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Kelron
09-04-2011, 05:51 AM
Hello all,

currently I write a novel and want to make maps of the world, the regions and important towns. Some maps are planned to be as B/W-versions in the book, but I also want to start a HP with an interactive tour for it.

After some small tests with Campaign Cartographer 3 I got started with the world map, which is my first map to showcase here and which surely still offers some room for improvements.

Please tell me your thoughts and what you would improve in order to get a better map.

I`ll explain the colors for a better understanding of the borders:
Purple: Orcs
Blue and Yellow: Human Kingdoms
Green: Elves
Black: Dark Elves
Red: Dwarves

Steel General
09-04-2011, 09:32 AM
The first think that jumps out at me is that the coast lines are way to smooth. I'm not a CC user so can't really tell you how to fix that. Otherwise it's an interesting map overall, lots of mountains...

Kelron
09-04-2011, 10:37 AM
The first think that jumps out at me is that the coast lines are way to smooth. I'm not a CC user so can't really tell you how to fix that. Otherwise it's an interesting map overall, lots of mountains...
Thank you for your hint. I`ve given the glowing effect a smaller value. The coast lines are not as smooth any more.

Additionally I`ve added some foothills in the red region and changed some bordercolors for a better seperation.

For the mountains, I want to have the dwarven region (the red one) with many mountains, but I`m not totally happy with the current look of it.

Ascension
09-04-2011, 03:20 PM
I think you could stand to trim back most of the mountains, there are a whole lot of them. They look like octopus arms sticking out all over so by trim I mean cut them back to nubs and I think things will look more plausible. The arrangement could use a bit of fixing as well, they look like a bunch of fences so I would group some together. I did a little 10 minute sketch to show you some ideas. The light green is the flat grassland areas and low hills. The dark green is forest, the black is a possible swamp, the tan is a possible desert or dry area. The orange are foothills, the red is mountains and the white is the highest peaks. Blue is rivers of course. Then I did a rough coastline, smooth ones are boring, like Steel said. I don't mean to offend or anything, just some positive pointers on arranging terrain to look plausible without going through all of the science to make sure it really fits...it just needs to look good.

Kelron
09-04-2011, 05:07 PM
Thank you for taking some time and giving a very detailed feedback! Now I know, what was ment with the coastline. I will take a look at it and try to improve the map. TBH I also didn`t like the upper mountains, I`ve tried some things so far, but it didn`t get better. I also want to add a river as natural border between some regions.

I don`t take critics personally, don`t worry ;) I thank all people showing me ways and ideas for a great looking and believable map, which is my goal in the end. I know that I`m a beginner as mapper and I really appreciate such comments!

Hugo Solis
09-05-2011, 12:30 AM
Personally, I try to avoid to shape the maps to the likeness of the area of drawing (your digital canvas or the paper sheet), trying to form non square/rectangular, this usually leaves "blanck" spots which may be another kind of problem, but can be use to throw some nifty illos -like wales or krakes poking out of the water- or some other icons. Also these places are good to put your notes/keys or other necessary map stuff.

Just some random thoughts ;)

Kelron
09-05-2011, 03:31 AM
Personally, I try to avoid to shape the maps to the likeness of the area of drawing (your digital canvas or the paper sheet)
...
100 points, that`s exactly how I did it. I drew it on a sheet paper and tried to make it look like that. :p



... but can be use to throw some nifty illos -like wales or krakes poking out of the water- or some other icons. Also these places are good to put your notes/keys or other necessary map stuff.

Just some random thoughts ;)
Thank you, maybe I`ll add some of that stuff. I`ve just started to reshape the landmass and got rid of all other things so far for a fresh restart. ;)

Ascension
09-05-2011, 01:22 PM
Hugo makes a very good point, never make your map fit to the edges of the paper, lots of folks forget that, even me sometimes. It may help to take a sheet of paper and rip it up into shreds then put some of the pieces together (not all of them) to make an interesting shape then tape them together then trace around that on a blank sheet. Try to think "dynamic, action, movement" instead of "I want it big so I need to make it fill up the whole piece of paper".

