Map illustration: A step by step guide

Map illustration has had a real resurgence over the past few years. An exciting alternative to a dry Google map, illustrated maps can be filled with character and fun detail to truly capture the atmosphere of a city. Creating your own map illustrations is a challenging exercise in composition, but can be a great addition to your design portfolio

Every map is a careful balancing act of plotting elements to their geographic location whilst also ensuring the illustration layout works in harmony. In this tutorial I’ll walk you through a step-by-step guide to how to create your own map illustrations, from initial layout to final image. All you need is access to Google maps and your digital art software of choice.

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Tom is a freelance illustrator who specialises in illustrated maps. Based in Birmingham, UK, Tom’s maps have been used by clients such as Lonely Planet, the Wildlife Trust and Computer Arts Magazine.