Top tips for creating maps

Maps? We know what you’re thinking, ‘Who uses maps any more? Have you not heard of Google© Maps!?’

Bear with us though, because maps aren’t just directional, they can be characterful, beautifully illustrated, technical or simplified – all designed in your way to help your clients find your business or help to illustrate your brand and message in a fun and engaging way.

Illustrated and technical maps are becoming increasingly popular, and there are many unique ways of presenting design-led layouts.

Here are our top tips for creating beautifully illustrated maps for your business.

1. Select iconic colours

Let’s say your business is located smack bang in the middle of Chelsea, London. You could use the iconic pastel colours adorned on the rows of terrace houses in the area. Or maybe you’re located in the heart of York, you could choose the iconic white, green, yellow and brown colours that adorn the Yorkshire White Rose.

The possibilities are endless, and it opens the gate to some really unique colour schemes for your maps that are naturally associated with the area. Or convey your brand colours in your map to make it uniquely ‘yours’.

2. Use some geography for composition

The layout of a city and its iconic sights can help to form the composition of your map. Try using famous buildings, statues or greenery to help make your map more interesting and fun to look at. Iconic sights and even photographic images are a great way to give the map character and make it easier for people to find your business.

3. Aim for clarity

If your map looks too busy, it might be difficult to read and understand. Try using a contrasting colour scheme to give the map some depth and improve clarity. Limiting yourself to two typefaces will also help keep things clear and legible. The last thing you want is people squinting at your map. If your colours don’t contrast, all the details of the map may get lost in the sea of colour.

4. Create your own symbols

Try making your own symbols. This will help give your map a unique edge.

The best-illustrated maps are those that look individually designed with care and attention. This usually includes using unique symbols and individual looking typefaces.

5. Think of scale

Trying to get every single detail perfectly in position may be trickier with smaller maps, so using scale should help. The map should be legible and make logical sense as you walk through it.

6. Simple is better

Set some boundaries on the size of the area to be depicted, the number of images that can be included, and the type of colour schemes that will work well on every scale.

When it comes to illustrated maps, the simpler you can make them while retaining the brand look and feel, the better they will be. If you have a lot of detail to include, it’s best to opt for a simpler colour scheme.

7. Roughly sketch out the map first

There is a big advantage in sketching your map out first. It will give you a taste of the design, what it will look like, and some ideas about the types of imagery to use. Take time to sketch out what needs to be included. The time spent sketching will save on-screen design.

8. Find the balance in detail

Usually there is a small space to work with, so images need to be recognisable which often requires a careful balance.

The last thing you want is lots of images which don’t look like what they are supposed to look like. If Big Ben looks like a pencil and not a big beautiful clock tower, it’s time to rethink the design.

9. Try to portray the ‘feel’ of the place

The best-illustrated maps are those that are quickly recognisable. As soon as someone sees it, you want them to understand the area you have portrayed. This will be much easier for big cities, but even smaller towns should be recognisable to any local people.

Using a combination of colour, imagery and composition, your map should portray the area in its best light. Use imagery that is linked to the area. This doesn’t have to be of landmarks. It could be of special foods or products that the area produces.

MAD Ideas create illustrated maps

If you don’t have the time or fancy creating your own illustrated maps, speak with the MAD Ideas crew! Our creative team will whip you up an illustrated map of an area you like for your business.

We help our clients produce maps for their brochures, folders, fliers, and pretty much anything else. We also offer full support for those who need specific icons and diagrams in your own colours and brand style to support your marketing materials.

Get found. Call us on 01293 773085 or email us at to discuss your next illustrated map requirements!