Kelron
09-06-2011, 01:30 AM
I`ll definitaly try to avoid that in the future! I`ve added my drawing for a comparison with my first try and this makes the mistake even more obvious. :idea: But it`s good to know the common mistakes, so I (hopefully) won`t make them again in the future!

I`ve reshaped the coastline now for a more realistic touch. I`m also thinking of extending the mapsize, so I can add some more islands and other stuff in the finishing step.

Ascension
09-06-2011, 01:59 AM
Instead of extending the canvas, just draw everything smaller. For now at least. You're still doing the "fill up the whole page" thing, especially across the top and sides. Bottom looks good, though - lots of negative space. Negative space (empty) is your friend and is just as important as positive space (filled) when designing a landmass. You have 2 "dents" in the top - exaggerate those some more. That bottom right chunk, try pushing it more to the right. The bottom left chunk looks nice so maybe push it further to the left and make it bigger. The top left chunk looks like a great place for a hook so push it up and then a little bit left. The top right chunk feels like it wants to be long and pointy up to the top right more. I doodled up and example. You'll notice my top sort of follows the edges of the paper so the part in the middle might need to be pushed up more.

Clercon
09-06-2011, 02:04 AM
This shape looks much better, but still you're very close to the edges with your landmass. I would definitely add some more space around the map. Some more islands could also do good. When I draw world maps I uasually try to look at earth for inspiration. That tend to give the structure of the world a convincing look.

Kelron
09-07-2011, 04:08 PM
First of all I want to thank you all for the hints so far. I was definitaly looking for a feedback like that *thumbsup*

I`ve revised the shape of the continent now. I didn`t want to simply copy Ascension`s shape, but I used it for inspiration.

What are your thoughts about it now? I`m thinking of a few other changes, let`s see. Compared to my first shape, there are truly worlds between in the looks

Ascension
09-07-2011, 05:11 PM
Mucho better. Be careful about putting too many small islands around a big one haphazardly...they usually follow an underwater mountain chain sort of thing so there is a logic to their placement. But for now, looks good.

Kelron
09-08-2011, 04:58 PM
Mucho better. Be careful about putting too many small islands around a big one haphazardly...they usually follow an underwater mountain chain sort of thing so there is a logic to their placement. But for now, looks good.
Thanks! :)

Ok, another good point! I`ll keep that in mind for the next shape revision, before I`ll start with placing (fewer *lol*) mountains and (much more) rivers

UPDATE (I deleted the old post to avoid double posting):
I`ve know revised the shape, rescaled it and fractialized the coasts for a better look.

Ascension
09-08-2011, 05:37 PM
Lookin good, man.

Clercon
09-08-2011, 07:02 PM
Looks really good now. I'm looking forward to see some terrain on the map.

arsheesh
09-08-2011, 08:00 PM
Yeah this is a very solid map outline so far Kelron.

Cheers,
-Arsheesh

Greason Wolfe
09-08-2011, 09:57 PM
Have to agree with the others, these latest shapes are a vast improvement and give things a bit more of a realistic feel. Looking forward to more as you progress through this map.

GW

Kelron
09-10-2011, 06:17 PM
Thank you, such comments are very encouraging!

I`ve printed a B/W-Version out and I`m playing with the placement of mountains and rivers with my pencil.

UPDATE:
I`ve tried some different placements and I`ve quickly visualized my current favorite. The rivers will also get more Deltas, it`s just for the overview:

+ There are two basic mountain chains dividing the land and being natural borders
+ The human kingdoms are placed in the plains. Some hills, forests and lakes are there
+ The dessert is caused because there are the mountains on the right and it is surrounded by (foot)hills, which prevent the rivers reaching the inner region. A perfect placement for tough guys like the Orcs
+ On the upper right side of the chain, there is either a swamp or barren lands (what fits more in your oppinion?) There is a river as natural border to the forest section. If it`ll be a swamp, than there can the dark elves be found here, else the dwarves and more mountains.
+ The forest in the middle will have many river deltas and the "normal" elves
+ On the right side of the second chain, there should be a barren land. Maybe I`ll get rid of the barren land on the left side and replace it with more forests or foothills. There should be the highest peaks and also maybe some tough guys living in the snowy high regions.
+ The other islands aren`t really spectacular at this stage. At the moment I just want to have a volcanic island in the upper right region. The islands will be done afterwards ;)

