View Full Version : WIP The Sultanate of Sharessan - fantasy map

- Max -
03-28-2013, 04:47 AM
My current WIP : a large regional arabic/moorish-like fantasy map, with mostly mountainous and desertic areas. I went on top view with this one and used CIA shaded relief archive to do the mountains (map size 7441x5079px for now uploaded maps are 50% size)
Sorry but the previous thread has gone with the restored backup so I'll skip to the last stage with fixed coastlines and rivers, palm groves/oasis vegetation and a few dried salt lakes.


03-28-2013, 06:39 AM
This looks great! I'm eager to see the next step!

- Max -
03-28-2013, 01:51 PM
Thanks Dain. Here are some heraldic symbols i'm currently drawing. The "shields" are based on Tuareg crosses shapes. Those symbols will show the main nomadic tribes movement areas.


03-28-2013, 03:49 PM
Ooohh-oh-oh, sweet. :P Proceeding nicely with the map. And the heraldry, once again, looks fantastic!

- Max -
03-28-2013, 06:59 PM
Thanks Hefadmun :) I started labelling, with main regions, mountains, deserts and rivers and also gave more overall contrast.


Christopher Johnstone
03-28-2013, 07:32 PM
Hm. I tried to reply but it seemed to be eaten by the ether? I think I hit the wrong button? Or do messages go to a holding position for moderation?

Anyway, was just wanting to say that the map is quite amazing. I also like your choice of Franco-Arabic names, which seems to hint at a colonial history. I don't know if that was your intent, but either way, the names carry a nice air of the exotic and mysterious to them.



03-28-2013, 08:26 PM
Wow, that's really nice! I love the overall look and feel of this map. It seems so natural. Can't wait to see the finished product!
Also, the heraldry is fantastic!

- Max -
03-29-2013, 04:29 AM
Thanks much guys!
@Christopher : I wanted to give names some north african/maghreb touch (though I use some other inspiration: Sandjak for instance is a turkish term) I'm glad it carries that kind of feeling :)

Christopher Johnstone
03-29-2013, 04:52 AM
The names struck me as immediately evokative. Very nice choice to go with.


- Max -
03-29-2013, 07:03 AM
Thanks :) I'm currently working with labelling more regions, cities, towns, kraks and caravanserails so I should upload another update later in the day

03-29-2013, 08:30 AM
looks nice, and a good map to start a discussion about the formations of oasis. I notice some in you map :D but still dont have idea how it get formed since no rivers feeding.

- Max -
03-29-2013, 08:43 AM
Oasis are formed from underground rivers or aquifers such as an artesian aquifer, where water can reach the surface naturally by pressure or by man made wells. Oasis are kind of artificial since people keep vegetation and culture in there by doing irrrigation works.

- Max -
03-29-2013, 10:21 AM
Here is some update with cities, towns, kraks, caravanserais and more regions labelled. Also added the Sandjak's borders.


03-29-2013, 11:29 AM
Looking great so far! I like the palette and the fonts you used.

03-29-2013, 03:43 PM
Looking awesome, man. This makes me wish the tech from the Matrix was real, so I could download your talent. :D

The only quibble I have is that the map looks a bit... not 'unbalanced' exactly, but as if some of it got cut off from the left side. It may be due to the way that large north-south mountain chain is laid out, along with that big lake right next to the edge of the map; it makes the eye lead left, and BOOM no more map. Does that make any sense at all?

- Max -
03-29-2013, 06:22 PM
Thanks Aeredhel and Diamond. Come on Diamond, you have great talent in cartography. Your maps were the first ones that I loved when I came to CG and inspired me in some ways ;) by the way I think I see what you mean but I don't know if I can do something about it now...Maybe it means that I'll have to map the west of the Sultanate one of these days :-D

03-29-2013, 09:55 PM
Yes! By all means map the rest of it...

03-30-2013, 12:07 AM
Wow, this is looking awesome so far. I especially like the way the mountains are done. You said they were 'CIA shaded relief archive' but I'm not sure I understand. . .

Really love this so far :)

Christie Shadow
03-30-2013, 06:52 AM
I'm with the others, this is an amazing piece of work. I'm especially impressed with the mountains and the mountain ranges. QQ: Are the mountains not tall enough to "catch" some rain from the eastern winds? I can see that you've added some rivers on the western sides, so they must catch some - so shouldn't there be some more vegetation along the source of the rivers?

03-30-2013, 07:40 AM
Seconding Diamond, map the rest of it...right now! ;) :D

On a more serious note - awesome map, Max. I looove those mountains, and your symbols are once again top notch.
And can i just say, i am baffled at your productivity...you put up maps in a ridiculous speed. And not just any maps, no....really beautiful maps. You're a mapping god :D
Please continue.... ;)

03-30-2013, 07:51 AM
nice fonts :) and good use of words and sounds that evoke the character and climate very well.

i'm not sure if its the downscaling to upload the image but the river labels are near illegible. assume its the resizing, though the could be a bit bigger.

The current coast is much more fitting. *(how did you get the broken line on the outermost waveline?)

