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  #1  
Old Posted Aug 3, 2011, 9:41 PM
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My Experiments in Urban Planning

Ever since I was about 7 or so, I have been almost obsessed with maps, and urban planning. For me, this inexplicably caused me to start drawing maps, and create my own cities on paper. Now that I'm 16, I literally have hundreds, if not thousands of pieces of paper with maps of different kinds, all in different stages of completion lying around. However, most are junk! These are just some of the better, and more recent ones that I'm posting today. I will definately try to post more in the future!

All of these are just on standard printer paper, and they may not make all that much sense, and look like your average city map. I've just been making these for fun over the last while, and never expected that anyone else would see them!


The inspiration for this map was Edmonton. The purple line is the pre WW2 area, and the black line with dots is a light rail system. Buildings are the little pen dots and squares.


This map is supposed to be a city in Italy. The black line represents the city limits


This map is supposed to be a Canadian port city on Lake Erie. The dark green line represents the urban growth boundry, and the purple line is the city limits.


This map was inspired by cities in Michigan. The black line represents the city limits.


This map was inspired by Milwaukee. It also has a light rail system in black. The purple line represents the city limits.

http://s1141.photobucket.com/albums/n596/Simpseatles/

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  #2  
Old Posted Aug 4, 2011, 12:05 PM
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MolsonExport MolsonExport is offline
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These are cool. Except some neighborhoods are dominated by dreaded cul-de-sacs and crescents (adding nothing to the urban fabric/infrastructure, except for those living on said streets) rather than the good ol grid.
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  #3  
Old Posted Aug 4, 2011, 3:21 PM
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Originally Posted by MolsonExport View Post
These are cool. Except some neighborhoods are dominated by dreaded cul-de-sacs and crescents (adding nothing to the urban fabric/infrastructure, except for those living on said streets) rather than the good ol grid.
That's because I've tried to imitate the urban planning practices of the respected areas that these cities would be in in real life. They are certainly far from ideal cities!

I just find it more challenging/interesting to do it this way. Plus drawing sprawly subdivisions is more fun than a boring grid!

But in the future, maybe I will try to create a city with top notch urban planning!
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Old Posted Aug 4, 2011, 3:31 PM
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Nice. I like it!

Hope to see more from you.
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  #5  
Old Posted Aug 4, 2011, 4:39 PM
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Nice. I like it!

Hope to see more from you.
Thanks! I hope to add more in the future.
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  #6  
Old Posted Aug 5, 2011, 12:18 AM
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I do the same thing!

After drawing them I scan them into the computer and digitize them, and then tweak them afterwards. The example I linked to here is now into year two of post-digitization tweaking. I also draw them on the computer from scratch, at various levels of detail. I created my own legend and icons for them but have yet to get that for on an actual map.

You should post some of the older ones, to show how far you've progressed. I find that sometimes, looking back at older maps, I get ideas to incorporated into the new ones.
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Old Posted Aug 5, 2011, 2:22 AM
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Originally Posted by vid View Post
I do the same thing!

After drawing them I scan them into the computer and digitize them, and then tweak them afterwards. The example I linked to here is now into year two of post-digitization tweaking. I also draw them on the computer from scratch, at various levels of detail. I created my own legend and icons for them but have yet to get that for on an actual map.

You should post some of the older ones, to show how far you've progressed. I find that sometimes, looking back at older maps, I get ideas to incorporated into the new ones.
Oh Wow! Not only do you do the same thing as me, our drawing styles are fairly similar. Nice job, and thanks so much for the link to your map! It looks almost like a google map when digitized. I would be interested to learn more about the digitizing process, since I'm not so great with computers!
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  #8  
Old Posted Aug 6, 2011, 1:58 AM
llamaorama llamaorama is offline
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Your maps look great. You can really discern the age and character of the places represented, which for me is the thing that makes maps so interesting to look at in the first place.

Are you guys using Inkscape to do the vector art?

EDIT: Simpseattle, noticed your avatar, its awesome. ROWSDOWER!

Last edited by llamaorama; Aug 7, 2011 at 9:55 PM.
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  #9  
Old Posted Aug 7, 2011, 7:01 PM
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I use Inkscape. It's pretty simple to figure out.

After scanning the map in, I use the pen tool to trace the streets (using varying thicknesses and colours to represent street types) and put land use in a different layer, using the pen tool to draw solid shapes with different colours. Using the pen tool can be tricky but gets easier with practice. The hardest thing to do is probably making sure a grid aligns and all the streets are parallel (or at least look parallel); that's part of the reason my maps avoid large grids covering a whole area. I instead make small, local grids that are all disjointed.

I use a fairly similar process to the one employed by the author of Norscand, and he describes it better than I can on this page, complete with video.

