The job of a cartographer leaves little room for creativity, as maps are expected to provide an accurate representation of a location. For several decades, however, mapmakers working for the Swiss Federal Office of Topography have subtly defied their role by secretly inserting hidden illustrations into official maps of Switzerland.
From a marmot hiding among the contour lines of the Swiss Alps to a fish blending into the grooves of a French nature preserve, it’s hard to believe these drawings went unnoticed for so many years. In fact, a rendering of a naked woman remained hidden for almost 60 years in the municipality of Egg, located in northern Switzerland. Her curved, reclined shape was composed in 1958 from a green marshland and blue river lines. The nude woman wasn’t found until 2012, and even the marmot remained unnoticed for five years. Short, parallel lines indicating mountainous slopes doubled as the creature’s fur, and its face, tail, and paws were concealed with clever relief shading.[…]