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Graphic Semiotics

I'm a pluridisciplinary researcher in GI Sciences working on how could be help users to make better personalized maps. I'm currently focusing on knowledge involved in the processes of making (semiotical aspects) and understanding (perceptive and cognitive aspects) cartographic messages.

MAPSTYLE Project "new renderings in cartography"
Since 2012 October, 1st, I'm responsible for the MAPSTYLE ANR Project, about "new renderings in cartography", exploring the concept of style in cartography, through three ways of application (synthesis of textures in rocky mountains, raster/vector visualisations between abstraction and realism, by-example maps), with the help of experts from Graphic Computing and NPR.

(to be continued soon...)

Improving knowledge about colors in cartography: aesthetic, perceptive and cognitive aspects

(to be continued soon...)

How to measure emotions on maps?

Pop Art maps

PhD Thesis: a man-machine dialogue to make cooperative colors choices
I worked on original colours in cartography and I assume that they may improve maps efficiency and legibility, thus maps quality. Famous paintings are suitable inspiration sources to select colors during map design process: artistic and cartographic rules are managed to propose various maps to users, coming from a given painting. I implemented a prototype called COLorLEGend, to interact with users in order to make those propositions according to their tastes.

Maps coming from a Derain's painting (S. Christophe)

Maps coming from a van Gogh's painting (S. Christophe)

In parallel, I work on colors harmony with Christine Zanin and Hugo Roussaffa. Our main issue is to propose a definition of colors harmony in cartographyand to propose some criteria to evaluate the harmony of a map. It's another way to improve maps quality.

User tests on colors harmony in maps (S. Christophe)



  • GIScience 2012: "Emotional response to map design aesthetics" (Fabrikant, Christophe, Papastefanou, Maggi., 2012)
  • GIScience 2012: "A framework to make Pop Art map design" (Christophe, Hoarau, 2012)
  • AutoCarto 2012: "Cartographic Styles between traditional and original (towards a cartographic style model)" (Christophe, 2012)
  • France Culture, émission Planète Terre de Sylvain Kahn, "la cartographie dans tous ses états".
  • ICC 2011 : "Creative colours specification based on knowledge (COLorLEGend)" (Christophe, 2011)
  • ICC 2011 : "Colours Harmony in Cartography" (Christophe, Zanin, Roussaffa, 2011)
  • Présentation "Comment les grands peintres peuvent nous aider à faire de meilleures cartes ?" aux Rencontres SIG La Lettre 2011, Mardi 17 Mai 2011, 15h.

PhD Thesis

"Helping users to make personalized and original symbol specification: proposition of a cooperative method to choose colours".  COGIT Lab. - Institut Géographique National (IGN-France) (2006-2009) -  Dir. Anne Ruas, COGIT Lab.

Lauréate Prix de thèse GDR MAGIS 2010
Finaliste Prix de thèse Mappemonde 2010 (Cf. article)

I assume that a good map conveys a cartographic message legible and understandable, to a specific public, in a specific context. The quality of this message relies on several choices of the mapmaker. In particular, I focus on colours choices during symbol specification.
Semiotic rules have been theoretically established, in particular by Bertin's work, to make efficient maps. Nevertheless these rules are not integrated in current on-demand map design applications. Making maps is nowadays not only the matter of experts: many people become mapmakers. They thus need help in terms of cartographic expertise and the opportunity to be creative.

My work consists in proposing a model to help users to make better colours choices during symbol specification. Inspiration sources, map samples and famous paintings, respectively modelizing cartographic and artistic colours uses, are proposed to users to make maps according to their taste and needs. A prototype ColorLegend has been implemented.