View Full Version : First map!

05-27-2012, 06:11 PM
Hi Folks!

My name is Mike, and let me first say, I stumbled upon this site a couple of months ago while doing research and I'm amazed at the artistry and imagination (not to mention the pure research) that people put into their projects here. Truly amazing. Thanks for the inspiration!

I've been working on a book idea and felt the need to take it to another medium. So I started this map in hopes it might make some things coalesce, as far as my world's backstory. Although I've only been working on it for a little while, it's definitely helped, so I'm determined to finish this map.

I was deeply inspired by Schwarzkreuz and his map of Arden, so I'm doing something similar. The map is 62x40 inches, at 288 dpi for printing (hopefully a nice size poster someday, we'll see how it turns out). I don't have a timeline on to complete it, but I'm aiming for the end of summer. Normally my work involves a great deal of working in 3D, so its actually a welcome break just to work in Photoshop.

As it stands right now, I've finished the major outlines of the continents. Let me say that the sea in the middle is not a 'natural' occurrence (that's a major plot point of the book), but I'm expecting everything else to be logical and believable.

Here's a couple of images. The continents as they currently stand, along with some zoomed in sections. Sorry if its a little blurry, I just used a quick magic wand to fill in some sections. I also wasn't sure how *big* I should make them, in a working thread.

Once again, thanks - there's a great deal of knowledge here, so I'm open to all suggestions and criticisms. Thanks for your time!



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Dana O'Rourke
05-27-2012, 06:16 PM
That looks brilliant to me, but I'm not an expert in cartography by any stretch! I look forward to seeing this evolve.

05-27-2012, 06:29 PM
Looks pretty good so far (assuming, as you mention, that you have some sort of catastrophic explanation for the inner body of water). Looking forward to seeing more.


05-28-2012, 01:47 PM
Looks pretty good so far (assuming, as you mention, that you have some sort of catastrophic explanation for the inner body of water). Looking forward to seeing more.


Thanks! Yes, you're quite right, the inner sea was caused by a major catastrophe. I'm starting on the mountain ranges (just locations), so that they can inform the river basins.

The inner sea is actually quite large. The world is roughly 28,000 (about 20% bigger than the earth) miles at the equator which means that every pixel is a little over a mile and a half. That means the inner sea is about ~6,000 miles across, or about 5,200 nautical miles (I think, hopefully my math isn't off).

I've also started drawing the mountains, and like Schwarzkreuz, I'm going for an Atlas Maior feel, although perhaps not as stylized. I'll try and scan those in tonight.

05-28-2012, 04:34 PM
Here's my (quick) initial plot of mountain ranges and lowlands. I'm pretty happy with it, with the exception of the upper corner of the left continent. I may work on it some more. Colors are just temporary.

edit: I meant left! My other right.


05-29-2012, 01:01 AM
Ha. Well, I finished the final island only to accidentally hit the reset button on my computer. Rats.

In the meantime, I finished my first set of mountains drawings. On to some bigger combinations of mountain ranges.



05-29-2012, 02:43 AM
those mountains are lovely - nice and simple. need a good palette of mountains for my map, though ive been struggling trying to get a style im, happy with my tablet. great job on those

05-29-2012, 07:59 PM
Agreed, quite nice.


05-31-2012, 02:00 PM
Thanks! More soon, we're on super crunch here at work. :P

05-31-2012, 11:04 PM
I'm really looking forward to how this map evolves. I was trying to work with a fairly large map, like yourself, but was forced to give up due to my computer's limitations - Photoshop just got too slow... My other tip, that I learnt the hard way, is to make sure you regularly view your poster in Print View; it helps give you an idea of how it will end up printing. I always worked in a zoomed-out view, and forgot the "finer" details that appear when zoomed-in. Make sure to adjust your settings appropriately!

06-23-2012, 05:48 PM
Hi Folks,

I apologize for being away so long, I had one major project at work to finish which involved a big crunch, and that really took the wind out of my sails. That being done, I've been back at it a bit more, mostly writing, but felt the need to jump back on the map in the last day or so. Actually it was a nice break and gave me a new eye on the inner sea, which I've made some changes to. Sometimes, a break away is just what you need. :)

I took out the secondary and tertiary inlets and expanded the main one, as they were not especially important to the story. I like the feel of the inner sea more now. I also added the southern island continent, and took a swipe at all of the islands and coastlines overall. I also think I need to 'smooth out' a couple of sections of the continents, they're feeling a bit busy in places.

