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PurpleLex
12-28-2012, 05:19 PM
Hello! This is, like the title says, my first attempt at a map. This was started around six months ago now and my first draft was in Paint (now that I have Photoshop, that sounds so bad to admit!). The map is a fictional world, the same climate wise as our planet (it's not alien in any way). It started out focusing on just a small area and now it's pretty massive since I decided to plan out the whole globe. This is for a fantasy novella series I'm planning and though it was originally limited to a small area, I was thinking that creating the whole world would be easier if I ever wanted to use different characters within the same 'realm' - and I'm also having a lot of fun mapping it and would like to include everything instead of abruptly cutting off a corner of a continent.

Feel free to critique as again, first time mapping, I'll probably do a lot of things wrong, but don't tell me something's wrong or inaccurate and leave it at that - give me the reason and tell me what would be more realistic, please. :)

The main map:

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Main map marked with fictional countries floating around in my head (the circle is where the main focus will be in the stories I have planned at the moment):

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And the climates for the globe:

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My reference for planning out the climates was from here (http://www.geography.learnontheinternet.co.uk/topics/climatezones.html). I feel like there's too much of a 'temperate' climate but once I have more accurate landforms placed - smaller mountains, the rivers, land elevation, etc - I'll add some more pockets of climate. What do you think?

I did the rivers on the map right now because I was experimenting; I'll change them if necessary later on. There are lines in the continents on the eastern edge because I outlined them, then filled them in, now have to clean them up; it's not intended to look like that right now. Those were the last that I planned. I'm also going to clean up the peninsula in the middle quite a lot - that was where I originally planned the world so that's why it looks so, er, weird. I'm going to trim it up a lot on the bottom and rid of many of the islands along it's eastern coast. Other than that, though, I'm mostly done with the first layer of landscape, have to sharpen up the edges, maybe add in some small floating islands - what do you think? Enough land or too much? Also, the mountains - are some of them completely off base or should there be more? :?: I've read a lot of threads here of people talking about climates based on spherical shape, river placement because of land, mountains because of tectonic plates, that sort of stuff, and how important they are to take into account, so feel free to chip in if something looks off! :)

The Doge
12-29-2012, 09:57 AM
Excellent work so far.
I am also new to cartography and I have to say that your work shows great promise. I'm also very interested in that link on global climates...perhaps I'll steal those tips for my own setting :D

711Savior
12-29-2012, 01:13 PM
Your climates look awesome and accurate. Someone did their research :!:

Master Rahl372
12-30-2012, 01:36 AM
Great Work.

I'm new to the guild too. The landmasses are really good; I am actually particularly fond of the shapes you have come up with. The northern portion of the western continents look realistic, especially the north western continents.
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The only thing are the climates are bugging me a bit. That island to the north east has tropical zone at the same latitude as the temperate and ice biomes. I'm not sure if that's just an error or not, and to me it seems like there aren't enough arid regions since it's supposed to be like Earth since it's covered by about 1/3 (which I know it's not supposed to be Earth, but if it's more like our planet.).

Otherwise it's a great start, and I know how crummy Paint is since I've tried doing maps on it:? I use it sometimes for very rough outlines for ideas I get in my head.

jbgibson
12-30-2012, 02:00 AM
How about if you include a taiga/ steppe/ tundra zone between arctic and temperate, and a savannah area of some sort between arid and any of the wet zones?

I guess you're figuring on a Gulf Stream type current unnaturally warming the NE continent? I'll buy that getting it somewhat warmer than 'normal' for its latitude, but like Master Rahl372 said, not all the way to being tropical.

Your land shapes will be more plausible if the n and s edges as depicted are not quite 90 degrees n or s. Csn we guess that what you show only goes to 80 or 85 degrees n & s?

What combination of prevailing wind and ocean currents are going to get you those two arid islands just offshore of a wetter temperate zone? Or for that matter the big entirely arid island to the equatorial east?

PurpleLex
12-30-2012, 03:10 PM
@The Doge - Thanks; and yeah, take a look at that link, it's helped me a lot. :)

@711Savior - Thanks, I'm trying!

