English Heritage map of myth, legend and folklore

Gravitywell was presented with a fabulous opportunity to work with English Heritage and the artist Clive Hicks-Jenkins on an interactive illustrated map of English myths and legends.

English Heritage early concept work
Gravitywell team meeting
English Heritage Telling Tales Map wireframes

In only 6 weeks we had to design, build, and launch the map. We knew this would be quite a challenge and it was important to work very tightly together. A plan was devised to work in parallel streams so that we could all start work from day one and progress simultaneously.

Clive Hicks-Jenkins in his studio
Clive Hicks-Jenkins artwork

Starting the process, we met with illustrator, Clive Hicks-Jenkins, and the English Heritage team at our Bristol studio. It would be particularly interesting trying to preserve the very analogue style of Clive’s artwork in a digital production, but this was the balance that would ultimately make the map so special. We also had to bear in mind that the map had to be compatible across a variety of desktop and mobile devices.

English Heritage Telling Tales Map icons

As the creatives were collaborating on the look and feel of the map, the technical team pressed on with building a prototype which would allow them to identify any potential difficulties and explore the best animation and rendering techniques for the job.

English Heritage Telling Tales Map topography

We asked Clive to illustrate map topography and textures individually, so that once scanned in we could digitally layer up the map canvas using Photoshop.

Laura illustrating on an iPad Pro
English Heritage Telling Tales Map topography

We chose to develop the map ‘tiled’, loading only the portion of the map visible on screen, as well as the adjacent tiles. This technique would keep the initial loading process to a minimum and provide a smooth user experience. We also utilised the Google web app Squoosh for the image assets, which compresses file image sizes.

English Heritage maquette artwork

Clive provided us with maquette illustrations which we cut out and pieced back together so we could bring the creatures and characters to life.

Matt working on sea creature animations
English Heritage Telling Tales Map on an iPhone

Next we'll be adding user submissions to the map so that myths and legends shared by the general public can be discovered. We’re extremely proud to be part of such a special production, and we hope you enjoy exploring the map as much as we enjoyed creating it.

Explore the map

Check out this 'Making of' video, produced by English Heritage, for more insight into the project