Decorative map of Spain

Self-initiated project | 2015-17 | Digital rendering
This design was begun in October 2015 and was developed over the following 18 months; the main map was drawn using vectors in Illustrator and developed with textures in Photoshop. I researched the population and census data for each province and developed a system of symbols and text label sizes to represent the populations of each major city, town and settlement in the country. Multiple online mapping resources were consulted for the geographical information (for a list, see below). The illustrations were drawn by hand using a fineline pen, scanned to computer, coloured and added to the design using Photoshop. It was completed in April 2017. The typefaces used are Brandon Grotesque and Kursivschrift.

A mock-up of the map printed on a sheet measuring 70 x 50 cm and framed.

My original concept sketch (October 2015). The composition with coats of arms (Spanish: escudos) and illustrations set into the decorative border was inspired by antique maps which were typically illustrated with scenes of cities located on the map; see examples by Blaeu, Hondius, De Wit et al.

The completed map, 2017. Notable differences between this and my original concept include more city scene illustrations (18 instead of the original 10), fewer escudos (one representing each administrative region rather than each province), and a decorative cartouche containing the title and map scale.

Detail of the title cartouche. To reflect the multilingual nature of Spanish society, the name 'Spain' is written in Castilian Spanish (España), Catalan (Espanya), Basque (Espainia) and English. The primary language used across the map is standard Castilian Spanish, with alternative names in regional languages written below or alongside in parentheses, e.g. Lérida (Lleida). I decided on this approach for all names - regional, provincial, urban and geographical - in order to maintain consistency across the design, despite the fact that in certain regions (Asturias, Catalonia, Galicia, the Basque Country and the Valencian community) the regional language takes precedence over Castillian.

Detail of the Canary Islands, which form a contiguous part of Spain but are located several hundred miles to the south west and therefore shown within their own box at the bottom right corner of the map.

Illustrations that appear along the left and right edges of the map, clockwise from top left: the Universidad Laboral in Gijón, Asturias; the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, Galicia; the Plaza Mayor in Salamanca, and the cathedral in Burgos, both in Castille and León.

Illustrations that appear along the left and right edges of the map, clockwise from top left: the Prado Museum in Madrid; the Alcázar in Toledo, Castille-La Mancha; the Torre del Oro in Seville, Andalucia; and the Roman Ampitheatre in Mérida, Extremadura.

Illustrations that appear along the left and right edges of the map, clockwise from top left: the Alhambra in Granada, Andalucia; the cathedral in Murcia; the cathedral in Palma, Majorca; and the Torres de Serranos in Valencia.

Illustrations that appear along the left and right edges of the map, clockwise from top left: the bridge of St. Paul in Cuenca, Castille-La Mancha; the Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar in Zaragoza, Aragón; the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Catalonia; and a view of San Sebastian-Donostia, in the Basque Country.

A composite image of all nineteen coats of arms or escudos that decorate the map. There is one for every administrative and autonomous region in the country, including the cities of Ceuta and Melilla on the north African coast.

Mapping resources: Collins Bartholomew, Google Maps, Grupo Anaya, OpenStreetMap, National Geographic Society, Scilands GmbH, Vidiani.com
Other data resources: Classora, Renfe, Wikiloc, Wikipedia