@Rahl372 - I'm glad you think so about the northern edge, that's where I was having the most anxiety. No, that's not an error, but I kind of did it as a filler. I'm researching 'Köppen climate classification' and Oceanic falls under tropical, so I put tropical there before I get into more detail with other I guess sub-climates (?), like alpine, oceanic, desert, rainforest, etc. But I'm happy you noticed it so I'll get right on tweaking it :) Question - ice biomes cover 1/3 of the Earth, like you said, would the alpine climate fall under polar? I'm finding conflicting facts here - some say it's temperate, some that it's polar, but the average temperature range for alpine is 12-25 degree Farenheit and it's often also called the Highlands climate. I don't know, would that sort of count as polar or at least polar-adjacent?

@jbgibson - Ooh, taiga's a really good idea! Thanks so much; yeah, I'll definitely add that. I have plans on adding a savanna area, too, especially to the south on the western continent. I was trying to make the NE continent a sort of odd-ball-out (I have to research currents next) and I'm going to change the tropical climate there to a more specific Oceanic. By 'Your land shapes will be more plausible if the n and s edges as depicted are not quite 90 degrees n or s' do you mean that they seem to line up with each other on the degree lines? Or do you mean part of the world is being cut out? Sorry, I probably read that wrong, I just don't really understand :) I'm planning to add a steppe climate along the coastal edge next to those arid islands off the middle continent. And with the one to the far east, I'm honestly not quite sure what to do with that, I might make it steppe (after giving it a plateau geography), or I might make it moderately mountainous - I'll decide on that when I get a better chance to research ocean currents. So for now, I colored it in as arid as a placeholder, like I did 'tropical' for the NE island.

Thanks for the climate suggestions, both of you, I'm going to get on with detailing them better :)

PurpleLex
12-30-2012, 04:56 PM
Alright, I've updated the climates again. It's the start of the week and I won't be able to update it for a few days (at least until the middle of the week), therefore I wanted to post up what I've got so far. Still in the process of tweaking certain things, feel free to critique. And thanks again, jbgibson, for the taiga suggestion, it's helped a lot! Can't believe I forgot about it.

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Steppe can be classified under sub-arctic, temperate, or arid, so I just put it under temperate more for color-scheme options than anything else (I grouped the climates in the 'key'), but whether its climate is dry, wet, or cold is influenced by what other climates are around it. I marked an asterisk next to shrub-steppe because that's a rare, kind of odd-ball form of steppe - it's really more for me and my note-taking than anything to do with the map. I made the previously-marked arid island to the far east completely mountainous while I figure out what to do with it but I don't know, I might keep it that way. Um, what else.... Oh, Oceanic is usually on the west coast except for rare exception (because of ocean currents) but I took liberty with the middle continent's southern cove band and those islands I updated with the steppe climate, just a small section inside kept arid, as I was thinking the geography for the islands could hold plateaus. I kept the farthest east island there mostly arid but I'm not sure if I should make it all steppe or not. Thoughts? :)

In my free time this week I'll research ocean currents to verify the climates and see if any of them need changed (I'm sure some do) - but it's also a plus as one of the characters for my story is going to be part of a merchant marine, or merchant navy, and I'll certainly need to research a lot of that, just to be safe. Yay for overlapping research ;)

Master Rahl372
12-30-2012, 05:58 PM
"@Rahl372 - I'm glad you think so about the northern edge, that's where I was having the most anxiety. No, that's not an error, but I kind of did it as a filler. I'm researching 'Köppen climate classification' and Oceanic falls under tropical, so I put tropical there before I get into more detail with other I guess sub-climates (?), like alpine, oceanic, desert, rainforest, etc. But I'm happy you noticed it so I'll get right on tweaking it Question - ice biomes cover 1/3 of the Earth, like you said, would the alpine climate fall under polar? I'm finding conflicting facts here - some say it's temperate, some that it's polar, but the average temperature range for alpine is 12-25 degree Farenheit and it's often also called the Highlands climate. I don't know, would that sort of count as polar or at least polar-adjacent?"

Actually I said deserts cover about 1/3 of the Earth; roughly 33% which not all deserts are hot like the Sahara. The largest desert on earth is actually located in Antarctica. Here's a good link on the Köppen climate classification that I like to use: World Climates (http://www.blueplanetbiomes.org/climate.htm). Essentially Alpine climate can be anywhere but it has to be high elevation. The best example which is quite obvious are the Alps in Central Europe, which is in a temperate latitude about 40-50 degrees North.

