When tasked with a new mapping project it’s common to be unable to know where to begin. The task of making an elegant and informative design out of a blank page is daunting.
While there are several solutions to “mappers block” such as using an inspiration piece or layout sketches, one of the easiest to implement is copying someone else’s work. Or perhaps you’d rather call it “building upon the work of others.” At any rate the concept goes like this: you find a map style you like and begin making your own map in the same manner. Anything that you like from the original map goes on your map. This could be the color scheme, the way they’ve separated the water from the land with a certain stipple effect, the label fonts, the title placement, or what have you. By copying those elements you can easily begin your map design.
As you move forward in your design from beginning to end, you will modify the original to suit the particular needs of your data, your audience, and the incorporation of any other great design aspects that you’ve come across along the way. In this way, the finished product is no longer a copy. It is uniquely yours.