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vorropohaiah
06-09-2012, 03:57 AM
I've reached a point in my current map project where I need to start thinking about an effective yet characterful key for what I'm working on. The map is continent-sized and at the top of my head covers around 5,000 x 10,000 miles and features settlements (capitals, major cities and other relevant settled areas, including small towns that are of certain importance to the region/world), forts (including redoubts, walls and trenches of varying sizes), ruins, 'magical' locations (2 different kinds - light and dark, to cut a long story short), mnt. markers (mountain high points, volcanoes etc.), routes (generally various trade routes and pilgrimages) and possibly others.

I was wondering if, with your maps you usually stick to the same legend symbols or if you change them for project-to-project and though I suspect the latter is the most popular choice, if you keep the same type of symbol (eg. a star for a capital) do you just change the style from map-to-map?

Until now I was simply using circles of varying sizes for settlements (3-different sizes) and squares of varying sizes for forts (2) though due to the scale of the map I though having more visually diverse legends would help. colour and shape are the obvious choices, though I was wondering if there are any other tricks to use?

I'm leaning towards circles and squares for unfortified and fortified settlements, respectively; 3-different sizes, red
stylised star forts; 2different sizes, red (or maybe another colour to more-easily distinguish them from others?)
the white and black portion of a ying/yang for white/black magic areas, respectively (or possibly, and more characterful of the world, I'm thinking of coming up with alchemical-like symbols for the white/black magic regions and using those); possibly 2-different sizes
triangle for volcanoes, mountains etc. 1 size? red?
three dots for a ruin? black
something else and distinct for other regions of note. colour?


too many? or few? are they characteristic of an alternate 18th/19th century world?

EDIT: sorry for the proliferation of question marks and slashes, by the way :)

Larb
06-09-2012, 10:35 AM
What I usually do is try to make some nice symbols and then get really frustrated and just up using a white circle with a stroke and a slight bevel.

I tried to make some icons this one time but they just didn't turn out right. One was a tower that ended up looking more like a broken tooth.

Alchemical symbols sound interesting. Things that give maps more character and identity are always worth trying.

vorropohaiah
06-09-2012, 11:29 AM
What I usually do is try to make some nice symbols and then get really frustrated and just up using a white circle with a stroke and a slight bevel.
I tried to make some icons this one time but they just didn't turn out right. One was a tower that ended up looking more like a broken tooth.
Yeah I know what you mean; that's my default for now too - red circles/squares with a bevel and emboss and stroke layer style. effective, but hardly characterful.


Alchemical symbols sound interesting. Things that give maps more character and identity are always worth trying.
yeah, that's what I was hoping for. not necessarily copy/paste alchemical symbols (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alchemical_symbol), though certainly something along those lines that can also be used in-world.