Nolin Lake, Kentucky

January 14, 2012

Nolin Lake is one of the most challenging cartoon maps that I have ever drawn. There were numerous difficulties to work through, including a near impossible deadline. To begin with, we had to figure out how to make an unappealing lake look appealing. If you view Nolin Lake on Google Satellite, you'll see that there's not much to look at. From 25,000 feet, it looks more like a twisting overgrown river than a lake. That's because Nolin Lake is the result of the damming of the Nolin River in the hills of south central Kentucky. This created an elaborate, spidery lake system within the flooded serpentine mountain valleys.

To make the lake look more visually attractive, the client wanted to "balloon" it out so that it would look more like a regular lake.  And she wanted to pull Highway 65, a considerable distance to the east, into the picture. Then, the town of Leitchfield, more than a few miles to the north, needed to be included on the map. Then, why not throw in Mammoth Cave National Park, several miles to the south.

As a result of all the squishing and squashing, the above lake bears little or no resemblance to the actual lake that you see on Google Maps, and there's only minimal accuracy to the map. Mileage distances are grossly exaggerated. Having said that, you can actually navigate around the area using this map because the highways do lead to where they're supposed to. Every campground  and roadside market was carefully placed in its appropriate spot within the exaggerated image. On top of all that, there needed to be considerable detail, numerous map icons, cartoons and logos within the lake area to make the map useful and informative...all within an 11 x 17 inch area.

That was the challenge we faced.  Somehow we managed to pull it off to the satisfaction of the client, all within one of the tightest deadline constraints that I've ever faced. The Christmas and New Years holiday was largely spent "at Nolin Lake".  This is a good time to thank my lovely wife and assistant for the many hours that she tirelessly devoted to this map. She's the one who designs all the ads on our maps. We literally worked shoulder-to-shoulder for many weeks to deliver this map on schedule. Thank you, Jacquie.

Client comments: "Thank you both for making this an awesome map. Looks so beautiful!"

If you would like a cartoon map of your lake, we're here to help. We can take your little lake or town or island and give it a cartoon makeover that will be seen not only in your immediate area, but around the world. Just contact us and we'll gladly answer your questions.