by Weston Maggio

Making Maps in Photoshop with a Wacom Tablet

If you’re planning an event, one useful addition to your invitation is a map to your destination. Of course you can simply provide an address alone and hope that the map application on your guest’s GPS delivers them to your door, but a map can give a partygoer a quick snapshot of where they are headed. Trust me, your guests will appreciate the effort you take to simplify their journey.

There are a handful of map creation websites out there, but frankly, I’ve found them to be kind of cumbersome, and the results pale in comparison to a more personal implementation. So consider a hand drawn map.

Maps don’t have to be boring and utilitarian. They can bring a fun design element to other projects, such as invitations. I personally prefer a clean, contemporary approach, but creativity counts when executing your theme of choice.

The video below details how I approach map-making, bolstered here by a step-by-step chart to success.

General Steps to Creating a Hand Drawn Map 

  1. Start by using Google Maps, MapQuest, Yahoo Maps or any of the other popular map website, and search the address of your destination.

  2. Take a snap shot or “screen grab” of the results. You’ll use this snapshot as a reference. (Mac: Cmd+Shift+3 / Win: Windows key + PrtScn. Note: Some versions of the Windows OS and some keyboards require a different set of keys. Check the manual that came with your laptop or tablet if these instructions do not work for you.)

  3. Your snapshot should be saved to your desktop or document folder. Open this file in Photoshop or other drawing application that supports layers.

  4. Using an elliptical marquee selection tool, draw a circle around the main area of your map and duplicate the selection to a layer (In PS, Cmd/Ctrl + J). This will serve as your base reference.

  5. Recreate the main elements of your map. i.e. bodies of land, water, etc. Use the lasso selection tool to “block” in the shapes. Place these elements on separate layers for organization.

  6. Use a brush to draw or trace the major roadways leading to your destination.

  7. Add the text: Name of your destination, roads, landmarks, etc.

  8. Place icons* or illustrations on points of interest, landmarks or other areas that you wish to call out.

Making a map isn’t difficult, but depending on the level of detail, it can take some time. Don’t rush it. Whether you're making a map for an event like a party, a school function, or a wedding, a map is a great way to ensure that your guests get where they're headed, and your event goes off without a hitch. 

5 Tips for Map Making

  1. Check with your venue. They may have maps to use as a reference. Additionally, they’ll have written directions that you can copy.

  2. Make multiple maps. Combine a main map with a zoomed in detail, calling out the final destination.

  3. Include major roads in your map and omit the side streets to keep them easy to follow.

  4. Play with angles. Change your perspective. Don’t settle for straight lines.

  5. Check your route for accuracy and have fun drawing. Your event is worth it. 

* Need a little inspiration for your icons? Search “map icons” in your favorite search engine and you will find myriad styles to choose from. Some free, some for a fee.

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