Making a modern map with an old style

A project with my teacher Laurent Jégou was to design a recent map with an old map style. Some students chose to make the opposite, making an old map looks like a recent one (for example Rome in 300 A.D with an Open Street Map style).
I took the first project and I worked to make an actual map of Toulouse with an old style. I got most of my inspiration with the Rome map available on geotests (16mo).

Old map of Rome

Old map of Rome


I started to download (screenshot) a basemap from Open Street Maps, I place it on a base layer on illustrator to draw main curves (bridges, river…).

After drawing the border of the river, I’ve made a specific brush to look like the old river.


Finding old fonts

To get the perfect fonts, I cropped some text like “Il Tevere”, I manage to have a good constrat in photoshop (black text and white background) and send it to WhatTheFont to find the perfect one.


How to extract and find the good font

I did this with the street name because the style was clearly not the same. I found the great Aquifer and Mayflower fonts. It only remains placing name of streets, bridges, river name…


This part was certainly the most boring one and the biggest one. To be sincere, it’s easy to do but very time consuming, so I give it to my friend Aenne Ramm. What I have done is to crop lot of buildings I got from Rome map and from the Plan Turgot de Paris and send them to Aenne so she can place them. Then I drawn some trees and some specific shapes (fields for example).

To easier the process, I took photoshop to crop buildings, change the contrast to have a clear white background, vectorize it automatically with lllustrator, made some little changes, and send the building packages to Aenne.

Redesigned Toulouse blazon

Redesigned Toulouse blazon

Then Aenne vectorize the Zénith, the Stadium, the Tram, and the main border of the A380 plane. I use Halftone Automator in Photoshop to get the shadows. For example  I only use this script to make to rugby players looks like an old drawing (with only diagonal lines), and to make the Toulouse blazon.

Adding old effects

All my work was done with a black background, so the result looked weird, too clean to be old. I took an old texture map found on Google, place it above all layers, and made its overlay in product. Then I use some scratch brushes to age the map and make it more real.

There’s a lot of things I’ve done I don’t talk, like placing old arrows in the river, old compass, make a localisation map…

The final result is available here : (4961×3509 pixels, 300dpi, 5,8mo, printable on an A3 format).

toulouse old style

  • Josef Karasiak

    Hey Nicolas ! Good reading

    I have some maps of my house/garden

    Can you help digitalize ?

    Best Regards
    Josef Karasiak