Hermes' Wings

History, Writing and Personal Musings

The Art of Map-Making

The maps below were the result of a sort of personal refresher of my Adobe Illustrator skills and were finished on two free days. Since I like my efforts to translate towards something more cogent in the future (or risk feeling really stupid in the future) – in this case, maybe a study on Calvert or Wingate – all the maps are of a particular action in 1944. (Click images for larger picture)

The Start of Operation Thursday

17 responses to “The Art of Map-Making

  1. Tom September 8, 2012 at 12:19 pm


    I’m looking at your beautiful maps with amazement. Especially the one with Tobruk fortress in 1942. It’s a treat to look at. Colors, data, clarity – it’s all there.

    I’m making some maps myself for a game I’m designing and I found your site during research. If you have some tips or references about computer mapmaking, please post them on your site.

    Cheers and keep up the good work,


    • Akhil Kadidal September 9, 2012 at 2:40 am

      Thanks, man. I just happen to feel that maps should reflect the magic quality of terrain that they are trying to depict.

      As for techniques: I develop most of them on the fly – depending on what I’m trying to achieve – but one thing I consistently use is a lot of layer and gradients in Photoshop. But I mostly draw all the arrows, roads, borders, terrain elevations, highways and railways in Adobe Illustrator. Also, at times – like in the Tobruk map, some “painting” is involved in Photoshop bring out terrain highlights.

      • Tom September 9, 2012 at 12:20 pm

        Thanx for the tips, Akhil. Until now I used only Photoshop, but I’ll try using Illustrator for arrows, roads and such.
        Have fun!

  2. Habilidad Emocional September 5, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    You’re a genius! Thanks for all your work!!

  3. Jamie Edwards January 12, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    My grandfather was a British Chindit, I am currently researching their expeditions and trying to understand what they did and what it was like for them, the more I read and research the more I admire them, and I wish I would have been able to talk to him about it more before he died, but he was reluctant to say much, now I am starting to understand why, there were many brutal things that happened and I can see why he wouldn’t want dig up those memories.

    Your maps are excellent and I want to say thank you for helping me understand more clearly where everything occurred.

    • Akhil Kadidal January 12, 2014 at 10:49 pm

      Thanks, Jamie.

      My dad’s uncle was a veteran of Burma as well. He was a cavalry officer, captured in the Arakan, 1943. I’ve been told that he didn’t speak much about the war either.

  4. Keith Attwell January 30, 2014 at 5:59 pm

    My father was in the 14th Brigade, 7th Leicester’s, Column 74. Its clear that pictures often speak louder than words and the high level depiction of movements you have captured in your work is truly remarkable. Well done and thanks.

  5. Alexander Harper March 3, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    My late father, Lt. Col. Alec Harper commanded the 3rd/9th Gurkha Rifles in the 2nd Chindit Campaign. He never talked about it either and I am not surprised. I am giving a talk on the War in Burma (1943-1945) in a few days and have been researching it quite extensively. What comes across is the sheer ferocity, the savagery with which this war was fought on both sides and how personal it became for many of the combatants, who felt real hatred for the enemy, although my father was not one of those. He took a fairly detached, professional view. For him it was a job to be done against a formidable enemy.

    These maps are a Godsend, Akhil, thank you so much, they are outstandingly good and will, I am sure make a huge difference to my lecture.

    • Akhil Kadidal March 4, 2014 at 1:23 am

      Glad to hear that the maps are helpful.

      I’d love to read any notes you may have on the 3/9th and of your father’s war. It could possibly help fill in the blanks on the battalion’s actions during the campaign. but no rush.

  6. Bill Gibbons August 16, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    Truly fantastic maps. My father was with the 7th batallion Leicestershire in 14 brigade.
    Many thanks for providing such detail . It really helps put perspective to the story of the chindit campaign.

    • Akhil Kadidal August 16, 2014 at 11:43 pm

      Thanks Bill.

      I must confess that I made those maps to further my own understanding of the battlefield conditions faced by the Chindits. I’m always glad to hear that others, such as yourself, find them useful as well.

  7. barbara cooke September 20, 2014 at 10:31 am

    My father, James Albert Thompson was in the Chindits and was in Operation Longcloth. But I can’t find his service number or any infomation about his army record. Can you help me?
    Thank you, Barbara

    • Akhil Kadidal September 29, 2014 at 12:33 am

      Ms Cooke, can you tell me anything else about your father’s involvement in the Chindits? The fact that his service number is missing makes things difficult but not impossible. Kindly check my email to you about further steps you can take.

      In addition, I suggest you also contact Steve Fogden at

      Steve has greater resources and information sources with regard to the 1943 Chindit operation.

  8. Frances Gillard November 14, 2014 at 9:30 am

    Fantastic maps..the best I have come across to explain the 2nd Chindit campaign and movements of the columns. Thank you.

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