Next its back to drawing mountains, and figuring out rivers. I'm sure I'll need help with that. Thanks for all the support and advice.



06-24-2012, 06:58 PM
Another update, more mountains. I'll start some trees and smaller items next. Right now, my hand is about to fall off, so its time to take a break. These aren't cleaned up yet, you can still seem some pencil lines here and there.


06-25-2012, 12:49 AM
One more update for tonight. Lol, can't help myself this it too much fun!

I started playing around with Coyotemax's excellent woodcut tutorial (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?15560-Woodcut-effect-for-the-ocean), and made my own line texture. Nice tutorial.

Here's a small section. I'll probably do it one more time, with different selection sets for different expand/feather ratios.


06-25-2012, 01:58 AM
Wow. This is impressive. The coastlines are very natural, the colors are really nice (neutral, readable, not too strong, easy to tell apart). Those mountains, though, are incredible. I can't wait to see what you do with them. They might not be entirely cleaned up yet, but they're just stunning. Part of me wants to try my hand at drawing my own. Part of me just wants to run with yours ^_^ Looking forward to more.

06-25-2012, 12:08 PM
Thanks! I'll try putting together two test this week, a cluster of mountains and a range. I might need one more sheet of mountains for diversity.

I can turn the mountains into a brush set at the end of all this, so anyone can use them.

06-27-2012, 01:54 AM
I've started the cleanup, and that should take another night, but I had a question - how to most people approach the layout of hand-drawn mountains like this? Do you build up the ranges by using individual layers to create clusters of mountains, consolidating as you go? Make them brushes? I'd be curious for some good advice here.

I was thinking about using the large consolidated pages, and dragging them into new layers within the map document, but it seems that I'll need a good mask for each mountain, in order to make sure they're cut out correctly.


Blaidd Drwg
06-27-2012, 04:31 AM
I'm looking forward to seeing how you do it (masks always creep me out ;P). It looks very promising; keep it up!

06-27-2012, 06:06 PM
This is going to be a great map! Keep going! :)

07-03-2012, 01:19 AM
Man, lots of masks!

I gave up trying to do a mask for each mountain, and grouped them in threes and fours. It took about four days to do the one page - clean up, levels and mask channels, but they're all separated, and are ready for layout! Thank goodness for the magnetic lasso tool. :)

So to put it all together, I took a swipe at laying out some mountains tonight - now that the masks are all there, its pretty easy to put them in.

These are just some basic colors - I darkened the shadowed side and put some small highlights on the sunlit side - I'm not sold on the lighting, and I'd be curious to hear what people think. Sorry if it seems a little soft - I brought this down from the 1800 dpi original scan to 72 dpi for a test.

Thanks again for all your encouragement and advice! Layout begins this weekend.


07-03-2012, 01:25 AM
Those mountains look fantastic! I'm going to have to keep tabs on this thread.


07-03-2012, 07:41 PM
Very fine indeed. Handdrawnstyle seems to become more populär again recently.

07-04-2012, 10:12 AM
Thank you! As for the resurgence in hand drawn maps - I think that's in part, due to you, Schwarzkreuz. :)

I'm going to do one more page of 'hero' mountains, so there can be more distinct points on the map, and get started on layout. It's Independence Day here in the States, so time for a little R&R.

09-03-2012, 08:48 PM
Finally, an update!

My apologies about being off this - what can I say? My kids and I have been having a great summer, which kinda took precedence over this. Nevertheless, I haven't given up and I'm continuing.

I also spent a good deal of the summer free hours writing, so the map has been on the back-burner. Labor day seemed like a great time to get going again. However, that writing informed some more changes I needed to make overall, so I made a significant number of changes to the continents, and worked on some of the coastlines which were bothering me. Those are all done and I'm back to laying out mountains, plains, lowlands and rivers.

I took some time today to layout a section of mountains on one of the southern islands. I'm looking at this as my template. As before, I've added my highlights and put them in. I'm considering some subtle shading on the shadow side - I might show that if I get some more time this week.

