The Art of Map Design: Illustrate Your Own Map | Steph Marshall | Skillshare

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The Art of Map Design: Illustrate Your Own Map

teacher avatar Steph Marshall, Illustrator

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

7 Lessons (23m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Start Mapping!

    • 3. Choosing Key Elements

    • 4. Illustrating Key Elements

    • 5. Playing with Scale and Composition

    • 6. Finalising Your Design

    • 7. Wrapping Up

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About This Class


I'm Steph, a freelance illustrator and welcome to my first class "The Art of Map Design: Illustrate Your Own Map". In this class we will explore ways you can design and create your own illustrated map of somewhere which is personal to you. I'll teach you how to bring the different elements of your map design together before you complete it in a medium of your choice.

This class is for absolutely anyone! No need for any specific equipment other than a pencil and paper. Your maps can be as big or as detailed as you wish, in colour or black and white, paint or pencil, digitally rendered or painted with watercolours- the choice is yours!


I look forward to having you onboard... Let's get started!

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Steph Marshall



Hi I'm Steph, a freelance illustrator and printmaker living and working in the U.K.

I have a particular fascination with maps and love to create work inspired by travel; whether it be places I've travelled to or places I aspire to see. I work both digitally and by hand, creating my illustrations with Photoshop or through the process of screen printing. I often work with bright, bold colours and like to keep my illustrations playful and fun.

I have produced work for international clients including Katha, SNAM and Nurant magazine, as well as numerous private commissions from clients all over the world.

For more information and to view my portfolio, you can visit my website:

