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Office Digital Printer – OKI C321dn

Stochastic screening

Using Printech Project test 2006 sheet to test

OKI & Printech Project sheet
OKI & Printech Project sheet

Having just posted some new print and colour guides in the Resources section of this website, I was most interested in a print quality test experience on Swiss O-map blog O-Zeugs.

The author (presumably M Lerjën – I’m writing this under the shade of our plum tree and the combination of light colour text and myriad screen reflections makes it hard to be sure), has just bought an OKI C321dn colour laser printer and is now checking it out as to map print quality. Interesting to buy first and test later but as highest quality wasn’t a primary motive to buy, then I can understand that process.

The blogger then put the OKI through its paces via the Printech Project test sheet. While his conclusion is that

with my OKI I will never reach the high end.

the process he goes through and the explanation of the results he gets is definitely worth a view by anyone faced with checking out a digital press for O maps. This applies whether it is an office press like this OKI or a commercial press.

That particular blog post is OKI C321dn and the Printech Project Test Sheet.

Colour matching

Colour test prints
Colour test results

The  later print quality test blog post Mappers Blog: Color correction of the OKI c321dn for printing maps covers his attempts to colour match the OKI output to Swedish O colour specs. The result is the same as reported in my guides – yellow and pourple are very difficult to match.

Orienteering Australia has available a similar offset printed colour matching swatch. I included that with most Pretex despatches in December. They can also supply offset printed Printech Project test sheets for comparison testing.


[typography font=”Merienda One” size=”24″ size_format=”px” color=”008000″]Post script[/typography]

Re “… his conclusion …” in the 3rd paragraph above. Often I would put his/her but it struck me just a couple of weeks ago that I don’t know of any female orienteering mappers. I’m sure they are out there.

Wouldn’t you know it. Just a few hours after writing the above, via O-Zeugs I read of a female mapper.


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Book Review – Cartographer’s Toolkit

Cartographer's Toolkit book

Colours, Typography, Patterns

A toolkit it is. Supposedly only for those who have expert cartographic knowledge. I cannot lay claim to the latter (my only career regret), yet I am finding this toolkit very useful. In fact it lifted a mental block for me on one map. So unless you are a pure orienteering mapper, this toolkit is likely to have tools that you can reuse for both print and web cartography.

I have already reused colour palettes, acquired new fonts, used one composition pattern and admired the abstract art. Exactly as Gretchen N Peterson intended in her book Cartographer’s Toolkit | Colors, Typography, Patterns. She has carefully thought out and very successfully presented the chapter elements.

Colour Palettes

Colours sample
Colours sample

The Color palette chapter presents a series of harmonic colour sets. It encompasses coordinated, differentiated and colour ramp palettes. I lack colour smarts so this chapter has been a boon, enabling me to quickly test three likely colour palettes for a new trail map. Each of the 25 or so palettes comprises specifications of 10 colours, samples of usage and even a colour blindness simulation. The chapter is introduced by basic colour theory and practice.


Typeface sample
Typeface sample

Similarly, the Typography chapter is introduced by the basics of typography in cartography. While I knew of typeface x-heights through my print industry experience, I wasn’t aware of their relevance to cartography. Replacing OCAD’s default font Arial with a cartographic font, I was startled at how much better it looked on the map.

Fifty typefaces are listed across categories of standard (system), free and ‘for fee’ fonts. As with colours, each font is portrayed in a sample situation as well as alphabet and text. Some of these fonts are referred to in my previous post Cartography Typography for Neophytes.


Pattern sample
Pattern sample

The signal to noise ratio of the Composition Patterns chapter was far higher than I expected. At first glance I thought the chapter interesting but not too relevant to trail maps. How wrong. Applying a discontinuous frame to an orienteering event map enabled a useful bulge of content to be kept and the map still looked good.

Then line highlights provided a new slant on marking trail routes. Small multiples reminded me I could show enlargements of selected trails on some trail maps. And I really enjoy the intentional and unintentional art.

Maps show the way

And so does Gretchen Peterson. She has resoundingly accomplished her objective of providing tools for reuse. She has also given me pleasure in reading, re-reading, examining detail and re-examining.

In addition to her intended audience, I commend this book to amateur cartographers like myself who have an interest in improving. I cannot close better than by quoting from her introduction

This book enables the thinking cartographer to use colors and fonts deliberately, and it shares ideas for creating just the right layout compositions with just the right elements to create truly communicative and enduring maps. — Gretchen Peterson

Cartographer’s Toolkit | Colors, Typography, Patterns. Gretchen N Peterson. Published 2012 by PetersonGIS. Amazon US$35.

Gretchen Peterson’s informative blog A Cartographer’s Toolkit.

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Swiss Maps Swap 5 colours for 4

Stochastic screening

Switzerland’s WOC’12 maps printed CMYK

Through research and utilisation of the latest processes in four colour (CMYK) printing, Switzerland was able to produce maps that satisfied the demands of our sport’s prestige events — the World Orienteering Championships.

Part of the story was OCAD’s new Layout Layer which made it easy to incorporate sponsor logos, printer’s crop marks and other useful map artwork.

Switzerland’s O magazine earlier this year published an article by Thomas Gloor, CEO of OCAD, on the topic. You can read the English translation (PDF 2pp)

Is this important to Australia and NZ?


