I'm working on Mapserver to do beautiful maps with AGG rendering

Until now, I've only thought about the best way to get color maps. Now, I have to think how to make color ones compatible with a grey scale printing http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grayscale

How do you deal with this?

Any advices, tips or resources will be welcome.

Edit : My question is really more relative to visual perception than Mapserver. It seems I will have to read Semiology of Graphics by Jacques Bertin (reedited this year http://www.esri.com/news/releases/10_4qtr/bertin.html ) or look on Edward Tufte various book/articles http://www.edwardtufte.com/tufte/

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    For a deep discussion of how people perceive and create meaning in maps and graphics, see Alan MacEachren's How Maps Work. He provides a lengthy synopsis of many theories, integrates them, and applies them specifically to mapmaking and GIS. It's hard going and not for everyone, but rewards the effort made to read it. You can preview the book at amazon.com/How-Maps-Work-Representation-Visualization/dp/…
    – whuber
    Feb 10, 2011 at 18:23

2 Answers 2


As you also asked for resources, I recommend taking a look at http://colorbrewer2.org/ - they help choosing colors for maps that convert well to grayscale.

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    I was aware of ColorBrewer about choosing color or for colorblind people but not for gray scale.It's too limited to thematic mapping. Nothing about combining grey scale and texture or help to choose contrasts between differents grey.
    – ThomasG77
    Feb 10, 2011 at 15:45

For my part I would combine use of grayscale and use of symbols (including my owns patterns) : http://mapserver.org/mapfile/symbology/examples.html

One item using plain lines, another using dots, you can even make weird shapes...

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