When Paul Smith’s College approached us about a reboot of their campus map earlier this year, the designers here instantly got excited. Maps are a specialty for Trampoline, with styles ranging from illustrative to informative. For a designer, it’s a fun challenge to create a map that is memorable and achieves the goal of being simple to use.
Which designer gets to work on a map usually comes down to workload; understanding that a map project —especially an illustrated map — is inherently time-consuming. In this case, workload was such that I was able to take on the project.
In choosing a style, we turned to Shannon Oborne, Paul Smith’s Chief Marketing Officer, for guidance. We presented her with samples of maps we’d created in the past and Shannon kept coming back to the illustrative approach. While it’s a challenge for a designer, an illustrated map can result in something distinct and impossible to overlook.
Will and Cara made a trip to Paul Smith’s on an unseasonably cold March day to take reference photos. The trip yielded hundreds of photos of campus buildings, walkways and other details that would need to be illustrated. Capturing the beauty of the college’s setting — on the shores of shimmering Lower St. Regis Lake and surrounded by rugged Adirondack peaks — wouldn’t be hard to do.
Next it was time to establish the map’s perspective. Would it be a 2-D birds-eye-view or a 3-D illustration? After some exploratory design work and an office roundtable we decided that a three-quarter, or isometric, perspective would be the best perspective to fit all of the buildings on the sprawling campus as well as the surrounding environment.
With Shannon’s solid direction, I began creating a base layer that would be the campus footprint, including roads, walkways, lakes and surrounding mountains. I relied on Google Earth and the college’s existing campus maps for accuracy.
Then came the task of illustrating the campus’ 35+ buildings in a consistent isometric perspective. This was the most time-consuming of all the steps but made all the difference in the end, adding a level of rich detail and dimension.
The final steps included adding in trees and smaller details like canoes, kayaks, lampposts, a stagecoach, and Woodsmen’s Arena. Least time consuming but by no means least important, was the map key. In creating the key, I had to be careful not to distract from the map’s detail while also having the 2-D numbers and corresponding text pop off of the page.
Shannon and the Paul Smith’s team are pleased with the end result — as are we. We’ll add it to the growing list of maps we’ve created and look forward to including the map in an upcoming Paul Smith’s trifold brochure.