Friday, December 9, 2011

Map Madness

I finally finished one of the craziest single pieces of artwork I've ever undertaken.

The first sketch of the city of Samai Ehno was this really messy deal that was sort of a storyboard sketch for an idea that never got off the ground. It shows where I was going with the circle motif for the layout:

But, the actual project started with this, a pencil-drawn map of Samai Ehno (an important city from the books):

Next step was to import this into SketchUp. It's the closest thing to a drafting program I have, and I needed to work with accurate, scale measurements:

Once that part was done (which actually didn't take all that long), I used a screenshot of this model (the image on the left) to do a trace in Illustrator

This DID take a long time, for various reasons. One was that, because I was trying to make the image feel similar to an old map of chicago, I had to use variable line weights. This made it so I couldn't just draw boxes for the blocks (at least, I don't know how to do it).

Here's that work at an early stage. 

From here, I continued adding details, then started adding street names and other such things.  I used a host of different fonts (normally sacrilege from a graphic design standpoint) to add to the vintage feel. I added a train schedule on there to make it feel even more like an artifact from a real world.

A big problem that I took a long time to find a solution for was the details of the canyon. I tried multiple different ways of drawing it (such as the textured shade you can see in the image above), then decided to try pen and ink pointillism:

It almost worked for what I was going for, but didn't match the feel of the drawing. the dots were too big and a little too sketchy.

So, I made a custom brush in Photoshop that scattered dots, and it gave just the result I wanted.

Here's the final deal, with all the fixin's:

It has the rough, bold, monochromatic look that enhances the vintage feel I was going for.

Next step is to find somewhere to make me some poster-sized prints (the only way anybody will see all the little details put into it . . . the full-sized image is 11x14 at 400dpi, so there's a lot going on).

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