Category: Cartography

A map can evoke a world on a piece of paper, or on a few million pixels. Big or small, real or fiction. A world that once was but no longer is. Or a world that does not exist yet but that could one day bethere.

I always liked browsing through atlases, studying street plans and dreaming away over maps. And I practice the noble craft of cartography myself. From the history of Rotterdam to the future of Mars: I map it.

The Drowned Earth: a world map as it looks after the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica have melted, around 4000 AD

The Drowned Earth: 4000 AD, After The Thaw

What would the world map look like if all the polar ice would melt? And how long does it take to get there? These are interesting questions now that climate change is – finally – on the political agenda. And as a cartographer, I could not resist the temptation to visualize the worst case scenario. Gravity When the Greenland ice sheet melts, the sea level rises 7 meters, when the ice melts in Antarctica it causes a rise of 58 meters. So together that makes 65 meters. But that is an average. Because something else plays a role: gravity. Such...

The digital scrapwood map of Europe, made of 54 different pieces of virtually recycled wood

A map of Europa made of scrapwood

Well in time for the European elections, it’s finished: the map of Europe in digital scrap wood. The third in a series; previously I made a scrap wood map of the Netherlands and the world. 54 countries Making this map was a bit more difficult than the previous two. Instead of 12 provinces or seven continents, we are dealing with 54 different countries big and small here. And for each of them I have searched for a separate piece of wood. Virtual wood, by the way, let there be no misunderstanding about it. Geopolitics When making a map of Europe,...

world map made of scrapwood, old planks, plywood and othe recycled material

The Scrapwood World Map

The scrapwood map the the provinces of the Netherlands was the most popular item in my Dutch webshop in 2018. That does not mean that the map is decorating walls in hundreds of living rooms, but it is still a modest success for this piece of virtual recycling. The World After this achievement, I just had to make a world map in scrapwood as well and here it is… Just like the map of the Netherlands it was rendered in 3ds Max using digital scaffolding, plywood, planks, slats, floorboards and rusty nails. The colors and textures were chosen quite randomly....

A world map like a dolphin would make it: a network of oceans en seas with some terra incognita in between

A Dolphin’s World Map

Once again I have tried to imagine the point of view of one of the other species we humans share this planet with. After the penguins and the moles this time it’s the turn of the dolphins. How does a dolphin mapmaker see the world? Sympathetic and intelligent Dolphins are known as friendly animals. Are they really as sympathetic as they look or are we somewhat misled because their mouths are permanently in the smiley position? I would not dare to make any firm statements about that. Dolphins are also known as intelligent beings. But how intelligent are they exactly?...

A World Block Map, in colors that are realistic, albeit somewhat exagerated

The Block World Map Is Here At Last

Yes, my name, Blok, means Block. In fact, the family name was Block until one of my ancestors moved to Rotterdam in the late 18th century and a lazy municipality official dropped the c. In that light it’s amazing that it took so long for me to do something with the block theme. But here it finally is: a Block World Map. Grid The map consists of three grids, which are placed on top of each other. The largest blocks form a grid of 72 by 36; the attentive reader realizes immediately that each block corresponds to five degrees latitude...

World map mirrored in a reflective and slightly undulating water surface

The World in a Water Mirror

The Dutch word for water level is waterspiegel, which literally translates as water mirror.  Such a great word! Because under the right circumstances – not too many waves, but certainly not too few – water gets magical reflective properties, distorting objects until they are barely recognizable. Ideally, the waves create a kind of impressionistic oil painting that can only be captured with fast shutter speeds. Reflectifications I wrote earlier about the reflections of Rotterdam buildings in the old harbor basins. Here is another interpretation of the idea: a water level world map. 3ds Max How do you create a water...

Map of the Netherlands made out of scrapwood, rotated 20 degrees anticlockwise, with next to it the Dutch lion as a recessed surface in the concrete of the wall

How to Crop a Country – The Netherlands in Scrapwood

Sometimes, when I’m struggling with a design issue, I ask the Facebook panel for advice. Social media are a blessing for a freelancer: since I no longer work in an open-plan office, I cannot easily ask a few colleagues what they think. In those cases, therefore, I ask my Facebook friends for their opinion. Scrap wood Recently the panel helped me with the important issue of the scap wood map of the Netherlands. An interesting piece of digital recycling: a map of my country made of old boards, slats, boxes, scaffolding wood, plywood, floor boards and similar scrap. Whitespace But...

Detail of the Color Map of Rotterdam cropped at the city center with all city blocks drawn in a random color

Christmas Blog: a Festival of Light and Color

Christmas is the most important Christian holiday, but the origins of the festival date back to before the birth of Jesus. Both the Romans and the Germans did not let the winter solstice on 21 December pass by unnoticed. Understandably: even in modern times with its central heating and abundance of artificial light, many people get a little depressed by the short and chilly days. In earlier times, in poorly heated houses by candlelight, this part of the year must have felt even more depressing. So the moment on which the days start getting longer and we begin our long...

Map of the Netherlands with names of all 72 towns, villages and hamlets containing the word "berg" (mountain)

Mapping the Dutch Mountains

“So where are those three mountains?” I wondered when I recently got out of the train at the railway station of Driebergen (meaning “three mountains). They were not there, of course. The nearby Utrechtse Heuvelrug (Utrecht Ridge) is at its highest point, the Amerongse Berg (Mount Amerongen), only 70 meters above sea level. In any other country such elevations would not be considered a mountain or a hill, but at most a gentle rise in the landscape. The Lowlands I realized that the Netherlands, which are as flat as a well-laid laminate floor, have remarkably many towns and villages with...

Work in progress by the author on a digital graffiti world map on a wall of ten by five metres

Graffiti and Coffee Beans: Two New World Maps

More or less at the same time, I finished the work on two new world maps. Two maps with a totally different look and feel, and created in rather different ways. They have, however, one thing in common: when I started, I expected to finish them in one or two days, but it took weeks before I was completely satisfied about them. Cartograffiti Below you see me working with a spray can to put the finishing touches on map no. 1: the graffiti world map: Virtual street art The picture is, of course, fake news, just like the whole piece...