My map of Montreal was accepted today to "They Draw and Travel" blog contest. I am so very excited and proud of myself, and I want to share with you the stages of my work on this piece.
At the very beginning I decided to put some characters on the illustration - just because that is what I do: I draw people.
The map itself gave me some troubles. I had to deconstruct the real city map, decide which streets to take and which to remove, how big a fragment of the city to take and how to actually draw it. I did it in Adobe illustrator: plain and simple. Now I had the composition and moved to colors.
I started with the figures and then developed the main color scheme. I was dead set on using Montreal red (the one we have in the city's logo) - not necessarily the exact Panton, but at least something from the same family of colors. The dress on the girl is actually pretty close to it.
Then I moved to incorporating watercolors into the illustration, as I usually do. At first I was thinking about leaving the background white and use watercolor slashes to mark neighborhoods. The streets were supposed to stay gray or black. The result as really disappointing: sloppy and busy. So I inverted the whole coloring:
That has actually started to look like Montreal: the spirit of the city started to show through. All that multi-cultural, multi-colored, jazzy atmosphere. But I still wanted to try a black background: Montreal is a notorious night life capital of North America, it would be unfair to make it light and airy.
Now this looked exactly like Montreal! I spend another couple of days decided on which attractions to include in the map. "They Draw and Travel" asked for the insider's look at the city and requested places that are not in every tourist's guide, places that are forever. Not exactly Montreal's strong side, I would say. Honestly: we are famous for restaurants and stip joints, and carpe diem is our motto. If they ever say the truth, they should put it on the city's crest: "Come for European culture, stay for cheap lap dances!" No disrespect. I personally love it.
Still, there are some places that never go away. Our neighborhoods, Mont Royal, parks and gardens. At first I tried to embellish the map with a few famous architectural wonders, but later I decided against it. I love the Cross, and Oratoir and Olympic stadium tower, but they just didn't go with the overall style of the illustration.
So I made it as simple as possible: little icons, little hints here and there. I added the stars and put the compass to guide travelers, and even showed which way is the airport. I also made one exception for the clock tower at the Old Port: it looks so pretty. As usual, the biggest effort went into a fine tuning of a seemingly chaotic and random background (no, it's not actually chaotic no it's random). And voila - it was done: the streets were marked and quartiers were explained. I was mighty proud of myself.
Was even more proud after it was posted to the "They Draw and Travel" blog.