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Pohaturon

Drawing Fantasy Maps

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So, I know COT is pretty much dominated by forum games, and this is pretty random, but I'm kind of lost and thought would call upon the BZP community for some help and advice.

 

For starters, I'd like to say that I have absolutely no artistic sense in terms of visual arts. My drawing skills are abysmal and beyond any hope. I'm moderately skilled with digital photo editing software like PS and GIMP, but only when altering existing images, not creating entirely new ones.

 

However I am currently working on... okay, to be honest, I'm only just planning it out, but technically I'm working on a new fantasy novel, and have an idea for a map, but nothing I draw satisfies even as a draft. I've attempted using some software like Autorealm, but it just doesn't fit my needs. The fractal settings are pretty limited, while you can't make a good looking map with simple orderly curves and straight lines. 

 

I'm pretty much at an impasse in this regard. Sure, I could work on the other aspects (which I am), but the lack of a map is extremely bothersome.

 

Google hasn't been much help in this regard either.

 

Specifically, I'm looking for a software tool, preferably free, which allows me to put together my own map with a relatively simple UI, kind of like the custom map makers in RTS games like Warcraft 3, where I can select various geographical factors, adjust elevation, biome, climate, etc. etc but on a larger scale with less detail, resulting in a large, visually appealing and comprehensible world map.

 

In lieu of such a tool, I would humbly ask all BZPowerians for their advice on how to create my map. I'd prefer not involving a professional map maker, since that would involve 1) paying and 2) sharing the specifics of my idea with another human being. Since pulling a "you know too much therefore I must kill you" will probably land me in jail, I'd rather keep the specifics of the map itself between me and myself.

 

Any sage advice or arcane knowledge you fine people might impart upon me?

 

:kakama:

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:kakama: Stone rocks :kakama:

I write stories, which you can read at A Beach, Somewhere. My MOCs can be found on Flickr and Instagram

:smilepohatunu: :smilehuki:

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The lack of a map to a fantasy world is and can be annoying. What you have to do is draw the shape of land masses, and then decide if you want the topography to be more artistic (pointy mountains and drawn shrubberies) or realistic (folds in the earth to varying heights and color blankets). The latter is more tedious in its construction but the end result can be worth it if you did it right. Take a look at this outdated map of mine for post-Melding Spherus Magna: http://www.brickshelf.com/gallery/Magnetro/A-Rude-Awakening/World-Map/revised_sm_-_small_4.png (the mountains that are too white are the products of another member, I am slowly fixing the problem).  If you do not want to do that or are intimidated, look at the original maps of Middle-Earth by John Tolkien, you can see the simple drawn maps that inspired generations of fantasy lovers.

3368.jpg?w=620&q=55&auto=format&usm=12&f

Edited by Iaredios the Hip Historian
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A RUDE AWAKENING - A Spherus Magna redo | Tzais-Kuluu  |  Pushing Back The Tide  |  Last Words  |  Black Coronation  | Blue Man Bound | Visions of Thasos   ن

We are all but grey specks in a dark complex before a single white light

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Would it be possible to create the map in, say, Minecraft, then fly way above it and take a screenshot?  Or turn on cheats in the RTS games you mentioned - after creating the world, get a full view of it somehow and take a picture.

 

I ask only because I play Civilization 2 sometimes, it has lots of options for creating a world like the size of landmasses and climate, and I know it's possible to turn on cheats there to view the whole map at once.


Avatar by Nicholas Anderson (NickonAquaMagna)

My blog: The Jaga's Nest

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The lack of a map to a fantasy world is and can be annoying. What you have to do is draw the shape of land masses, and then decide if you want the topography to be more artistic (pointy mountains and drawn shrubberies) or realistic (folds in the earth to varying heights and color blankets). The latter is more tedious in its construction but the end result can be worth it if you did it right. Take a look at this outdated map of mine for post-Melding Spherus Magna: http://www.brickshelf.com/gallery/Magnetro/A-Rude-Awakening/World-Map/revised_sm_-_small_4.png (the mountains that are too white are the products of another member, I am slowly fixing the problem).  If you do not want to do that or are intimidated, look at the original maps of Middle-Earth by John Tolkien, you can see the simple drawn maps that inspired generations of fantasy lovers.

 

Unfortunately that link throws a 404. I've sketched up the rough shape and organisation of the islands (we're talking about an archipelago) as well as topography, but it's very rough. As for Tolkien's map, to put things into perspective, comparing that drawn map with mine is like comparing the fresco of the Sistine Chapel with a single solitary stick figure. My drawing skills are literally worse than that of the average 5 year old. My "map" looks like an incoherent mess of blobs and blots. It's more like a low-effort Rorschach image.

