View Full Version : Request: Mike Schley-style regional map tips...

03-22-2011, 07:28 PM
Hi guys,
I (like most of you, I assume) am a big fan of Mike Schley's mapping style (example (http://maprealms.com/wp-content/files_mf/cache/th_64ff941e47deb7046b2b84f224a78f98_1274592562Map_ Chessenta.jpg)). I'm wondering if anyone has analyzed his work and has some tips on how to emulate it. I don't want to *copy* his style, just learn to do something similar. It looks very hand-drawn but I'm guessing there are a lot of shortcuts (brushes, patterns, etc.) that could simplify the process somewhat. So. Any thoughts?

BTW, mods, if this isn't an okay place to make requests of this sort please feel free to move the thread. Thanks!

03-22-2011, 07:42 PM
Also a big fan, and interested to see what pops up here ... I've tried and failed several times to come up with something similar.

03-22-2011, 08:09 PM
yeah, In my opinion he's one of the best in rpg-cartographers-land, love his work! As for my personal analysis... don't think he uses many brushes (except the triangles to mark hills) and its mostly handpainted. What makes it so good for me is the consistency and color-scheme:
- 'terrain symbols' are very unique to his style and drawn very consistent yet none is repeated exactly the same
- the color-scheme itself is great (very subtle water-color effect, with many shades of only a few main colors, saturation is low and no huge value-differences, e.g. the hills have barely any shades)
- Also coloring is very consistent (all terrrain is colored exactly the same and only a few colors are used as base colors, incl. the labels and linework, which also have coloring)...
- for the texture i think it's just the parchment popping through from the back giving it a great final touch...
well, just what I see, maybe we are lucky enough for Mike to drop in and give us some tips :D cheers, DJ

03-22-2011, 09:09 PM
I also am a huge fan of Mike Schley's work, he is one of the few artists I hope to emulate someday.

What Djekspek says is very much my observations as well, Schley uses very subtle tone combinations and minimalist lining, mainly highlighting only. I believe if you had to put a name to his style it is refered to as the "Painterly approach", which is sort of a derivative of Impressionism (this is from my very very non-schooled, untrained understanding). I've always felt Torstan uses this style as well, but in a very different and distinctive form (http://fantasticmaps.wordpress.com/). Mike Schley has a blog somewhere I believe (this might be it http://mikeschley.com/strangeshores/), and he might have some tips in there somewhere. You could also try contacting him about his approach in creating his art.

This is one of my first attempts at creating a similar hand-drawn simpler artistic style.


From what I can guess, achieving similar results to those of Mike Schley or any of the other excellent hand-drawn styles would probably require drawing things by hand. You could create brushes or templates from some stock hand-drawn material, I'm working on a project much like that for creating town and village maps, but in the end I think to truly capture the style requires the unique application of the artist's hand.


I feel silly. Mike Schley is a member of these forums (I didn't know that, it is very cool). You could maybe try and hit him up with a PM or visitor message and ask him about his process. His user name is Schley (if you didn't already know, I had no idea).

03-22-2011, 11:09 PM
Everyone of his maps is in my inspiration folder, well everyone that he posts here. So whenever I do something in a hand-drawn style I start by looking at his work hoping that something will rub off through osmosis. I tried to emulate his grass in my Tabletia map but it was far poorer. Not a fan of the hills but that style goes back a few hundred years so who am I to argue with it, eh? Buildings and the painting I haven't tried to emulate for fear of looking too similar...but then, since my grass came out so bad I'm pretty sure that I wouldn't even come close to looking too similar.

03-22-2011, 11:18 PM
*cough cough* If you think anything about your Tabletia map was bad, even the grass, then you are nuts.

That map is in MY inspiration folder.

03-23-2011, 01:40 AM
Yeah, your Tabletia map is sweet and it's a good step into Schley territory. I do hope he sees this thread and drops by...and doesn't mind sharing a tip or two. He's near the top of my shortlist of favorite fantasy cartographers. Like I said, I don't want to copy him, just have some insight into how he does it. If I can ever make a map in a similar style that I feel is even a quarter as good as his I will be *very* happy!

03-23-2011, 09:16 AM
I agree with the others A, the Tabletia map is a very nice map and is one of my favorites to watch for(hint... you need to update it with more....)

03-23-2011, 09:28 AM
Hi! Surprisingly, I'm -also- a great fan of Mike' style! (^_^)
I work a bit with CC3 and I'm trying to create a style looking his, like it just has been done with Jonathan Robert's.
I'm searching for visual clues that may give the map a M. Schley's look!
I'll give more news if I manage to do so :)