View Full Version : Continet Map for a Fantasy Novel

05-06-2012, 09:39 PM
So I'm fairly new around here, and after picking up various techniques and experimenting with various others through trial and error, I've decided to use a technique that meshes slightly realistic coloring and detailed coastlines with sketchy mountains and more fantasy traditional schemes of paper/back ground.

Most of the mountain brushes came from deviant art so credit to: calthyechild, StarRaven, Mawstock, and I-A-Grafix, if anyone recognizes one I may have missed, please let me know.

I've been working on a fantasy story for a long, long time, and I've drawn (by hand) several different designs for this map before finally settling on this one. It's a fairly epic story that will cover thousands of years from the beginning of time until the end of time. I have a lot of ideas for this map, I'll be adding further detail, islands, names, etc. later on, as well as close ups of regions and alternates including political boundaries.

But, in the mean time, please let me know what you think and any suggestions, criticisms are welcomed.


Thanks a million!

05-06-2012, 11:27 PM
The style looks cool! You have some rivers doing very improbable things (i.e. running from sea to sea). Take a look at the "How to get your rivers in the right place" sticky in the tutorial forum, it's a wealth of riverine information!

05-07-2012, 01:10 AM
This is a very gorgeous map, I love the shape of the landmasses you've got going there. The mountains just seem really... out of place to me though. It might be the color of the mountains that's kind of weird or maybe the way they go into the land or something else, but something seems a little off about them.

05-07-2012, 06:38 AM
I like the mountains, but they do seem a little blurry or something around the edges. I like the overall shape of the landmass, and the color pallet and textures you are using. The desert territory in the upper right hand of the continent could, however, be better blended into the surroundings. This is looking very promising though.


05-07-2012, 10:26 AM
Thanks for the feed back everyone! Thank you for the words as to the color scheme and detailing, I work very hard to get the land masses right and it's actually a bit of a piece of pride for me.

As for the rivers, some have a specific purpose to do what they do within the world, but I get what you're saying so I will take a look at that tutorial and make some adjustments.

As for the mountains, I think it may be because of the sketchy nature of them mixed in with the less sketchy details. I saw some tutorials on the forum last night about more realistic mountains, so I'm going to give that a shot.

05-07-2012, 01:47 PM
That color palette is very nice indeed. The landmasses look interesting as well and your attention to detail shows.

05-09-2012, 09:26 PM
As for that box of mountains around Eanti, that's fine as an example of "a wizard(/god/alien/superhero) did it", but it doesn't look at all natural. You can have valleys enclosed or mostly enclosed with mountains, but the angles at which ranges meet are improbable and I just don't see a way that it could form like that.

05-11-2012, 12:38 PM
Hey everyone,

Thanks for the feed back. I'm working on some of the suggestions here, as well as changing the style I'm using for the mountains.

As for the rivers, I've changed some, but like I said before, some are that way for a reason and influence the story.

For the mountain ranges, primarily Eanti, I am changing the shape of them, and rather than having them make a straight bar across the North, I have the western range now extending up into the north and meeting at the islands, making it look much more like Kilwe was a sub-continent that has collided with the north. Hopefully it'll come across better and I hope to have an update here in the next day or two. Thanks again for all the feed back.


05-12-2012, 08:41 PM
So, here's an update:

1. I've taken the advice regarding the mountains, especially around Eanti, and tried to make them flow a bit better. I've also changed the style, utilizing the "Rising up the Mountains" tutorial from this site. http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?4405-Award-Winner-Rising-up-the-mountains-in-Photoshop
2. I've added some islands and names, small details mind you.
3. I've fixed a few rivers. Some will come later. The main ones that have to remain the way they are (for story purposes).

As a side note, someone remarked that there are some things that appear to be there because a wizard, god, etc., caused them. In my story, the god are very real and have had direct impact, so certain areas of mountains, especially to the west and north of the Telani Sea, and the west and north of the Kori Sea, are that way for a reason. I am still completely open to feedback, however, as well as criticism as to make things as natural as possible.

At some point later, I intend to do more detailed regional maps, so while some things may not make as much sense now, they will with subsequent detailed illustrations.

Again though, all feedback and criticisms are welcomed and very, very much appreciated.



05-18-2012, 09:51 PM
Wow that lokos way better than the one you had before. Mountains look cool and the extension of that box mountain range makes it look more realistic.

05-19-2012, 07:33 AM
I am of the opposite oppinion, i think the mountains of the first iteration looked a lot better...the style matched better with the rest of the map.

