Iconic Mountain Sketches Released

We are thrilled to release a collection of seldom seen sketches depicting ten iconic ski mountains across the United States. These pencil sketches are an important step in the creation of Niehues’s hand-painted maps that have become synonymous with skiing. 

Included in the release are sketches of Breckenridge, Colorado; Jackson Hole, Wyoming; Park City, Utah; Stowe, Vermont; Telluride, Colorado; Vail, Colorado; Alta, Utah; Alta and Snowbird, Utah; Big Sky, Montana and Mt. Bachelor, Oregon. Click here for the full collection.

Breckenridge James Niehues

“The sketch is the cornerstone to providing the best configuration of a resort's slopes, and it’s where the composition for the final painted view comes to life” says Niehues. “ A ski map is first and foremost an accurate representation to guide the skier around the mountain — but it’s also how the trees, rocks, slopes and topography all converge into a beautiful scene.”


When creating a map, Niehues photographs the mountain from all sides and perspectives including many taken from an airplane for a bird’s eye view. These photographs then act as a baseline for him to visualize how the different shapes, angles and aspects all fit onto a single piece of paper. 

Mt. Bachelor James Niehues

As Niehues sketches, slopes are moved around, lifts and elements are manipulated, and angles are changed to find what best represents the terrain of the resort in a credible and visually accurate way. Once completed, the final sketch is a full-sized, comprehensive piece of art identical to how the finished product will be painted.  Details of the entire process are laid out in The Man Behind the Maps.

All ten sketches are available now in four different sizes on jamesniehues.com. 

Vail James Niehues