Aligning Character with Landscape: Visualization Methods

Paper accepted: Design Communications Association (DCA) 2020


“The form chooses you, not the other way around. An idea comes and is already embodied in a form.” Michael Frayn, playwright, novelist

For landscape designers, complex landscapes can be difficult to interpret and map, particularly with time constraints. Knowledgeable authors and scientists are often inexperienced at visual communication-often not aware of principles of art and design. Illustrators and animators, comfortable with drawing techniques, face uncertainties–with planning stories in landscape. People who map landscape need visual strategies to draw, develop and communicate complex stories about landscape. Landscape designers who visualize experience, processes and elements and in practice, need methods to guide documentation and design iteration in the field. Illustrators and animators learning about character development must learn to recognize character embedded in landscape and how they give meaning to stories. Mapping methods presented in this interactive workshop is an investigation to involve the use of 2D design principles and narrative structures and tools to communicate conceptual ideas about landscape complexity. Qualitative methods are developed through tracing, collaging and analyzing the use of design principles in revised and improved scientific graphics.  Narrative forms for the purpose of communication emphasize poetry and clarity. Three aspects of narrative: language, form and the audience inform visual methods to use while mapping landscape in the field.


Conceptual maps, mapping methods, mapping patterns of information, mapping strategies, landscape architecture, visualization, illustration, visual communication, character mapping

Woman on an island

Illustration, “Woman on an Island,” mixed media on watercolor paper, originally commissioned by MS Magazine, exhibited in “I cannot heave my heart into my mouth” CU Denver Faculty Show, Emmanuel Gallery, Jan-Feb 2020