The Map of Mainframe is done entirely for free. However, if you’re interested in seeing more art by Cameron Ohara, see our About page for details.
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Cartography is a beautiful combination of science, art, and technique. It’s also a discipline perfectly suited for a website that focuses on art and science (as this one does).
Over the next few months, we will be going through a step-by-step mapmaking tutorial. This project’s focus will be the fictional world of Mainframe from the animated television series ReBoot.
A lot of mapmaking these days is done on the computer (Mainframe is certainly no exception!), but we’re going to do everything by hand. Be warned – this undertaking is not for the weak of heart! Mainframe was built using precision-perfect computers. All we’ll have is a pencil, a ruler and a good eye. But you’re more than welcome to just follow along out of sheer morbid curiousity. You sadist, you. ;)
PART ONE: What are you gonna draw? and on what?
How much detail you want to put into your map is really up to you. But the city of Mainframe is a very well-built and detailed piece of architecture. So I want to add as much detail as possible.
So my canvas is 41 x 31.5 cm. It’s also high(ish) quality paper that is acid-free. You’re going to be doing a lot of erasing, so if the paper will wear out quickly if it’s too cheap.
All right. You’ve got the paper. Grab a pencil and a ruler. It’s time to start measuring! Here are the dimensions I chose.
The official image of Mainframe above shows the city at a slight angle, but for the sake of my own sanity, I’ve put the city so it’s sitting square.
Today’s motto: measure twice, draw once. The key point in measuring and sketching everything out is that we need to have a good idea of where everything is going to be in relation to everything else. The Principle Office, of course, is in the centre, and then the concentric rings that can be seen from above the city will be good measure for this.
The city also has high walls surrounding it. I’ve put the wall on the bottom a little lower so I can add more detail to the buildings inside. The Principle Office should sit higher than these walls, and in fact, I think I might raise it a little more. And although its current size makes the rest of the city seem vast in comparison I might make it a little bigger next time.
Pinnacle Elite – The Principle Office (in rough)! I always find it easiest to start at the centre of a picture and work my way out. But there are a few other locations that I’m going to add in next.
Speaking of locations to feature – here is my list:
Jet Ball grounds
the ports and control tower
the Silicon Tor
Al’s Wait and Eat
Pearson’s Data Dump
the Principle Office
Lost Angles and the Guilded Gate Bridge
Bob’s V262 Turbo
a code master portal
(Oct 19 edit): Electro-Cinematek from ‘High Code’
VidWindows for: the Mainframe Strolling Players, Bucket-O-Nothing, Paint, Incoming Upgrade, Bride of Frankenome, “You Could Be Zipping”
Let me know if there’s something else I should add!
I suppose I should also say that this is going to be a diagram more than an actual map (perhaps I’ll also try to make an actual map), and that I’m planning to use a good measure of artistic license to highlight and feature some of the different locations.
Final thought: I know last time I said that measuring twice and drawing once was key, but I decided to backtrack a little since last time. The image of Mainframe that I had first been using showed Wall Street in the foreground. But after considering the locations I wanted to feature in this map, I decided it would be best to rotate Mainframe so Kits Sector is facing us. That way I can draw all the skyscrapers in the background where they obstruct nothing.
Lost Angles – formerly the twin city of Mainframe, which was destroyed when one Welman Matrix tried to open a portal to the Net. All that remained of the city after the explosion was the small island connected by a warped suspension bridge called the Guilded Gate Bridge.
Lost Angles will be one of the more simple locations to draw on this map, simply because it’s separated from the rest of the city and doesn’t affect the placing of other buildings and locations around it. I really wanted to include some of the artwork that Hexadecimal made on the buildings from the episode “Painted Windows,” but the area is just too small to include that kind of detail. In fact, I’ve already enlarged the island in relation to Mainframe quite a bit. If I hadn’t, you would have barely been able to see landmarks even as big as Hex’s Tower. The city of Mainframe is just enormous compared to Lost Angles when shown in the ReBoot media.
Thanks to everyone on Twitter and Reddit for recommending places to include on this map. I’m going to try to squeeze them all in! I’m also looking for vidwindow content to put up around the city, so let me know if you have any ideas!
Floating Point Park was difficult because there’s not a lot of images of it online. So I watched the intro to season 2 (right when Bob says “Mainframe” in slow motion back and forth about a hundred times, as I slowly traced out the general layout of the park. I also used this image for reference:
This park is an absolute work of art with all its shapes and colours. It is amazing and I feel a little bit of artist Brendan McCarthy in it (although I’m not sure how much of a hand he played in its design).
