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
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.
Tags: Boboli, building, buildings, cartography, city, city map, drawing, drawn, garden, hand, Hyde Park, ink, lots, Luxembourg, map, mapping, metropolis, palace, pen, plaza, Sharpie, shopping, shops, statue, stores, streets
After working for quite a while in Photoshop and Illustrator on various iterations of my map of Graven, I’ve decided to take a step back and try something new. I thought it would interesting to see a city grown not inwards from an island, which is what I’ve been doing, but outwards from a single point, a single building. To that end, I’ve been setting myself up for hand drawing the city in pencil (and later inking it, possibly also by hand), starting from scratch. In order to show individual buildings and leave for labeling, which I’ll probably do in PS just to make things easier for myself, I’ll be drawing rather large and working across several sheets of paper. The biggest obstacle was figuring out how I wanted to draw it. I’ve decided to go with drawing lots, which will create streets and on which I’ll be drawing the individual buildings. Since Graven is pretty dense through most of the city, that will work for most of the area. Where buildings are more spread out, in farm land or suburban/rural areas, I’ll just lightly draw in the street edges. This 17th century map of London illustrates what I’m talking about in terms of lots defining streets, but I won’t be drawing my map in this exact style.
Just to motivate myself and get some inspiration, I went looking for other city maps drawn by hand. And I not only found this great website on mapping called Radical Cartography, I found a post about a giant city map drawn entirely in pencil spanning dozens of regular white printer papers. The artist calls the city Pencilvania, and you can click on individual images to view them full size. Very inspiring (even if most of the streets seem to be completely straight, with only freeway exits/entrances curving). If Daren Keene, the artist of Pencilvania, can do that, well then so can I! I’ll be working in a different style, but it’s fun to see what someone else has come up with. Hopefully I’ll be able to post a preliminary draft later today.
Tags: 17th century, blocks, buildings, cartography, city, Daren Keene, draw, draw by hand, drawing, hand drawn, illustration, illustrator, individual, ink, large map, London, lots, map, mapping, metropolis, paper, pen, pencil, Pencilvania, Photoshop, radical cartography, radicalcartography, roads, shapes, streets
Alright, here’s an update of my map of Graven. I’m trying something a little new here (or rather, I’m retrying something I did for an earlier version of the city). I haven’t erased out all the streets or plazas for this area yet, as you can see around the river area in the lower right and then also over on the left side. Right now I’m focusing on the streets, but I think there’s going to be a park or two in there somewhere, and I want to put in courtyards and such. I also have to work on the ‘coasts’ – not all the buildings sit right up against the water’s edge, of course. Some will project out over the water, others will be set back. And of course bridges are missing, and I need to figure out how to draw in the smaller, semi-private docks on the water next to individual buildings/blocks. That is for later, however, as I have a lot of homework and other studying to do. Once I have a portion of this map done, I want to take it into Google SketchUp and see what I can do to create a 3D map. I also want to print this whole thing out as a line drawing so I can trace over it and create an isometric hand drawn map. Which sounds impossibly overly ambitious of me, but I want to give it a try.
Tags: 2D, 3D, bridge, cartography, city, court, courtyard, draw, drawing, drawn, fantasy, fiction, google, graven, hand, illustrate, illustration, isometric, line, lot, magic, map, metropolis, new, park, plaza, river, road, sketchup, street, trace, update