Choosing a colour scheme for a map of Leeds

By in Blog 6th Sep, 2014 0 Comments

I recently completed a new illustrated map of Leeds and the colour scheme took me a while to pin down. To begin with I wanted to try a slightly different approach and create a really colourful map with a white background. I’d been looking at a lot of Antoine Corbineau’s wonderful multi-coloured maps and loved their vibrancy.

Leeds map white background

My first multi-coloured composition

As I progressed with my multi-coloured attempt I just wasn’t happy with it. Maybe if I’d continued further with the colourful bubbles it would have started to work, but it just wasn’t hanging together. I find it’s pretty essential to get the colour scheme working as soon as possible – this makes me excited about the artwork and drives it forward faster. So I decided to leave this for a night and come back to it fresh.

The next day I had the idea of using the colours blue, yellow and white – inspired by the white rose emblem of Yorkshire and the Leeds coat of arms:

Leeds coat of armsLeeds map blue

New colour combination using blue and yellow

The colour background helped bring the piece together and I like the contrast with the white river but I still wasn’t happy with it. I liked the contrast of the red and blue too, but with the addition of the yellow there were just too many contrasting colours vying for attention.

One good way to tweak the colours quickly is to export a quick grab of the image from Illustrator and play about with the hues and saturation in Photoshop. Another handy tool to find punchy colour combinations is to use the Adobe Kuler colour wheel – the triad combo can give you some unexpected results and I often find they’re too contrasting, but if you tone them down a little they can work well together.

So after a little tweaking and experimentation I finally arrived at this combination of colours:

Leeds map grey

The final colour scheme

I wanted to keep the blue, yellow and white scheme but toned the blue down a lot – almost to a steely grey – and thought the light red and green additions worked well without being overbearing. The colour scheme of this map changed a lot from my original idea but I thought it was interesting how you can begin with inspiration taken from someone else’s work, and then gradually chip away at it and shape it into something new.

You can see the final version of the map here and prints are now available to buy in my online shop at Big Cartel.

Illustrated map of Leeds

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About The Author

Tom Woolley is a freelance illustrator based in Yorkshire. He specialises in illustrated maps, 3D diagrams and vector artwork.