So over the course of two nights, I got a pretty good feel of the park. I’m going to leave it as is (the 2nd image above) for now and work on the other sectors. I may have to erase or relocate certain elements if they clash with other locations in the future.
This past week I also become reacquainted with ReBoot Revival and will definitely be using some of their high-resolution images to complete detailing on future updates. Thanks, Glitch Bob!
In watching the season 2 intro, I also rewatched the season 2 episode “High Code” and found some cool new locations and vid-windows I could try to add. I also finally figured out where Dot’s Diner is on the Mainframe map! Too cool! Now if I can only find Bob’s apartment…
Kits Sector is something I thought I’d be able to finish in an evening, but it’s taken me a week to get this far. Unlike my map of Breath of the Wild, I can’t see the image from different angles unless I watch an episode. And that’s tough because recently I’ve been watching the X-Files while I draw. Lol.
Does anyone have any high res images for Kits?? There are a lot of interesting circuitboard looking patterns in this sector. I’d really like to see them up close.
I’ve lived in the real Kitsilano. It’s nice. No 8-Ball Apartments though. *sad* Really looking forward to drawing the 8-Ball! Thanks to ReBoot Revival for pointing out exactly where it is. You can see the start of it at the top of the image below. Glitch Bob pointed out something interesting to me as well – in the opening scene of “the Tearing” Bob’s apartment is not visible where it should be when the camera flies by. Since then I’ve noticed the same in different occasions for Dot’s Diner. Makes me wonder if they only inserted the more detailed sets across the city when they had close-ups.
- Bob’s Butterknife
- AndrAIa’s trident
- Hex’s mirror
- Matrix’s gun
- Gibson Coil Pike
Just a few ideas. Stay frosty!
Wall Street was very easy to lay the draft lines for. All the buildings and skyscrapers are easy to spot in any fly by in the show. But what really helped me with the details around the Principle Office was the header image above. A big thanks to ReBoot Revival and Glitch Bob for that. In fact, there are a bunch of awesome posters up at the ReBoot Revivial site. Check them out!
As a side, it was really fun to draw the Baudway towers. But pretty soon I’ll have to start Beverly Hills… I have a feeling I’m going to have trouble finding good images of that sector to reference. Did we ever spend any time in that sector in the show??
Sorry for the poor image quality this week. Everything is still in light pencil, so yeah… Next time I’ll try to turn up the contrast again.
I think I’m pretty satisfied with the drafts for Floating Point, Kits and Wall Street. Now I’m slowly adding details to Giedi Prime, Beverly Hills and Baudway. But it’s getting to the point where there is so much information and detail that I can’t remember which lines represent what. I’m going to have to start inking (that is, solidifying lines) soon.
I’ve also opened a bunch of blank vid-windows above the city. They make the drawing look a lot more dynamic, I think. Let me know if you have anything that would cool to put in them. That’s right: I’m offering ad space in Mainframe, lol.
I’m inking this week! That means solidifying the forms. It also means having to remember less of what I’ve drawn in pencil so far. With all the overlapping lines of detail, it’s hard to keep track!
I can now say I’ve completed the 2nd set of lines for Floating Point Park and Wall Street. It’s really terrifying actually, because once the pen goes down, that’s it. I really want to stay away from major photoshopping and digital editing (despite this being an illustration of the inside of a computer, lol).
Just like Floating Point Park, Wall Street Sector is another work of art. I’m referring to the original from the show, rather than the version I’ve drawn of course. Dang. What a beautiful city to live in. I mean, besides the presence of life-threatening game cubes that could fall from the sky at any second in unpredictable locations (although they did get better at predicting the loading site toward the end of the series).
They made Kitsilano, Vancouver into a sector… I wonder why they stopped there. Maybe there’s a Metrotown around Mainframe someplace. Or maybe the Principal Office is modelled after Science World?? Perhaps the information highways were inspired by the Skytrain?? Oo-er! Vancouver is Mainframe!
Beverly Hills came out looking great! It was actually a lot easier to do than I thought. Mostly due to its light infrastructure. I’m getting ready to do G-Prime next. It’s kind of a mess of parallel lines and intersecting curves. So as always I’m nervous!
I started work on Baudway this week but got seriously sidetracke by an idea I had (above). I’d like to make art for each individual episode of ReBoot (for an upcoming project), so I’m trying to figure out what I can feasibly do within the confines of my schedule. The result is 5 hours of literal cutting and pasting and image editing afterward. It was fun, but I’m not sure I’ll use this style for each episode.
More to come.
Five sectors down, one to go!
To be continued…
The Map of Mainframe is done entirely for free. However, if you’re interested in seeing more art by Cameron Ohara, please consider supporting us on Patreon.
Access our archive page for more.