The climates do look more detailed now that you added more climate zones. I think the most difficult thing about trying to figure out how the climates work is that in reality the Earth's climates aren't sectioned off like in a map; rather things just sort of blend.

PurpleLex
12-30-2012, 06:34 PM
"@Rahl372 - I'm glad you think so about the northern edge, that's where I was having the most anxiety. No, that's not an error, but I kind of did it as a filler. I'm researching 'Köppen climate classification' and Oceanic falls under tropical, so I put tropical there before I get into more detail with other I guess sub-climates (?), like alpine, oceanic, desert, rainforest, etc. But I'm happy you noticed it so I'll get right on tweaking it Question - ice biomes cover 1/3 of the Earth, like you said, would the alpine climate fall under polar? I'm finding conflicting facts here - some say it's temperate, some that it's polar, but the average temperature range for alpine is 12-25 degree Farenheit and it's often also called the Highlands climate. I don't know, would that sort of count as polar or at least polar-adjacent?"

Actually I said deserts cover about 1/3 of the Earth; roughly 33% which not all deserts are hot like the Sahara. The largest desert on earth is actually located in Antarctica. Here's a good link on the Köppen climate classification that I like to use: World Climates (http://www.blueplanetbiomes.org/climate.htm). Essentially Alpine climate can be anywhere but it has to be high elevation. The best example which is quite obvious are the Alps in Central Europe, which is in a temperate latitude about 40-50 degrees North.

The climates do look more detailed now that you added more climate zones. I think the most difficult thing about trying to figure out how the climates work is that in reality the Earth's climates aren't sectioned off like in a map; rather things just sort of blend.

Oops, read that wrong! That's fascinating, I didn't know there was technically a desert in Antarctica. And thank you for the link, I'll definitely check it out - I think I used that site for researching the savanna climate. I'll be sure to look over my Alpine climate regions, too, to account for the high elevation factor. Right, and on Earth you have all these little pockets of sub-climates that are difficult to properly account for. If it didn't take so long to map, I'd feather the edges of all the climates so they look overlapping and show the mix of climates but as it is, that'll just have to exist in my mind :) I appreciated your input, thanks!

jbgibson
12-30-2012, 10:46 PM
Here's what I mean by the problem with your depicted map extent stretching all the way to the north and south poles. I'll assume you intend an Equirectangular projection. Not super useful when you get too high in latitude, but easy to concieve of and easy to draw. First problem is an equirectangular world map is going to be 1:2 in proportion height to width. So you've left out a third of the planet - assume it's water. I just show it as blank white.

Crud, somehow I flipped your map east-west. No matter; the principles are the same.


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If you wrap that on a globe and look at it from nearly north and nearly south (off-axis a smidgen; helps to see it as a sphere) see how extremely pinched the landmasses really are? It's the equirectangular view that's distorted; these are closer to true shape (at least the polar-most bits are; on the orthographic view the bits around the outside are horribly distorted - okay here since you intuitively expect the periphery of a ball to be smooshied, what with viewing it at such a slant.

See how the south pole red dot on the equirectangular view is a long line?

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If I asume you aren't showing this map all the way to the poles, the distortion differential between the two views goes down some. Here I backed it off so the N & S edges of your blue-and-beige map are at maybe 78 degrees N & S.

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See how the "real" shape is less pinched poleward now?
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THe other way to think of this is that if you're going to draw your map in equirectangular or mercator or the like, you have to manually "stretch sideways" details that are close to the poles, and not run any landmass right up to the pole unless you want a razor-sharp peninsula that just happens to touch the pole. If you need polar landmass, it's easier to visualize one that's centered (-ish) on the pole, since we're used to seeing Antarctica stretch all the way across the bottom of an earthly map.

