On Digitally Restoring Vintage Maps

Restoring the vintage transit maps that I’m now selling in my store is a laborious, time-intensive task, but I think that it’s definitely worth it in the end. The major task is getting rid of blemishes: age spots, ink smears, tears, creases, dirt, dust, and even hair or other fibres that are between the print and the scanning surface. Here’s how I go about things!

Collections

Collections on Society6

In addition to the maps that I sell in my own online store, I also sell prints (and other products like phone and laptop cases) via the print-on-demand service, Society6. One problem with Society6 to date has been making all the photos I have there easily accessible. So it’s with some relief that I note that Society6 has finally implemented “Collections”which at least allows me to group my photos thematically and provide links to them.

Pre-1926_USHighwayShield

Project: Prototype U.S. Highways Shield (1926), Digital Recreation

While doing research for my recent 1947 Interstate Highways map recreation, I stumbled across some scans of American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHO) road sign specifications dated from the 1920s. The very first page has a dimensioned drawing of the then brand new U.S. Highways shield that I find extremely interesting, as it doesn’t quite match the the shield as it actually first appeared on real world signage in 1927.

Interstates1947_Recreation

Project: 1947 Map of Interstate Highways, Digital Recreation

Having found and digitally restored the fantastic 1926 map of the U.S. Highway system, I started to look around to see if I could find a similar map from the advent of the newer Interstate Highway network. However, all my usual sources came up with either nothing or only low resolution scans — certainly nothing suitable for reproduction. So, what’s a map-obsessed graphic designer to do in this situation? Why, redraw the whole thing faithfully from scratch in Adobe Illustrator, of course!