A brand new map

It’s moving forward! I’m completely redesigning the map with a graphic style much – much! – more accomplished. The buildings are going to be really crazy. The small details and nooks and crannies will abound. The city will be more complete, with more stereotypical neighborhoods to multiply the possibilities of scenarios. Those who played GTA – Grand Teft Auto – understand what I’m talking about.

Improving scale

I reworked the scale of the roads by widening them a little and increasing the radius of the bends and junctions. On Downtown Boogie version 1, I found the roads a bit too narrow for some classic toy cars.

It’s important to know that while small Hotwheels cars have a constant scale, brands like Siku vary it – sometimes even in the same box. My goal is not to have a play mat that is perfectly to scale. It’s not about model making. I want the roads to be suitable for small cars but without necessarily sticking to “reality” – for example turning radii that would otherwise take up too much space. The important thing is that it remains very playful.

New map

The very first play mat for toy cars Luluche I had designed for my son’s birthday. Pressed for time, I had to take shortcuts and simplify the drawing of the map.

None of that for the new map. I have the time and I will take it. This one should take about 150 hours to draw. The city map is completely re-visited with much more distinctive neighborhoods. The first drafts are very nice. There are still some problems with the wedging so that everything fits in without making it look packed and too compact. But it’s soon finished.

New design of the buildings

The very big novelty is the new design of the buildings. After a lot of testing, I’ve defined the new graphic style and it’s going to send some heavy stuff.

On the first version, the buildings were very sober in terms of details. In the new version, the fleet of buildings is very rich: office buildings, residential buildings, houses, stores, jewelry store, bank, restaurants, motel, school, ice cream store, newsstand, etc..

Each building is distinguished by the level of detail, especially with shading and effects that give them depth. On the first floors are silhouettes – or shadow puppets – that bring life to the streets: here a clothing store, there a music store, here the police station, etc. The buildings have a variety of different styles, each with its own unique character.

Why buildings seen from the front?

Roads are seen from above but buildings are seen from the front. Why this choice? This is a question I am often asked. Let’s say that it’s mostly my graphic friends, designers who ask it. Real adults! Children don’t even make the “difference”.

I’ve made several attempts to determine the most pleasant view of the buildings: from the top, axonometry, military perspective, from the front, and so on.

The front view is a must. In terms of play, it works very well. Just yesterday there was a robbery at the jewelry store, and even from the front, the cops had no trouble locking the perimeter and handcuffing the bad guys.

Luluche - The best playmat with roads for little toy cars

The front view makes it possible to have buildings that take up a lot of space. In any case, you need enough distance between crossroads and enough empty space to be able to put your legs and knees down without shoving the cars.

It also appears much more natural than a perspective because the perspective effect depends on the angle and distance of view. However, on a play mat you should be able to play in any orientation and the “playing height” – the height of the eyes – is relatively close to the mat. Perspective effects therefore never work. It’s nice on a picture to sell a product, but on a playful level it’s really not very good.

When is it due?

I’m thinking of finishing the new model by the beginning of September.

I am also looking for a supplier to print the new Luluches. The current one is in Germany but the unit price is impossible to amortize – since I only produce small quantities. I have found a printing center in Italy. Apart from the price, which may make the project viable, the color rendering is much more interesting. Why Europe and not China? The most important thing for me is to be able to produce as close to home as possible in order to maintain as local an economic footprint as possible.

To be continued!