Firstly, the cost of top class CMYK offset printing is generally lower than that of PMS (Pantone) offset printing for the relatively small quantities required by our sport.

Secondly, CMYK printing enables the easy incorporation of raster (JPG, TIFF, PNG, GIF) images such as sponsors’ and clubs’ logos plus photos.

So are we lagging?

Maybe not a lot.

With one exception (see below) I have always presumed WRE (World Ranking Events) and above in Australia are PMS printed. A quick look at the relevant page on the Orienteering Australia website supports my perception.

However, I am aware that at a lower level,  Bendigo Orienteering club has produced detailed rogaine maps (compiled from orienteering maps) that are CMYK offset printed.

With significant recent interest in colour conformance by the Australian CMYK offset print industry, we should be able to achieve the same results as the Swiss although some effort, and maybe cost, will be required.

CMYK offset colour conformance

Why is colour conformance an enabler? It isn’t in itself. But to me, accreditation to a recognised colour quality mark  indicates the printery is serious about quality, especially repeatability of colour. Unlike PMS with its strictly controlled ink manufacture, CMYK inks and application are relatively uncontrolled and thus exhibit colour variation which may be unacceptable to orienteering.

You also need to be aware that while PMS colours should always be within a narrow tolerance of an internationally accepted  Pantone swatch colour, the best CMYK can achieve is to be within tolerance of a particular quality organisation’s CMYK swatch colours. In other words, switch from one accredited CMYK printery to another and the result could be noticeably different.

Two such digital certifications are from Fogra and Truly Colour (in conjunction with Swiss based UGRA).

Australia CMYK digital (laser)

Since Bushrangers Carnival 2009, Australia has had top flight digital CMYK printing of maps. Similarly to the Swiss development, this came about through research and process experimentation. Reviewing overseas reports earlier this year, it appears we have been ahead of much of the orienteering world in CMYK digital press map production at least until 2012.

Validation of our processes came when 2011’s WRE on Marginata map in Canberra was printed digital CMYK. This was done as the cost of offset printing as normally required was prohibitive. However, despite the print for a rock strewn map being very high for a digital print, it must be noted that feedback from competitors was that it is still unacceptable for such a high level event. This gives some impetus to exploring CMYK offset while awaiting the to see if the advent of ink jet (as opposed to toner based) production digital presses will also bring greater precision.

Two print centres known to produce very high quality digital (laser) print orienteerings maps are;

Specifications and process to enable other digital print centres to achieve the same quality are on the Mapping Resources section of this website. Generally, the model of digital press would need to be ‘full production’ classification and probably will be no more than 3 years old.

Further reading

A further article in the Swiss WOC’12 + OCAD series will be published in the next post.  The topic is LIDAR. The series article on Sprint maps will be published in the March 2013 edition of The Australian Orienteer.

Don’t miss out on topical OCAD and mapping info – subscribe to all or a selection of posts from this website via the Get Fresh with Us block in the sidebar on the right.

Comments welcome

Your comments, corrections and own experiences on CMYK map printing are welcome.

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OCAD 11. File | Import : Journal #7

OCAD logo

New symbol set or meld a map – colours to the top

Colour table prior to import
Colour table prior to import

You’ve imported a new symbol set to an existing map, converted various symbols and then realise some of those symbols are not showing up on the map. Or maybe you have imported an existing map to meld with a new or adjacent map and have the same issue.

It is likely that the colours for those symbols are below every colour in the original symbol set. If there are many new symbols and/or many existing symbols, it can be time consuming to move colours up the table. But all is not lost.

Fixing the colour table sequence

Take a copy of your map for safety. Select all the new symbols, right click and Delete. File | Import the new symbol set as an empty OCAD file and select the option to place colours at top of colour table. After import, all the symbols on the map are re-engaged with the new symbol set and should now be visible.

Getting it right first time

Colour table after import
After import, new colours in top

For a clean run, simply File | Import the new symbol set as an empty OCAD file and select the option to place colours at top of colour table. If you are melding an existing map file then File | Import that file and select the option to place colours at top of colour table.

Looking ahead

This function is on the OCAD AG wish list to include in Map | Load colours & symbols from… That will negate the need to have an empty map file when you simply wish to import new symbols.

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OCAD 11. File | Import : Journal #5

Import OCAD file – the pain

Colour table before import
Colour table before import

Ever imported an OCAD map or symbol set so you could replace many or all symbols and colours in the base map? I did when converting an orienteering map to a public recreation map.

Converted my first few roads to the new symbols and wondered why they disappeared from the map. I realised that the colours for the new symbols were all lower in the colour table than colours for existing symbols. Thus my new symbols were blocked where there was an old symbol in the same location. e.g. a green or yellow area symbol. What a pain moving each colour up.

The solution

Colour table after import
After import

When importing all symbols and colours, OCAD 11 offers the opportunity to place colours at the top of the colour table. So as you convert symbols, they should still show up on the map. On some maps it may be wise to convert area symbols last else your unconverted line and spot symbols may be invisible under the higher placed new area colours.

Wish list

This function could be useful also when Map | Load colours from (and symbols) is used. OCAD AG now has that on their wish list.