08 August 2016

Creating an illustrated map of your town

Creating an illustrated map of your town is a fun way to celebrate where you live and what’s important to you about it. It really makes you look at your surroundings and think about what landmarks there are in your town, what places you find interesting, and what’s beautiful or notable about the town.

You can make a really realistic map, that helps people to find their way about, but I think it’s more fun to go for a more stylized map that gives an impression of the place, with a rough layout of the town and lots of illustrations of things that can be seen in the town.

I’ve only done a couple of illustrated maps so far, but I’ve found them a lot of fun. The first one was of my routes to work, and I drew that 10 years ago. The one I did recently was of the area around my primary school, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.
Creating a map of your town at a particular point in time is also a great way of seeing how it changes over the years. In the 10 years since I drew my routes to work, the local area office has closed, the weird green caravan is no longer there, the health centre has moved, the old folk’s home is being rebuilt, the car boot sale place has shops built on it, the library may be closing, and there are some new houses being built next to the flats! So the map has a real sense of nostalgia now.

I started each of the maps by thinking about what area of town I wanted to draw, and looking at a map of that area to get a rough layout. Once I had an idea of where all the roads should be, I worked out what landmarks I wanted to include. Many of these are personal landmarks rather than things you’d usually find on a map, so I really had to walk through the map in my head to think of all the things of interest to me. I played around with the scale of these so that I could make the important ones larger, and also to give balance to the map as a whole.

And if there's a big space left in the map, it's a perfect place to put the title of the map!
I drew my maps in pencil then went over the pencil drawing with pen, but creating a digital illustration would be an easier way of doing it in some ways – you could move items around or resize or recolour them as necessary. I went digital to add colour to mine.

Here are some great resources on how to create illustrated maps:

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