Print and Digital Production

As part of the MA Publishing at the University of Derby I teach a module entitled Print and Digital production. The students cover all sorts of stuff, including design theory, typesetting, typography, project management, print technologies, how to make ebooks, etc.

Over the years I’ve drawn hundreds of maps of various sorts. I used to do these literally by hand, using graphic artists’ pens for the lines and then typesetting labels. Then in the late 1980s we progressed on to computer-based map-making, first with CorelDraw 5 (anyone remember that?). Nowadays Adobe’s Illustrator software is perhaps the most common format for drawing things like this.

Below is a low-resolution version of one map I did in 2013 to illustrate a lavishly illustrated book on the history of London. This was intended to show the concentration of industry and work-related activity in part of London’s East End, including the docklands in the Victorian era, just at the time when Brunel was about to build the SS Great Eastern on the Isle of Dogs riverbank. Based on a map of 1851 the map also shows how important the river was in terms of trade and traffic. While the docks were heavily used, so were the many river-side wharves (each marked with small dots).

High-quality illustrated books are making quite a comeback in today’s publishing industry, and it can be one of the most interesting, stimulating and absorbing sectors in which to work.

How I drew this map was to scan the original map, place it on the background layer of Illustrator, and then build up each element in layers, tracing the lines and typing labels. Time-consuming but quite rewarding.

London docks from Stanford map

There are godzillions of different careers that you could follow after studying on our MA Publishing. Becoming a freelance illustrator is just one of them. For more information on publishing careers or our Publishing courses (both undergraduate and postgraduate), drop me a line at I’m always happy to talk to people interesting in publishing as a career, and in particular to those interested in studying publishing at university.

At the University of Derby we offer a range of courses, including an innovative new BA Writing and Publishing, Joint Honours Publishing, and the hugely-popular-in-its-first-year MA Publishing.