Elizabeth Person's map of the Pacific Northwest

The Pacific Northwest

This entry is part 8 of 9 in the series December 2017

Maps as Art

Elizabeth Person's map of the Pacific Northwest

These earth-toned watercolors reflect the greens, browns, yellows, and blues of the verdant Pacific Northwest. I spent hours comparing source material and drawing and re-drawing this map, so I have a new depth of admiration for the mapmakers of old who pioneered this exacting business.

I begin every map with a 1″ pencil grid and draw freehand within each square. This method keeps me precise overall but retains the handcrafted look and feel. Generally, I focus on the physical details and include just a few of the political reference points (rarely roads).

After sketching, I go over my under sketch with waterproof ink.

The final step is the most dramatic, and also the quickest. After hours of inking, I apply the watercolor in under an hour. This messy medium contrasts with the technicality of the ink drawing and adds interest as well as additional information on the topography.

For more on handmade cartography, see our archives

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