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Mapping by Hand

12 Dec

Recently I got a bit fed up trying to map my fictional city Graven on the computer. Although I have the ability to undo anything I don’t like and I can change virtually anything in just a few minutes or less, drawing the map on the computer not only felt painstakingly boring, I have the entire island to look at. I kept getting caught up in the idea of carefully “organizing” the city or having it “grow” out from select points, small villages expanding into large towns expanding into the giant metropolis I have in mind. Even when I told myself I would let the city “find itself” – in other words, I’d just erase streets in rather randomly (based on a random “reference sheet” I put together from screen shots of Google maps) and create the history of the city from whatever ‘presented itself’ – I still felt like it was agonizingly slow and incredibly boring. I think the biggest problem is that I have nothing to work with until I start filling in the smaller lots and even the individual buildings, so working down from the major roads through smaller and smaller streets to alleys and individual buildings means that I have to wait until I’m practically ready to start labeling the map before I can start doing other things with it.

So I tried something new today:

Hand Drawn Map

Hand Drawn Map

I drew all of this on an 8.5″ x 11″ piece of printer paper (a misprint page, so there may be text showing through here and there). I used a new steel Sharpie Pen I just picked up, and didn’t plan a single thing. It’s growing organically, and I don’t think about much except what looks good or what I feel like including at the time I’m drawing. Which means it looks a little cluttered and disorganized and in place I’ve made some “mistakes”. The really gigantic walled area in the north is based on the (feeling I got at the) Luxembourg Gardens and the Boboli Gar, and the large buildings in the east are supposed to be stores, based (again on the feeling I got in) the shopping district east of Hyde Park in London. The long narrow strip near those stores is supposed to be an elevated plaza with a statue of … something in the middle and at the northeast end. The larger circle to the south of the strip is a fountain. The areas outlined in little dots/short lines are supposed to be parks, maybe even gardens. Because of the thickness of the pen, I can only detail so much; I have a .01 pen I think I’ll use for smaller details later; right now I don’t want to keep switching pens while drawing.

As you can see, I’m starting to reach the edges of the paper in several places. Once I fill in a bit more in the corners, I’m going to tape another sheet up against one side (not overlapping) and start filling in the buildings that overlap. Once I cover the edges of the 2 papers, I can undo the tape and keep going if I need to, or I can place tape on the top faces of the pages to keep them together.

I’m currently taking finals, so I don’t know when I’ll be able to update again; this was just a break I took between writing essays.

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Posted by on December 12, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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