We know you won’t replace Google Maps or Waze with an out-dated traditional map. Digital maps make locating, wayfinding, and traffic avoiding so easy. On the other side, a traditional map can be a beautiful piece of design. Map illustration is now an entire industry that produces a wide variety of illustrations. From sketch doodles to fine art complex drawings, people are reinventing the concept of maps.
The past few years have been crucial in building up this new map culture. It is mostly for fellow travellers when discovering new cities. Unlike an insipid virtual map, paper maps can save the notes, memories, and atmosphere of your trip. It may be challenging to build your own map illustrations, but it’s a great addition to your experience portfolio.
If you’re not a passionate drawer, don’t feel distraught. You can still dip your toes into the world of map illustration. However,a lot of professional artists specialize in map illustrations, using a multitude of techniques, compatible with all tastes.We think these artists are true heroes.
They master a domain that needs not only technical skills but also a lot of vision and imagination. They have a deep understanding of distances, areas, and the relationship between objects. Analyzing data, architecture, and atmosphere helps them build unique and astonishing map illustrations.
If you are curious about the techniques and tools they use, keep reading this article. We included the best map illustration we could find.
Map Illustration Examples
Scotland Map – HOG Magazine
South East London
Nutella Gemella – Map Details
Two Dots Reindeer Realm
South America Map – HOG Magazine
White City Living
ESPN: Bron Bron Land Map
Lviv city cartoon map
Oscar Junior Mondadori 10 year Special Edition – Fantastic Map
Switzerland map flat hand drawn vector illustration
Hand Drawn Map of Berlin
Berlin’s rich cultural heritage is entirely depicted on this hand-drawn map. It’s unlike other maps due to its hallmarks, landmarks, and local haunts included. You won’t only discover Berlin authentically, but you’ll surely see all important tourist attractions when using this map.
Italy’s Food on the Map Illustration
Antoine Corbineau, the designer of this map, made sure you will know what Italy is most appreciated for – the food. The entire Italian cuisine is represented on this map, each region presenting its traditional meal.
Homes & Antiques – San Francisco map
If you visit Homes & Antiques, you will want to have this map with you. It will guide you through all pieces of interest in San Fransisco. With this simplistic map, you won’t miss any antique hotspot.
The Future of Thailand
Thailand may be a mystery for you. But with this map, you’ll see this country and all its wonders with a fresh perspective. Plus, the inset map on the corner shows the position of the country on the entire Earth.
This map was created for the guide “Milano confidential”project curated by Studio Pym, Milan.
Some of these maps are included in the “Milano Confidential” guide. The curator was the Studio Pym from the city of fashion.
World map print for kids
A Map of Ice and Fire
This map will pleasantly remind you of the popular TV-series Game of Thrones. The designers got inspired from the Middle Age theme and atmosphere. They originally and mysteriously represented each magical locationof this fantasy world in their map.
Collection of map illustrations by Jan Kallwejt
Betty Turbo Map of Anchorage
Betty Turbo from Oregon specialized her illustrations and makes us all drown in the amazing atmospherethey create. What makes these kitsch designs so special are their bright colors, striking typography, and catchy slogans. All in all, they are a lot of fun. It’s a pleasure to scan this map and read the little info-boxes next to each tourist attraction. This Anchorage illustrated map will help you find your way through the city, and also points out not-to-miss attractions such as, “ravens ravishing rubbish!”
Illustrated map of Cape Town
This map combines the beauty of natural pieces of wonder and man-made tourist attractions from Cape Town. It includes famous stadiums and natural places, such as Table Mountain.
Ireland Illustrated Map
Some very talented Irish folks designed this illustrated map and you can definitely feel the vibe they were going for.
Nate Padavick Map of Jackson, Wyoming
We could look at Nate Padavick’s works forever. He is not only a master of distances and accuracy, but is a master artist as well. He lets inspiration and art combine with precision and math, which draws the user’s attention. Padavick’s map illustrations cover big areas and you will never be able to visit all the locations he proposes. His maps are simply too beautiful to rush through.Each one covers a huge space, yet he fills in every nook and crannywith another amazing, relevant illustration.
