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Help w/ Mapmaking

Discussion in 'World Building' started by TheOneAndOnlyIdiot, Oct 29, 2014.

  1. TheOneAndOnlyIdiot

    TheOneAndOnlyIdiot New Member

    I know exactly how I want the region that my story takes place in to look. I have all the rivers, mountains, forests, cities and towns laid out. I, sadly, have not found the artistic talent nor the patience and creational fortitude to create a map. If anyone could help me out, either by suggesting any good way to go about the task of mapmaking or helping me create a rough draft, it would be most appreciated.

  2. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

    For me, I found that the best thing I could do was sketch it by hand, using color pens, crayons, and a scanner. That's not going to get published. That's for me, to tackle the map with absolute control, and not have to worry about constant software limitations. When I want to publish a map, I'll contact an artist, or somebody with experience to the software, to put it together for me.

    The thing is, the software can be a big time sink. And a good mapmaker starts with the programs and then pens in their own art on top of it. Even inside the software, if you're looking for publication quality, you're going to want somebody who knows their options and has already purchased the best selections of templates and icons.

    Absolutely, you can do it yourself. And I've tried well enough. But it's a whole different hobby.
  3. TheOneAndOnlyIdiot

    TheOneAndOnlyIdiot New Member

    I will try and report back, but don't let that stop anyone from making any more suggestions.

  4. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

    Something I've toyed a little with recently is taking a snapshot from google maps and then messing around with it in an image editor.
    It doesn't create an original map, but it gets you started on prettifying the map right away, giving you an opportunity to practice your skills.
  5. Ryan_Crown

    Ryan_Crown Troubadour

    If you're okay with spending some money (the base program is $45) and you're willing to put in the time to learn the program, I'm a big fan of this software:


    They've got some great tutorial videos on the website that walk you through all the basics. It uses fractal lines for drawing your continents (so all of your coastlines have a rugged, realistic look with no real effort), and everything is done with overlays and clip art, so you can produce some pretty good looking maps even if you have no artistic skills whatsoever (such as myself).

    It's probably more than you'd need if you just want a quick, down-and-dirty map, but if you are looking to produce something that's polished, it's worth checking out.
  6. TheOneAndOnlyIdiot

    TheOneAndOnlyIdiot New Member

    Alright, I will give those a shot as well.

  7. FarmerBrown

    FarmerBrown Troubadour

    Not sure how helpful this is, but here's the process for the map in my book:
    Step 1) I drew it in pencil then scanned it into my computer
    Step 2) Trace in Microsoft Paint (and slowly ad more details)
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/ahn75q87yr7rggd/Map edit 2.jpg?dl=0
    Step 3) Hand off to an artist (in my case, my husband who has Photoshop and skills)
    He used my MS Paint map and traced it. I'm happy to answer any questions about this particular process! I agree it's very personal and in my case being able to constantly critique the final map (at his request) definitely took a lot of the stress away from me.
  8. K.S. Crooks

    K.S. Crooks Inkling

    The map in the previous reply looks from FarmerBrown look great. If you want colour or another option see my post in the Resource Area of this forum called Fantasy Map Creation, which describes how I made the map for my novel. Hope this helps.
  9. sankunai

    sankunai Scribe

    I suggest you look up WORLDSPINNER. They've just recently finished a kickstarter, and it will allow you to make a map, exactly how you want. They have a video on kickstarter with some footage of the map making, and it's going to be epic. I'm waiting for it to go into alpha to create the map of my world :).
  10. Zāl Dastān

    Zāl Dastān Dreamer

    That. Sound. Amazing. Thanks for the heads-up! :D
  11. Bruce McKnight

    Bruce McKnight Troubadour

    I've recently started playing around with the freeware Photoshop-like Gimp tool. If you google "gimp fantasy map tutorials," you can figure out how to do just about anything from YouTube videos. I am not a graphics guy, but am thrilled with the results I got. You can download free brushes that have mountains, trees, etc, already created.

    Drawing my map in Gimp with a scale grid, coupled with another review of "Medieval Demographics Made Easy," has given me a really, really good idea of how many people are on my continent, how long it takes to travel across it, how many people you would run into on a journey, and how big armies could reasonably be. I love being able to add detail like this to my stories.

    The only problem is, it got me so stuck on detailed world building that I haven't written in a while (see Devor's comment).

    PS - If you don't want to go that deep, I also like the free online tool Inkarnate, which was made specifically for fantasy maps.
  12. arbiter117

    arbiter117 Minstrel

    I draw maps the best way one can with squigglies for rivers, squigglies for coasts, upside down V's for mountains, dots for cities, very squiggled squigglies for forests, and if I want to get fancy, I draw an arrow pointing north. I'm pretty much a pro. :)
    CupofJoe likes this.

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