There are many different kinds of maps, which are usually classified according to what they are trying to represent. Pictorial maps are a category of maps which are sometimes called illustrated maps, panoramic maps, perspective maps or bird’s-eye view maps. Pictorial maps depict a given area in an artistic style compared to the usual technical maps. The cartography could be a complex 3-D perspective landscape or a simple map with illustrations of people, animals and buildings. Pictorial maps generally illustrate an area as if viewed from above at an oblique angle and they need not necessarily be drawn to scale. Some pictorial maps can take thousands of hours to produce and can be created only by highly trained and experienced illustrators.
While advances in technology have revolutionised the process of making maps, even today a great pictorial map can only be a result of intense labour and creative ability. Pictorial maps are scaled in the perspective of the imagination and the main emphasis is representation of landmarks and objects such that they are recognisable. Since the emphasis is on the landmarks and not the landscape, the latter can sometimes appear reduced or distorted.
Since the pictorial maps may not be precise when it comes to scale or depiction of climatic and geographic landmarks, they are usually not used for academic or technical purposes. However, despite not being technically accurate, pictorial maps can be very informative and useful for navigating both urban areas and natural landscape. Pictorials maps are widely used by tourists in urban areas and by trekkers who are planning excursions in the wild.
Being a map illustrator requires expertise in technical and artistic aspects of developing and creating pictorial maps. Besides an innate talent for layout and design, a map illustrator must have good spatial awareness and a keen eye for observation of details. A good map illustrator must be able to produce pictorial maps which are aesthetically appealing and informative about the area being represented. Since map illustration is a highly specialised area of work, it is always preferable to contact reputable companies with experience in this field.