Firefly Cartography


Adventures In Mapping

My favorite cartography conference is coming up this week, and in advance, I’m getting my presentation materials online. So here!

The topic is “Firefly Cartography” which is a made up thing. I’ll describe it, talk about how it may be an effective grabber of eyes, and how those qualities also make it a helpful technique for education. Because, if something isn’t good for teaching, what good is it?

Firefly Cartography

Firefly cartography (or glow-maps, overproduced tripe, whatever you like to call it…) has a pretty tight set of characteristics that converge to deliver a pretty standard effect. I can say this with confidence because I am making up the name and applying it to these characteristics. Generally, a firefly map has a…

  • Dark, de-saturated basemap (usually imagery)

  • Masked highlight area and vignette

  • Single bright, glowing, thematic layer

I started making them around 2012, but others were probably doing similar things long before…

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