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How to Make a Fantasy World Map

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Philip Overby, Dec 11, 2013.

  1. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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  2. Dragoncat

    Dragoncat Minstrel

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  3. Erudite

    Erudite Scribe

    I like the illustrative ideas, but I'd put more of an emphasis on realism in mapping. A lot of people don't get the essence of global environments, different geological traits (and how it's not normal to expect a forest to turn into a forest without so much as a barrier).

    I personally take content from areas I'm truly familiar with, and use them in combination with other areas. The areas are chosen based on their traits, resources, and what not.

    Great link though, thanks for sharing.
  4. uknowitbeb

    uknowitbeb Dreamer

    Wow, thanks for the link.
  5. Jabrosky

    Jabrosky Banned

    Really? I thought all you needed for a forest was a lot of rainfall in a region.
  6. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

    Also my approach, more or less. For *WORLD* maps, or maps that show a large portion of the world, I also use projection techniques which show the worlds curvature, or at least allow for such. Way to often, I see 'flat' maps in books and such, which if properly projected would reduce 'the Great Northern Forest' or some such to a far smaller feature, OR would involve having a much greater swath of longditude at far northern (or far southern) declinations than the rest of the map.

    With properly projected world maps, one often ends up having to depict large portions of the world without really knowing much about it.

    My prefered technique these days, involves using MSPaint to make a sort of hybrid feature/text map, whilst allowing for the worlds curvature (with the 'world' maps). My main world requires four such maps (three completed) to show the bulk of the northern hemisphere and a bit of the southern. Anybody here figure out WHY I went with four maps? (Six or even eight might have been an option as well...for one hemisphere.)
  7. Erudite

    Erudite Scribe

    I hand draw my maps.
  8. Inglorion

    Inglorion Dreamer

    How large should a scale be to worry about curvature? If I'm drawing something about the size of Europe and North Africa, should I make any changes? The Northernmost 6th of the map is pretty much generic plains and ice, so it doesn't really matter if it is distorted.
  9. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

    Depends on the size of the world.

    If your world is the size of the earth, give or take a bit, a thousand miles means less than it does if your world is, say, the size of Mars. (My main world has a circumference of about 16,000 miles, or something on the order of 10,000 miles less than the earth.

    There is also the 'distance per degree' issue.

    Say your world has a distance of 500 miles over a ten degree span of longditude at the equator. At a latitude of 45, (north or south), that distance drops to 250 miles. Without compensating somehow, map distances will be either larger than actual to the north or smaller than actual to the south (assuming a northern hemisphere map). It could be both, if you made the distances at the centerpoint the base (say lat 20 or 25). That way, you still have some distortion at top and bottom, but if its a frozen waste to the north and unpopulated desert to the south, then its somewhat doable. Now, if the span is only say...20 degrees or so, the distortion is small enough to be discounted.

    Yes, I spent way too much time researching this back in the day.

    Of course, what is usually advertised as a 'world map' in many fantasy works is in truth a very small portion of the world, and so escape the distance distortion effect by accident.

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