your map as a PDF with a resolution of at least 300 dpi. Your map’s legend also needs to be horizontal. View the Map Calendar Contest page for detailed contest rules and submission instructions.
Tip #6: Look at past winners for inspiration
By reading this article, you’re already well on your way to getting to know our submission preferences! And if one of your maps makes it to our final 13, you’ll get to know our community’s preferences too as we’ll give the public a chance to vote for their favourite among our selected maps in the fall.
Now go forth and investigate our other past winners:
We’re so looking forward to seeing your submissions for the 2022 Map Calendar. Submit your entries before July 16, 2021. Enjoy polishing your maps, and best of luck in making it onto the shortlist!
This blog post was inspired by Dimpee Shah's 2019 post, "5 tips to ace the 2020 Map Calendar Contest". Check it out for more ideas!