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I am using ArcGIS for Desktop 10.2.

I am making a topo map that was "drawn" in 1958. I know you can purchase topo maps from USGS but I thought it would be more personal if I made it and printed it and framed it.

I downloaded the DRG quad for Esperance NY (42074g3) from NYS GIS Clearinghouse. After importing the Tif files into ArcMap I realized it didn't look like the topo map you can buy. The differences were that there was no color, and there wasn't the colored in roads or green areas on the map.

I changed the colors, and also checked "display background value" because the tifs were superimposed on each other so you cold only see the topmost layer unless that is checked. I also clipped a roads data set and set the color to how the roads look on a topo map.

After manipulating the colors and transparency I stumbled across another DRG on NRCS GeoSpatial gateway and loaded that in just to see if it was different. Sure enough, THAT looked exactly like a topo map you'd order. Feeling like I had just discovered the easy way out - I decided to compare the two. The "Pre-Made" DRG seemed like it was a lot harder to read with all of the green in the background, also it didn't have any of the reforestation areas that were on my version.

I decided that I would continue to use my version but I want to add something subtle to the map that you don't get from a typical Topo. I added a State Forest shapefile so I could subtly highlight the forest land. I also tried to color in the wetlands so I drew my own little wetland symbol in paint and used that which worked very well.

I've been racking my brain for something to add to the map that wont take away from its "Vintage" feel but also add a cool element to my Topo that will set it apart from any old topo you can buy!

Any ideas?!

closed as primarily opinion-based by Jason Scheirer, Chris W, PolyGeo Dec 10 '14 at 22:36

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • Could you add in some points of interest that have meaning to him? Or put in a fake street/place aka a trap street. – mkennedy Dec 10 '14 at 17:01
  • Maybe add building foot print or parcel layer. – artwork21 Dec 10 '14 at 17:07
  • He is a biologist and a hunter. I looked into DEC Wildlife Management Areas to see if I could plot where the ranges of some animals like deer are but there are none in the Esperance Quad. I am not really sure what the purpose of a "trap street" is but I definitely want the map to be a true representation of what is there. I know he snowmobiles, and I thought of adding snowmobile trails, but I feel like that doesn't really belong on a Topo map and would subtract its beauty. A parcel layer might be interesting.. but that might make it too busy with the contour lines being on it and all. Hmm. – Alex Dec 10 '14 at 18:41
  • If he carried gps during hunting expeditions, ask for memorable track if saved. Hunter advise – FelixIP Dec 10 '14 at 20:25
  • You could add public hunting lands. I've seen game trails on some old topos also but I don't know if you can find any .shp info like that. Water features may be good also streams and small drainages 24k scale if you can get them for NY. – gyoung1986 Dec 10 '14 at 21:05