View Full Version : How do you Draw your vast Deserts?

03-08-2013, 05:35 PM
I've been drawing maps as an amateur since I was 12 years old. One of my biggest challenges when designing a world map is the desert regions. I'm always happy with the look of my mountains, water, trees, towns, ect. But my Deserts just don't look right.

Here's and example of how I do Mountains Vs. Dunes:
(IMAGE DISCLAIMER: It's A quick draft i made at work to show an example)
I try to make little dunes but you see what I mean it doesn't have the right Individual Feel to it.

Any tips or tricks I should implement when drawing Deserts?

- Max -
03-08-2013, 06:06 PM
I think the problem is on the dunes "edge" . Making them more curvy would probably do the thing.

03-08-2013, 06:19 PM
One thing to consider is that only about 20% of desert area consists of "ergs" with lots of sand and dunes. Besides that there are "desert pavement", bare rock, dried mud, salt pans, or ice caps. A particular desert may well contain several different landscapes.

I've used various stipple patterns, sometimes mixing small circles with the dots. I've also found that a sort of flattened stipple with horizontal lines can work well.

03-08-2013, 06:23 PM
Looks like you need more variation I suppose. Rather than a continuous pile of single dunes, mix it up a little, don't pack them too close together, and add maybe one of two other little deserty features if appropriate. That should break up the duney monotony.

*edit* what Hai-Etlik said. Add a few icons of those features too. It'll still look like desert but it won't look like a continuous repeating dune symbol.

03-08-2013, 06:58 PM
Thank you so much for the advice. The curvy lines work way better! Its amazing how crazy a simple step can make such a difference.

I don't understand the small circles Hai-Etlik is telling me to try, but i don't know what hes saying 100%. Thanks for the advice though. I always forget about deserts having different things then just... HUGE tracks of sand.

Heres my quick draw at work from your advice:

LARB: the dunes all the way to the right look awesome, and the ones at the bottom middle. Plus the oasis with a few scattered cacti make it seem right. I drew the example before I saw you replied.

- Max -
03-08-2013, 07:05 PM
Yes Larb and Hai-Etlik were right about variation, which would help you to do better. Btw your last quick draw looks good :)

09-11-2013, 01:53 AM
All for the curvy dunes. Looks good.

09-12-2013, 01:26 PM
For dunes, because I have the artistic talents of a slightly-chewed peanut shell, I like to use a stipple pattern based on little crescents.

I rather lurved Larb's oases and saguaros. Tres cool!