photoshop creative

Draw a geometric map with the Pen tool

Posted in:
Tips & Tutorials, by Mark White
January 11, 2017

Discover the wonders of the Pen tool, and shape layers to illustrate a map of Australia with landmarks, animals and nature vectors


1. Open your sketch


Start by opening up a sketch. You will only be using this sketch as a guide to what you will be drawing and where it may be placed. The good thing about vectors is that they are easily moveable, so you don’t have to stick to the sketch.

2. Draw lines and curves


Begin by drawing the Sydney Opera House roof. Grab the Pen tool and make your first anchor point by clicking once. Create a diagonal line by clicking on the canvas to make another point. To make a curved line, click Alt/Opt on the second point to change direction, then make a third point by clicking and dragging it out.

3. Align shapes


Finish drawing the rest of the roof and then make a horizontal rectangle using the Rectangular tool. Now make a vertical rectangle. Using the Path Selection tool, hold down Alt/Opt and Shift to duplicate that vertical rectangle a few times. To align them, click Distribute Horizontal Centre from the top panel.

4. Create simple shapes


Use the Pen tool and the Rectangular tool to draw the rest of the Sydney Opera House. Because of the simplicity of these vectors, you want to be clever with your choice of colour, making sure you use bold and bright colours to make the drawing stand out.

5. Add recognisable buildings


Use online images as a reference when drawing your Australian landmarks. You don’t have to trace them because you will be creating a basic representation, but trace the image if you find it easier. Draw the Flinders Station using a mix of the Rectangular and Ellipse tools to draw the building.

6. Build doors


Make an oval using the Ellipse tool and then make a thin rectangle. Using the method from step 3, duplicate that rectangle five times by grabbing the Path Selection tool and hold down Alt/Opt and Shift. Then align the shapes together and click Combine from the top panel.

7. Cut shapes


Select those rectangles by holding down Cmd/Ctrl and clicking on the vector mask thumbnail. Go back to the oval shape layer and click Add Layer Mask and then hit Cmd/Ctrl+I to reverse the mask. With the new layer mask still selected, use the Rectangular Marquee tool to delete the bottom part of the oval.

8. Combine shapes


Select the Custom Shape tool and make a triangle, then make a rectangle in the same shape layer. To do this, select Add To Shape Area from the top panel. A little plus sign appears – this enables you to add a shape within a shape.

9. Make perfect symmetry


Draw the remaining left side and then use the Pen tool to draw the long part of the building. To reflect the shape, use the Path Selection tool to select it and hold down Alt/Opt to copy it. Then go to Edit>Transform Path>Flip Horizontal and move into place.

10. Create doors and windows


Draw the rest of the Adelaide St Peter’s Cathedral by using Custom Shape triangles to create the doors and windows. Call upon the Ellipse tool to make the circular stained-glass window, and use the Custom Shape Flower 7 to make the pattern inside the window.

11. Build basic skyscrapers


Use the Rectangle tool to make the basic shape of the skyscraper. To create windows, draw a square, grab the Path Selection tool and hold down Alt/Opt to duplicate horizontally a few times. Align and combine them. Duplicate that line several times vertically, then align and combine.

12. Draw a tree


Use the Pen tool to draw one side, making sure you don’t close the path. Grab the Path Selection tool and duplicate it, then flip it over (same as in step 9) and move to place. Then with the Pen tool, combine the paths together by clicking on the ends of each anchor point.

13. Duplicate the tree branch


Duplicate the branch, as you did in step 3, then go to Transform Path>Scale. You want to make the second shape about 10% bigger. To do this, change the Set Horizontal Scale to 110%. Make sure that Maintain Aspect Ratio (the chain icon) is locked. Repeat this for a third time.

14. Plant more trees


Draw the trunk of the tree using the Rectangle tool. You want to draw a few different types of tree to keep your illustration versatile. To draw other types of trees, play around with the Ellipse tool and the Pen tool, being sure to use a variety of different colours.

15. Draw a kangaroo


You want to keep this simple, so the use of colour is important. Using the Pen tool, draw the basic shapes. For example, the body and tail, then the legs and arms. Draw the legs and arms once, duplicate them and change the colours to save time.

16. Draw animal faces


You don’t have to put in too much detail on the face; once you scale down and add the other elements, you won’t notice the face too much. So using the Pen tool, draw the face, nose and ears. Use the Ellipse tool to draw the eyes and mouth.

17. Add some clouds


Draw several different-sized circles using the Ellipse tool (draw about five circles). Hold down Shift to make a perfect circle. Also remember to have Add To Shape Area selected to keep the shapes in the same shape layer. Make sure they overlap, and then combine them together.

18. Complete the clouds


Grab the Rectangular Marquee tool and make a rectangle over the bottom half of the circles. Add a layer mask and hit Cmd/Ctrl+I to invert it. Use this method to create different types of clouds.

19. Create a dolphin


Use the Pen tool to create the dolphin’s body, eyes and the water coming out of its blowhole. Then add a layer mask to the whole dolphin folder and use the Eraser to rub away the bottom part of the dolphin so it looks like it’s coming out of the water. Next draw a circle below the dolphin.

20. Make the hills


Using the same technique as in step 8, create a circle and on the same shape layer, make a rectangle for the hills of the waterfall. Duplicate that shape a few times and change their colours using different shades of green. Use Free Transform Path>Scale to adjust the sizes.

21. Create falling water


This time use the Rounded Rectangle tool and, depending on the size of your canvas, use a Radius of about 5. Again, use the Pen tool to draw the water clouds.

22. Lay the road


Draw one side of the road and then use the Path Selection tool to duplicate it (the same technique as in step 12). Use the Pen tool to link the anchor points together. Then use the Rectangle tool to make the mark on the road.

23. Draw the final elements


Using the techniques of the last 22 steps, draw the rest of the elements, for example Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Great Barrier Reef, a koala, Aboriginal people, farmland, other animals, fish, sharks, mountains and so on. There is no limit on how many bits you use in your collage.

24. Make the overall outline


Hide all of those elements, then grab a map of Australia and trace its basic shape using the Pen tool. Colour is important at this stage, because it will help to signify each area. Once that is done, create a new layer and make it blue to represent the water.

25. Compile the elements


Finally, start compiling all your elements together. Use the Move tool to help move your vectors around – you might have to rearrange the order of your layers within your Layers palette. Plus, use the Scale tool to resize some of your elements, and then you are done.