Antique-style map of Europe

Self-initiated project | 2017-19 | Adobe Illustrator
With this project I have continued my explorations into developing a signature aesthetic style, inspired by antique map prints of the 19th and early 20th centuries. I have held the ambition to design a detailed map of Europe for a number of years, and for this I have used the skills and techniques I developed from previous projects (for example: see my maps of Spain and London). The common characteristic of all my maps is that they display modern-day places and locations with the look of much older maps. This is a political map of Europe as it looks at the beginning of 2018, with all present borders and place names displayed.

Prints of this design are available to purchase via my online store.

Click here to view the map in closer detail.

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

The title, a somewhat tongue-in-cheek homage to Bacon's Standard Map of Europe (1920).

This is an English-language map, therefore all names are written either in their English versions (Brittany instead of the French Bretagne; Catalonia instead of the Spanish Cataluña or Catalan Catalunya, and so on), or their native names that are also commonly used in English.

I have shown the first-level administrative divisions for most countries, including federal (Austrian and German states, Russian oblasts), autonomous (Spanish communities), provincial (Dutch and Turkish provinces) and regional (French and Italian regions, Norwegian and Swedish counties) and so on. For countries that are too small to show their actual administrative divisions clearly, I have labelled historical and cultural regions which are generally well-known but not necessarily in official usage today (see: Croatia, Czechia, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Portugal, Romania). I developed a range of text labels and border styles to distinguish visually between each of these types of division.

I researched the population and census data for each country and developed a system of symbols and text label sizes to represent the populations of each major city, town and settlement. I have included a table at the top right which displays a list of the top forty most populous cities in Europe.

Several regions, all in eastern Europe, are disputed in one way or another or in a state of 'frozen' conflict, and I decided to feature them all on the map. These include Crimea, which is internationally recognised as Ukrainian sovereign territory but is presently administered by Russia following its annexation in 2014; Kosovo, which is recognised as independent by many other countries but is considered by Serbia as part of its territory; and several self-declared states which are de-facto independent but have no formal international recognition (see: Abkazhia and South Ossetia in Georgia, Artsakh in Azerbaijan, Northern Cyprus, and Transnistria in Moldova).

The shaded relief of the mountain ranges, coloured outline shading for the countries and the vignetted shading of the oceans and seas, and use of type throughout are all inspired by examples of antique maps.

A second, smaller map inset at the bottom right shows a summary of Europe's geography.

Software used
Adobe Illustrator, and Adobe Photoshop for the relief map background.

Main typeface: Modern no. 20 (Bold for federal state and autonomous region labels, Italic for all natural and geographical features such as peaks, mountain ranges, seas, rivers, lakes and so on) Country labels: Ecuyer DAX

Mapping resources
Google Maps, OpenStreetMap, National Geographic Society

Other data sources