Colour photocopying

(Some thoughts on early attempts at low-cost colour map reproduction from an article I wrote on the O-Net in November 1995. We have come an awfully long way since then.)

Here are some thoughts on colour photocopies based on my experience so far in Great Britain.

  • Firstly a quote from the results of National Event 6 in 1993, run by South Wales Orienteering Club on Merthyr Common, a moorland area in South Wales:

Competitors using the 1:10,000 map were in fact using colour enlarged photocopies of the 1:15,000 map. We are not aware that this has ever been done before but it seems to give satisfactory results. However, it has been brought to our notice that, under the stress of constant folding, the ink, especially the black, tends to flake off (in the same way as has recently been experienced with some ordinarily printed maps). This method saved the cost of having maps printed at all at 1:10,000, it saved the overprinting costs at 1:10,000, it saved the photocopying costs of the description sheets and the labour of gluing them on! It also looks as if it may have saved the event from going into debt. Neil Grant and Nick Kingsford, Planners, NE6

  • I’ve personally run two events using colour photocopies. Both maps show extensive cracking on the surface. This is probably because I tend to fold my map up very small, and thus keep refolding it during an event. This might lead to problems interpreting fine detail if I happen to have a control on a previous fold.

  • All photocopied maps I have are on shiny paper. Is this because colour copiers need this?

  • There is a definite problem with getting the color contrast right. It is very difficult to tell open from rough open, or slow run from walk, and there also appears to be variations between two copies of the same map. Colours also tend to become washed out, and fainter following copying. This was a major problem for a night event I ran. Even normal printed maps can be difficult to read under artificial light, and the photocopy is definitely worse than the printed version.

  • Having said all that, I completed both races OK, and the organising clubs probably saved money and time. In five years we may be remembering what it used to be like running on printed maps.

  • I have produced a map of a sports stadium and park in central London which was used for a course to introduce beginners to orienteering. The map was drawn in OCAD, output on a colour laser at a bureau, and then colour photocopied to get the 25 copies needed. I don’t think anyone would be able justify a print run this small.