View Full Version : Adapting an 1848 pictorial map of Europe

colin smith
04-02-2013, 11:13 AM
I am producing a map for a novel and need some opinions and advice. My novel is alternate history so I am taking an out of copyright 19th Century map and adapting it.
Original here: http://bardoftweedale.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/original.png
And after alteration and stripping out the text (which is in German): http://bardoftweedale.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/names-stripped-3.png
My problem is the existing text is in a variety of block letters and hand-writing, neither of which I have the skills to reproduce by hand. So, I’m planning to do it in inkscape but am uncertain whether to follow the looseness of the original and use a variety of typefaces to mimic the existing text in style and alignment or to apply something more formal and ‘map-like’.

It’s a question of aesthetics and (or versus!) legibility and I'd like to sound out opinion.


PS: and if there's anything else you think I could improve, please say so. I'm so green at this I've got mildew.

colin smith
04-03-2013, 08:38 PM

I am first and foremost a writer, but a writer who happens to be in want of a map so I've dragged my miserable graphics skills up a level or two and produced this: http://bardoftweedale.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/names-stripped-3b.png which is based on this: http://bardoftweedale.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/original.png

The original map dates from 1848 and is a satirical pictorial map which needed work to fit the alternative world of my novel and the replacement of all the text, which was in German. I'd really like to know whether the new elements of the map match with the original artwork and whether the layout of the new text is working and I figure you people are the ones to ask.


04-04-2013, 04:22 AM
Hi colin, the font choice looks good but you may need to distress it a bit. At the moment, it looks too much like the map has been drawn by hand and the text is computer generated.

Try this:
Using your graphic editing software make the map very faint and print it out on normal photocopying grade paper.
Use a black ink pen to trace over the text by hand. The text should bleed a bit into the paper.
Scan the result and superimpose it using a multiply blend layer on top of a version of the map without the labels.

Obviously run some tests with just a few labels before committing the time to doing the whole lot!

Sometimes the best way to get a 'hand drawn' look is to actually hand draw things!

colin smith
04-04-2013, 08:07 AM
Thanks Ravells.

I agree, the text is a little too perfect compared to the image, especially at 100%. I'm trying to avoid hand-drawing as my handwriting is crap - odd that for a writer! - but, I can remove the image and do some distressing to the text as a separate operation. Bottom line is, it has to be legible at A4 size as that is roughly a double page spread in a novel. One way round it might be to reduce the map size so that 100% isn't much more than what would appear in print. That way the text just doesn't get big enough for the quality difference to really show. Another solution might be to have different versions of the map, one for paper and one for the screen, with the version for the screen having a higher degree of distressing.

But, on the positive side, you haven't commented on my additions to the map so i assume they work reasonably well and don't look 'helicoptered' in to the image.

Many thanks for feedback.

04-08-2013, 03:04 PM
Merged threads....

-Rob A>

04-08-2013, 04:19 PM
I like this map, it is cool to see how the pictures help tell a story about the lands too, and with your changes you can almost tell how the alternate history has changed things too.

colin smith
04-09-2013, 07:22 AM
Thanks, Ranger.

Using images, along with the annotation, to suggest how history is different in my re-imagined world was exactly what I was trying to do, and I'm glad that it seems to have worked.

NB: the map is now finished (unless anyone has some good suggestions!) and is here: http://bardoftweedale.wordpress.com/the-world-of-tamburlaine-bryce-macgregor/ along with a gazetteer.