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1. Introduction: having love on step on freelance illustrates that fascinated with my work is heavily influenced by travel, whether it be places I've visited, places I aspire to see. My first registrations were all created to screen prints, but I now work by combining digital and Handwara elements and Photoshopped, such as painted textures and backgrounds. In this class, I'll teach you how to plan and design your map outline. You consider more illustrated elements to include on receive tips on how to plan and arrange your composition. This'll is what you'll create an illustrated map design of your chosen country ready to color in the medium of your choice. Really looking forward to getting started on this project with you on. It's going fantastic to see a huge variety of places that you guys will come up with. So yet I can joke 2. Start Mapping!: Okay, So the first thing we need to do when designing, illustrating that is obviously choose country to design, administrative, back off. So this might be a case where you live. This might somewhere you recognize today someone you work. Or maybe it's just the country you speak of. Choice is completely up to you. Okay, So the fascinating to do when you decided on which country you're going Tiuna straight to map off is find a source map to draw from. So you can even use a book if you want to. You can print the map off the Internet and trace over it, but I personally tend to use something along the lines of Google maps. Get my image up on the screen and then freehand well, I can see in front of me. I can't say that's what we're gonna do now. Say, starting off in one corner, we're gonna move quite quickly. Where you just thinking about basic shapes? Holes the country not worrying too much about a little silly, but at this stage, But this is something we can put in afterwards. We just want to get the basic shape key thing to remember here is that we're not really worried about keeping things completely 100% geographically accurate Islamist. It's recognizable as the country decided to illustrate. And this long as we're broadly full oring shape the country. I wouldn't be too concerned if some of your outline isn't quite precise. Okay, so that was my initial sketch outlines off Straker. That's what I'm gonna do now is get back in looking more closely at some off because of some of these little fiddly bits of coastline that move around again. Stop working a bit harder to get a duck. Okay, so once you're having with your pencil outline, I would trace over it using a black fine line pen and then Robert, any pencil areas of the left behind just because it helps to have a nice, clear, definite outline when we come to assembling the rest of the design 3. Choosing Key Elements: okay. Now is what I outline of our country nicely drawn out and find my pants. Everything's nice and clear. You need to think about which parts off country which key places you want to include in your design. Say Usually I don't read the capital city. Think about other major towns. Cities. Maybe there's a place with a particular famous landmark. Maybe there's an area of national park, which is basically all of these things. Consider need to decide which places you want to include in your map. So my mom should ankle was created for a client as a present, so they came to me with specific places they wanted to include, So it was my job to research these places. Andi decide what to include in the map design. So once you've got your list of places, you need to think about where they are located on your map. So again I get back to Google because it's super handy in terms of searching for your change of location, and you can see where all the different parts you've chosen you want to include are situated in relation to each other. So I start off by plotting the capital city off Colombo, just somewhere on the coast and around about here. So at this stage, just little pencil marks, really? And you might just sketch with 60 next to it. You see, you can start to build up where these places are, and obviously, once you start collecting, if you have made a mistake, then you can go back and change things. That's absolutely no problem. Okay, So when she plotted the specific towns and cities, all areas you wish to include, you need to be thinking about any large spaces off your country that are potentially going to be left empty. So you need to again there, that's your map. And look to see if this area of national park if this latest villages sort of maybe mansion ranges, think about what you could use to fill these spaces. You don't have to put anything down now, but it's just handy to have a plan for how you intend to develop your once you're happy with the location off your towns and cities. Then you can start to put them in more permanently, so I always tend to do nice, definite circle as then. I like to include place names in my maps, so I usually go in and draw Freehand. The name off the place. Just something I liked include because I think the text can really make it upon off administration. You can say that given with fast vacation. And then what I do is that I'll fill in who the rest of these into example. 4. Illustrating Key Elements: Once the Atlanta in your map is competing, your places have bean pitted accordingly. We're gonna put this to the side for a moment on What you need is either just another plane sheets of paper or a sketchbook, just something to work in for the next part off project. Say this is the really fun part of this is my favorite bit, so we're going to side. What drawn elements to include in case of these might include buildings or landmarks, plants and animals native to your country or even administrative characters of your own design. The easiest way to stop is why illustrating elements related to your chosen locations say these might be famous landmarks particular started building something relevant places you've already plotted on your map. So the most important thing to remember at this stage is that you need to be drawing from source photos so these might be your own if it's somewhere you visited on holiday. Otherwise, the Internet is fantastic. Carriage options limitless, really, as to what images you choose to draw from, say what you got your source photographs ready. You're free to start drawing, say there's no set way to do this. It's entirely up to you how you decide to draw these elements on. So you might be someone who likes to work really, really detailed. In which case go ahead. Otherwise you might be someone like me. He tends to draw more in a distinct style on likes to simplify their elements. So the main thing is just to dio ever feels come true to you. So Jesus and pencil sketches that I did area just going to work over and I can see you can see them eso more clearly. - Okay , say makes important thing to remember at this stage. It's just to play around and have fun, said. He's a few of the elements that I started playing around with that I might decide to include in my So we've got a particular temple structure, which is found in Jaffna City to the north of the island. I've started thinking about including my own little illustrated characters. One tip with this is if you're gonna sort of picked them, wherein clothing that's traditional to the country think about maybe including certain patterns or colors, which you would find their bring that into illustration. That's with a nice touch. I started playing around with different leaves, different types of jungle foliage, a little elephant character. He might make appearance on as well, just general buildings and vehicles. I can include around more built up areas. Um, if you or someone he's intimidated by the thought off drawing sort of big detail, buildings and landmarks. Then they be afraid, Teoh breaking down into smaller, more simplified shapes. So these, for example, a few sketches I did or various LaMotte's New Delhi. And so I just looked for the basic structure of the building, and they sort of reduces down into more basic rectangles, squares, semi circles and then started bringing all those different elements together and then adding