12 ways to draw a world map
I don’t know about you, but personally I can spend hours in front of a world map. I travel with my eyes from one continent to another and am fascinated by the size of our planet, which is so small in the vastness of the universe. I feel small, but also special and privileged to live on the planet where life was created. I point my finger at a place and inwardly tell myself that there are thousands of people living under my finger with their culture and customs, and I have only one wish: to meet them.
One day I started drawing my own map of the world. Cautious by nature, I wanted my maps to be as true to reality as possible. By looking at tons of images of maps of the world, I discovered the different ways of drawing them called projection. Needless to say, some of them are strange and yet it is the strangest projections that best preserve the proportions of the continents.
“Dominique, are you implying that the most common map of the world that shows the earth flat is misleading us about the size of the continents?”
Yes! and this projection is called:
Mercator’s projection was developed by Gerardus Mercator around 1550 and is one of the oldest. However, it remains the most widely used as it is the most aesthetic to the eye. However, this type of cylindrical projection, which maintains angles, has the defect of distorting the size of the continents. For example, Greenland appears to be larger than South America while it is six times smaller.
Fortunately, others have studied the proportion of the continents so other projections have emerged.
In 1580, Guillaume Postel proposed an equidistant azimuthal projection that gave the impression of viewing the earth over either the North Pole or the South Pole. It is quite normal for this projection to sound familiar as it is used as the emblem of the United Nations.
This now forgotten projection was designed by Thurys César-François Cassini in 1745 and is designed exactly like the Mercator projection. The difference, however, is that the globe was inverted 90 degrees during the projection process. The earth is therefore depicted in a vertical plane (rather than horizontal like the Mercator projection), which distorts the continents and makes reading difficult.
The projections by Bonne, Sanson-Flamsteed and Werner
The Bonne projection was proposed by the French hydrographer Charles-Marie Rigobert Bonne around 1780. It is a map projection where the parallels must be concentric circles equally spaced. This projection has its original parallel at 45 degrees. If we change the parallel to 0 degrees we get a Sanson-Flamsteed projection, and if we change the parallel to 90 degrees we get the Werner projection (heart-shaped).
The projection of Mollweide
In 1805, Carl Brandan Mollweide proposed a pseudocylindrical projection that resembles a crushed sphere that maintains the size of continents but deforms them. Its compact appearance makes it the first choice for planispheres.
In the same year, the conical projection named after Heinrich C. Albers was created by Albers, which had the strength to maintain the proportion of the individual continents. It is the official projection in British Columbia and the Yukon.
The Gall-Peters projection
In 1855, James Gall and Arno Peters created a new cylindrical projection that, like Mollweide’s projection, preserved the size of the continents but deformed them.
Goode’s pseudocylindrical projection, which some people like to refer to as “orange peel,” was invented by John Paul Goode in 1923 and is a surprising section, but one that preserves the size of the continents by distorting them a little less than the Gall. Peters and Mollweide projections.
In 1946 Richard Buckminster Fuller proposed a projection by representing the earth as a 20-sided polyhedron.
This projection is unique and has several properties that distinguish it from conventional projections:
- It almost perfectly maintains the size of the continents compared to Mercator and Peters’ projections.
- It is not aligned with the Poles: the north is not up and the south is not down.
- It represents the continents of the earth as a single large island in a single ocean.
- It can be cut and rebuilt in many ways.
Projection from Authagraph
Authagraph’s projection, developed in 1999 by Japanese architect Hajime Narukawa, is inspired by Fuller’s projection with 96-sided polyhedra instead of 20. The result is similar, if a little more accurate, than Fuller’s projection.
It’s exciting, don’t you think? Now that you know more about the projections, tell me which one I use for my color world maps.
In the hope that, like me, you will spend hours on my colored world maps or my world maps on canvas.
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