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How to Draw Maps with Hatching Lines in R

Fill areas with varying line density to give more or less visual attention. With geographic maps, the technique is especially useful to adjust for population density.

Hatching is an older technique to show varying degrees of shading. More lines and the area appears darker. Fewer lines and the area appears lighter. In the context of visualization, hatching tends to be used less, as filling polygons with solid and/or transparent colors is now trivial to do.

But I’ve been coming back to the method lately. In some cases, it’s been useful and others I think it just looks nice and provides a break from our standard, visually efficient charts.

Most recently, I used hatching to show population density and commute times.

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About the Author

Nathan Yau is a statistician who works primarily with visualization. He earned his PhD in statistics from UCLA, is the author of two best-selling books — Data Points and Visualize This — and runs FlowingData. Introvert. Likes food. Likes beer.