Brainstorming: Mapping Your Thoughts With A Mind Map

In class last week we discussed making Mind Maps as a brainstorming tool.  I stumbled on this primer on LiteMind that will refresh you if you’re still having trouble wrapping your brain around making a Mind Map.

How to Draw a Mind Map

Drawing a mind map is as simple as 1-2-3:

  • Start in the middle of a blank page, writing or drawing the idea you intend to develop. I would suggest that you use the page in landscape orientation.
  • Develop the related subtopics around this central topic, connecting each of them to the center with a line.
  • Repeat the same process for the subtopics, generating lower-level subtopics as you see fit, connecting each of those to the corresponding subtopic.

Some more recommendations:

  • Use colors, drawings and symbols copiously. Be as visual as you can, and your brain will thank you. I’ve met many people who don’t even try, with the excuse they’re “not artists”. Don’t let that keep you from trying it out!.
  • Keep the topics labels as short as possible, keeping them to a single word – or, better yet, to only a picture. Especially in your first mind maps, the temptation to write a complete phrase is enormous, but always look for opportunities to shorten it to a single word or figure – your mind map will be much more effective that way.
  • Vary text size, color and alignment. Vary the thickness and length of the lines. Provide as many visual cues as you can to emphasize important points. Every little bit helps engaging your brain.

Making Maps in Adobe Illustrator & Photoshop

Check out Spoon Graphic‘s fantastic tutorial on making road maps with Adobe Illustrator.  They make it look so easy!  Their trick is creating individual brushes for each type of road.  This is a real time saver.

Designer Freelance‘s tutorial takes a more manual approach.  Their map design includes a hint of terrain, so it’s a bit less abstract/stylized and a tad more labor intensive.  They rely heavily on the use of layers in Adobe Illustrator.

While the maps we are making in class are grounded in reality, we can still learn from the world of fantasy map making.  Over at Virtual Verduria, they are using Adobe Photoshop to create maps.  Their demo for making topographical mountains is particularly helpful, and the image that shows the five Photoshop layers as separate components clearly demonstrates how Photoshop layers work together.  It’s a great example.