View Full Version : A writer from the midwest, USA.

07-06-2013, 06:38 PM
Hi all,

I am currently writing a series of five novels and I need help creating the map of my realm. As such, I am mostly interested in regional/ world maps and historical maps. I'm not looking to commission just yet. I'm mostly trying to figure out how to get what's in my head down on paper, so to speak, so that others can see what's in my head.

Here's what I hope to get out of this forum:
* Information about easy-to-use programs in which I can create my own map
* how to make my map look geographically realistic
* any other tips, hints, etc

07-08-2013, 12:02 AM
Welcome to the Guild Katie! Well I'm not sure that I know of any programs that don't come with some form of learning curb, but the majority of members here use Photoshop or GIMP (a free to download bit-map program with much of the functionality of Photoshop), and most of the tutorials here are written for one of those two programs. However even if the programs themselves may take time to become proficient in, there are some great tutorials (in the tutorials section - I'd star with the Tutorials in PDF format (http://www.cartographersguild.com/tutorials-how/3822-how-get-your-rivers-right-place.html)sticky) that can help you learn to create maps in these programs even without having become completely proficient.

As for how to make a map look geographically realistic, well you may want to spend a bit of time up front learning about plate tectonics, continental drift and other related matters, as well as studying maps of the earth, before putting pen to paper (or bit-map, as the case may be). Learning about these matters will enable you to better think through what would count as a realistic looking set of land formations. You should also read the sticky on How to get your Rivers in the right place (http://www.cartographersguild.com/tutorials-how/3822-how-get-your-rivers-right-place.html), which offers some sound geographical information. Now, as for the actual techniques of drawing these land forms, I'd check out the different techniques on offer in the tutorials section. To give you a sneak preview though, the two most widely used methods are either (1) to hand draw the land forms (either on paper and then scan it in to work on with a digital program - or use a tablet), or (2) to use vector clouds to create random shapes which you then manipulate to merge into land formations. Different techniques for this second method are discussed in various tutorials.

As to tips, well, I would recommend doing a bit of research before you begin. Spend time getting to know both the tutorials section and the finished maps section. The tutorials section will familiarize you with different map creation methods and the software needed to create them. The finished maps section will provide an abundance of inspiration that can help you to more clearly decide on the style you would like to attempt for your own maps. There are also some good discussions floating around on different aspects of creation. Once you are ready to begin, post up a WIP thread with a picture of your early map and ask for feedback. You will pick up more tips and tricks by gleaning from the experience of other Guild Members. Best wishes on your project.


Miranda Hartrampf
07-10-2013, 08:08 AM
Welcome Katie! You found the right place! I too am looking on ways to get whats in my brain, neatly organized on paper! This site is perfect, full of ideas and eye candy! You should defiantly brows the finished maps section! Enjoy, i do hope you achieve what you are looking to gain!

07-27-2013, 12:14 AM
Thanks Arsheesh!

I have studied up on geological features--- I wouldn't call myself an expert, but I do know basic things like the fact that rivers run from mountains to the sea--- and I've tried to keep this in mind while creating my map. I'm mostly concerned about my continents and land edges, particularly my coastline. I'm not as worried about the topography right now because I think I'll have to commission someone later on to help me out with that. What I'm most concerned about is how to make my coastline look believable and not like a bunch of random squiggles.

I have GIMP on my laptop, and I'm trying to figure it out, to no avail. I can't get the layers figured out.

Here is a video of the PS tutorial I've been trying to use as my guide:
RPG World Map Maker - Tutorial - YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZpTWObGSKD0)

I have no idea how they made it so they could erase one layer and reveal the layer behind it. Is there a way I can make a map using this process on GIMP?
Thank you! :)

07-27-2013, 12:41 AM
Hello from an old resurected member.

I joined for similar reasons but I am not actually a writer.

Now for the coastline, would that be good ? http://www.cartographersguild.com/tutorials-how/874-making-not-so-random-coastlines-gimp.html
I don't use Gimp so I don't know.

As for the layer, when you have two and you delete parts of the one on top, only the one under it will appear. Using the layers is easy but mastering them is... I'm not there yet. Because there is so many possibilities.

By the way, what is your book about ?