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?