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Marvellous Maps 2. Sketch Maps

As I mentioned in the first post on this subject (HERE), I’m going to take a closer look at the wonderful world of cartography, starting this week with sketch maps.

Noun 1. sketch map – a map drawn from observation (rather than from exact measurements) and representing the main features of an area

A sketch map is essentially a self-authored, freehand and simplified illustration of an area, showing the basic positions of certain key features. They tends to be maps drawn from the same perspective as a vertical aerial photograph (i.e. looking directly down on the area) and can either be drawn from memory, or from other, more detailed maps or photographs.

Sketch maps, though not generally drawn to scale, do nonetheless succeed in capturing large amounts of important information in an accessible, ‘back of a fag packet’ format.

Sketch maps require minimal equipment, a pencil, some paper and something to lean on. They are a quick and simple way of recording and then sharing necessary information.

Sketch maps are created and used by a wide variety of people, who, by removing visual clutter, enable the reader to focus on key information, a route, key roads, key buildings etc.

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A wonderfully simple sketch map, but I’m guessing it really helped explain whatever it was that it was explaining – if you get my drift???
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London parred down to essential information, the kind of sketch map we might produce at the same time as talking someone through the route, with critical indicators, Kings Cross, Camden, Leicester Square, it provides all the information the user might need to make a particular journey across the city.
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The same sketch map elements are evident in this slightly more sophisticated map; the aerial perspective, with extraneous details omitted and only key features highlighted,
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A map with a more graphic approach but nonetheless following the same principles.
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In this sketch map text dominates, and is used to identify the location of key buildings…
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Whereas here, the sketch map goes beyond providing directions and begins to tell something of the story of the place…
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Or, in this ‘memory-based’ map shows the location of childhood memories…
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A sketch map taken to a powerful new level. Long before the Battle of Rorke’s Drift was immortalised in the film Zulu, Queen Victoria was so gripped by accounts of the hand-to-hand combat that the British commanding officer, Lt John Chard, made a series of watercolour sketches for her to map out the fighting scene by scene. Using red dots to represent the British and black dots for the Zulu warriors, Chard’s drawings vividly bring to life the overwhelming odds faced by the defenders, (More information here, Rorke’s Drift )
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Whilst this much more sophisticated drawing takes the sketch map to another level – an illustrated 3-D map.

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