Map Design Series

CHALLENGE: Show ‘the art of the possible’ with map design awesomeness.
Designers are often the change agents that align products, business needs, and user satisfaction. My CEO asked me to push the notion of map design “beyond the default” with an inspiring series of well-designed map styles.

Showing that maps are not just predefined Google renderings but custom exploratory experiences fitted to the context of any brand or product imaginable.


Constraints make for great design.
During the summer of 2015, inspired by some blueprint schematics of the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-D I got for my birthday, I designed the Blueprint map. Eager to test the latest version of Mapbox Studio, I decided to redesign the style taking full advantage of Mapbox GL rendering awesomeness. I worked with a limited color palette of three blues and a single typeface, FF Kievit, in order to capture the bold yet sophisticated graphic quality of architectural blueprints.

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Swiss ski, 2016

The world is divided into two categories: hot and cold places.
Traditional ski maps feature steep slopes, ski routes, and snowboard routes over a contour heavy topographic base. The topography creates a detailed visualization of depth (or relief) of the cultural and natural features. Inspired by Swisstopo maps, this style highlights elevation contour lines along with specific ski features such as gondolas, chair lifts, and piste paths.

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Vintage, 2017

Some techniques remind us of how we used to be.
Many classic maps contain detailed styling on the oceans and bodies of water surrounding the continents. This styling shows bathymetry, the measurement of the depth of water in oceans, seas, or lakes. The same way that topographic maps represent three-dimensional features (or relief) of overland terrain, bathymetric maps illustrate the land that lies underwater.

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Whaam, 2017

Vibrant colors and not-so-subtle textures really bring this map style to life! 
Drawing inspiration from the likes of Andy Warhol, James Rosenquist, and in particular, Roy Lichtenstein, Whaam! is a unique base for telling your story with spunk. The use of primary and secondary RGBs hint at traditional printing variations for a vibrant and playful visual read. My pairing of small, dark cyan dots closely spaced over a solid, light cyan background gives the viewer the slight optical illusion as they zoom into the map, in true pop art fashion.

As cityscapes form, roads are styled with a heavy black stroke from motorways to secondary streets, each with varying thickness and opacity based on hierarchy. The final touch of whimsy is the handwritten-style display font for major city labels in bright red and the custom vector starburst in a royal blue used for highway shields.

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LA Terrain, 2018

Pics on a plane make for great map design inspiration.
The Cali Terrain map style was inspired by a recent trip from DC to LA. I’ve flown many times from the East Coast to Pacific Northwest, but this was my first trip to Southern California. En route to LA, we passed the Grand Canyon, Navajo Nation Reservations over Northwest New Mexico and Northern Arizona, and entered LA, journeying across the thinly populated deserts and mountains in San Bernardino County. As I created this style, I wanted it to reflect the desert and mountain-scapes I saw from my window seat.

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The portfolio of Amy Lee Walton.