View Full Version : WIP - Ara World Map

07-26-2010, 10:27 PM
]I've been running a roleplaying campaign world that I've been creating for about 8-9 years and I've finally decided to make an honest world out of it by making a decent map for it. This is somewhat of a large project since what you see right now is only one of four continents. A lot of it is still pretty rough, some parts are done more than others mostly since I've been using what I have for my roleplaying group, and I've jumped ahead in some spots. Anyways, I hope to keep a weekly update on this thing and I'm really hoping for some constructive feedback and ideas to help me take this project forward.

As for software, I've been using photoshop.

Hope you like it thus far! Thanks :)


Radu Vlad
07-27-2010, 10:07 AM
Hey wynn, welcome and good job so far.
Your map looks quite original (from what ive seen on the site), and is has features i really enjoy.
First thing, it has a pretty clear layout, that helps distinguish things; guess its a great help for RP-ing this map. Totally love the sea - the shades, the texture, the color scheme - looks more like lagoon waters, but i love it. And VERY interesting, i love the way you rendered the mountains. If u did it in photoshop, using brushes etc, then gratz! ive been thinking of trying to do some manual shaded relief but ive thought it would be much too tedious, having to figure out the orientation of all the peaks/faces/valley for whole ranges. I really like the looks of it :)

Points im not that high about: The colour of the land. The brown-clay colours u've chosen doesn't strike me as realisitc. Barren soil may look like thast, but not grassy land, not even rock cropping out. It also impacts on the mountains, as they look modeled in clay, instead of rock (imo). The central kingdom area seems very appropriate for a swampy zone, at least for me. Also, the roadlines are a bit too strong, overshadowing other important features, like the rivers e.g. But this are just relative point. I like the overall look of it, and i think its original too. Go for it.

07-27-2010, 12:20 PM
Hey thanks for the feedback Radu! I appreciate it. Yeah I can see what you mean with the colors. I might take another look at it, maybe add more green to the brownish areas? The roads are a little too thick, I think I will def. redo those a bit.

The mountains are actually done with a simple round brush, the trick lies in the layers effects. I'll post a screenshot of my settings when I get a chance so you can see how I did it.

08-02-2010, 07:36 AM
I think it looks quite great :). Can you give me some background on the story of the world?

09-15-2010, 12:32 AM
Hey everyone:) Been a while since I updated but I'm still hard at work at this. After thinking about the direction of the map I decided to change quite a bit of it, at least how I was going about it. I'm going to redo the forest areas once I get done with the rivers and water but the mountains are pretty much complete. I'm also changing the roads quite a bit, seeing as how the quality wasn't quite there with those as well. Anyways, let me know what you think. I have a long ways to go, but I think this will look better when I'm done.

Oh, the background for the world. Well basically, the world is in sort of a post-apocalyptic period but in a pure fantasy setting. A great high magic period has been replaced with a low magic feudal society. Everything is in shambles due to a massive and destructive war. I'll post up more when I get a chance but thats the basics of it. I've been developing the history of the world for a few years now, so it goes quite in depth with what has happened and whats taking place.

09-15-2010, 01:15 AM
Really excellent work. I love that river valley with the huge cliffs in the last pic.

09-15-2010, 02:08 AM
I LOVE YOUR RIVERS! Like.. Really love! How do you do that? They look so real ^^ And your islands to :D

(I would like the rivervalley in 5th pic. to be darker tho, a bit more shadowy?)

09-15-2010, 02:51 AM
That's really nice stuff. You world sounds great. Looking forward to seeing more. You really do have a big project but it's coming along great. I agree with Diamond, that canyon with the river is cool.

09-16-2010, 05:41 AM
Looks great, wynn. Any chance of a tutorial on this stuff?

10-17-2011, 04:15 AM
Well, It's been a year, but I'm back on this project! Wooo!

Last year, this map met a tragic end when my computer crashed. When I recovered my files, the PSD (along with quite a bit of my other work) was corrupted beyond repair. It was a sad day, but a valuable lesson in backing things up. Anyways, being distraught about losing the map, I shelved the project for a later time.

Now I'm back and going into it full swing again. I've learned quite a few things since my last attempt, and I hope to make this process a bit more streamlined and to try and make it look better. This time, I'm going to try and test my sanity, and map my world in larger more detailed sections. I'm still deciding if I want to go with a hand drawn look, or stay with my old style I was using before. Not sure yet, but I'm mapping out the coastlines and rivers right now. Going to wait until I'm done doing that, before deciding what direction to take.

Let me know what you all think!

10-17-2011, 11:21 AM
Good luck on the second go! But I'd keep the rivers as well, they look really awesome.

10-17-2011, 12:11 PM
Looking good...I look forward to seeing it progress! :)

01-05-2012, 03:52 PM
Thanks everyone! Haven't had much of a chance to work on this due to work and stuff, but here's a small update to let you know the style I've settled on.



01-05-2012, 04:12 PM
Looks very nice! I really like the style and the colours. The text & roads seem a little sharp to me though compared to the rest, maybe using a little less bright white? You'd have to check the readability though.

01-05-2012, 08:20 PM
That looking real nice!

-Rob A>

01-07-2012, 03:57 PM
I really like the style you've decided on. I'm excited to see more.

01-07-2012, 06:13 PM
I like a lot this style. It's a bit like my own, but much better :-) I'm eager to know the final result.

