I Left My Heart in Medellin - A Custom Map Artwork
Updated: Jul 13
A custom map artwork of Medellin - hand drawn in delicate linework.
Medellin, Colombia - the biggest city map artwork I've ever drawn! This custom art commission was drawn by hand, every single line created in Adobe Illustrator.
My beautiful client Nell tells me it's pronounced 'med-i-gee-un'.
She commissioned me to create a custom fine art print of the city her fiancé left his heart in.
You see, her fiancé Alejandro was born and raised in Medellin but now lives in Brisbane with Nell. When Nell approached me about the artwork, she was in the final trimester of her first pregnancy. Their beautiful baby Emilio arrived just before the artwork did. Now, they have this beautiful artwork to introduce him to... so he will always know where his father's family comes from.
I'm sure the day will come when Emilio travels there for the first time, and one day this artwork will be handed down to him. It makes me so happy to think about this.
Here is how the artwork was drawn, line by line in Adobe Illustrator, created over many sittings.
When clients request a custom map, we first work together to define a map area. We discuss artwork size and where it will be positioned within the home. I provide advice on the best composition of city area and orientation to suit.
I provide a screenshot of the area we've agreed upon - it's important to confirm before I start drawing!
This project started on the desktop as I usually do. One day, my partner asked why I don't draw my city maps on the iPad as I do with some of my other artworks. Truth is, I hadn't mastered Illustrator on the iPad, but it was about time - and it didn't take long to figure it out! Change can be difficult when we are used to creating in a certain way.
It was wonderful, because I transitioned between couch and floor and dining table and kitchen bench, over and over! This artwork took me 4 or 5 weeks to trace the lines from maps I had saved. It is drawn over many sittings. I have always resisted the urge to use online map data as the lines can look jagged and angular. Hand drawn always looks best for an organic, fluid finish - plus I can play with the line weights of the different roads to show the street heirarchy, from laneways to highways.
Once I have completed the line work, I paint the watercolour background. At this point in the project I confirm colour scheme - my client Nell opted for green because that is her fiancé’s favourite colour and it featured in the dining room with plants and a beautiful rug.
The original line art is digitally drawn, but my watercolours are painted in the traditional method of brush to paper. I love to paint in an abstract style and let my intuition bring colours together.
The original watercolour was A5 or A4 in size. The watercolour painting is scanned at a very high resolution so that no quality is lost at the larger print size.
Merging a raster file (watercolour image) and vector based line art means taking the artwork into Photoshop as the final step, converting the line work to white to sit as a layer over the top.
The final step is printing and framing! I help my clients choose between fine art paper and canvas, as well as mat board and frame colour. Nell’s artwork was printed on stretched canvas, with a 'float frame' in natural oak 😍❤️
The image below is one of my favourites - Alejandro and his mum looking for all of their favourite places in Medellin. No doubt they have many stories to share.
Thank you Nell for commissioning this beauty! It was such an honour to create this for your family xx
If you would like to commission your own custom map artwork, please contact me (Kylie) via email: firstname.lastname@example.org