Freelance map illustration
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.