So here is where I am with the Virginia map. Its coming in at 12MB in Adobe Illustrator. Right now, I’m rendering everything in a grey scale to minimize the drawing times. As I near completion, I’ll switch to some coloring for the shoreline. I’ll probably have a green glow for the land and a blue glow for the water, but I haven’t decided yet.
This project has become a good [and time-consuming] hobby as well as a good technical learning experience with Adobe Illustrator, and to a lesser degree Adobe Photoshop. I have not found anything else out there with this kind of detail and complexity in either Illustrator or Photoshop. Not in google searches. Not in text books. Not anywhere. One of the biggest challenges has been a lack of good examples to go by other than my own collection of early colonial maps. You could say that its easy to do a google image search and find bizillions of good examples, but that’s not really true. What you end up with is a mix of dissimilar themes, both in time and style, with a preference towards the extravagant. After all, most internet example are there precisely because they are extravagant, and not necessarily because they represent realistic cartography.
I am very lucky that my father likewise had the interest and ambition to collect virtually the entire inventory of early Virginia maps, starting from 1585, all the way up to the American Revolution of 1776. He even collected a a large set of Civil War intelligence maps and hydrographic maps which are now quite valuable and sought-out by collectors. Together, these have constituted my working examples of how the early american map should look.