ManOfSteel
12-31-2012, 02:54 AM
If it's any help, my world climate map is here http://www.cartographersguild.com/finished-maps/20184-planet-eben.html
The main reference I used for climate zones is here PCK: Climate maps (http://www.zompist.com/pckclimate.html) and at Wikipedia.
A way to use Photoshop to correct the polar regions of an equirectangular map is here http://www.cartographersguild.com/regional-world-mapping/21522-first-swing-map-any-suggestions-critiques-more-than-welcome-wip.html
A general visual guide to climate zone latitudes can be found in this thread http://www.cartographersguild.com/regional-world-mapping/21360-draesina-my-first-attempt-creating-map-d-2.html

Hai-Etlik
12-31-2012, 03:27 AM
jgibson is mostly correct but there are a couple of extra things.

Equirectangular is the term used more in the context of graphics. In cartography/geography, "Equidistant Cylindrical" is the more typical term for this projection. Both do describe the same thing, although in the case of geography it can be complicated when the surface being projected isn't a perfect sphere (which is way more detail than fictional map making needs).

Cylindrical projections are, as the name implies, based on a notional "cylinder" that you project the map onto and then "unroll" into the map. In the "normal aspect" the cylinder is aligned with the axis of the globe, although there are other aspects, you don't need to worry about them just now. So assuming a normal aspect, the cylinder can wrap snug around the globe at the equator, or it can be smaller and slice through the globe, in which case it intersects the surface at two parallels (latitude lines). In math speak we call these "tangent" (just touching) and "secant" (Cutting though). The parallels where the cylinder touches/cuts the globe are called the standard parallels, and they are were the map minimizes distortion. As you move away from them, distortion increases.

So, in the tangent case (the standard parallels are both the equator) The width of the map is the length of the equator, while the height of the map is the distance between the poles (North-south distances are preserved in this projection, hence the name "equdistant", other distances are distorted.) Assuming a perfect sphere, that makes the north-south distance falf the circumference, and the east-west distance the full circumference. So the aspect ratio is 2:1 as jgibson said. This particular case (normal tangent equidistant cylindrical) is also called "plate carree".

However, you can also set the standard parallels elsewhere, and get smaller aspect ratios. Again assuming a perfect sphere, you multiply the width by the cosine of the latitude. (If you know a bit of basic trigonometry, you can probably work out why this is the case fairly easily). If you don't know any trig, just use a scientific calculator enter the latitude, then press "cos". (On most calculators with trig functions at least. Fancier ones which allow you to enter multiple operations before executing generally want the "cos" before the latitude instead.)

If we assume your map is meant to be a full globe equidistant cylindrical map, then the standard parallels work out to almost exactly 45° N/S. This results in similar pinching to the tangent case, though not quite so bad, but with stretching at the equator to balance out the reduced distortion at the poles.

I also noticed that your landforms conform a bit to well to the rectangular map to look natural. Trying to fill things in neatly is a natural inclination you need to try to overcome when making up fictional terrain. Try to avoid aligning things, particularly north-south or east-west.

Your biome placement and mountains also look a bit off to me, but I'm not so strong on geology, climatology, and ecology. You should probably try to separate the geology from the climate/biome. Mountains may affect the climate and ecosystem, but they aren't a climate or ecosystem in and of themselves. You can have a wide range of different ecosystems on mountains. We have fairly drastic variations in precipitation here in British Columbia due to the mountains. An individual mountain range usually isn't very wide, so when you have a significant area with mountains, it tends to be a sequence of parallel mountains with valleys in between. When most people who don't live in western North America think of as "The Rocky Mountains" is actually a lot of mountain ranges crammed together including the Coast, Cascade, Columbia, Insular, Olympic, Rocky, Sierra Nevada, and Sierra Madre mountains. Squashed in among them are everything from rainforests to deserts. I think there's only one place on Earth where a large contiguous area has been raised above the treeline rather than just peaks or ridges, and that's the Tibetan Plateau.

Also, mountains are associated with boundaries. No necessarily coastlines, but where they lie between two sections of flatter land, those two sections tend to be discrete "lumps" rather than one cohesive lump with a mountain range through the middle. Ranges that violate this, like the Urals, tend to be old and worn down as the boundary they were created by has fused solid. Concentrated "lumps" of mountain in isolation from any sort of linear structure are also a bit un-natural looking.