 

Overall I'm going for the more artistic approach, It's not a fully realistic top-down view with proper height denomination and whatnot, but rather like the kind of fantasy maps you'll find on the inside of a book cover, giving readers a feel for the world they're about to jump into, in which case the Tolkien example you showed is perfect. However, as I said, I would not be able to make something even half that good.

 

 

Would it be possible to create the map in, say, Minecraft, then fly way above it and take a screenshot?  Or turn on cheats in the RTS games you mentioned - after creating the world, get a full view of it somehow and take a picture.

 

I ask only because I play Civilization 2 sometimes, it has lots of options for creating a world like the size of landmasses and climate, and I know it's possible to turn on cheats there to view the whole map at once.

I've thought of using either Age of Empires 2 or Warcraft 3 to build the map in order to get a feel of things, but that still doesn't give me anything that I could publicly display. I did say that I want to keep things secret, but obviously only until I publish. I can't put a screenshot of a custom Warcraft map on the inner cover  :P

 

 

Either way, I'm grateful for both of your advice! I'll probably mock something up in a game map editor and PS the out of it or something...

 

That said, if anyone else has anything to add, I'm all ears!

 

:kakama:


:kakama: Stone rocks :kakama:

I write stories, which you can read at A Beach, Somewhere. My MOCs can be found on Flickr and Instagram

:smilepohatunu: :smilehuki:

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I remember spreading out some macaroni on a sheet of paper and tracing it to get an outline for a D&D campaign map. Might be worth lookinh into.

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I would have offered to help you by drawing your map myself, via PM, without you having to pay me, but since you said you wanted to keep it mum, I'll withdraw.

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However I am currently working on... okay, to be honest, I'm only just planning it out, but technically I'm working on a new fantasy novel, and have an idea for a map, but nothing I draw satisfies even as a draft.

That sounds pretty unreasonable, tbh

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However I am currently working on... okay, to be honest, I'm only just planning it out, but technically I'm working on a new fantasy novel, and have an idea for a map, but nothing I draw satisfies even as a draft.

That sounds pretty unreasonable, tbh

 

Which part? The one about writing a fantasy novel? I'm pretty sure there are a few people out there who managed to do something like that. Or is having an idea for a map unreasonable? Or is it the part about my drawings not being up to par?

 

Elaborate.

 

:kakama:


:kakama: Stone rocks :kakama:

I write stories, which you can read at A Beach, Somewhere. My MOCs can be found on Flickr and Instagram

:smilepohatunu: :smilehuki:

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I remember spreading out some macaroni on a sheet of paper and tracing it to get an outline for a D&D campaign map. Might be worth lookinh into.

I was gonna come in here and suggest this. Works like a charm.

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However I am currently working on... okay, to be honest, I'm only just planning it out, but technically I'm working on a new fantasy novel, and have an idea for a map, but nothing I draw satisfies even as a draft.

That sounds pretty unreasonable, tbh

 

Which part? The one about writing a fantasy novel? I'm pretty sure there are a few people out there who managed to do something like that. Or is having an idea for a map unreasonable? Or is it the part about my drawings not being up to par?

 

Elaborate.

 

:kakama:

 

A draft doesn't have to be anything fancy. You can pretty much just open paint, draw up a shoreline and paint things according to vegetation or elevation or what have you, and that's a perfectly reasonable map.

 

Finalising a neat-looking map should probably be very near the end of the fantasy novel project

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The lack of a map to a fantasy world is and can be annoying. What you have to do is draw the shape of land masses, and then decide if you want the topography to be more artistic (pointy mountains and drawn shrubberies) or realistic (folds in the earth to varying heights and color blankets). The latter is more tedious in its construction but the end result can be worth it if you did it right. Take a look at this outdated map of mine for post-Melding Spherus Magna: http://www.brickshelf.com/gallery/Magnetro/A-Rude-Awakening/World-Map/revised_sm_-_small_4.png  (the mountains that are too white are the products of another member, I am slowly fixing the problem).  If you do not want to do that or are intimidated, look at the original maps of Middle-Earth by John Tolkien, you can see the simple drawn maps that inspired generations of fantasy lovers.

 

Unfortunately that link throws a 404. I've sketched up the rough shape and organisation of the islands (we're talking about an archipelago) as well as topography, but it's very rough. As for Tolkien's map, to put things into perspective, comparing that drawn map with mine is like comparing the fresco of the Sistine Chapel with a single solitary stick figure. My drawing skills are literally worse than that of the average 5 year old. My "map" looks like an incoherent mess of blobs and blots. It's more like a low-effort Rorschach image.

