Map of Ponyville FAQ
Here's where we'll answer all of your questions about the unofficial Map of Ponyville, whether you've asked it here or on some other site.
Important note: Skyclimber is wordy...
Q: On the map of Equestria you released, Canterlot is much too close (infact at this scale it's RIGHT next to Pony ville, the length of just three town squares away. That's walking distance!). They do travel most of a day to get to the Gala.
A: Keep in mind that I did say the map is "Intermittently not to scale" due to only having rough guestimates/relations between buildings to work with. Canterlot is definitely not that close to Ponyville, nor is it that size in comparison, but it is close enough that two ponies could run around it and its surrounding mountains not just once but twice in the course of a day. If I was to show the true size, the map would have to be at least twice as big with the entire top half of the map made up of mountains and empty space. As for traveling most of the day to get to the gala, if you look at about 3:20 in ep 26 you'll see that they started their trek after the sun had gone down and were able to reach Canterlot even moving only at a leisurely trot with no trouble whatsoever.
Q: I did notice one mistake; In swarm of the century, as the barn in SAA was being eaten, you could see a carrot farm nearby, probably a home for Carrot Top?
A: Close, but not quite. I can totally see how you'd think that though. Take a closer look at the house ([link] - The middle "front of the farm" pic is the scene you're thinking of actually). Not only is there a carrot statue on the roof, but there's a radish on the porch. Looks like the Apples don't just grow apples. Sort of a boring diet if you only eat one thing after all. Far as I can tell, there's a mini farm inside the inner fence. I can see carrots, radishes, cabbages, corn, pumpkins, and even "hen fruit" scattered around the grounds surrounding the barn and the Apple's house (all semi-marked by dark green patches on the map). Hope this helps!
Q: There are so many things counter to nature and common sense with a circular river surrounding a town. What if there's a flood? Does Ponyville has sufficient levees to withstand that amount of water? This whole thing could go Pony Katrina at any moment.
A: I never thought of it that way... Scary! Quite frankly I've only seen 3/4 of the river as we have yet to see practically anything on the North side of town. The river does definitely cover the south and east sides of town, as well as start traveling along the west and north sides. The only proof I can offer that the river does actually go all the way around is located in the top right of this ref guide on Applejack's Map (in which left is apparently North of all things). In other news, the Cutie Mark Crusader's map is surprisingly vaguely accurate. Who knew?
Q: My problem with the map is that they put canterlot to the northeast in the labeled version.
In the opening credits, you can see the morning sun and canterlot in the background, this would make the sun appear to rise in the north. This boggles me :|
A: According to Lauren Faust (as recorded on the Friendship is Magic wiki. Check the trivia section), "[T]he Everfree Forest is west of Ponyville, Sweet Apple Acres is southwest, and Fluttershy's cottage and meadow are located between the orchard and the forest. Canterlot is northeast of Ponyville..." The laws of perspective do not always hold true in this show, and neither does the location of the sun. Perhaps Celestia was messing with the ponies that day? Also, I do know for a fact that the map of Ponyville in the title animation does not match up to what's in the show. Just pull up any episode and look for the location of the joke shop and spa during Dash's flight to see what I'm talking about. The title animation is always some of the earliest animation, and a lot of things hadn't been finalized yet.
Q: What about that VERY tall mountain, with one house on top? Located in the combination of 3 panels at the topmost-right? (Possibly the ponified version of the Grinch) His house is seen in "The Ticket Master" right after Spike receives the first 2 tickets you can see all of Ponyville in the background, and that one massive hill. Just wondering where it goes because I haven't seen it on any of your maps.
A: I wish I knew... There's quite a few cases of this house appearing, but it's never in the same spot. As far as I can tell, it's somewhere in "the mysterious north". Beyond that, it's anyone's guess. On the same subject, I really have to wonder where that spiral tower thing (in the same subpic) is located at. It only shows up when they use that particular backdrop.... Guess they're both just things I'll have to keep an eye out for in Season 2.
Method of Mapping
Q: Looking at all your maps and illustrations from the show just gives me more respect for the animators. Rather than just slapping buildings here and there they actually took time to rough design the town. I wonder if they have a map they use when animating to remember what buildings go where.
A: Heh! Heh heh heh! Sorry. *Serious face* As far as I can tell, the main reason that there is coherency is due to the continuous reuse of backdrops. There's one scene in ep 23 (Cutie Mark Chronicles) where Pinkie is riding about with the CMC in the wagon. If you watch the background (and pause a lot), you'll see half of the buildings in Sugarcube Plaza repeat again and again as it's the biggest backdrop they have, even though their goal was the Sugarcube Corner to begin with! Same concept applies to the Main Plaza: one huge backdrop that covers about 3/4 of the circle. From there you just have the five unique streets with a few random cases of spillover into the plazas (which was how I was even able to add them to the map in several cases. Got really lucky on the library...). If you were to follow Scootaloo's trip around town on her scooter on the map, you'd see that she took the most outrageously out of the way route to get to wherever she was going... Consistency in each sub-location: 90%-plus. Consistency between switching zones in towns: Mostly? It works and it looks great in the end, but there's a reason I called it the Sugarcube Corner Paradox.
Q: I don't think [the animators] care where everything is. They can't do something easy as this right: Zoomed out version of Ponyville, Zoomed in version of Ponyville, look behind the pavilion, everything is flipped. To do a map, will be very hard, and inaccurate, whatever anyone are trying to do...
A: Hey you found the infamous title song error! Nice! (And when I say error, I mean it's wrong. All of it.) Most people miss that one. It was the first thing that helped me realize that a lot of scenes in the pilot and the title couldn't be trusted. It was their first attempts at making the town after all, and not everything was going to be set in stone at that point. Of course, they still reversed a few things later on, but I guess that's to be expected when you've only drawn the front and one side of most of the buildings... In any case, I compared every single shot of each area I could find and, if there was a conflict, I chose the layout that had the most evidence going for it. Thankfully, there was usually only one case of "mistake" and half a dozen "corrects" in each situation. It's not even close to perfect, but it's about as close as it's going to get.
Q: What is this Sugarcube Corner Paradox you keep bringing up!?
A: When I was first making the map, I kept running into snags in figuring out the layout to Sugarcube Plaza. To start with, I was thinking that both the green flower shop and the "Mansion" (that really big house with pink railings) absolutely had to be located in the exact same location. Bit of a paradox, right? Eventually I realized that there must be three streets intersecting at the exact same point (one long one curving along the left and bottom, two dead ending in the plaza), and each house got their own corner located between the streets. Completely screwy road format, but it might work in practice. Alright problem solved... until about four episodes down the line. Suddenly we have ANOTHER house occupying the same spot as the flower shop. The exact same problem as last time! There's no possible way that we could have four streets intersecting at the same spot, right? Turns out, that was the solution. Way too many streets intersecting in one place... for cars anyways. Pedestrian traffic is another story altogether, and thus the Sugarcube Corner Paradox was solved!
tl;dr This was the hardest puzzle in putting together the Ponyville map and it showed up way too early in the map making process. Solved, but quite tricky nonetheless. Confound that Pinkie Pie! She drives me to think!