Once again, I appreciate all the feedback, and rest assured, I'm still going. The town icon and font are temporary, just wanted to try something out. However, this is certainly going to take longer than the end of summer. For reference, I've included the new full map with the mountain section outlined in red. The first time I looked at how small that was I had a panic attack. However, I've got some new layer techniques which will help save me. I think.

Happy Labor Day (if you're in the states). :)



Mountain Template Example:


Outlined Section:


09-03-2012, 11:05 PM
Ooh! I really like those mountains! Can't wait so see more.


Cunning Cartographer
09-04-2012, 04:04 AM
Having only just started my own hand drawn region maps I really want to get a lot more detailed with my mountains and these are a fantastic example of the direction I want to be heading in. My only niggle is that, as I have caught myself doing, the peaks of your mountains nearly always take a very defined bend off to the right (which I think is quite typical of most maps to be honest as most people are right handed and draw their mountain from the bottom left, up, then back down, but it's just something that stood out as I've recently been trying to avoid it). Rep'd though cause this is looking great.

09-04-2012, 08:14 AM
This is practically a tutorial :) I'm really loving the pace at which you're approaching your map, and seeing it's development. I sometimes wish I had the patience to do things in the right order, but I'm still learning about that in terms of map making anyway :P Also I really, really like your mountains, but so does everyone :) Looking forward to more.

09-04-2012, 05:06 PM
Many thanks for the advice and kudos! Yospeck - you caught me, I definitely do draw them that way. Maybe I'll try a few the other direction, that might help.

09-04-2012, 06:32 PM
This is great work! Have some rep! I love your mountains!

09-05-2012, 03:44 AM
The mountains are gorgeous in fact and I´m excited, whow this project will go on. The coastlines seems a little too fractal in my opinion, so your whole land seems to be very rocky with many cliffs. I will love the finished map!!

09-05-2012, 12:22 PM
The mountains are gorgeous in fact and I´m excited, whow this project will go on. The coastlines seems a little too fractal in my opinion, so your whole land seems to be very rocky with many cliffs. I will love the finished map!!

Hey thanks! Yes, I think you're right, and I've been cleaning up many of the coast lines to take down the amplitude of some of the coast edges, although the inner sea is definitely supposed to be rocky, so I'll keep them there.

This comes from using different maps as reference that are at different scales. It was something I was trying to keep in mind when drawing my coastlines, but eventually I zone out and I'm just draaaaaaaawin' man. :)


09-05-2012, 08:10 PM
I like the style. When we talk hand drawn here are we talking a cg hand drawn or a literal sketch and then scanned? V

09-05-2012, 08:24 PM
Its HAnddrawn and than scanned than put into composition. You can see it easily on the linework, there is a small thicker point at the end of his shading, which indicates a pen with liquid overflow is used on the drawing. I am using a Pilot-G 0.3 mm Gel pen to avoid thoses dots. Soon I wil get a 0.25 Nanotech Pen, the most thin pen with liquid ball tip in the world! I hope i wont break it, must be sensitive.

09-05-2012, 08:47 PM
Schwarzkreuz can you not also create that thicker end linework with a tablet? Don't know just asking. Then what has happened here is that we created a hand drawn stylized mountain symbol, digitized it, created a brush to paint in the correct scale? V

09-05-2012, 09:01 PM
Its nearly impossible to get those inked feeling from digital only drawings. Those irregularies are what makes such a map vivid and "alive". To mimic that in PS only is beyond my skills. Well but its a queston of taste.

And yes, we do it that way.

09-07-2012, 12:50 PM
Its nearly impossible to get those inked feeling from digital only drawings. Those irregularies are what makes such a map vivid and "alive". To mimic that in PS only is beyond my skills. Well but its a queston of taste.

And yes, we do it that way.

I've never been able to master that in Photoshop either. In the Pen department, I use the Pilot Hi-TEC C, although I'm using a 0.4, which probably results in the 'blobbing' at the end of the strokes. I keep destroying the 0.25 Pilots, they break easily, and I press too hard. I cleaned up some of the blobbies in photoshop, but not too many since I feel they add a bit to the 'natural' look I was going for.

01-20-2013, 12:15 AM
Any updates on this? I'm jonesing for some more cool mountains and I can't wait to see what you do with forests...