Illustrated Map of California Wine Regions
Vietnam map illustration
When trying to depict the essence of Vietnam on an illustrated map, you will always get a bright-coloredresult. That is exactly what you get with this Vietnam map illustration.
This Vietnam map uses scale to capture the feel of Vietnam in a tourist map depicting some of the sights and flavorsone may see along their travels.
Blue Illustrated Map of South America
Crocodile Creek Puzzle
This map has an interesting story. Apparently, the artist didn’t have time to make sketch after sketch and multiple drafts. They had to work fast to get their map idea approved. When they did, they built the digital version, and realized that the final result was even better than expected.
He wanted to make it precise but also interactive, and he fulfilled both of these goals. Each region of Australia is equally represented and you can also play around with the location icons. This map has everything that Australia is popular for – from weirdly-shaped buildings to indigenous nature.
Nik and Marina Neves Map of Recife, Brazil
Nik and Marina are two young fellow travellers who grew up in Brazil, but they discovered the world together. After moving to Berlin, they wanted to rebuild their homeland creatively. This is how their Brazil map illustration came to be. They were both pragmatic and artistic when designing it.
Vintage Disneyland Inspired Fun Map Illustration
Discover Disneyland from another point of view.
Scottish Whiskey Illustrated Map
Dark Side of Typography
This one is so aesthetically-pleasing due to its simplicity. It proves that the bare work of lines and contours can build an entire world. And don’t worry! You won’t get lost. There are different kinds of lines, symbols, and icons that will help you find your way. Just look at the diagonal and dotted lines to differentiate some areas from the hiking trails.
Illustrated Map of the Bay Area
Eva Naccari Map of Palma diMontichiaro
Eva Neccari did a great job when choosing to graphically illustrate the streets of Palma di Montechiaro. This simple map makes it incredibly easy fortravellers to find the main attractions. Plus, you may notice that the linear background makes a pleasant contrast with the icons of the buildings.
Meet London’s raw and natural spirit.
Illustrated State Map Collection
This unique illustrated map oozes the Wisconsin vibe. This is mostly due to the typography and the icons. It is also an example of pragmatism due to the way they used negative space. Just take a look at the lake area.
Places to Visit in London
One may find this map too heavy and overloaded with stuff. But this is exactly how London is. You will findplaces to visit on every street and you shouldn’t miss any.
Rome map illustrated print
Les grands sites touristiques de Paris
A clear legend, contrasting color, and simple icons are what makes this map so good. Its designer is a master of the layering technique. She managed to add new information on top of the existing info without making the map look too cluttered.
Tom Woolley Map of Newcastle
In this map, the buildings and the background look like two different pieces of art. It even gives off the vague impression that the icons have a 3D-effect. This is because of the plain, simple aspect of the background. Its simplicity gives you time to take everything in. You can almost hear the musical notes and the singing man.
Hunger Games Map
This map is bright and striking. The texture of the image alone makes you think about a surreal world. Every time you look at it you notice a new detail.
Illustrated Map of Dominica
Manhattan New York Map
This map is remeniscent of old mapping techniques, with its pale green and grey colors and mathematical layout. You could easily confuse it with a map from the Middle Ages if it weren’t for the tall buildings and modern districts.
New York Map by Ruby Taylor
Ruby Taylor combines colors, textures, and shades to get a cool, modern, and playful look in her illustrations. This map, in particular, is very colorful and easy to follow. She equally represented all New York areas and made it intricate enough for both a newNew Yorker and a fellow traveller to enjoy.
Illustrated Map of USA Sports & Outdoor Adventures by Nate PAdavick
Kate Mason Map of Adelaide
This map looks like the illustrations from a kids’ storybook. It has a lot of kindly smiling koalas, pastel colors, numerous icons, and little to no writing.
We explain this by the fact that Kate Mason spent a lot of time with inspiring children. Their vivid way of seeing the world has surely influenced her and we are happy with this result.
Map of Prague
This map gives you a raw insight into the Czech spirit. The center of Prague is hand-drawn and the most important attractions are appealingly illustrated.
Illustrated Map of London
The Illustrated Map of Bali
This map represents the things we all know Bali for – yoga centers and monkey forests. Enjoy!
