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  • Kylie Harber

I Left My Heart in Medellin

Updated: Oct 9, 2022

A hand drawn map artwork of Medellin

Medellin, Colombia - the biggest city I've ever drawn! This custom art commission was drawn by hand, every single line created in Adobe Illustrator.

My 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! 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 of this.

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 and orientation to suit.

I provide a screenshot of the area we've agreed upon, and then I start drawing!

This project started on the desktop as I usually do. One day, my partner Jon 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.

This 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 completed over many sittings. I have always resisted the urge to use online map data - even if I could source it free for commercial use, and in the right format, the organic look and feel is lost. Hand drawn always looks best!

Once I have the line work done, 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. Where my line art is digitally drawn, my watercolours use traditional methods of brush to paper. I love to paint in an abstract style and let my intuition bring colours together.

If you can believe it, 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 this large 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.

Thank you Nell for commissioning this beauty! It was such an honour to create this for your beautiful family xx

If you would like to commission your own custom map artwork, please contact me (Kylie) via email:

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