PurpleLex
12-31-2012, 01:28 PM
@jbgibson - Thanks for all the pictures, I see what you mean. I'm changing my canvas size to a 1:2 proportion to get it as close to realistic as possible. I wasn't planning on showing the poles, no, so here's a question - changing the map to 2:1 proportion, would not defining the poles in the extra space be alright? By mixing it in with the water background, I mean. I'm pretty sure I understand what you're saying - because of the curvature, the landmasses closer to the poles should be widened to accommodate for the smashing that happens when properly projected onto a sphere. Got it. This map is being created as a reference for all the smaller, regional maps I'm going to create from it so I'm assuming that account for the distortion is still necessary, right? I'll do it anyway :)

@ManOfSteel - Thanks for the links, already looked at "PCK: Climate maps' and that's a really good reference; I'll be sure to check out the others too.

@Hai-Etlik - The futher explanation is very much appreciated. I want the map to be able to conform to a "Equidistant Cylindrical" projection as close as it possibly can without the whole thing needing to be changed, instead of having some decent looking map that can only be explained by the fact that it's fictional fantasy. Ah, the continents do square up, don't they? I'm stretching out the canvas right now so I'll be moving the continents around, making the NE one larger, so I will try and place them more naturally! Thank you for pointing that out, I was worried about that happening.

Most of my mountains placed were previously planned either for the story or from the conception of what I wanted the continent/island to look like, so I haven't been trying to shape the mountains around the climates or vice versa for the same reasons you stated - they don't all arise from steppe or rainforests. I have actually been to the Rocky Mountains twice! I understand exactly what you mean. I'll look up the Tibetan Plateau, thanks :)

Here's an example of what I'm slowly doing with the mountains:

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This is the range in the middle of the western continent, by the way. I already edited it somewhat last night, replacing about half of it with the grey for moderate mountains and dotting 4 points outside it to account for wayward 'peaks' (not really peaks, just where the elevation gets high enough to differentiate from the landscape); the grey inside of the black is to account for valleys inside the range.

Here's how it overlays with the sketch-style mountains I placed:

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(That's using a brush set modeled after Tolkien mountains I think I found here. I'm not a hundred percent set on using that brush, but for now that's what I am using.)

So this is how it looks on the brown background (the lighter the mountain, the more worn it is):

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Anyway, what I've been doing is plopping down the color black for the area where I want a mountain range and then I'm detailing it in a bit as a kind of rough guide for later. You can see where the different mountains overlap that the brush mountains get smaller and disperse based on the high/moderate markers and the climate 'borders' set on the climate map (I think I should name these maps better - saying 'climate' five times in a sentence sounds awful!). The climates for the mountain ranges on the climate map are influenced by those around the mountains and with some I'll cut the climate color in where it dips into a steep or particularly large valley and such like that, but I'll largely keep it colored as a mountain. The only-grey ranges are low, somewhat-easily-crossed ones (I'm thinking of slightly taller, more condensed - in width - versions of the Appalachian Mountains as an example - the elevation rises moderately and more like with hills than steep cliffs). I hope that doesn't sound too repetitive or convoluted; it makes sense in my mind but explaining it is a bit difficult.

Thanks again for all the input, guys. I'll post an updated map probably Wednesday or Thursday :)

PurpleLex
01-17-2013, 12:39 PM
Life's gotten busy and as such have hardly had a moment to update the map.

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Breakdown of little that has changed:

Shaped all the SE islands except for the largest.

In the process of shaping the north, center(?)-east island.

Shifted the map around for a 2:1 proportion.

And cleaned up the Mediterranean peninsula somewhat.

This map includes the ocean currents; pink is warm, purple is cool. Haven't had much time to edit the map but I have been researching climates and ocean currents. It's hard applying our planet's ocean currents to this fictional map, especially if you get into complicated rare-birds like the Somali current, that changes direction twice a year. Sooo if the currents don't match up perfectly with the climates (of course they don't - I'm no expert here) then I'm going to write it off as product of something special, I don't know. I think that even with my amateur knowledge it's okay and pseudo-realistic.... Thoughts?

Oh and the shading on the top and bottom of the map represents the poles. Not necessary, I just felt like adding it because - well I felt like it.

(PS, before someone else notices, yeah I'm going to change the warm current on the far left. Just realized it goes in the opposite direction of how it should - oh well, it was the first one I did. I'll get on fixing it.)