View Full Version : New member seeking advice and critique

04-15-2013, 06:41 PM
Hey guys, I just joined the forum and am in need of some direction. I've been lurking around here admiring some of your creations on and off for a couple weeks now, and I'm very impressed with what I've seen. If anyone can help me learn how to make this stuff it's going to be you guys. I've had an interest in maps and mapping for a long time now, but my own skills are still fairly untried as yet. I've drawn a bunch of maps by hand that I mostly dislike, and have just recently begun to earnestly pursue creating them on my computer now. I've been using the Paint application and dabbling in Photoshop a bit, but also just downloaded Gimp, which I'm not entirely sure how to use yet. If anyone can suggest any other useful and free software I would appreciate it. My main interest in maps is as an aspiring author, using them as aids for the writing and creation of my own fantasy world. Unfortunately the end of my semester is looking busy, so I won't have much time to peruse some of the lengthier tutorials here for several weeks, but I could definitely benefit from your experience and any helpful general map-making tips anyone might be inclined to offer in the meantime.

Here is an early attempt at one of the smaller continents from my world. It is not completely from my own imagination; I built it by collecting several random shapes from various sources and interspersing them with some of my own make. I left some of these random shapes as they were, but stitched some of the others together to create several of the islands. It looks pretty basic right now, I still have many more features to add and work on, like more mountains and rivers all over the place. I used Paint for this map. I welcome any criticism or comments from everyone. Keep in mind that I know it is fairly rudimentary, though, especially compared to the masterpieces you all make. It is an early version for this continent, and I still hope to add much, much more to it before I will ever call it complete. I just figure that it would be easier for you all to offer tips for me if I put some of my work forward first.


04-15-2013, 08:06 PM
First of all, welcome to the Guild, and have a bit of rep for posting a map on your first post.

As far as your map goes, I really like the landmass shape; very cool. I'm at work right now and don't have time to give you a really in-depth critique, but something that strikes me immediately is the layout of those lakes and rivers on the main continent. The way they're laid out, it feels as if there should be a mountain chain (or at least higher ground - a big plateau maybe?) right in the middle running west-east, for feeder rivers for all those northern lakes to flow from, as well as more inlet rivers for that big southern river/lake chain.

04-16-2013, 05:52 AM
Thanks! Yeah, I'm happy with the general shape of it as well. I agree with the mountains and/or plateau point, but I'm kind of lost on how to illustrate an aesthetically pleasing plateau area in a map. I definitely want to add some more rivers as well, which should help the look of the lakes, but how in-depth should I go on that sort of thing do you think? Just major rivers, or some of the minor ones and even streams and creeks to give the whole thing a more spider-webbed look? Thank you for your advice, Diamond.

04-16-2013, 03:20 PM
Which rivers to show depends on the purpose of the map. A map that is meant as an aid to navigation will show rivers that are an impediment to travel (too wide, deep or swift to easily cross) and those that are navigable. A political map will probably show only very major rivers, particularly those that also serve as national borders. A survey map that might be used to guide the founding of new settlements will show every source of water large enough to support a community.

That's all in-world logic, of course. As an author, you should show those watercourses that are important or may become important to your plot. Try to avoid details that are unnecessary for the current purpose because a) it will make the map more difficult to read and b) you will be less likely to lock yourself into a set of details that later become inconvenient to the story. Sometimes being vague can be an asset because it means you have fewer "facts" to keep track of.

04-17-2013, 10:38 PM
I think I'm aiming more towards a navigation style map, likely with some minor political labeling on it as well. I do like the idea of keeping some elements of it purposefully vague though, exactly for the reasons you gave. I've found several tutorials and guides here that should prove useful for my next attempts. Thank you for your help. Hopefully I'll have something more to show within the next few weeks.

Lord Thomas
04-21-2013, 02:44 PM
Very Nice! I love the Salt and sweet water colours, maybe a legenda? (I dont know if it is a word)