Map Making: Learn to Communicate Places Beautifully

Anne Ditmeyer, design + communication

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9 Lessons (1h 25m)
    • 1. Welcome and Project Intro

    • 2. Hand Drawn Maps Exercise

    • 3. Inspiration of the Non-Digital Kind: Part 1

    • 4. Inspiration of the Non-Digital Kind: Part 2

    • 5. Imaginary City Exercise

    • 6. Digital Mapping + Integration - part 1

    • 7. Digital Mapping + Integration – part 2

    • 8. Tools and Techniques in Mapping

    • 9. A peek inside Illustrator (optional)


Project Description

Create an amazing visual map

Finding Inspiration

  1. Look for maps in the world around you

    Start looking at maps in the world around you. Are you completely digital these days? Does your city use maps? Where? Do you know how to read it? What could make it stronger? How would you re-design it. I want you to start thinking about how you see and use maps. The goal is to create a project that you're excited about, so figure out what makes you tick.

    Start by browsing this Pinterest Make a Map board while listening to this NPR story with Simon Garfield, author of 'On the Map' to get inspired about map making.


  2. Answer these questions on your project

    Click the "Start Your Project" link below to open up your personal Project Workspace and answer the following questions:

    1. Why am I making this map? For fun? A client? a
      gift? To showcase my favorite places? Etc.

    2. Why am I the expert to create this map?

    3. Who is my target audience?

    4. What level of detail do I need to include? (Names,
      addresses, contact info, street names, website,
      hours, descriptions, color coding etc.).

    5. Do I want my final project to be printed or digital?
      How is it going to be used/ held? What other
      constraints do I need to keep in mind moving
      forward? (Note: type can be smaller on printed maps
      than when viewed on web).

    6. “Dear classmates, I need your help/expertise/
      guidance on how to.....”

    It's a good idea to refer back to these questions as you work through your project. You can always update your responses as your project morphs and you discover any challenges or limitations along the way.

  3. Take this Bremen Artist Quiz

    This step is just for fun. This Bremen Artist quiz makes you answer whether a human or animal created the work of art. The point is to show you that I'm not looking for perfection out of these projects. I want you to have fun, not be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and explore!

Hand-Drawn + Printed Maps

  1. Share what inspires you!

    Share your favorite resources for maps/guides in the class feed in your project workspace so fellow students can better see the kind of things that inspire you. You can do this in the form of a list with hyperlinks, Pinterest board, or uploading a few images. When you share your inspiration it's helpful to write a brief note about why you like it or think it's a strong example.

    You can also share your great new finds on this Inspiration thread!


  2. Draw a map by hand (or foot)

    Hand drawn maps can be really effective in their simplicity, but also can tell a story. Grab whatever piece of paper that is closest to you and get started. Here are some ideas of what you could draw.

    • Your walk to school/work
    • An place that you've created
    • Directions to a party
    • A map of how to get to your favorite shop, restaurant, etc.
    • Anything you like!


    While on his way to work, Phil Francis drew his commute on the banana he had!


    Trixia Yong drew a map of her desk as a road map for ants and other insects.


    Lauren Kilberg decided to draw maps of places she's lived from memory, and then compared them to reality.


    Anita Boeira was concerned about being a perfectionist so I challenged her to draw her map with her foot. She did (of Utah)! And she took a video of it!!

  3. Sketch ideas/lists for your final project

    Think about the places you may want to include on your map, and little details and touches that may make it more interesting. Think about keeping a notebook with you so you can write down ideas or draw quick sketches as they come to you.


    (Sketch from Jean Manis's student project)

Mapping in the Digital Age

  1. Experiment with your "Imaginary City"

    Experiment with your "Imaginary City" exploring 1 or all 3 of the ideas suggested:

    1. Construction paper shapes to form a city
    2. "Zoom Maps" where you take a small zone of a map and draw it
    3. Trace an existing map

    These experiments can be working towards your final project, or completely different maps if you prefer.

    Scan it in or snap a quick picture and upload it to your project page.

    TIP: It's ok to feel like you're in elementary school again.


    Trixia Yong created this imaginary city. 


    Trina Dalziel used paper scraps from another project she was working on to create her imaginary city.


    Naomi Devine traced the area where her Dragon Boat team practices.

  2. Plot your locations

    Everyone works differently, but If you feel so inclined...

    1. Plot the locations of your choice digitally (using a program such as Google Maps, Everplaces, AFAR etc).
    2. Share the link and screencapure for your map on your project page.

    Feel free to use this as a base to create/build your final map project.


    This google map showcases the cities of [almost] everyone taking this class!


    Screenshot from my Everplaces favorites.

Polishing Your Maps!

  1. Share feedback on projects

    Explore your classmate's projects in the Student Gallery and help leave constructive feedback to get feedback on your project in return!


    Katrina Emery, uses embroidery to illustrate Portland, OR.


    Ginger's walk as mapped by Jean Manis. See how she's decided to create her project into a mini booklet!

  2. Upload your work!

    Hopefully you've been sharing your progress all along, but definitely upload your final projects!

    Here are a few of a range of styles: