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Reprinted from Mac Today - September/October 1998

Mountain High Maps (Version 2.5)
This high-quality collection of detailed maps does not disappoint.

Rating: 5 (out of a possible 5)

HOT: The best-looking maps. Period. Love the masks, too!

FROM: Digital Wisdom, Inc.


If you need to use maps or globes in any of your design work, you already know that there are dozens of different map collections, and literally hundreds of line art collections that include maps of the United States or crudely drawn globes. And that why Mountain High Maps, from Digital Wisdom, Inc. really stands out from the pack. Because their images are so detailed, and so easy to work with, this package is head and shoulders above anything else I’ve seen.

The detail and quality of these maps is first rate, but besides that, Digital Wisdom have anticipated the needs of professional users and added so many nice convenience and production features that it really makes using their collection a breeze. But first, lets look at the maps themselves.

Thinking Global
The collection comes with 74 relief maps and each is available with or without the ocean floor. Not only do these maps look great, they’re extremely accurate, because the relief models were created from actual detailed survey data. To further enhance the appeal of these relief maps, they have been visually refined (by adding lighting shadows, exaggerating land elevations, etc.) to add a much more dramatic (and visually pleasing) image than even satellite images would provide.

You get a full collection of maps of the world including Africa, Asia, the Americas, Australasia (not a typo), and Europe, along with many world views and globes. There are numerous maps of the US as a whole, and individually by region, and it is easy to isolate any state or group of states. You can view all of the maps using the included
catalog viewer program.

You also get 39 global views (my personal favorites) that are just beautifully done. I’ve already worked them into a number of design projects, and in the current global business environment it seems like there’s no place they won’t fit.

Built-in Flexibility
If you’re a professional designer, you’ll love the fact that they’ve already done a lot of the work for you. For example, these images come with built-in masks for easy customization of the maps using Adobe Photoshop. For example, you can load one of the predesigned masks and instantly recolor any land mass. Or invert the selection and change the color of the sea. But their masks go way beyond that. You can load a coastline mask to accentuate the edges of a coastline; you can use built-in border masks to clearly define borders between states or countries; there’s a mask for adding rivers to your map; a mask to add a dot to designate cities and towns; a mask for applying latitude and longitude lines; another for defining land with shadows; a mask that defines the coastline with a graduated shading; and each county, state, and province is also defined with its own mask. Whew!

And if you use Adobe Illustrator or Freehand, these masks are implemented as layers (which both applications support). Another cool inclusion is globe views with built-in animations for use in multimedia or the Web.

More Details
Mountain High Maps consists of four packed-full CD-ROMs filled with artwork in 300-dpi high-resolution TIFFs for print and 72-dpi PICT for the Web, multimedia, etc.

The Mountain High Maps instruction manual is one of the best I’ve ever seen and must have cost them a fortune to produce (the packaging must have, also). It’s well written, easy to understand, thoroughly detailed, includes a full color thumbnail of every map, and gives you step-by-step instructions on how to use and edit these images in the major design applications. They even give design “tips” throughout the manual. It’s a model of what software instruction manuals should be.

The Bottom Line
There’s not much here not to like. The quality of the maps is top notch, the instruction manual is pretty sweet, and the built-in masks really make this a fantastic package. Although there are other players in the map market, I haven’t seen anyone do it better than Mountain High Maps. I highly recommend it. —SCOTT KELBY

©1998 Copyright Mac Today

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