01-17-2012, 07:27 PM
ooo - now that's a really nice look, wynn. Yeah, the white labels are kind of supercrisp, but I'm imagining your cartographer has ahold of a really opaque white ink, and by golly he's going to use it for all the contrast he can get. The result is nice and legible, if nontraditional.

There'a a river with a bit too much of a split personality. With very limited exceptions, river tributaries will only join on their way to the sea, never re-branch. A quick fix would just be to break the upper connection in a couple of places, if that makes sense. I'll buy those tiny bits at the coast as legit deltas & islands, but the big diversions at lower center-left are over-much.

Doesn't ruin the overall effect though - you have a great style going!

01-17-2012, 09:51 PM
The river police see all! Great map wynn. A compass here, a nice graphic there and I expect we'll be seeing this on the home page.

01-18-2012, 04:35 AM
Hey thanks for the comments everyone! Yeah, not so sure about the text. I like the readability of it though. Going to leave it alone for now, and see how it works when the map features are all put in. I'll definitely be posting some variations of it though, to see what the general consensus is.

jbgibson, I see what you mean :) I'll fix that on my next pass and see what you think.

Here's the latest pass. Moving a bit more onto the rest of the island.

01-19-2012, 07:32 PM
Nailing down some styling with the colors etc. Going to end up shading the mountains/hills and putting small highlights on the trees. And I messed around with the coasts and water.

Oh and I fixed the issue with the river :)

01-19-2012, 07:55 PM
Wanted to toss up a panned out view of the larger region I plan on working on.

01-20-2012, 06:59 PM
Wow, lookin good Wynn!

05-28-2012, 01:46 AM
Hey everyone, well I've had some more time to work on this. I've refined my style i'm using for my mountains and trees, and here's the latest shot. It's a bit further north than the area I was previously working on. Wanted to use this area to try and refine my technique a bit, without touching the last work area. I think I'm getting to the point where I'm really pleased with the style I have down, and now it's time to propagate it to the rest of the map.

Also, I recorded myself drawing the mountains, here's the link for those interested. I mostly did this so I could remember what I was doing, but if there's interest, I'll do some more, and might even go over some of the techniques I'm using for some other stuff.



05-28-2012, 02:00 AM
Mind. Blown.

Have some rep.

05-28-2012, 05:59 PM
Those Mountains look great. I can't wait to see the finished product.


06-14-2012, 03:24 PM
Here's a small update. More to come


06-14-2012, 04:49 PM
Your map is realy realy great. And the idea with the vid is also nice. I like to see how people are working, and your progress is just awesome.

About the font; try looking at the Roman Antique, it have some nice irregularities which would look great on the name-tags of the cities on your map. I dislike to modern lettering on such a map. But well thats only my personal taste.

06-14-2012, 05:14 PM
Is this the font you are referring too? http://www.dafont.com/roman-antique.font

I actually kind of like that. I'm always struggling with which fonts to use for this type of stuff. I think I'll test it out and see how it works on my next pass.

06-14-2012, 05:18 PM
Those mountains look excellent. I look forward to the finished product.

I think I'll grab that font too. I also often have difficulty picking good fonts.

06-14-2012, 07:20 PM
Thats it. And you got 2 nice fonts within the pack, the italic looks totaly different but also nice.

here are some for of my favorite Fonts to experiment:


06-14-2012, 07:48 PM
Those look really good. Cool video too. I think you might be working too hard at it though. The vid shows you detailing mountains at 400% magnification with a 1 pixel brush. You can probably slack off a bit since most of the detail you put into it won't be able to be seen at 100%. The mountains do look nice though, so maybe I am wrong.

06-14-2012, 10:56 PM
Hey wynn,

WOW this looks great. One question: what resolution/size is your original world map? It looks like you have zoomed in to do the regional area maps, but if you are working in a raster program that seems to imply that your world map is humonguous. Can you post the size and resolution you're using? Good job!


06-14-2012, 11:56 PM
Thanks for the comments!

@Schwarzkreuz, thanks I'll have to check those out!

@Thesslian, yeah.. I'm kind of a detail freak in that regard. Professionally I work in video games, and I tend to work on the pixel level for my texturing so I think I get that habit from there. I could probably do without, and it just adds to the time of drawing, but ah well.

@wisemoon, haha yeah. So this regional map is 4326x4383. The world map sits at 19790x11325 pixels. With how many layers, and layer effects I'm using it became to unwieldy at such a high res, so thats part of the reason why I'm doing regional stuff now. Plus, its helping me focus on one thing at a time. It was just too overwhelming with the larger map. The regional maps, are kind of small in many ways, especially for print... but I'm not really planning on printing them, and since theres so much information in them, I'm settling for a lower res, especially since I need my computer to be able to handle it all.

06-15-2012, 01:34 AM
Those mountains are beautiful! I'm looking forward to the finished map. The video was a good idea too, it's nice of you to share your way of working.

06-17-2012, 06:09 PM
Looking forward to seeing this completed!


06-17-2012, 06:40 PM
Well I'll tell you one thing, if anything has ever bothered me about the vast majority of fantasy maps it's that they take on very generic looks with the one side of coat and mountain ranges organized in perfectly straight lines and what not.

You have proceeded to have done neither. The world of Ara so far as I'm seeing it looks very realistic and plausible and I'll love to see it further develop.

Oh and thanks for that video on how you did the mountains, I plan to practice doing some of that myself and it's great to see how other people better than me accomplish it.