EDIT: and could you please add a scale-bar to at least one of your maps! i hate not knowing the scale :)

- Max -
03-30-2013, 12:42 PM
Thanks much all you guys!
@ Bookowl: I used some shaded relief art of our real world made by the CIA for the mountains and the relief, playing with several blending modes, hue, saturation and colors to match what I wanted to do.
@ Christie: due to the very high level of water evaporation, maintaining vegetation around rivers is also because irrigation systems that people set up there so it zlso depends on level of human settlements.
@ Vorropohaiah: yes rivers labels are kind of illegible at 50% size. I'll show some zoomed in area at 100% to check if it's ok. The broken line on the waveline was just made with a soft round eraser. And scale is planned :) btw I did have put a scale bar on my last maps, at least Selvarin, Kerngard and Lorn (not sure about Green Havens) ;)
@Diamond and Eilathen: I'll may map larger map including the Sultanate one day but I would have to do several maps and then put them together since my computer won't handle such a big size in one file. By the way Sherassan was just intented to be a re-try and a practice map using the shaded relief at the start :p

- Max -
03-31-2013, 06:09 PM
New update : added border, compass and nomadic tribes shields. Also here's a sample at 100% size where you can see rivers labels.



03-31-2013, 06:42 PM
Max, that's not just good, but scary-good :-). I always liked a2area's meticulous stitching of real aero/satellite topography - now your version looks as good yet somehow more achievable. Any tips you can give us on how you do it would be most appreciated.

03-31-2013, 06:55 PM
can you advise how you did the outline of the coast - i mean the coastline against the land effect?
I love this map so far by the way.


- Max -
03-31-2013, 06:58 PM
thanks jb but some artist guy from CIA do most of the job drawing the shaded relief ;) Like I previously said, I used this art mixing some reliefs, playing with several layers with different blending modes/saturation/contrast and colors to get what I wanted to do on this map. Then I did the rest of the work mostly to have that oriental feel I wanted for the sultanate.
@ Smithy : it's basically easy : select landmass, expand it a fews pixels with feathering, fill the selection with some browncolor on a new layer, select it and reduce a few pixels with feathering again, then set the layer to overlay. Repeat with the other coastlines (making them thinner than the first), setting them to luminosity 70% opacity. On the last one I just grab some soft round brush and erased some parts. I also added a grey blue layer underneath the 3 coastlines layers (by the same process of selecting land/expanding and feathering - a larger way this time), blurred it and set it to multiply at 50% opacity.
Oh and thanks :)

03-31-2013, 09:33 PM
Omg. omg!!!
I a loving this map, specialy coz soon i want to try something like a desert. The amazing thing in this map is:
Other desert maps sometimes dont have much details, maybe coz desert most of times just have dunes and oasis. This map shows a lots of details looking full!

So sad at this resolution cant read the name of the rivers. I dunno if you will do, but some symbols in the ocean will be nice... and WTH is that compass?


I want
to do
like that!

- Max -
04-01-2013, 11:01 AM
:D :D :D Thanks Aquarits! Yes I did have labelled the ocean and there's also a cartouche with title and key.

04-01-2013, 11:39 AM
Yes, I'd like to be able to get my world map looking something like this as it looks fantastic. The colour scheme is the kind of one I prefer as well.

04-01-2013, 12:04 PM
love the border and compass rose - they really impress the middle-eastern influences. nice stuff

- Max -
04-01-2013, 12:08 PM
Thanks guys :) I'm about to finish it. Was wondering if the "clean" look of labels and graphic elements was matching the other stuff of the map but I guess it's ok.

04-01-2013, 04:11 PM
Wow, damn fine work! I think the labels look great, no continuity issues that I can see.


- Max -
04-01-2013, 04:37 PM
Thanks Arsheesh, I'll post finished map soon :)

04-02-2013, 04:49 AM
still not seeing a scale-bar :p ;)

- Max -
04-02-2013, 05:22 AM
You mean that? :


04-02-2013, 05:49 AM

i meant this map, or am I missing it?

- Max -
04-02-2013, 05:57 AM
Ooh :D No, no you didn't miss it, you'll see it on the finished map. Oh well, let's tease a bit ;) :


04-02-2013, 06:04 AM
Lol next to the normal scale bar you should make a scale based on the mode of transportation.
So a little symbol for a horse, camel, and on foot and than how much days it costs to 250 kms.

- Max -
04-02-2013, 06:07 AM
Well, not a bad idea Marco, I was thinking doing a horse and foot transportation time scale bar when I made Kerngard's map. I'll keep this idea in mind for a next one ;)

04-02-2013, 07:41 AM
Awww, just a correction in your scale that can frustrate you if you used in the old maps. You not use Km"s" for the unity of distance, is just Km.

250 km (not 250 kms)

hope said it before you finish.

04-02-2013, 07:49 AM
lol. ah, always nice to see a good, simple scale bar :)

- Max -
04-02-2013, 08:04 AM
Awww, just a correction in your scale that can frustrate you if you used in the old maps. You not use Km"s" for the unity of distance, is just Km.

250 km (not 250 kms)

hope said it before you finish.

*** you're freakin' right :/ So stupid from me. Hopefully I can at least fix it on this one

04-02-2013, 08:12 AM
:) not to nit pick, though i always find using miles instead of km gives a more classical and old feel to a map, not that it makes much difference

- Max -
04-02-2013, 08:41 AM
As a frenchie, I'm used to see rather km, even in old maps :p (or milles, which is an old french distance measure). This said, I'm always open to other things than those existing in my small country...Maybe on a next one? :D

- Max -
04-02-2013, 09:30 AM
The finished map is here (http://www.cartographersguild.com/finished-maps/22818-sultanate-sharessan-fantasy-map.html#post211697). Thanks to all those who supported and helped during the WIP :)

04-02-2013, 04:51 PM
Lol next to the normal scale bar you should make a scale based on the mode of transportation.
So a little symbol for a horse, camel, and on foot and than how much days it costs to 250 kms.
That's a great idea; I'll have to work that into a map as well.

04-02-2013, 06:41 PM
i liked this idea too :D for sure will use to indicate the scale in days