Freelance map illustration

January 2014

For a talk about my journey through freelancing, I wanted to do something slightly different from my usual slides. When I was 11 or 12, I was obsessed with drawing maps; the kind of old treasure island maps that combined routes for travel along with detailed drawings of particular island features.

With just a couple of days before the talk, I undertook a huge illustration project.

part of a map drawn in pencil

pencil drawn segment

I started out drawing in pencil. I really hate drawing in pencil, it’s scratchy and light, but it allowed me to make mistakes and move things around.

segment of a map drawing with ink traced over the the pencil

the map with ink traced over the the pencil

I then traced over the pencil in ink, adding in a few details as I went. This took a long time as I didn’t want to make any mistakes, I knew I wouldn’t have the time to obsess over tidying it up in a photo editor later.

segment of a map drawn in ink

I then rubbed out the pencil

I then rubbed out the pencil drawings, leaving just the ink behind. This really showed the lack of shading in some areas of the drawing, but it gave me a good base to scan into the computer for digital editing.

map drawing with a brown wash background

Digitised map with a brown aged-style wash

I scanned in the map, set the contrast so I had solid black lines and removed the white paper background. This meant I could place a brown wash-like colour underneath the drawing to give the appearance of age. I also gave the drawing a slightly brown inky tint.

map drawing with a brown, textured background

the map with a grunge texture image applied

The brown wash wasn’t realistic enough. I didn’t want to go overboard with the realism, but adding a light photo of texture over the background gave the wash colour more warmth and brought the feeling of paper back to the image.

map drawing with brown grunge background and some features coloured with a light wash

As final details, I added in some colour

To give the map some final detail, I picked out some features and added in wash-like faded colour to bring the map to life. This was a hard balance to get, as different tints are much more noticeably strong than others (e.g. reds vs yellows).

For the final slides, I showed segments of the map at a time, animating the movement between each segment. This gave the feel of travelling across the map. It mostly worked, but as it was so last-minute I didn’t have enough time to pay attention to the performance of the slides. Using one massive image on every slide made for a slow slideshow with very erratic transitions! Next time, I’m going to cut the image into the relevant segments so the file sizes are much smaller.



In progress