Recent editorial work for Town Magazine involved an illustrated map of the Swamp Rabbit Trail.

ratterree_townmagazine

The process, while brand new to me, proved to be very rewarding. It began with a conversation with the editor, in which she provided the key places along the trail that would be highlighted. Initial (messy) notes:

ratterree_SRTnotes

To start, a soft-green base was laid in Photoshop using the paint tools.

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Each location needed a special icon that represented its unique services and attributes. Time is always a constraint with editorial turn around, so I didn’t have the luxury of personally seeing places I wasn’t already familiar with. But it was a lot of fun virtually “visiting” each enterprise’s web site and discovering what it had to offer. I wanted each location’s icon to have a very hand-made look to it, so instead of drawing directly onto the computer, each icon was free-handed (just on plain printer paper- one of my most used and favorite sketching surfaces!) scanned it in, and then traced over it in Photoshop with the paint tool (as a separate layer – that way, the original drawing could be deleted). The result was something like this:

ratterree_sandwich

 

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And so on…..

Next task was to add the actual trail. It needed to be accurate, but also a hand-made representation. Thanks to Greenville County Rec‘s interactive map of the trail, the perfect model presented:

ratterree_GRmap

 

I liked the way the bright purple stood out against the earth tones, so I picked a similar bright purple to work against the green foundation I had chosen. The trail had to be simplified somewhat but still have those organic angles. This was traced and simplified in Illustrator then imported as a smart object into Photoshop:

ratterree_trail

Each icon had been created in its own layer, which allowed me to move them around individually. The interactive map had a feature that allowed me to type in the address of each location and view it in relation to the trail. That gave me the basic vicinity for placement.

ratterree_map

The next layer was choosing typeface. Thanks to MyFonts I chose one that represented the hand-letter quality to work with the image….

ratterree_SRTmap_April2014issue

Along this topic, Laura Coyle has written this excellent blog post about how she designs and illustrates maps, which is a specialty of hers.

Illustrator of the day: Laura Coyle!

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