Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Viking Map Illustration

The last few weeks I have been making a map for Wakefield One Museum for their upcoming display featuring the remains of a genuine Viking boat, to hopefully go on display in the near future.

My first approach was to draw the map digitally in Photoshop, the brief had lots of details and maps have to be accurate, don't they? My first attempt was rejected. I had it in my mind that the artwork had to be created actual size for it to look sharp for display (6m x 1.5m at approx 200dpi). My last few illustration jobs had been done digitally but it was becoming apparent from Museum feedback that they wanted the hand drawn quality.

The obvious go to reference for hand drawn Vikings is Peter firmin's Noggin the Nog. I also had a file of images the Museum thought might work and from that I found this...

Which went a long way in influencing the way the sea and the towns were rendered on my map. I normally draw direct in pen and ink or use a light box but in this case had to pencil out the fine detail first to ink over. It took time but took away the panic I normally feel when drawing direct.

I ended up using a Magnifying glass and a 0.5 HB Mechanical pencil to sketch out the details.

The Magnifying glass came in handy for inking fine details too. I got used to using the glass, it slowed my hand and cut down on the amount of lines I use when I draw which seemed appropriate for map work.

After drawing everything out with dip pen and waterproof ink it was time to add watercolour. Sounds easy but the weather was affecting my lines. Hot and humid days but as the night air cooled the paper started absorbing moisture, and ink that normally stayed crisp edged was bleeding into the paper fibre. I tried swapping from Indian Ink to a thicker Acrylic Ink but the same bleeding occurred. The hand drawn artwork is a 1/5th of the intended size so any tiny 'hair line' would be magnified. I ended up having to close the outside door on a summer evening and put the heating on to dry the air. An hour later the ink was back to its normal sharp edged quality.

I left the ink to dry and then went to bed, experience has taught me not to erase pencil lines until the ink is well and truly dry, in this case about ten hours dry.

When all the pencil lines were erased it was time to add water colour. Laying down chunky washes first to kill the whiteness of the paper. After that had dried I then went in adding shadows and spot colours building up the texture and detail. A thing that I do, because I've never been told otherwise is, I use colour pencil over the top of water colour paint to add texture. I also use a fine blue lead technical pencil to add in that cool blue effect you get from shadows. You can't see it from these shots but it is in there.

The photos I take for convenience are from my mobile phone, usually late into the night with not very good lighting. I took the finished artwork into the Museum Team this morning and they provided me with some truer to life, colour wise photos of the map.