View Full Version : The Cartographer's Style or The distinctional Attributes of an artistic Approach

03-08-2012, 08:41 PM
In this post I want to open up a discussion about distinctional Styles in the CG-community. I am interested in how you devellop your own style and what are your thoughts about it; where does the inspirations came from? The Motivations? And what are the unique moments and decissions that forme your own style? Is it important to have a Style?

Those Questions are a fundament for an open Discussion about the origins and the desires of our mapmaking. I have been growing ever since founding this Forum in Mid-October last Year. Now I would also like to giving back with an active participation in the forum. Ok, now I will start this with my own personal View.

I started drawing maps since childhood, by understanding that a map is a representive of the World, my lifelong fascination was founded. I slowly growed up with Dungeon maps in old SNES Games like Secret of Mana (Seiken Dendetsu) and many more and adored the Books that were included in ther german versions with detailed floorplans from all levels. My first active exploration of isometric perspectiv in visual medias was with 8, when I visited an exebition of the Brueghel, exspecialy of Jan Brueghel the Older, the Satin and Hell Brueghel, and his painting/remake of "Triumph of Death" I was imidatly stuck with awe, a event of such intensity that alterate my stand in life forever since.
Another Key moment in the same year was the confrontation of an Issue of Club-Nintendo featuring an article about Mystic Quest Legend, including a short Monster Guide. This started my interest in Medival Bestinaium, also shortly after found the Bestinarium of creatures from D&D. I spend a lot of my younger years to invent complete compendii about fictional Lands and Creatures, draw whole sets of tausends of selfmade magiccards with a ballpen and A4 papersheets. I have recently finished my MA with a Thesis about Maps as an early Form of Virtual Reality, including analysis of the Modern City after the Texts of Rem Koolhaas and with Links to the Gnostic Paranoia, which was introduces to me by my Friend Omar in my earlier Studies at the University of East London. In this line were also my Researchbook "The Society of Phantasm" about the Iconologia of Cesare Ripa, a iconic Book with influence on the Visual Arts since 500 Years. After this came my research on the Emblematum Liber, an early form of Catalog to the word/picture combination of the Emblem.
The Creation of worlds and its mapping and depicturing have always be my main subject of interests and will follow my professional life. They had influences my choice of study in Fine Art, Communication Arts, Philosophy and Curatorical Praxis. Well I'm still a crappy writer but the theoretical background have turned my view and how I look at maps in a variety of ways. With my participation on CG I hope to devellop even more and find my own style of mapping.

03-09-2012, 02:27 AM
Well ... an interesting post, indeed. I'm reading two threads to the thinking, on the one hand why we map (and what maps mean to us), and on the other hand how do we develop a style in maps.

On why I map - I read Tolkien's the Lord of the Rings when I was 11 and got hooked on the fantasy maps. Quite simple, really. I always read a lot, and the acts of imagination and virtual creation were always where I found my personal enjoyment. Little compares to the pleasure of making something new. I started making hand-drawn maps, and slowly progressed from making copies to making my own types of maps and visual language.

As for a style, the CG offers you a chance to view how a community provides for the schismogenesis of its members - their differentiation among themselves and together from members of other communities (see Bateson, an Ecology of Mind). Basically, there are two forms of difference-making process, on the one hand direct competition (symmetric schismogenesis): where, for example, CG members compete to make the best artworks they can (e.g. the competitions), and on the other hand diversification and specialization (complementary schismogenesis): where CG members focus more on the types of maps they feel they do best (e.g. city maps, hand drawn maps, etc.).

Another matter to consider is that the structure and current membership of the forum structures the work that goes on, for example the relatively heavy emphasis on fantasy maps vis "real" maps (then again, as you've noted, all maps are representations and virtual).

Mark Oliva
03-09-2012, 04:56 AM
In this post I want to open up a discussion about distinctional Styles in the CG-community. I am interested in how you devellop your own style and what are your thoughts about it; where does the inspirations came from? The Motivations? And what are the unique moments and decissions that forme your own style? Is it important to have a Style?

Schönen Gruß aus dem Steigerwald!

Let's start with the last question. It's absolutely necessary that we have a well-defined style. We have a project group of three people. Each of us makes maps for our products. Things would not look good if each just made his own map willy nilly as his fancy struck him. So, we have set down some pretty strict standards that each has to adhere to in all project maps. That notwithstanding, there still is a bit of personality in all of the maps.

If I were to post 15 maps, five from each of us, and tell you who did each one, I think I could post 100 more maps without names and quite a number of people here could tell you accurately who did most of them, simply because those individual elements of personality are there.

As to how we developed our own ideas, what our inspiration was, etc., ...

I can speak certainly only for myself, but discussion with my two colleagues leave me convinced that their answers would be similar, in Trevor Cooke's case relating to what he sees in his native Scotland and in Carl Nielsen's case to what he saw while in military service in German Badinia (Baden) and later in civilian work in Thailand.

I spend most of my days in beautiful Northern Bavarian Franconia (Franken), where traces of the real middle ages are everywhere. I also like to travel through Thuringia, parts of Hesse, Wurttemberian Franconia, Badinian Franconia and Swabia (Schwaben). What I see there is a much more excellent picture of a fantasy RPG setting than I've ever found in drawings in the pages of a fantasy RPG book. So, I try to duplicate the real thing from days of yore and then add magic and monsters to it.

If you're interested in seeing how that's translated in our maps, go here:


and here:


03-09-2012, 09:39 AM
To many big words.... hurts my head....heh....

I just draw what I think looks nice... then I show my wife and she says...nah.. that's crap... but it has potential.. can you do X.. I do X(and sometimes redo) until I get something she says looks good.

03-09-2012, 10:09 AM
hahaha... yeah, the wife-test... that's always a good (she'll say "the right") way to test something is good.