Book Review: The Parks, Gardens etc. of London and its Suburbs

The Parks, Gardens, Etc., of London and Its Suburbs, Described and Illustrated for the Guidance of Strangers was written in 1923 by Edward Kamp. The book was recently reprinted, and while much of the information is out of date, the illustrated maps and drawings in it are timeless and still as appealing today as they were 90 years ago.
The book is considered to be a culturally important work, and will be of interest to Britons as well as people who appreciate English culture and architecture. Historians will enjoy seeing how the landscape has changed, and comparing the surviving gardens as they are today to the ones from the early 20th century.

Illustrated gardens London

Illustrated gardens London


Because of the sheer number of illustrations in this book, it is not currently available in Kindle format, although that may change now that the Kindle Fire is becoming popular. The re-released edition of the book from 2010 is paperback format, and is a faithful reproduction, not a poor quality OCR scan.
Kemp published many books about landscape gardening, as well as design for large estates and smaller suburban properties. He was a prolific author and his books were known for their detail, quality instructions and fine presentation. Most of Kemps other books were not illustrated, but this one provides a great insight into early 20th century London, and how it recovered from World War 1.
If you have a love for gardening, or simply appreciate classical illustrations then this book is well worth a look. If you can find one of the early 1920s prints of the title, you should look after it carefully because it is highly collectible.
Quality illustrated parks and gardens books are hard to find today, with photographers moving most of their work online. To see such a beautiful book produced so long ago is incredibly impressive.

Software Review: Ortelius

Ortelius is a piece of specialist cartography software from MapDiva. Ortelius is designed to be used on Mac OS 10.5 or later. It is an incredibly easy to use package which should be familiar to anyone that has ever used their more general piece of software, Artboard.
Ortelius comes pre-loaded with a selection of royalty free maps which you can use to create your own illustrations. These maps include vector outlines of the world, as well as several continents, regions and countries. You can make your own maps out of these templates, or use your own GIS map data to produce maps at any scale.

Ortelius Map Creation Software

Ortelius Map Creation Software


Orteilus can be used to produce maps “just for fun”, or to produce detailed, fully geo-referenced maps with professional color ramps and palettes. The software supports 2+ buttoned mice, as well as pen based graphics tablets.
Novices should find that Ortelius is incredibly easy to use and allows them to make illustrated maps quickly and easily as well as other illustrations – illustrated movie posters or books art illustrations. Experienced designers will appreciate the ability to create and save styles, allowing for rapid map development in the future. This, combined with the range of symbols available in the built-in collection, and the possibility to add your own custom map symbols, makes this a great package for any event organizer, game creator, or other person that needs to work with maps on a regular basis.
There is a free trial of Ortelius available. The trial is fully functional and can be used for as long as you wish. The only limitation of the trial is that it produces watermarked images.
Ortelius is more expensive than MapDiva’s other application, Artboard. The standard edition costs $99, and there is an education edition available for $49. For what you get, however, the price is very good. The collection of free templates alone is worth the investment.

Illustration Software Review: Artboard

Artboard is a simple and easy to use vector-based illustration package from MapDiva. Very popular for creation book illustrations.  The software is available for Mac OSX, and is ideal for creating simple vector illustrations.  The guiding principle of the software is that it is supposed to be “Simple, powerful and fun”, and that is certainly the case.
 Simple Illustrated Map
Artboard is far easier to use than most other vector based applications.  It comes with more than 20 tools for drawing lines, shapes, text and curves, making it perfect for drawing simple illustrated maps.  It is easy to convert objects to-and-from shapes and paths, and all the powerful tools that you would expect from a vector image editing application are available, including Boolean operators, rules, guides and layer management tools.

To help beginners get started, there are several templates available, including pre-designed greeting cards, posters and flyers.  Most people use Artboard for producing promotional materials and logos, but it is also ideal for creating simple outline maps and floor plans.  An experienced vector artist could use it to make more complex illustrated maps too.  You can use the mouse or a graphics tablet with this software.

Artboard costs  $29.99 and is available for purchase from the Apple store.  In addition, there is a 30 day trial available. The software is definitely worth paying for because this is a package that will grow with you as you become more experienced in creating vector art.  It is more powerful than a dedicated map-making package, but flexible and easy enough to use to allow you to create any form of art that you wish.  If you need to create logos, promotional materials or banner advertisements as well as illustrated maps then this package could be the jack-of-all-trades software that you need to get the job done, and it costs a fraction of the price of an Adobe package.