An illustrated map, or pictorial map, is a more artistic rendition of an area. It isn’t a cartographer’s line of work, it’s more a designer; it’s less about navigation, and more about making you see the city as a local would. There’s a sense of familiarity, seeing how the city’s landscape mesh with its buildings, giving it that unique feel.
So if you’re looking at what would make for great Illustrated Maps, here are some tips.
• Color coded for your convenience.
o If you’re working on an illustrated map with color, then choosing the right color scheme is very important. A good place to start for the color scheme is to look at an important landmark for that area. For San Fran, it’s the Golden Gate Bridge, for Tokyo, it’s Tokyo Tower. Then use those landmarks and build the color scheme around them. So for San Fran, an orange/blue scheme for that sunset-y look works, while for Tokyo, the iconicly Japanese white and red is a good idea.
• Units not to scale.
o Again, Illustrated Maps are not primarily concerned with geographical/cartographical accuracy. A little bit of sizing up or down isn’t that big of an issue, as long as it’s not too drastic. What’s important when you make the map is that you give it character, make the landmarks and places look alive. If that means that they’re not in scale, so be it.
• Clear as crystal.
o An illustrated map is a more graphical rendition of an area. It’s a creative map. It’s still a map. As such, being clear enough for people to recognize the area is very important. A clean color palette, and simple design helps.
• Get a reference.
o A good way to get started with Illustrated Maps, is to find an accurate map and work from there. Use a reference to figure out how your illustrated map is going to look like; what’s there, what’s isn’t, what’s in focus, what’s not. Then work your way from there, taking into account the other points in this list.
• Part of the whole.
o An illustrated map is the combination of the depicted place’s geographic structure, and design elements; namely, typographic stuff and the illustrations. A good mix of all three is key to a good illustrated map. Simple is a good way to go, don’t try to overload your design with too much stuff. Icons don’t have to be overly complex, they just have to give people a feel for the place being illustrated.