View Full Version : Regional Mapping Techniques

11-08-2012, 10:11 AM
I have seen multiple tutorials on making mountainous regions, jungles, and thick forests. However, I have yet to find a desert regional mapping tutorial.

Can anyone help me out here?

What are some techniques to making an aerial relief desert regional map?

11-08-2012, 10:42 AM
Yes....would be very interested in this myself.

11-08-2012, 05:53 PM
haha! I had a bit of a search not too long ago on desert drawing techniques for a commission I was working on... and I found basically nothing. So I ended up going with the vertical lines of sand dunes on the outer edges of this map. http://www.historyofagalaxy.com/HG/Images/lexon.jpg I remember seeing some beautiful hand drawn desert on a portrait-oriented map on the Guild... some time ago... but I can't for the life of me find it again. Drives me nuts when I think about deserts now. =)

Oh, there was also this map I just found via a request thread (not the one mentioned above): http://www.cartographersguild.com/attachments/regional-world-mapping/49566d1351812143-continent-irshy-irshy-continent-preview8.jpg

11-09-2012, 10:22 AM
Some people would usually say that I should use the Sahara as inspiration. I have and I need more information than just "well, just use the Earth deserts for your research".

11-09-2012, 12:30 PM
My suggestion would be to do a search for images of MAPS of the sahara. This would at least get you something along the lines of how to represent a desert area. If it is a texture type of question, or even hieght field question, then I would definately look for pictures of the desert and then use that as a base for either the texture or elevation. One thing to keep in mind when looking at a desert and trying to represent the same is that as far as hieght difference goes...there ain't much. Sure maybe you can get some dunes at 100 feet (rare I would think) but as far as a large regional map goes, that iaverages out to basically nothing. It is all a matter of scale. If you are mapping 1000 of miles at once, that kind of diffence kinda flattens out.

I tried to do a quick search for those map images but Internet Exploder did just that on me, so I can't help you with links.... :(

Still, Most of the relief tutorials use Bump Maps to give the sense of hieght differences, and you can definately use the same techniques to make a desert map. You are just need to realise that there will not be too much variation in the actual desert part. Yes there are areas in most deserts that are more solid and therefore likely to stand out within that region, but that is something that you CAN use the other tuts for directly.

Remember that the tuts here are usually very specific in what they teach you, but that the REAL fun comes when you say to yourself "I wonder what would happen if I do THIS instead".

I hope this is more in the lines of what you are looking for, and I appologise in advance that it may be lacking in details....Have fun exploring your options none the less ;)

11-09-2012, 01:18 PM
Those are good ideas, Korash. Thanks

11-09-2012, 01:36 PM
Agree that these are good ideas....I suppose the question for me has always been less of how do I make this and more of how do I design an interesting desert map? I've looked at lots of desert maps (i'm particularly drawn to the Gobi in Mongolia and this one in Ethiopia), and what makes them interesting is that there are pockets of life (water, vegetation, etc) interspersed within the expanse of essentially flat sand. You also find some interesting variation in elevation as these barren mountainous areas seem to come out of nowhere and break up the monotony.


What i've struggled to find is a concise explanation for why these terrains take their shape (i.e. where do I put oasis, rivers, mountains, scrub, etc.) Since, I'm currently running an Al-Qadim-type campaign, I'd really like to have a good, interesting regional map...and I suppose I've been hesitant to start working on it until I understand this stuff better.

11-10-2012, 11:29 AM
I am not a geologist nor have I studied agricultural development, but I have always believed that sand deserts came AFTER a topography was there...I would suggest coming up with an interesting topography for you area and then cover the parts that you "don't need" with sand....just come up with a decent back-story if you plan on revealing signs of lost civilizations later...

Of course, if you need a geologically realistic justification for your map....please disregard the above.....it is in NO WAY intended to be a statement of actual geological processes. ;)