Travel Guides

Taking a risk and trying something new!

My brief idea for this one is simple, create a new travel guide look that appeals to the younger, Instagram generation without aliening the current audience.
The client is looking for trailing a new visual style for travel guides and starting with some of the most Instagram worthy cities of Istanbul, Helsinki and Milan.

I’ll admit I’m worried about this exercise, as I need to display more than a “pretty” illustration of landscape (which I would like to do). The client wants many elements and also in a diagrammatic way (not really my strongest area).

After the exercise “giving instructions” I watched a skillshare class Sketchbook Illustration: Draw a Personal, Colorful Travel Map by Mike Lowery while his is a more bolder design which isn’t what I’m aiming for. He did give me an idea to have a map of each location with a very sketchy / wash highlight. I think I would be also best to do the method similar to what I used in “menu” exercise, as the details in the planning would require me to work larger but it need to work in the scale to the book / font.

Travel guides appear to come in all sizes, I took to amazon to do my research and based upon this I found a couple the same size (Lonely Planet) which is 13.3×19.9cm
This alone poses a challenge as I would work better square or landscape to be honest!
Also from my understanding I do not need to just work on the cover, I can twist the design into a full jacket, sort of like John Minton, but with hopefully a diagrammic finish.
With this in mind it give me an area of 26.6 (plus lets say 2cm for spine) x 19cm for the full jacket, this makes it a little more doable in terms of diagrammic design space, although the design need to take into account the spine, blurb and synopsis (so I cannot get too excited by the little extra room)
When I went to the library I could see while many came standard sizes, reality was came in all shapes and sizes. I was going to stick to my choice, mainly as would like to fit in a handbag quite easily and appeal to the clients current market with same sort of size. (although I admit I was tempted to have a square one, as that would indeed make it Instagram worthy)

In the liberty I was able to find guide books for Turkey, Italy and Finland. While each only had a chapter at most on Istanbul, Milan and Helsinki, it will be very useful to pinpoint things guides cover and what landmarks I could research.

I came across this website “Adagio” which is a holiday company for walking (link below) I really like the art style which ink and wash kind of technique.
I haven’t yet been able to pin the artist, just the agency ****

John Lovett

Taking my research outwards I had to tackle a challenge of the colour vs style vs diagrammatic. Lucky I wasn’t short of styles which I can take inspiration from. Such as the works of John Lovett an Australian artist that uses oils, watercolour and mixed media, like the image on the left, its not really about technique that appeals but the way the colour and details are shaped, it gives the impression of a whole image when in reality just key parts. Maybe I could use this around the spine, blurb and synopsis?

Martha Napier

Next I came to the works of Martha Napier, originally was the colour that was of interested me, but she also has given me an idea of a way to bring the diagrammatic way.


Finally the works of Mokhini who would breathe the life into my inspirations for this piece with her bold use of colour and the fun she brings to her pieces.

All three of these illustrators/artist play an important role in helping me find the balance for me piece.

For the first time I understand the desire to travel to a location to truly get the feel for the place, and not just an excuse for a mini holiday. I want to walk on the streets, colour the smell, the vibes, see the way people interact with the cities.

The colours of these cities are just as important of the visuals, that will be what makes each jacket feel different.

The first point of call when comes to colours is to loosely have the countries flag
Italy / milan – Green / white and red (White/cream being the main colour with muted green and red as colour pop)
Turkey / Istanbul – Red and White
Finland / Helsinki – White and Blue
I wasn’t sure how to do this, could be the font or something at first, just I wanted to include in my design. I mostly wanted the vibe of the city to speck loudest in terms of colour. (This I will build up from my moodboard.)

OCA - travel guides moodboard

Pinterest boards
Milan –
Helsinki –
Istanbul –

In my sketchbook I sketched roughly key locations of each city, trying to get a feel and vibe for my visual interest. One thing I spotted is each of these cities have a tram, and from that I wanted to include on each cover in the same manner to give the designs a sense of “family”.
While I wanted this to be a very ink and wash, because of the layering of details I would likely have to create each element individually and build.

In this stage I moved over to printer paper to sketch (as wasn’t working in my sketchbook) I realized later I started to lose my vision, these sketches became much more detailed than I had plans for, which would create a problem with the “look” as will look too busy / too much information in a small space.
Therefore I traced over using the paper I planned to also add wash to, took me a few attempts to get this right.

While doing this, I ended up creating the base for the background using procreate (and with the help of maps/google maps)

OCA - Travel Guides Map background
OCA - sketches

Sketches of the landmarks I was aiming to use. As I was planing to experiment with the wash I felt was important to have the ink/sketches in case this goes wrong.

Travel guides background

Basic idea and layout (full jacket) of each design. I admit at this stage I’m not sure if my “vision” will work. This whole thing is a bit of an experiment at this stage!
Line and wash images below.

From this I started putting the designs together, I realized I had to drop some elements (tracks and wave as the tram) as the image became to much and found the design was getting too busy.
These designs are full jackets.

OCA travel guides Helsinki
OCA travel guides Milan
OCA travel guides Istanbul

I think these show promise, when I created the mock up for the client “Milan” I could see this working, I could almost see these having a canvas cover. I just to have a diary which had this canvas cover which would be perfect for this.
Milan would be the one I’ll show the client, I wanted to see all three in this format (below)
Guess little thing would need changing, such as Istanbul font and tower line, maybe making the font pop out more on all three.
This was something new and different, I was worried wasn’t looking like anything I had envisioned, but I feel I got the right direction in the end.

OCA travel guide mock up

Credit, research and references




Lonely planet –

Mock up – with thanks

2 thoughts on “Travel Guides

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