Creating maps to illustrate the seasonal landscape

Hi lovely Messy Artists! It’s Divyam here and I’m so excited to share with you this tutorial for the Season of Seasons.

Sometimes a season can seem like a country with it’s own unique landscape and culture, quite distinct from other seasons. In fact, when you are there it can seem as if there are no other seasons and that the one you are in will last forever! I often feel like this in winter. It’s as if we are doomed to endless cold days and long dark nights and that the spring will never come. Likewise, in the heat of summer, I can forget what it was like to ever feel cold.

In this tutorial, we are going to create a map showing the terrain of a particular season. Choose one season to work with. Perhaps it’s your favourite season of the year. Your map can be a celebration of all the things you love about it. Or perhaps, like me, you’d like to choose a season that you find challenging – in my case, winter. That way, the map can serve as a helpful guide when you find yourself deep within this realm, reminding you of the roads you can take and places you can visit to make your stay more enjoyable!

Once you have made your choice, make a list of all the things you associate with this particular season. Include food and drink, activities, festivals, childhood memories, or associations from fairy tales and popular culture. It can be helpful to group things in categories.

The magic of winter

Next to each item on your list, draw a simple doodle or symbol to represent it. We will have many of these symbols on our map, so the simpler your drawings are, the better. That way they can all work together to represent the whole landscape.

The found journal I am using for this season is called ‘The Ten Faces of the Goddess’. It’s a series of songs written for a female choir by a composer called Kenneth Leaper. When I saw it, I knew it would be perfect for this season. The centre page has a song called ‘My beautiful crown is whiter than ice’. How perfect for a map of winter! I imagined one of these goddesses looking out over the landscape as a sort of guardian figure. In addition, the words of the song and the musical notes are visible through the gesso, adding a lovely celebratory feel to the map.

Perhaps there are elements in your found book that will lend themselves to the map you are going to create? Be on the lookout for things already present in your book which can be incorporated into your page.

The magic of winter

SUPPLIES

  • water-soluble pencils in a variety of colours – I used Caran D’ache Swisscolor pencils. You can also use Tombow brush pens or watercolours
  • white gesso – this is optional but I find that the water-soluble pencils react very well with the water when the pages have been prepped with gesso
  • pencil and eraser
  • permanent black drawing pens in a variety of thicknesses
  • a water brush – you can also use a regular paintbrush with water
  • optional: metaliic ink – I used Liquitex silver ink

PROCESS

Prep your page with gesso. This is an optional step which I have included here because water-soluble pencils seem to do really well on top of gesso.

Mark up the boundaries of your map. Draw a frame around the page and set aside some space for the title and other additional elements such as an information box, a compass, and the guardian of this particular season.

Draw an outline of the country and start placing your symbols on the map. You might want to group symbols from the same category together. How about the borders with the neighbouring seasons? How easy is it to cross from one to the other? Is it just across the road or all the way across the sea?

Add some pathways for travel between the different areas on your map. These might be roads, rivers, cobbled pathways, or even a trail of breadcrumbs.

Write in the names of some of the areas, pathways, and places. Use your imagination to turn simple things and activities into map-like locations such as Hot Cocoa Cafe, The Glade of Gifts, or The Cave of Hibernation.

The magic of winter

Now for some of those additional elements. Write out the title of your map in big bold letters. Draw a guardian figure in one corner to look out over the landscape you have created. This might be a king or queen of the season, a bird or animal you associate with the season, perhaps a fairy or spirit. How about adding an old-fashioned compass for a traditional map look? You can also add an information box with all sorts of helpful tips for visiting this country.

To add colour to your map, trace along the inner edges of your symbols with water-soluble pencil. Then soften these lines with a water brush. For the outline of the country, the border of the page, and the roads, work instead on the outside of the lines.

You may wish to fill in the surrounding area so that your country will stand out. I used silver acrylic ink to add some wintry magic to the surrounding sea without overloading the page with colour.

Lastly, strengthen some of the outlines with a thicker black pen so that they stand out nicely amidst all the activity of your map.

The magic of winter

ACTION STEPS

  • Choose a season for your map.
  • Create a list of associations and draw a simple symbol for each one.
  • Outline your country and place all your symbols on the map.
  • Add colour to your map with water-soluble pencils.
  • Include any additional elements you would like: a title, a guardian, an info box or a compass.
  • Keep this map with you as a guide when this season next comes around!

RESOURCES

Downloadable the printable guide.
An easy alternative to drawing a compass: cut out the finished compass from the printable guide and stick it onto your map!

Thank you so much for joining me for this map-making adventure. I hope you enjoy creating your seasonal landscapes. Please tag me when you share your maps. I can’t wait to see!

DIVYAM

Divyam is a writer and cartoonist living in London. Her favourite part of of art journaling is that no matter what is going on, whatever mood she is in, she always feels so much better after doodling and throwing some paint around.

10 Comments

  1. Thea Marie

    Oh wow this is so cool! Can’t wait to try it 😀

    • Divyam Bernstein

      Thanks, Thea! I can’t wait to see your map! xxx

  2. Marsha Smusz

    How much I love your ‘all in’ style. It is what makes your story sing, and helps me want to sing too. Thanks, Divsy. You just bring endless smiles.

    • Divyam Bernstein

      Thank you so much for your beautiful message, Marsha! It’s making me smile!!! Looking forward to seeing your map, too!!! Xxx

  3. Maura Flood

    This is remarkable, Divyam! Some of my favorite books open with a map of an imaginary land, so why not put one in my own journal? Thank you for this creative, detailed tutorial.

    • Divyam Bernstein

      Thanks so much, Maura! I’m so glad you enjoyed it! I also love it when there is a magical map at the start of a wonderful book! It transports you into the world of the story, doesn’t it?

  4. Ashley Rodgers

    This is wonderful, Divyam! I love your imagination and your affinity for storytelling.

    • Divyam Bernstein

      Oh thank you so much, dearest Vanessa! This makes me so happy. Xxx