Mapmaking 101: Map of Suzhou, China
Hi everyone! Today I’d like to show you a peek behind the scenes of a recent project I’ve been working on… an illustrated map of Suzhou, China.
Over the past few months, in addition to managing Root & Branch Paper Co., I’ve been working to expand my portfolio as an illustrator and graphic designer. You can see my portfolio here: jessietyree.com
I have challenged myself to expand my horizons as an artist, and in doing that I decided to create this map of Suzhou. Suzhou is an ancient city in China, very close to Shanghai on the coast. Known for its classical Chinese gardens, ancient canal streets and temple pagodas which now exist alongside skyscrapers, flashy shopping malls and ritzy developments. Home to 6.9 million people, Suzhou is a gorgeous city full of culture and history, as well as a LOT of new growth. I’ve been living here for over 2 years, and it was an absolute thrill to turn this beautiful city into an illustrated map.
To fill in the map, I used some of my favorite spots in the city as well as my university.
Since most of my friends and family haven't made it to China (yet!) I wanted to make this map communicate the feel of this wonderful city to western audiences without making it into a stereotype.
As well as some of the architectural landmarks of Suzhou, I included several instantly recognizable Chinese "cultural" elements... the fan, iron teapot, hanging lanterns and street food skewers. A few of my favorite things :)
I ended up not using several icons, plus quite a bit of the lettering I made for the roads and metro lines because it felt too cluttered. I also wanted to include the Chinese characters for the names of the icons, but again... too cluttered. Might have to make a Chinese version!
For the color palette I chose these 4 colors, plus shades of each:
Here's a screenshot from early in the process... about halfway in I changed my technique for illustrating the icons to give a more hand-drawn feel to the end result.
I’m happy with the style of this map and I hope to make more. I’d like to create one for each of the cities I’ve lived in, or maybe some of my favorite cities I’ve visited!
So there we have it! A behind the scenes look at how I created this city map of Suzhou, China. What city should I illustrate next?