Mile 5: Moeraki, New Zealand

Name: Moeraki, New Zealand
Location: -45.363013, 170.848895
Density: 78/sq mi (30/ sq km)

There is of course a dramatic difference between square miles. Comparing Hong Kong and Moeraki is very interesting. This is a very very very small collection of people. The 2013 Census in NZ had 113 people living in the immediate vicinity and inside the township. Total. I had to work out the population density myself because there were no actual figures available. So take the rough estimate above with a bit of flexibility. Moeraki was interesting to me because of how sparse the population is and how much I enjoyed my brief visit there years ago. The name, is usually translated as "sleepy sky" or "place to rest by day" according to several sources. The former adequately reflects my memory of my visit. It is a place where the sky felt gravid and slow and somnolent. 

Moeraki Final.JPG
Digital Artwork: Moeraki version 1

Digital Artwork: Moeraki version 1

Digital Artwork: Moeraki Version 2

Digital Artwork: Moeraki Version 2

Creative Commons Licence
The digital works "Moeraki" created as part of the One Square Mile Project by Kip Perdue is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Mile 4: Hong Kong, China

Name: Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China                      中華人民共和國香港特別行政區
Location: 22.280952, 114.158326
Density: 16,948/sq mi (6,544/ sq km)

Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated places on Earth. It also has a very low birthrate which is an intriguing demographic note. I specifically chose Hong Kong for early on because of this. It's highly intriguing. It is perhaps best known demographically for Kowloon Walled City, which, before its demolition, had 33,000 people on 6.5 acres. It's practically unfathomable for someone, like me, from a large open air country like the US. Small urban islands, I suppose, create a perfect space for this sort of living. 

Hong Kong Paper Cut

Hong Kong Paper Cut

Hong Kong Digital Artwork

Hong Kong Digital Artwork

Creative Commons Licence
The Digital Art Work "Hong Kong" from the One Square Mile Project by Kip Perdue is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.




Mile 3: Canberra, ACT

Name: Canberra, Australian Capital Territory
Location: -35.308381, 149.124920
Density: 1153/sq mi (443.5/ sq km)

Canberra, the capitol of Australia, has been one of my favourite city maps since I first saw it. There is a fantastic overlap between the built and local environment. This is epitomised by the landscape actually being the roof of the Parliament building. You can walk across the top of the building. 


Additionally, the shapes of the roads around the area are quite unique. There exists, to my eye, a lovely tension between the London Circuit and the State Circle. The London Circuit alone is enough to capture my imagination because it's a hexagon, which quite aside from being one of my favourite shapes, is an unusual choice in road planning. That these two are connected by a bridge across Lake Burley Griffin quite completely does me in, in terms of layout. It's great to contemplate. As you can see, this is not my first time cutting a map of Canberra.

Canberra 1.JPG

I was very excited to focus just on the square mile around the State Circle because I could actually attend to some of the more interior details of the area rather than aiming to capture the shape tension as I did in the above paper cut. 

Canberra Paper cut 2.jpg
Close Up Canberra Paper cut.jpg

Additionally, it turned out, as I went on, that the drawing became one of my favourites as well. It's the header for this gallery for that reason. I was able to get a level of shading and depth from the digital drawing that I found wonderful. 

Canberra 1 [FINAL].PNG
Creative Commons Licence
Canberra by Kip Perdue is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Mile 2: Sandwich, Illinois

Name: Sandwich, Illinois
Location: 41.645863, -88.621743
Density: 1,582.3/sq mi (611/ sq km)



Sandwich Paper cut

I enjoyed making Sandwich, IL immensely. I chose it because it's the home town of my very best friend and I lived not so far from it for much of my life. I never ventured very far west except when driving out of state, so I would only have possibly passed through it until I was 18. I love the simple set up of the roads, which shows a lot of the history of the town as a railroad one. It was built first as a sort of depot area supporting the railway and so it has tight regular little squares within it. I imagine many towns look somewhat similar. 

In the digital image I used a type of chalk texture and a simple 5 colour palette. I added a white over top of the grey-blue near the end of the work because I felt it lacked some balance. I'm rather enamoured of these colors in this texture. As usual this image is free to use. 


Mile One in Review

I completed Mile One under a few false pretences. I didn't just start and the whole process worked. First I had to work the process out and produce something in reasonable time. This worked out well at first. The process is simple:

  1. Choose a Location (either by name or coordinates)
  2. Produce a Map using Python, OSMnx and Open Street Map that takes a 1 square mile section of the chosen location. 
  3. Save the map and edit it into two file types: 
    1. A SVG (Scalable Vector Graphic) file, which allows me to draw it at any size.
    2. A png (Portable Network Graphics) file, which I can then edit in Procreate
  4. Import the PNG to Procreate and alpha lock it (this acts like a layer mask so I can only modify the area that isn't the road network).
  5. Draw out the file to cut. Importantly, as I forgot to do when drawing out Mile 2 & Mile 3, this has to be reversed so that I'm cutting from back to front. When it's drawn out and turned over to the clean side the map has to then be the right way up. 