If you want to try digitizing and need a colour scheme, I've created a legend for my maps that includes icons. Finished projects at a neighbourhood scale look like this (and don't be intimidated by that; years of practice and effort went into that, and I was unemployed at the time. Most of my maps make it nowhere near that level of completion).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Simpseatles View Post
Oh Wow! Not only do you do the same thing as me, our drawing styles are fairly similar. Nice job, and thanks so much for the link to your map! It looks almost like a google map when digitized. I would be interested to learn more about the digitizing process, since I'm not so great with computers!
Aside from installing Inkscape (which is a simple .exe file), the only thing you really need to know is how to use a mouse and keyboard. (And if you don't use shortcuts, you don't even need the keyboard for much.)

Here is a step-by-step. Don't be intimidated by its length, I just have difficulty explaining things in short, precise sentences.

The key to drawing a map in Inkscape is to understand the pen tool. It's the one you'll use 90% of the time. It can be intimidating at first but with practice gets very easy to use. The other 10% of the time, you'll use the object selection and vector selection tools, which are used to manipulate objects and points made with the pen after they're created. You'll need both for tweaking the map.

Before doing the map, open Inkscape and just play around with the pen tool a bit to get an idea of how it works. It's sort of a "click and drag" to make curved lines, and most vector points will have handles that you can control after drawing the line to manipulate the curve. As long as you don't click the first point you made, the line remains "unfinished", so you can add parts to it, or take parts away. Once you've drawn some lines, use the selection (white arrow) and vector selection (black arrow) tools and explore how they work.

When you're ready to try drawing a map, open a new Inkscape file.

Once you've imported the scanned image into Inkscape (just drag and drop; when a dialog comes up, make sure it isn't set to embed image, and then hit enter) and saved the file (saving is important; get into the habit of hitting ctrl+s occasionally, and set the autosave with backup files. Inkscape crashes sometimes and nothing is more frustrating than losing an hour of work because you didn't save), you have to figure out your scale. Draw a line on the map that you think is a kilometre or a mile (a km is usually about 8 to 10 blocks in Canadian cities), and then press "ctrl+a" to select the image and that line, and scale them by using the arrow grabbers around the image. I typically use a scale of 300px = 1km (roughly 500px per mile if you prefer that). It's just a rough guide, if you try to make everything a totally realistic dimension you'll go insane. Some of your city blocks will probably be huge, while others are tiny. The map I posted earlier has that issue; it's something I fix when I tweak the map later on.

Once you've scaled the image, you have to set the document page size to be equal to it. To make creating a png file of the map easier, I typically make sure the image is an even size (not 2164.664 px wide, for example. It doesn't have to be a nice, even number like 2200px, but you can do that if you like; I do). Once you've scaled the image and deleted the line you used to find the scale, select the image and hit "crtl+shift+d". This opens the document dimensions dialogue. Select "make document fit selection" (or whatever its called; it's a large button on the first panel, you can't miss it), and make sure the document is the same size as the map. Then lock the layer. (You can name it something, I usually call it "base map".)

Create a new layer above base map. Call it "waterways", and trace the water with the pen tool. This is a good warm up for using the pen tool; streets are almost always more simple than shorelines. (For a more organic look you can use the pencil tool but I wouldn't recommend that for beginners, as it can be frustrating. You can try it though.) Use a line with a stroke of 2px, dark blue. (Setting colours comes later; when you're tracing, you want contrast to separate what you've done and what needs to be done). I typically don't colour in the water at this stage, and you can re-do it later if you want. Streams are typically just blue lines. Once you've drawn the waterways, lock the layer.

Create a layer above that to draw roads. It easier to create a new layer for each class of road, and it is easier to start with bigger roads first. There are a couple options here.

You can nest layers in Inkscape, similar to how folders work on the computer's file system. You can have everything at the top level, sort of like putting all your folders in the C:/ drive directly, or you can organize them. I typically make a layer called "roads", then create a sublayer for each class of roadway. You can create sub-layers within sub-layers (within sublayers, etc; it's infinite) to organize things like cul-de-sac circles and thinner roadways (good for divided roads), but you probably won't do something that complex yet.

What I would recommend creating a road layer, then putting freeways, highways, arterials, collectors, and streets as sub-layers of that. Worry about other types of road path later. (I have things like transit streets and pedestrian trails on my maps; that's a complex detail that you'll get to once you've become more experienced.)

Use the pen tool to trace the roadways. I usually make Freeways 10px wide and blue, highways 8px wide and dark grey, arterial roads and collectors 6px wide and medium grey, local streets 5px wide, and lanes 2.5px wide, the latter two a slightly lighter shade of grey than arterials. Railways are a slightly darker shade of grey than highways, and are 4px wide for mainlines and 2px wide for spurs. The widths and colours help separate which kind of street is which.

