Although my article features the Culin hedgerow cutter, it is fair to say that faced with similar problems and with similar means of solving them, similar solutions appeared independently. The Culin cutter is one of the better recorded examples but there were a few types. Technology is often a result of human needs being met (when it is not blind invention) and there have been many examples of this throughout history - Guns. Germs and Steel is the best book on such ideas. (I'm always going on about that book.)
Some accounts state that the materials used for the cutters were 'Rommel's Asparagus'. When Rommel was assigned to the Atlantic Wall, he installed hundreds of metal poles in fields. These were to disrupt and crash the fabric-covered gliders that were to land there. There were in fact many types of (beach/ field/ anti tank/roadlock) obstacle for the engineers of the hedge-cutters to recycle and so I have tried not to be too specific.
Starting the story at the map begged a few issues (covered later on in 'Cartography' too). I would start with the general map of the area. I felt I could exclude a global 'locator' as we called them in my old design team as I reckoned that knowing where France is should be like knowing that WWII was in the last century. (Is this presupposed knowledge - i suppose it is - but many of the readers really know their stuff/(were there!) so lets just go with it) How to then zoom in was trickier. I wanted to first use the long tiled-field element that explains how many fields the troops would need to cross. I then thought that that is not useful information until you knew how dangerous they could be and that info had to come first - at the bottom of the left page. So I continued a slow zoom - into an 'anyvillage' and then to the hedgerow itself.
I was aware (being British) that it was not just the Americans who faced difficulty here. The British and Canadian troops also faced difficulties - but especially through street fighting. It is important to try to concentrate on one story at a time and so I stuck with the US tale of the hedge cutters.
I have been trying to make the arrows blend into that which they indicate as much as possible. This is more possible by using the 'darken opacity' transparency on them. In this way they are less singular arrow-shaped agents and more part of the graphic. Anyone interested in Arrows in Information Graphics could do worse than read Edward Tufte's new book - Beautiful Evidence - its got a really good chapter on them. (Anyone thinking that this is abit too detailed about Information Graphics - that was your hint - this is not the site for you.)
I am getting closer to deciding a house style for these maps. I am pretty happy with the colours - but I need to decide whether they will always be the same style. The commando knife graphic (incidentally the most searched-for on Google) features a map that doesn't need a lot of cartographic detail and begs the question of how much detail does one need for basic story telling as opposed to actual wayfinding.
On the Sherman tank with the orange cutter, I don't suppose that any units painted their cutters bright orange - nor would it have been the thing to alert the dug-in Germans that a Sherman tank was coming into their field, but I think that colouring them so in this graphic succeeds in alerting us to what we need to know (Colour Leads The Way). (I chose the colours as they have a 'construction' look - an artistic license that I hope is OK.)
Not Using The Spread
Some designers feel, if given a double page spread, you should use the increased area to maximise your message through a device that occupies or exploits that area as a whole - rather than just in pieces. I looked at this issue of the graphic-vista in the Assault Rifle write up but here is a counter argument (to myself) - If the most important role for design is to support the information, and the information will have an optimal format (narrative, argument, breaking news etc) then the design needs to compliment that format. The design format chosen here aids narrative (the story of problem - then solution) through traditional reading from top left to bottom right - with words and pictures along the way. By getting people in at a natural entry point (top left) and hopefully keeping their interest throughout, you will impart the information in an appropriate way. Of course not all graphics are a narrative - the 'Which Tank was tops graphic was what we could call Guided Data.
Hmm - I think this is a separate post but it is something to do with the fact that augmenting a chart, should not be jazzy pictures (count the roller coasters next to the stock market charts over the next few months) but stories that highlight trends and facts behind the data. True, advanced graphics with many layers can develop from just making this clear to showing correlation, but a story helps too (that's why people like presenters talking next to charts on TV News.)