The bright green background of this map is so appealing. It has a childish drawing aspect but with well-organized paths and anaesthetically-pleasing design. It’s incredibly detailed and well-thought out. You will want to visit Austin only due to this map.
Illustrated map of downtown Baltimore, MD
9 Brilliant Tips for Creating Illustrated Maps
Making an illustrated map can be more complicated than building a classic one.
That’s why we researchedsome special tips professional cartographers use that will help you through the entire process.
Follow them step-by-step and improve both your technique and your sense of observation.
Find your landmarks
The landmarks are the main characters of your map. You have to choose them carefully. Follow your client’s instructions and desires, but keep the following tips in mind:
- Select the area you want to represent
- Use Google Maps to approximate distances.
- Opt for landmarks from the entire area you chose. This way, the composition of your map will be balanced.
Pay attention to color
Colors deserve more attention than some designers think they do. The color contrasts are the first thing a viewer sees on your map.
If you struggle with choosing the right color, start with the main landmark on your map. For example, on San Francisco’s map, we will start with the Golden Gate Bridge. Pick a representative color for this particular landmark and then build your palette around that.
Search for the symbols
Map illustration is not only about locations and streets; they should depict the entire atmosphere of a place. That’s why you will need to do serious research on the buildings, history, cuisine, and society of the area you represent.
Traditional food and beverage icons, for example, can bring your map to life and make it more attractive. Think outside of the box and use the materials the Internet offers.
Unlike a traditional map, this one doesn’t necessarily have to follow the geographical details. You can play with distances, heights, and sizes. This can make your map look more interesting. After all, map illustration is a way to personalize an area, not to reproduce it.
All designers are tempted to add more and more visual information in their works, thinking that this adds value. But this is not always the case. We want you to understand how important clarity is for map illustration. Limit the range of colors you use, and stick to a specific font and style. All in all, be consistent and keep things simple.
Give it that pop!
Think about something you want the viewers to remember from your map. This element should show off and be representative of the entire map. It can be a graphic icon, a slogan, a smart line, or any other thing you can think of.
Harmonize the composition
When you think your map is ready, close it for some hours and then get back to it with a fresh mind. This will help you see the little details that don’t fit and the flaws that must be taken care of. Don’t be afraid to change some color nuances, some icon frames, or text fonts. It is important if you want to have a harmonious composition.
Make it for others, not for you
When you work on this map, think about how travellers will eventually use it. Don’t think only about your tastes and needs. Let it Inspire. It will be rewarding to know that you helped someone discover new places in their way by using your map.
Things to take into considerations:
- Think about how your map will be used. Will you print it on an A5 leaflet or as a billboard? This drastically influences the resolution and the size you set.
- How important are the details? The answer to this question helps you realize whether you need special icons for the landmarks or whether you can just use a dot. And this is only an example.
- Who will use it? The target audience determines the style you approach. If you make a campus map for the new students at a university, you will want it to be as informative as possible. On the other side, if you want to attract people to a specific location, you will have to be more creative.
- How much money should you would invest? Think about the production costs and adapt your style and materials to your budget.
Ending thoughts on these map illustration examples
If you got to this point in the article, you may still have that natural question in mind. “Why should I use an illustrated map when Google Maps is just a click away?”
We totally understand your reasons for thinking this way. Yet, we have enough arguments to convince you why you need to buy an illustrated map for your next trip or for your business. These are just some of them:
It makes youstand out from the crowd. You should have an original image of your brand or company. And Google Maps won’t do this for you. A personalized map draws the attention of the users and makes them remember you.
No matter the type of facility or area you manage, you surely have some important points you want to highlight. Guide your visitors and help them transform a simple visit into a great experience. A map illustration will also make you look more professional in your clients’ eyes.
Now that you understand the advantages of having a map illustration, we hope you will use our advice and our tips. They will guide you in making something creative and innovative that showcases your business’ personality.
If you liked this article about map illustrations, you should also check out this article with map vector examples.
We also wrote about a few related subjects like the map elements, what is a vector map, interactive maps, the choropleth map and how to make one, thematic map examples, statistical maps, websites with maps, and all the types of maps out there.
I take it you like maps as well so make sure to check out MapSVG, a great WordPress map plugin you should check out.