that's how easy it is to copy and paste personal data

This is how a Malaga native who accumulates thousands of positive votes and comments on Reddit creates these amazing maps

I like maps, especially when they are old and, especially, when they are from an area I know. I'm sorry to be traveling to a parallel universe, to a kind of version tolkiana that no longer exists.

Besides the old maps I also like Reddit, and the surprise came a few days ago, when I found a 3D render in r / spain from an old map of Navarra. Hundreds of upvotes and dozens of comments thanking the user who posted it for their work.

The person behind this work is JJ Serrano, a 35-year-old from Malaga who (after having spent a large part of his life in Poland) decided to return to his land to continue his professional career as a graphic designer.

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Responding to my questions in an email, JJ tells me that he can't remember when his passion for ancient maps began, but he does. he remembers spending "hours looking at a map of the Kingdom of Granada that his parents hung in the living room". He also tells me about another key memory:

“Finding a specific point in the world atlas that was on the shelves in my house fascinated me: the South Pole of Inaccessibility.

I suppose that finding a place in the world that I had never heard of before, and that also had such an imposing name, made me realize how vast the planet was and how much I had to discover. "

He tells me that he is passionate about old maps because “they have a decidedly more artistic component that today has been lost, giving more importance to usability”. And, it makes sense. In the age of Google Maps, physical maps have become almost non-existent.

Speaking of maps, let's locate ourselves. We are in Genbeta, and that is why I am very interested in knowing what resources this designer uses to bring his maps to life, from web pages to software to make these impressive renders.

Computers and computing

How you bring these 3D maps to life

To begin with, declare that he usually spends hours "visiting online libraries and cartridges". He states that he especially likes the IGN, in Spain, and the Polish AMZP. Other sources that he finds very useful are, for example, the David Rumsey collection or the BnF.

The next step is search digital lift models (DEM) online, and for this he goes to the USGS EarthExplorer. When they are obtained, they are transferred to QGIS to create a GeoTIFF file that can be used in Blender.

"Once I have the elevation data, I transfer it to QGIS to create a GeoTIFF file that I can use in Blender. To do this, I join the elevation files, cut out the area of ​​interest, and if necessary reproject so that the information appears in meters and not degrees.

With that elevation data in GeoTIFF format (which is basically a black and white image file where black represents geographic depressions and white represents heights), I go to Blender and create a plane to which I add an offset layer. This displacement layer, together with a source of sunlight, interprets the heights from the previous file and creates the elevations in 3D, which I render and after several hours of waiting, I get in PNG. "

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Capture provided by JJ

Finally, It only remains to open the PNG file and the old map in Photoshop, place where he makes sure that it is correctly superimposed: "above all, coasts and borders. I try, as far as possible, not to touch lights, tones or saturation on the old map; that my work is more an addition than a modification ".

Behind some maps there are 16 hours of work

As you can see, behind these amazing maps there are many hours of work, and JJ tells me that minimum is three hours (on the smallest maps), arriving in some until 16 hours of work.

Spain, province by province

As I said at the beginning of this article, I discovered the work of this designer based on a map of Navarra, but a few days ago he published another of the province of Ourense. Assures me that his idea is to complete the whole country, but currently there are some provinces that are a challenge when it comes to obtaining data.

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He started sharing them in the summer, although "at first they didn't make too much noise". His work began to gain notoriety after posting the map of Ireland on Reddit three months ago.

And speaking of Reddit, some of their maps have managed to get to the top of subreddits like r / Denmark, r / CasualUK or / Spain. For example, your map of Scotland has nearly 15,000 upvotes and over 340 comments. Another map of Sweden is close to 5,000 upvotes and the one for Wales is close to 3,000.

"I don't use Facebook or Twitter, and on Reddit I try to upload the maps only to the communities that may find them interesting, although potentially getting less impact: it seems more sensible to share a Lugo map on the Galicia subreddit than on r / MapPorn or / Maps, where they end up sunk between memes and maps repeated millions of times. "

Hello Everyone I Have Made This 3d Elevation Render Of Scotland Based On A 1938 Map From Ordnance Survey I Hope You Like It Casualuk

States that his initial plan was to "just have all his jobs grouped together in one place", and that place is his Instagram account. He acknowledges that, "now that it seems that his maps are gaining some notoriety," he is beginning to create prints for those who are interested.

"I like that people write to me personally and I can print something that fits what they want; I suppose that at some point, if the demand continues to grow, I will have to open an online store, but it is not an idea that motivates me too".

Many of us will closely follow the journey of this map lover through Spain and, seeing the notoriety that he is getting with each new publication, it seems that this Malaga designer has a long way to go.