my sort of decorative touches to make them look more complete as well. With drawing native plants, you can have a bit of fun going. A bit of creative license. You could mix up sort of reality with fiction. That's absolutely fine. Sometimes up to you 5. Playing with Scale and Composition: what you've drawn or your different illustrated elements, and you're happy with your drawings. You can start plotting where you want positioned on your map. Say you want to. Your outline with your place is back before you do anything key things to think about a festival, you need to have some element of geographical accuracy in terms of the placing off your different elements, especially if there are particular landmarks or buildings. Like I said earlier, you don't have to worry about being too precise. That's not the point off this administration to sort of be supersede accurate that you do want to think about the location of different elements on how they sit relative to each other. Another important thing to consider is scale. Now, if you just haven't image where everything's very flattened all the same signs, it can look a little bit dull, so you're absolutely free to scale up certain elements and scale down others. It will look especially nice if you've got a Mex off larger and smaller elements, sort of all mixed together, juxtaposed against each other. You could do this all in, afraid to Copia. If you go accessed one or you can scan them in on. Do it like that. It's entirely up to you. Um, so, yeah, you can start putting eso. I always start off by choosing my element. So let's start with this temple, which is found in the northern city of Jeff on what I'm gonna do. It's just a really rough pencil outline, or roughly where I wanted to sit on my map. So no detail a moment, just starting to think about your different illustrations, separate shapes and how they interact with each other. Say my name. My temple needs to be somewhere up around here, but I didn't want a cram it in, but the top shrink it down. It's quite a striking buildings, so I want it to be quite a prominent feature off my map. So I'm gonna play that in. It's a lie somewhere up ahead, like this on I also they that the settlement candy has a Lake Merritt on Stop, leading to some houses around a swell again, playing with scale, also thinking about different places of buildings in terms of the angles. If you have a lot of things all neatly lined up together again, it could look quite static. Boring. We want a map designed to be really fun. We went to look full exciting with lots of movement. Um, se playing around with positioning things at different angles. And she go along. Next came Let's go to Columbia again. Capital City. So I know this is gonna be a built up area. Say, I'm gonna again different shapes here. Maybe I have a car or vehicle. Perhaps that could go around there in our notice area down here. That's not of teak plantations, hills and mountains. Say, if I stop putting in some are outlines mountains and then all sleep is gonna be lots off plant roots of forced around tense again Have some trees thes two settlements down here or a case of beaches and palm trees. So is there a building just to signify a settlement? Now is when I made my research, there's nary a hair of national park with lots and lots of wildlife. So again, some of my animal elements leopard on my fits in. He s I'm here against plants, so you can see it's a score actually starting to fill up. Although it's any with rough outlines, you begin to get a feel for how your map may feel. So we've got some more jungle up here. Have Arana also elephants say I might have my elephants around here. They'd be afraid to go out of the outlines of your map. It doesn't have to be contained with lions. If you don't want, it can be quite nice to have certain bits just peachy through the edges on. Say, that's sort of the main parts that I had drawn out plotted in. Now I did have a couple of my illustrated captures. I wanted to include looking at what I got so far I could see I've got quite a big, empty space up here. Why haven't got anything planned? So probably decided to put my little instrumental lady up there. I'm so because you got quite a bit of space Gonna enlarge a little bit. Say again. Very rough. Guilty. She might get something like that. Then I might fit in supplants maybe around her. Just fill in some gaps. And the manager Sri Lanka man its balance it out. If I got her on that side, I might put him down here on this side somewhere in this space. Okay, so, of course, if you got access to photo shop on your computer, you can absolutely do this digitally. We need to do is see scam in your drawings, set up in a four document on photo shop and then movies around and scare my scalp down. As you wish. But not everyone has access to that. Say, that's why I'm doing it this way on pets and paper. There's was something which is nice about how I'm doing. Drink your hands. Okay. So what, You're happy with your different objects in their placements on your map? You already for the next step? 6. Finalising Your Design: So this is the final big step in the creation off your industry design. So this is a really exciting part because you really start to see everything coming together into your final illustration. So now your plan is ready, and you plotted all your different illustrated elements onto your outline. We're going to start transferring more detailed, illustrate illustrations into our final outcome. Okay, so they did this in pencil. You can even just draw them straight across freehand if you want Teoh or if you prefer, you can absolutely trace them. Essay. You can either use a light box if you've got one. Or if not, then you can just hold both sheets against a window and use the light coming from behind the paper to trace that way. So I'm gonna draw Freehand. Obviously have your ministrations place by reference and make sure your pencils nice and shock. I'm gonna start drawing in my sure character. So if we start in pencil once you're happy with the placement of everything, then you can go over it in pen C match mine as well. If you mean you want to change about the original administration that you created in your sketchbook, then now is the time to do that. So that's a fine detail when I finished everything for the pen. But I'm happy with her situation that I know. I also want to just include some to plants around stuff. So all the while you're doing this. You are using your rough pencil shapes from yet as a guy just to where you want all these different elements. Teoh sits in your final, you know, Final outcome UK say I'm happy with her, introducing more plants It might be that you're happy to free hand for most of your administration, but when it comes to more complex elements like some of the buildings, so I made my temple. Jeffn is going quite difficult to draw, so I'll probably go ahead and trace that part off my drawing on. So what next? That's put in some of the buildings in the capitals again. You can always make things up. Embellishments. See, that's I always thought stunned. Were you illustrating? Is that things? They have to be 100% accurate. Use your imagination haven't diverted from him in this big house. Taxi could decide when color it. Okay, Okay, so that's all we do at this stage is transferring these illustrations onto your fun outcomes. When you're happy with how everything sitting in relation to each other, you are happy with what you've drawn. Then you can go over it in pen on, you'll have your finished map. 7. Wrapping Up: So you have it. Your finish line should be looking something along the lines of this. So all I've done is just use a black finally pen todo pencil outline. Just make everything stand up and make sure it's nice and quiet. A huge thank you to everyone taking part in my class. I really hope you've enjoyed it. I'm really afford to seeing all your different outcomes of change countries. Really interesting to see what places you picked. My next class is gonna follow up for this one. We're gonna be taking this. I had outlined on scaring it into fatally shot. I'm gonna show you how to cover from that. So I look forward to seeing you.