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Map making

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Tilberin, Dec 8, 2020.

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  1. Tilberin

    Tilberin Dreamer

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    Ive read a couple of online stories and i have been wondering how they make their world map. Which program do they use? Can someone enlighten me?
     
  2. Lynea

    Lynea Sage

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    A lot of the time, people pay to have fictional maps made for them. Of course, that's more professional. For less professional instances people obviously make their own maps but I don't think it's with any one specific program. There are many, ranging from cheap and simple to expensive and elite. If you are curious though, I downloaded a program called Wonderdraft for less than $20 and it's pretty sufficient for my mapmaking needs. I also heard that WorldAnvil is coming out with their own program soon, and it'll be around $50 or something like that. Might wanna check it out (y)
     
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  3. Lynea

    Lynea Sage

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  4. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    Here's the process that I used:

    First, I drew the outline of the landscape in colored pens on white paper. Green for the shores, blue for the rivers, and black upsidedown Vs for the mountains. It takes several copies to get it right.

    Then I scanned it and printed several copies. On different copies I worked on different sections of the map with colored pencils. I shaded the mountains with brown, laid out the forests in dark green, the plains in light green, farmland in yellow, the borders in purple, and so on. I sketched out any special locations. I scanned these copies and overlaid them onto each other in a new digital version of the map. I keep the map layered, for as long as I can, incase of changes.

    At this point I mark the towns and label them on the computer. Of course I've probably done it already, multiple times, in red ink on the scanned copies, but that looks a bit too terrible for me.

    Then I commissioned an artist to do the final map.

    [​IMG]

    People are going to suggest a lot of different ways to do it digitally, like CC3+ or just using a paintbrush in Photoshop. Honestly I don’t recommend it. The map isn’t just a picture but part of the story. Working on your map is an act of creation with your story. Getting dirty with it, going through drafts, will help you create not just the map but your world. Computer programs can get you sidetracked and streamlined a bit with the look, but it probably still won’t look professional.

    The artist I used drew it by hand, but you can find someone who can put it together in CC3 or Inkarnate and have it looking much better in an hour than you can ten hours. Focus on your story and don’t try to imitate the work of an experienced mapmaker.
     
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  5. Malik

    Malik Auror

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    WOW.
     
  6. Malik

    Malik Auror

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    My wife drew mine in Campaign Cartographer with some after-market icons using my hand-drawn sketch as a guide. We were able to tweak the final version on a large monitor with a light pen, which helped a lot.

    We overlaid the final CC version with a licensed parchment image using GIMP. I'm super happy with the result.

    Map-Parchment-Low-Res.png

    The final image was about 80MB, and 10,000px wide, so it prints out at 36X48". I use it as a backdrop at signings and author events, and typically end up autographing it and selling it whenever I do.

    We also have a lower-res version that's simple black and white for inclusion in the books. Something we did here that I really dig is we put a two-page version in the back of each paperback and hardcover, with overlap in the gutters so it opens up into one big map:

    EMwMFhqVAAAJbb1.jpeg

    There's a one-page map in the front of the book near the glossary, as well.
     
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  7. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    Most important bit of advice, check these people out for maps and software discussions: Cartographers' Guild - a community for maps of fantasy, sci-fi and real world locations

    First, I hand drew the world map many times over the years, pretty basic. Eventually, I went into Fractal Terrains (same people as Campaign Cartographer), and instead of creating a map as it can, I custom drew all the continents and islands into this program until I was reasonably satisfied with the basic shape of things. From there I was going to hire out, but the guy I wanted was working on GRRM’s world maps of Westerose, and another guy in france I liked landed some big gaming commission, so I went insane and brought my world outline from FT into Photoshop and me being me, I went against the traditional grain of fantasy mapping and aimed for a satellite image style. It’s huge, bogs down my poor computer. But, with this resolution I can zoom in and it still looks pretty damned nice. So, I have world overview maps like:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    and a map of an island, like:
    [​IMG]

    This Kaludor map is not a simple blow up, I did that custom to get the detail. But blowups like:

    [​IMG]

    Would I recommend this method? Yikes! I probably could’ve written two novels in the time it took to learn everything and get it the way I wanted, but on the other hand, it’s done and I love it.
     
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  8. SundryHen

    SundryHen Scribe

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    Guilty of both. I used these methods because I don't have the patience or time to draw by hand, also it's easier digitally and good if you don't want a professional-looking map, like I don't at the moment. (unless you happen to be a map drawing genius) For me, Photoshop is the best way to draw a crude map for personal use.

    I made mine just so I could picture the world better, also it helped me with figuring out distances and time it would take to travel between places. But yeah, as people said, if you want it to look incredible, you will need to dedicate lots of time and effort or have professional map makers do it for you.
     
  9. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    Another cool part for doing the whole world is the distance and measurement, where both fractal Terrains and Google Earth can give you useful information. And if you are playing with an alternate Earth, you can pull up the latitude and longitude and the year, hop into a cool star map app and view the stars and moon phase from that time and place.

     
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  10. Adela

    Adela Scribe

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    All of this is making my brain hurt. LOL

    Thankfully, I don't think mine will be nearly this detailed. I've mulled over how I'll need to do maps but I know I will DEFINITELY need to do them. I'm sure I've mucked up time and distance when it comes to traveling on horseback and such. Thank goodness for rewrites where I'll do more research, but I'm good at skipping things like that. Anyway, thank ya'll for the software suggestions. :D
     
  11. Mad Swede

    Mad Swede Sage

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    Do you need a detailed map for anyone but yourself? I'm not sure maps always add value to a story. Joe Abercrombie's books are an interesting example, where he doesn't include maps.

    I use sketch maps drawn in pencil, with key features and distances roughed in. I find I don't need any more than that to write and keep a track of how long it takes my characters to get around.
     
  12. Tilberin

    Tilberin Dreamer

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    Not that detailed. Just the general shape of the continents, major points of interest and some of the geography. I will be using it as a way to track my characters exploration and to judge where is what and so on
     
  13. Aldarion

    Aldarion Inkling

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    I used GIMP. You can find brushes online, on DeviantArt (just ask for permission to use them) or else make your own brushes - a more difficult but more fulfilling path. Just google tutorials.

    This is a city map I made in GIMP:
    City of Ardea by AldarionTelcontar on DeviantArt

    And these are the brushes I made:
    Fantasy GIMP brushes 1.0 by AldarionTelcontar on DeviantArt

    My setting map isn't online, so...
     
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