Kayak Shack offers paddling tours and rentals on Clear Lake in Texas. They’ve been around for over 15 years and their goal is to provide a fun experience for their customers. Ronnie Gibson, the owner, created his own paddling route maps which were simple and functional and popular with his customers. But he wanted maps that are fun and enticing, and that would encourage people to explore.
The finished map was to be used on postcards, a couple of different poster sizes, as an image on their website, and on Avenza Maps.
Ronnie gave me a list of restaurants and other points of interest that should be on the map, and I copied the paddling routes he created for his own maps. Then I created a layout draft to make sure all necessary information was on the map and would work for the different sizes needed.
The preliminary design draft established the colour palette and the locations of all points of interest.
I didn’t like the labels on the POIs so for the next draft I numbered them and listed them in a legend. And the labels for the routes are much easier to read when in a text box instead of labelled along the route.
Ronnie wanted some cartoony illustrations for the map, so I found these public domain images. An alternative would have been to commission a graphic designer who specializes in these types of images.
For the final iteration I made minor changes to the colours, added a faint glow around the routes, and changed some of the images. The posters and postcard have a QR code that customers can scan to download the map in Avenza Maps and navigate with this custom map.
To make sure the map fit every size needed (4″x6″ postcard, posters 24″X36″, 36″x48″, and 40″x60″, as well as a banner image for website, screensaver, or for social media), I created a second Illustrator file with 5 artboards at those sizes.
Then I placed the AI file on each artboard and scaled it to fit. But then the logo, legend, and QR codes were off the edges of some of the artboards because of the different ratios.
To fix that, I copied the legend layer (with QR code, POI legend, logo) from the source AI file to the new file and scaled it to fit each artboard.
Then I turned off the legend layer on the source file so it didn’t appear in the placed AI images. That allowed me to move the legend elements around for the best placement on each artboard. I created the necessary exports from this second file.
This is a method I’ve used for multiple projects, when my clients want the map in multiple sizes that aren’t quite the same ratio.
Here’s the final map as an image banner:
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