This produces my maps with very little variation in production so that they are easily comparable. That in and of itself takes about an hour or two. I then have to figure out how I'm going to draw the free map. This happens using brushes in Procreate on my iPad. I've used Inkscape, Illustrator, and Photoshop for about 3 years now and Procreate for less than 6 months. It's my favorite. It is much more constrained and intuitive than Illustrator and this map project is one of the ways I'm flexing it's (and my own) muscles. 

So I've actually as of today drawn out 4 maps already. Each one takes a varying amount of time but I can create the map design relatively quickly and then pop in the One Square Mile watermark I drew. The paper cutting is also relatively straightforward, but I'm particularly practised at this by now. What I noticed decreased the quality of my work though, was the videoing I was doing. It's hard to get as close as I need to be to the cutting to be precise while keeping my head out of the frame. With Mile 1 I videoed the entire process but only then posted a fraction of that footage to Instagram. With Mile 2 I recorded the first 20 minutes before giving up the recording and just doing the cutting. I like my cutting more, but have less video. As the video isn't essential, it's only for social media and for recording purposes, I'm not sure if I'll keep it up for the entire length of the cutting. 


I was pleased to find out in a side experiment yesterday that a Micron .1 fineliner worked exceptionally well for the drawing of the map and I think I'll continue to use this over pencil which tends to degrade the line over time and requires more sharpening. It does of course erase, which is great, but at the scale I'm working in I find it harder than the permanent but consistent fineliner line. 

I've been keeping to my standard Fabriano watercolor paper for these maps, but I suspect I'll try some of the other papers I have as I progress. Interestingly this project is making me love my glass cutting mat even more as I get used to it. 


I've had some very lovely feedback already from people on Instagram in the comments and direct messages. I'm surprised I got feedback so quickly, I had presumed I'd have to slog away for maybe 8 or 10 miles before getting unusual attention, but this, happily, has not been the case. I think I might make a template as well for paper cutting. I'm uncertain whether I want to do templates for the actual miles or just other square miles. Thoughts?



Mile One: Sacramento, CA

This is the first map of the OSM project. I chose this one deliberately because it was one of the tutorials used by Geoff Boeing over at his blog. We must credit where we begin our journeys and his tools have started me off right. 

This is a square mile of Sacramento, California. Its center is 38.586898, -121.374378.

Sacramento by Kip Perdue is licensed under a creative commons attribution-share alike 4.0 international license

Sacramento by Kip Perdue is licensed under a creative commons attribution-share alike 4.0 international license

This is the paper cut map version. I've worked out many of the kinks in the process of getting the map into so many different formats so I can draw and cut it, I cannot quite make the streets exactly the same in the drawing for the cut out, which leads to a slightly more organic nature than I want, so I'll see if I can reduce this in future maps. Still, one mile of Sacramento is nicely spaced out. Lots of space. 

Sacramento cut by hand

Sacramento cut by hand

Because I extracted this map from Open Street Map using the instructions provided by Geoff Boeing I didn't really have any idea where in Sacramento it was located. After I was done cutting it I wanted to know what was around it. I guessed it was probably a suburban area. The cul-de-sac usually gives that away as very few central parts of cities are composed of anything so unconnected. The large open spaces are also indicative of a shaped suburbia. I spent some time scanning over all the streets in Sacramento to find exactly where this was. When I did find it, the subdivision is called Arden Park Vista and intriguingly the section next to it, Arden Manor, would also make an interesting map. They look like someone chose tiles with varying streets and just randomly assigned them next to each other. Still, I think Castec Dr, which greatly resembled a basketball to me while drawing and cutting is the most intriguing of the features here. Looking at the satellite view, there is no topographical feature that would account for the road shape. 

Creative Commons Licence
Sacramento by Kip Perdue is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

One Square Mile Project

Creative Commons Licence
One Square Mile by Kip Perdue is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Welcome to the One Square Mile project!

I'll be exploring the way that we have shaped our cities and continue to modify our built environment, and how various landscapes affect that. The basis of any good comparison is accounting for variables. To that end I will be creating maps using Open Street Map (another OSM!) that are One Square Mile. This will be accomplished through python code and the very helpful tool OSMnx created by Geoff Boeing.

All of the maps that are created will have two components: a map I've drawn that is freely available under an attributable share-alike creative commons license. You can click the link below my little logo to see exactly what that means. The information I use to create the map is free, think wikipedia for maps, as is the tool I use to extract the data. This is the way I give that back and perpetuate its spirit. The second component will be a hand cut paper map. The drawing and the paper cut are linked by the streets that make them. Visually we'll be able to see then, what one square mile looks like in many many different places. 

For a long time I've had an idea scribbled in one of my notebooks to create "fingerprints" of various cities. The longer I spend looking at maps, and the longer I spend cutting them, the more certain features stick out through the road network. Some are obvious, like the bends in rivers, medieval city centers, and former walls. Others are less obvious, 1000 year old roads that refuse to be erased or changed, odd knots where you'd expect a straight road, or many roads connecting at a place for no obvious reason. We've been building roads for as long as we've been moving between sedentary settlements, which is to say, a very long time. Before that we made paths. This project is that kind of path. Built on other's steps and trying to see where it might take us. 

Join Me! 

(pssst: I've got a good line up of cities to get me started but I'm going to need some suggestions. If you've got a good suggestion of where I should go next submit it over there on the right!)