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Digital Scholarship Innovation Studio

Lines for Geologic map at UCSC     Geologic Map Key


UCSC Geologic Map

By: O.A.
Project Status:  Complete

In starting this project, I wanted to figure out how to use overlapping layers of cut paper to create a representation of the geologic makeup of the UCSC campus and its surrounding area. I knew that using paper meant that non-contiguous shapes would be difficult to cut out and place accurately, so I needed to be careful about the order of layers, bridges between shapes, and the overall aesthetic effect. I also considered using vinyl, which would make the placement of shapes somewhat easier, but I decided that this particular image had just enough continuity and connections between shapes to make paper a sensible choice; also, I wanted the slightly layered effect that paper could provide.

Describe your project. What is it, and what were you hoping to achieve with your project?

This project is a map of the geology of the UC Santa Cruz campus and its surroundings. The source information is from a presentation by Dr. Gerald Weber on the city of Santa Cruz's website. I wanted to use this project to accustom myself to multi-layered paper Cricut projects on a moderately complex scale, and I used a geologic map in order to compel myself to prioritize accuracy and readability of the final product. This allowed me to find a balance between aesthetic and material considerations.

What materials did you use for this project? Did they meet your needs, or would you use different materials if you were to make this project again?

I used light cardstock paper in different colors, a Cricut .4 mm black pen, scotch tape, and a glue stick. These met my needs well; were I to make this project again, I might use a smaller pen for the cover drawing so that the lines are finer.

What equipment did you use for this project? Did they meet your needs, or would you use different equipment if you were to make this project again?

I used the Cricut Maker machine. This met my needs very well. If I were to do this again, I might use some sort of drawing tablet to trace the shapes much more easily when working in Photoshop.

What software did you use for this project? Did it meet your needs, or would you use different software if you were to make this project again?

I used Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and Design Space. These worked very well for my purposes.

Is there a part of this project that you would like to explore more if you have the time? If so, talk about what that is and how you would go about exploring it.

I would be interested in doing another version of this project with a different geographic area. When I looked for resources for this project, I found a lot of very useful map sources, such as the American Geosciences Institute's interactive geological map of California and its database for the United States. I saved and flagged a few other interesting regions and maps that I could complete a similar project with.

Who do you think would be interested in learning about this project or using the final version of this project?

I think that Earth Sciences and Education (especially STEM) students would be interested in learning about this project because it is clearly a very simple, even rudimentary, map, but it provides a tactile and multi-layered physical representation of scientific information. It may be useful in an educational classroom setting; in fact, I was inspired in part by recalling elementary school teachers who had demonstrated faults and other geological concepts with scraps of paper, clay, and other physical objects.

Did you iterate on any part of this project? If so, what was that process like? What were you trying to improve upon during the iterative process?

I originally didn't plan to put a cover on the map; I planned to put the title and key either on the back of the project or, better yet, in a frame-style front layer of paper. However, I also knew that I would like to have some kind of representation of roads or landmarks, because it is otherwise hard to orient oneself when looking at a solely geological map made of colorful pieces of paper. I considered drawing the roads and their labels on a transparent layer, but I didn't want this to take away from the slightly three-dimensional character of the paper layers. I realized I could make a cover layer, which could hold a title, legend, and roads without being too visually confusing -- because a transparent layer with all of these things might be slightly overwhelming on top of the paper layers. I also liked that having a cover layer encouraged the viewer to open up the map themselves, flip back and forth, and generally engage with the different layers in a more-than-visual way. As for the key, I realized that simple cutouts on the front layer would be an efficient way to display the colors, and the fact that I would need to scatter the legend items around the cover layer to display all the colors struck me as more visually compelling than the traditional legend I initially planned upon.

What was something that you thought was particularly successful in this project?

I realized that I was one paper color short of the amount that I needed, so I decided to use the Cricut pen tool to draw a hexagon pattern on one of the layers. I really liked how this turned out, and I would like to use more patterns (in moderation) to differentiate colors next time.

Now that you've gone through this process, what might you do differently next time?

I think the most important change would be my method of translating a raster image into Illustrator-ready vector paths. I used Photoshop layer masks and the brush tool to separate the shapes onto different layers, then I exported the cleaned-up paths of these layers into Illustrator. I could have done this much more efficiently by tracing the lines themselves rather than filling in the shapes as layer masks, then dealing with the color differentiation in Illustrator, because my method forced me to retread lines at least twice! I tried tracing the lines at first, but the shape-filling method was dramatically more accurate. If I did this again, I would definitely try to get some sort of drawing tablet, or another way to make the line tracing faster and more accurate, because that would streamline both the process and the resulting paths significantly.

Is there anything else you'd like to share about this project?

I liked how this project turned out, and it definitely made me more familiar with the geology of the UCSC campus.