Every now and again I get asked about my process of working and the different stages etc so I thought I'd write a little about it. It's nothing too in-depth but should cover the basic stages.

The following project is a map for a US airlines in-flight magazine:

STAGE 1: THE BRIEF I'll usually receive a screenshot of a map with the location of the important locations etc. I can usually tell from this how much detail I'll be able to include and the time it will take.

STAGE 1: THE BRIEF
I'll usually receive a screenshot of a map with the location of the important locations etc. I can usually tell from this how much detail I'll be able to include and the time it will take.

STAGE 2: LAYOUT As a map has to be accurate, I'll print out a map screenshot and trace the important roads. From here I'll start plotting the important buildings and landmarks etc by hand.

STAGE 2: LAYOUT
As a map has to be accurate, I'll print out a map screenshot and trace the important roads. From here I'll start plotting the important buildings and landmarks etc by hand.

STAGE 3: ROUGH This is 1/2 the final map. I use Bing maps for drawing the roughs as there's an option to view from an angle, which is perfect for the style of map that I like to draw. Even though the client wants a hand drawn look to the map, they still want it to be accurate, so at this stage I usually ask the client to double check spellings/ locations etc. This stage is often where the most changes occur.

STAGE 3: ROUGH
This is 1/2 the final map.
I use Bing maps for drawing the roughs as there's an option to view from an angle, which is perfect for the style of map that I like to draw.
Even though the client wants a hand drawn look to the map, they still want it to be accurate, so at this stage I usually ask the client to double check spellings/ locations etc. This stage is often where the most changes occur.

STAGE 4: DRAW-UP Once the client is happy, I simply use a lightbox to draw up the final lines. I use a 0.7 PILOT gel pen.

STAGE 4: DRAW-UP
Once the client is happy, I simply use a lightbox to draw up the final lines. I use a 0.7 PILOT gel pen.

STAGE 5: LABELS The final drawing stage for me is always street names, labels, extra icons etc. I'll always draw these on a separate layer so that they can be moved around or changed once it's scanned into Photoshop. It's frustratingly common how often a spelling or grammar mistake will slip through...

STAGE 5: LABELS
The final drawing stage for me is always street names, labels, extra icons etc. I'll always draw these on a separate layer so that they can be moved around or changed once it's scanned into Photoshop. It's frustratingly common how often a spelling or grammar mistake will slip through...

STAGE 6: CLEANING-UP The next stage is to scan the drawings into photoshop. If the map is large, I'll start stitching it together to make the complete map. This stage is also for cleaning up and tweaking any parts that need it.

STAGE 6: CLEANING-UP
The next stage is to scan the drawings into photoshop. If the map is large, I'll start stitching it together to make the complete map.
This stage is also for cleaning up and tweaking any parts that need it.

STAGE 7: COLOUR I'll add basic blocks of random colour for the important sections so that I can see how many variations/ shades I'll need. I try to keep a limited colour palette for maps to help emphasise important parts. I'll experiment with different combinations (sometimes limited by what the client wants i.e. summer/ spring feel) until I'm happy with it.

STAGE 7: COLOUR
I'll add basic blocks of random colour for the important sections so that I can see how many variations/ shades I'll need. I try to keep a limited colour palette for maps to help emphasise important parts.
I'll experiment with different combinations (sometimes limited by what the client wants i.e. summer/ spring feel) until I'm happy with it.

STAGE 8: FINAL Once the colours have been decided, the last step for me is to add streets names and labels, if needed. I'll then send this off as a hi-res PDF to the client to be printed.

STAGE 8: FINAL
Once the colours have been decided, the last step for me is to add streets names and labels, if needed.
I'll then send this off as a hi-res PDF to the client to be printed.

Final print

Final print

And that's usually it!
Depending on the size and detail required, a map can take me from 3-4 days to 1 month to complete from rough to final. It's still something that I enjoy drawing and I encourage anyone that thinks that they might also enjoy it to include some in your portfolio. They've quickly become my most requested and regular work from clients.

I hope this has been useful or at least interesting! Even you're not planning on drawing maps, perhaps it gives you a slight insight into the every stages of working as an illustrator!

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