What do you think? Would a vegetation like that be belivable? Of course that`s all fantasy in the end, but still there are some rules made by the the nature itself ;)

laevex_esre
09-11-2011, 10:20 AM
It looks much better, but I have one question to raise. I'm not a climate expert, but I don't think a lot of foothills would stop the formation of rivers. Water flows downhill, so the only reason that area would become a desert is if it never rains on that side of the mountains. This is entirely possible if your prevailing winds there come from the south, and that would also fit with the forest being in the central area, as that side of the mountain range would get much more rain in that case. You can keep your desert there, but rather than having short rivers, you probably need to just have less rivers.

As I said, I'm no expert on this. So if somebody with more expertise disagrees then you should probably listen to them over me.

Looking good though. I look forward to seeing where you take this next.

zaffu
09-11-2011, 12:45 PM
I'd switch the big forest and the big desert. Then, assuming this is temperate latitudes, you'd have your forest sort of in the position of Europe, getting rain from the winds blowing in off the western ocean. And those two big mountain ranges would have a rain shadow effect and block your desert from getting rain.

Kelron
09-11-2011, 04:27 PM
Thank you for the helpfull hints and nice words, I`ll give it another try :)

UDPATE:
I`ve rearranged the mountain chain for a better placement of the dessert. I think I`ll place the chain more upwards near the swamp to get a bigger dessert. It will not immediately start as a dessert though, I want a barren scrubland slowly becoming a dessert.

Is this placement now more realistic?

rdanhenry
09-12-2011, 03:14 AM
If this is a continent, that swamp is incredibly huge.

Also, you want to change the spelling to "desert", a very dry place. "Dessert" is cake, cookies, pie, etc.

Kelron
09-15-2011, 04:43 PM
If this is a continent, that swamp is incredibly huge.

Also, you want to change the spelling to "desert", a very dry place. "Dessert" is cake, cookies, pie, etc.
A good point, thanks.

Ah, I see. :o That are the reasons, why I didn`t manage to get the best marks in english in my A-level *lol*

UPDATE:
After various tries I`ve done a first mountainline. They have different colors for a better effect with the political borders afterwards. I drew a small basic line on another layer and tried to let the mountains follow it for a more realistic touch.

Greason Wolfe
09-15-2011, 09:13 PM
Not bad. You seem to be making progress on this. One suggestion I might offer, though, and you may already have it in the works, but the background color for the mountains on that island is a little dark and makes it hard to see the mountain icons. Perhaps lightening it will help them stand-out better. Other than that, it looks like you're on the right track.

GW

Kelron
09-18-2011, 04:34 PM
Not bad. You seem to be making progress on this. One suggestion I might offer, though, and you may already have it in the works, but the background color for the mountains on that island is a little dark and makes it hard to see the mountain icons. Perhaps lightening it will help them stand-out better. Other than that, it looks like you're on the right track.

GW
Thank you :)

I must admit, that I also don`t really like the look of the volcanic island too for the moment. It should be dark, but that is too dark and also consumes pretty much space. This is definitaly a subject to be changed ;)

UPDATE:
I`ve now added some rivers. I`ll have to edit the styleeffects for the marsh and also fix some rivers flowing in the sea.

Are the mountains and the rivers placed well, or should there be more or less?

zaffu
09-20-2011, 12:55 AM
I don't see anything technically incorrect regarding the rivers, but a few things look a bit odd. Near the top of the map, there are a few instances where rivers begin directly opposite each other on two different sides of a mountain range. It just looks too regular. There are also some rivers that flow parallel to a coast for quite a long way. Unless there are some hills between the river and the coast that block the river from joining the sea there, you tend to assume the steepest path downhill is more towards the coast than along it.

The mountains look good, though.