For grid streets, you can just click at one end and then the other to draw a simple line. You can turn on the document's grid (shift+3) and the pen tool will snap to that (but that probably won't match your drawing), or use the ctrl button to get the lines to snap to angles (by default, they're every 15°) which is good if the grid is on an angle. There is a clone option (which I don't particularly like, but you can check it out if you want), but to make a grid I usually just use the duplicate option (ctrl+d) and move it over a bit.

As I said, all of this is less intimidating and simpler than my giant wall of text suggests. It simply takes a bit of practice to get used to how everything works, and where tools are located. If you want, I'll trace one of your maps and send you the SVG file so you can open it in Inkscape and explore what a "finished product" looks like.
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  #10  
Old Posted Aug 9, 2011, 2:23 AM
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^ Wow! Thanks so much for the detailed explanation Vid!

When I have the time, and ambition I will definately give your method a try. Currently I'm working on a map for a German City, with no rigid grid areas, that might be a future candidate to digitize.
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  #11  
Old Posted Aug 9, 2011, 5:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by llamaorama View Post
EDIT: Simpseattle, noticed your avatar, its awesome. ROWSDOWER!
Thanks! Rowsdower Saves us and Saves all the world!
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Old Posted Aug 9, 2011, 7:42 PM
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This is very much like what I used to do pre-interwebs, but yours are way more detailed and you've done way more. Mine got progressively more idealized, meaning higher density and transit focused.

The parallels are very funny. Not just maps but population stats...
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Old Posted May 19, 2012, 2:42 PM
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Well it's almost been a year now since I started this thread, so I figured I'd better update it with some of the maps I've been doing over the past year. They are all in different stages of completion.

Enjoy!


This is an eastern european-style city.


This is a large suburb, based on the ones found around the Greater Toronto Area.


This is a large German-style city




This city is complete fantasy. It's supposed to be a Soviet city built completely from scratch, composed entirely of commie block style neighbourhoods.


This is a British-style city.


This city was inspired by Finnish cities.


This is a French-style city.


These are a couple towns, inspired by those of rural Ontario.


This city was inspired by those on the French coast of the Mediterranean.


This is a Japanese-style city.
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Old Posted May 19, 2012, 9:35 PM
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Old Posted May 19, 2012, 10:27 PM
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Absolutely fantastic, all of them. Really makes me wish they came out with a new Sim City. I really appreciate the naming of "Craiglith", since I spent a good chunk of my childhood in the area around Craigleith, Ontario.

I had to do an urban planning project back in Grade 9, where I drew out a city of approximately 750,000 using the geography of Bobcaygeon, Ontario. It was a little fantasy-ish (the central island had an "old town" with Constantinople-ish defensive walls along the waterfront) but overall I aimed to make it a realistic, feasible city. The map spanned several pages, and many roads were named, but it still was not as detailed as these. I will try to see if I can find it and post it here nevertheless.
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Old Posted May 20, 2012, 1:06 AM
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Absolutely fantastic, all of them. Really makes me wish they came out with a new Sim City.
Check out http://www.simcity.com . Maxis is coming out with a new SimCity to replace SimCity 4

And amazing maps like always! I would never be able to draw maps this amazing, but I can stare at them and imagine the city they represent.
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Old Posted May 20, 2012, 2:46 PM
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Thanks for the compliments! I'm glad you liked the maps. I hope they make some sense, I know they may be a little confusing.

BTW Wharn, the naming of Craiglith was a complete coincidence, I've actually never heard of Craigleith before! Also, I would love to see the map you made!
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Old Posted May 21, 2012, 2:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Simpseatles View Post
BTW Wharn, the naming of Craiglith was a complete coincidence, I've actually never heard of Craigleith before! Also, I would love to see the map you made!
Funny how that sort of happens sometimes. Maybe it shows some sort of underlying Anglophone place-naming system. As for the map, I'm pretty sure it's somewhere at my parents' house, so I'll look for it when I visit them tomorrow.

EDIT: Still looking for the damn project, I found some sort of preliminary concession map but I can't find the main one. I'm fearing the worst.

Last edited by Wharn; May 25, 2012 at 10:03 PM.
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Old Posted May 31, 2012, 1:32 AM
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Wow these are so awesome! I create the same kind of thing but on Inkscape.
Also, here's a really cool website to check out.....http://www.norscand.net/
It's an imaginary country.
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Old Posted Jun 1, 2012, 12:56 AM
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Originally Posted by wibblywobbly View Post
wow these are so awesome! I create the same kind of thing but on inkscape.
Also, here's a really cool website to check out.....http://www.norscand.net/
it's an imaginary country.
omg you're me.
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