View Full Version : Flat (and then round?) world

01-20-2011, 04:44 PM
Greetings all,

Here is the world map I'm currently working on. The drawing design is a bit rough, it's my first time drawing a map on computer...

I still don't have a name for this world, the idea is to have a two-phase world history, this map corresponding to a `mythical age' where the world was flat and the Gods still around (insert accordingly epic music in background), only to become round later on. I'm planning to make a second map, of a more Earth-like round planet, with landmasses of the same shape and size as these (or rather, corresponding to chunks of the big continent).


I'm still refining this map, and pondering how to efficiently map the continent shapes of this map onto a spherical one.

Comments and advice most welcome!

01-20-2011, 04:58 PM
Cool idea, and have some rep for posting your first map! There are a number of different tools you can use to change your projection onto a round world. What software are you currently using?

01-20-2011, 05:20 PM
Wow that was quick!

Thanks for your comment, I'm currently using The Gimp, mainly because I don't really know many other softwares... The fact that I'm running on linux (ubuntu) doesn't help, either.

01-20-2011, 06:20 PM
Bonsoir, anyhow, when thinking about cartography and projections, the logical place is to that start reading about what it all entails. I spotted this http://www.progonos.com/furuti/MapProj/Normal/TOC/cartTOC.html on a link aggregate site today, and it's a cornucopia of cartography info.

The problem with what you want is that you want to transform a natively flat surface onto a sphere, while cartography is always about the opposite. You can't do it without stretching or wrinkles: imagine if you took a piece of paper and tried to wrap it around a balloon: you could make a cylinder, but not a curved surface easily. But your world is not made out of paper, it's made out of soil, rock, maybe lava, and water, so what I'd do is try stretching. If you want to do it "realistically", the result would also involve some breaking, so pieces would break apart, mimicking some tectonic processes.

If you want to do it mythically or magically (though it wouldn't hurt a myth to have huge rifts all over the place), I'm not really sure how you'd go about it. The simplest would be just map your basic map onto a circular projection, and then use that as the base by "reversing" the transformation into some other projection.

Long story short, there is no obvious way to do this. What scale are you thinking? Will this continent cover half the globe?

01-20-2011, 06:20 PM
Ha, I use the Gimp by choice, it can be very powerful :) Ubuntu's not too shabby either! In that case, I'd recommend Hugin. Tell it your flat world reference shapes are equirectangular and it will put it into whichever round-world projection you like best (when you figure out which that is and are ready for that step, if you need help we can walk you through it).

01-20-2011, 06:53 PM
That is a very cool idea and nice map also have some rep :)

01-20-2011, 07:58 PM
How important the conversion is going to be will depend in large part on exactly how big the area is that you're mapping. If it's under a thousand miles then there will probably not be too much distortion. Much larger than that and there will be significant puckering around the edges (think of wrapping a piece of cloth around an orange).

The classical solution for this problem is to observe that whoever made the map of the mythical period (or the modern period) had some inaccuracies in their map and just redraw it however you like.

Another solution to the problem is to declare that the gods, rather than creating a cosmology from scratch, tore a piece of a world free / "elevated" it to a different plane. As part of their propaganda campaign of infalliability, they told their cretions "that's right, look what we created." When they "went away" the world was restored to its original place amid great thunderclaps, lightning, tsunami, earthquake, etc. That way the same map projection can be used for both cases.

01-21-2011, 06:47 AM
Thanks for all you comments!

The problem with what you want is that you want to transform a natively flat surface onto a sphere, while cartography is always about the opposite.

Yes, that's my big problem. Indeed, soil, rock and such can strech, break and distort more than a piece of paper, the basic idea was that while the world was flat, tthe Gods had a `spell' that enabled the world to ignore the most basic properties of gravitation, i.e. large lumps of matter go into a rough ball. When the spell failed, well... it wasn't good to be there for a few millenia. So I can definitely allow for a little deformation, but I'd like to find a way to get a `not-too-unplausible' result (if there is one).

As for the matter of size, the flat world is a sort of truncated pyramid, with the big base (where the continent is) slightly larger than the earth diameter (so that the whole pyramid has roughly the same mass as the Earth). So yeah, the continent will cover about half a globe. My idea was to break it in 6 not-so-big chunks, with rifts radiating form the central island. Which will, as you correctly guessed, initiate tectonic movement.

Here is a first draft I made with this idea a few months ago (I'm definitely most unhappy with the result, I measured planar distances and tried to put them on Google Earth to get the spherical equivalents, and that's really messy). Either way, I don't like the way the chunks collided with one another, so I plan redoing the tectonics from scratch.


There are more landmasses than you get with only the continent: a little chunk from the periphery, some new volcanic islands in subduction zones, and the big southern continent from the bottom part of the pyramid.

@Gidde: Thanks! I had a quick peek at hugin, seems promising.

@waldronate: Yeah, that's sure possible solutions! I especially like the propaganda gods... Doesn't fit to the settings I plan for this world, but still!

Thanks again guys!

04-11-2011, 11:35 AM

I finally got around my legendary laziness... I think I'll put the whole `project my flat world on a sphere' part on standby for now and get myself to correctly draw the flat map first. I plan to do several 1px/1km maps to cover the whole map (perhaps I'll skip the Outer Rim, though). I began with the big isle in the up-right side (meh, I'll definitely have to think how to give directions here, obviously North-East doesn't work...), for now there is only the coast and rivers, but I'd still like to have your opinion guys.

EDIT: I added the mountains (I'm trying a new technique here, I'll have to refine it a bit, but what do you think?)

Well, here it is,