Very interesting continent shape you have there.
I'd like to know more about the story you are writing and about the world and its cultures.

05-19-2012, 07:08 PM
I think that the earlier mountains look better too... but I always prefer hand drawn styles.

05-22-2012, 10:03 AM
thats a lovely map. i like the use of red for the first letter of the nations (im guesing), though i do prefer the first version of the mountains - they have a more realistic hand-drawn feel to them, though either way, great job

05-24-2012, 10:39 AM
Thanks for all the feedback!

I think I'll try redoing the hand drawn mountains here over the next few days. I've started working on some cities and close ups of the regions (not necessarily nations vorro, not yet at least). Give me a few and I'll post an update and see what you all think! Thanks again!


06-02-2012, 04:29 PM
Hello, alter ego - welcome to the Guild :-).

I'm with some of the others - the original hand-drawn type of mountain symbology seems to work better with the rest of the map. THe new *layout* is an improvement. If the original ones seem too "cut-and-pasted", like they're not part of the terrain, it could be because many have a flat (or abruptly cut-off) bottom edge. Somebody posted about a cure for that in the last few months - something about running some ridges *toward* the viewer, which stick out "below the triangle" of individual peak symbols. The examples were startling, how instantly they seemed to take root and become apart of the overall terrain.

AS for some of the iffy rivers needing to stay like they are - do you mean your story calls for river transport between A and B and C, hence a river has to run thataway? Problem is, even then unrealistic rivers could mess with your storytelling later. Take for example somebody rowing inland from a port city - they're having to row *upstream*. If they row, and row, and eventually come to another coast, without changing rivers, how will they approach the other river mouth 'properly' rowing downstream? A single river can't flow both ways, and oceans connected to other oceans are going to be at the same level. As a corrolary to the "water flows downhill" principle ( I assume you're not going to mess with such basics?) , if water reaches a 'decision point' where one might think it would split, virtually always it will 'choose' the even slightly lower course, and you wind up with no split. Minor midstream islands notwithstanding, that holds true very very widely. And that holds for lakes as well - there just *can't* be more than one outlet; not for very long. One will be ever so slightly lower and 'capture' all the flow, or else if a pair of outlets are briefly the same, flow will cut one a *little* deeper and again that will capture the whole of the outflow.

Now, if you *have* to have that "river traffic" on some of those routes, how about if you make some of the connectors canals instead? Man-made (god-made, whatever) with some kind of locks to do a bit of flow control, and you could get continual boat-borne traffic all *over* the place. I'm not rewriting your setting, just sayin' the less you have to 'explain away' to a reader, the more he'll believe what's going on.

I'm pretty much not buyin' the peninsula-long river in Yarad. While technically possible, there are so many places where it gets close to the sea, one would expect it to 'fall off' to one side and terminate. Picture the required topography - you need the whole peninsula to be a bit trough-shaped, with the upper end of the river (near Auda?) being way higher altitude than the mouth down by Arlo - and downhill all the way southward. Yet your symbology shows the land near the Auda Sea to be flattish - at least not as high as you'd expect the foothills by Nal to be. And it looks like the general slope from the eastern rim of high mountains down to the sea on the Terminae side.

The palette is indeed nice. I'd warn you that the nice (I agree) initial red letters are close to being red-on-green, and a noticeable part of the population isn't going to be able to see the red letter at all ! Too, the contrast is lower for red-on terrain as for black-on-terrain - would it be worth it to outline the initial letters with a bit of a black rim?

Still, it does LOOK very nice - you have something good going here!

06-02-2012, 07:26 PM
I think the hand drawn mountains were more suited to the style of the rest of the map. But I like the new arrangement better. More natural. Less "Mordor." There's nothing wrong with Mordor, but only Mordor gets to be Mordor.

Dana O'Rourke
06-02-2012, 09:22 PM
This is beautiful, and I also love the color palette (but I feel a little silly echoing everyone else).

For critiques, I would suggest adjusting the kerning (spacing between the letters) on the large font that you've got red and black. If you're going to go with this resolution for the final map, some of your intended audience may have trouble reading the two smaller fonts. It looks like you've got four separate fonts. The general rule may very be different for maps, but for most graphic design projects it is rarely recommended to go over four fonts.

I really look forward to how you evolve your mountains! I'm tackling a similar problem myself.

06-15-2012, 01:28 PM
Hey everyone, thanks for the critiques and everything! I've been really busy as I'm going through a job change and an impending move. I will take all of the critiques into consideration, especially the resolution, which I'm not too overly happy with myself. I hope to get a new version up within the coming weeks! Thanks a million!