 

Overall I'm going for the more artistic approach, It's not a fully realistic top-down view with proper height denomination and whatnot, but rather like the kind of fantasy maps you'll find on the inside of a book cover, giving readers a feel for the world they're about to jump into, in which case the Tolkien example you showed is perfect. However, as I said, I would not be able to make something even half that good.

 

 

Fixed the link: www.brickshelf.com/gallery/Magnetro/A-Rude-Awakening/World-Map/revised_sm_-_small_4.png

 

Just keep practicing and you should get better. :)

Edited by Iaredios the Hip Historian

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A RUDE AWAKENING - A Spherus Magna redo | Tzais-Kuluu  |  Pushing Back The Tide  |  Last Words  |  Black Coronation  | Blue Man Bound | Visions of Thasos   ن

We are all but grey specks in a dark complex before a single white light

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The lack of a map to a fantasy world is and can be annoying. What you have to do is draw the shape of land masses, and then decide if you want the topography to be more artistic (pointy mountains and drawn shrubberies) or realistic (folds in the earth to varying heights and color blankets). The latter is more tedious in its construction but the end result can be worth it if you did it right. Take a look at this outdated map of mine for post-Melding Spherus Magna: http://www.brickshelf.com/gallery/Magnetro/A-Rude-Awakening/World-Map/revised_sm_-_small_4.png  (the mountains that are too white are the products of another member, I am slowly fixing the problem).  If you do not want to do that or are intimidated, look at the original maps of Middle-Earth by John Tolkien, you can see the simple drawn maps that inspired generations of fantasy lovers.

 

Unfortunately that link throws a 404. I've sketched up the rough shape and organisation of the islands (we're talking about an archipelago) as well as topography, but it's very rough. As for Tolkien's map, to put things into perspective, comparing that drawn map with mine is like comparing the fresco of the Sistine Chapel with a single solitary stick figure. My drawing skills are literally worse than that of the average 5 year old. My "map" looks like an incoherent mess of blobs and blots. It's more like a low-effort Rorschach image.

 

Overall I'm going for the more artistic approach, It's not a fully realistic top-down view with proper height denomination and whatnot, but rather like the kind of fantasy maps you'll find on the inside of a book cover, giving readers a feel for the world they're about to jump into, in which case the Tolkien example you showed is perfect. However, as I said, I would not be able to make something even half that good.

 

 

Fixed the link: www.brickshelf.com/gallery/Magnetro/A-Rude-Awakening/World-Map/revised_sm_-_small_4.png

 

Just keep practicing and you should get better. :)

 

That's one neat map there!

 

:kakama:


:kakama: Stone rocks :kakama:

I write stories, which you can read at A Beach, Somewhere. My MOCs can be found on Flickr and Instagram

:smilepohatunu: :smilehuki:

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Not sure if it's still relevant, but I came across a map generator today: link

Maybe it's helpful.

 

Otherwise, have you ever tried working with a vector-based graphics program, e.g. Inkscape? Does not take too long to learn the basic functions, and can produce decent results quite easily. (take, for example, this 15-minute doodle - obviously if one were to really devote some time and energy, the results would be more decent :> Plus, I'm not the most imaginative when it comes to coming up with maps on the spot.)

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formerly (and forever, probably) known as Taka Nuvia || SKR Profile: Zsann || My art collection topic - updated! (16/05/2020)

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Not sure if it's still relevant, but I came across a map generator today: link

Maybe it's helpful.

You know, I'll keep this link for future reference.  I'm writing a fantasy story myself, and this'd be great for helping me map the continents.

Thanks, Taka.

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Not sure if it's still relevant, but I came across a map generator today: link

Maybe it's helpful.

 

Otherwise, have you ever tried working with a vector-based graphics program, e.g. Inkscape? Does not take too long to learn the basic functions, and can produce decent results quite easily. (take, for example, this 15-minute doodle - obviously if one were to really devote some time and energy, the results would be more decent :> Plus, I'm not the most imaginative when it comes to coming up with maps on the spot.)

While the fabulous capMarvelous has already taken it upon himself to undertake making the map, I greatly appreciate both pieces of advice. That map generator is really neat!

 

:kakama:


:kakama: Stone rocks :kakama:

I write stories, which you can read at A Beach, Somewhere. My MOCs can be found on Flickr and Instagram

:smilepohatunu: :smilehuki:

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