- Titled Wild World, the piece represents detailed wildlife across the globe.
- His first hand-drawn map, a detailed illustrated tour of North America, took him five years to complete, and he’s been selling prints of it ever since.
- In 2020, Apple bought Dark Sky and progressively integrated it into its Weather App. Earlier this month, the Dark Sky iOS app was discontinued for good.
It’s been two and a half years since artist and cartographer Anton Thomas started hand-drawing a 3-foot-wide world map, armed with colored pencils, a magnifying lamp and a lot of patience (2,100 hours’ worth of it so far).
The wild world
Titled Wild World, the piece represents detailed wildlife across the globe: Thomas has drawn 1,095 animals on the map so far, and aims to have some 2,000 by the time he finishes, which he estimates will be in about six months.
“I’ve always wanted to see a world map of nature,” said Thomas, whose first maps featuring wildlife date back to when he was a child.
So when Melbourne, where Thomas is based, started locking down in the early days of the pandemic, the idea resurfaced.
“I was feeling really cooped up in my house and just dreaming of the outside world and being in nature.”
Thirty to forty percent of Thomas’s work consists of thorough research: He not only identifies what species are the most representative of any given region; he also cross-checks the range where each one lives.
Choosing the animals featured on the map can be tough: “Honestly most of the time once I’ve done my research, I’m to decide what animals to exclude,” he said.
“You’re dealing with real places, too […] When I’m dealing with real places, I think about how much they mean to other people, and it is a very important factor in reminding me of the gravity of each of these choices.”
The world map
Thomas particularly enjoys drawing whales, which he finds evocative of certain coastlines and which can help give readers a sense of place.
This sense of place is important, since there are no countries or frontiers represented on the map: Landscape and nature know no border.
It’s Thomas’s second project at this scale. His first hand-drawn map, a detailed illustrated tour of North America, took him five years to complete, and he’s been selling prints of it ever since. Prints of Australasia and North America are already available for Wild World.
“I think we get used to our normal and our daily struggles, and struggles as a civilization, and we sometimes forget the very basic that somehow we’re here alive on this planet, that’s filled with so much wonder and beauty,” Thomas said. Wild World is a good reminder of this.
The end of dark sky
Created in 2011, the hyper-local weather app Dark Sky promptly became beloved by users worldwide, who were seduced by its sleek user interface, and its maps boasting a creative color scheme.
Dark Sky enabled you to carefully plan your next trip to the grocery store so that you’d be avoiding rain showers (occasionally, though, you would walk right into them).
In 2020, Apple bought Dark Sky and progressively integrated it into its Weather App. Earlier this month, the Dark Sky iOS app was discontinued for good (the Android one has been down since 2020).
But Dark Sky was more than a mobile app; it was also an API used by developers across the world to create and maintain their own applications.
Access to that API’s data will be phased out in March and new providers are rushing in to fill the void.
The Dark Sky API was the first one I learned how to use as a newbie Python programmer (no credit card needed!), and it showed me things didn’t need to be complex to be fancy.
With a few parameters, you would get back weather predictions down to the minute, or could go back in to check out how much it rained on the day your cousin was born.
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