View Full Version : Maps of a Post-Apocalyptic Middle East

07-30-2013, 11:17 AM
I'm getting ready to submit a novel manuscript for publishing, and being something of a map-o-phile, I have five regional maps to go with it. There are five parts to the novel, and each has its own map (one has two). I'm tying it into the Rifts RPG intellectual property, and the premise for this region is that a massive nuclear exchange wiped humanity off the surface of the Middle East some 300 years ago.

I got GIMP and Inkspace over the weekend, and I'm far more satisfied with the results than I was with my earlier efforts (which I won't post out of shame).

These are the current versions. The most recent update is the part 2 map that details Sinai, Aqaba, and southern Israel.

This is the cover draft (not fitted to an actual standard book size, but I'll deal with that later). It's the only color map I've done, and gives a large-scale perspective. 56495

This is the Part 1 map. I did this in Photoshop a few months ago, and did all the contouring free-hand. It was one of my earlier experiments, and I intend to revise it.

I revised the Part 2 map yesterday, and I'm fairly pleased with the results. This was another experiment in elevation, but this time I did zero contouring by hand. Instead, I drew a a bunch of single-pixel guidelines by pencil and ran some filters to produce some hills and ridges. I also made my own compass rose (which makes me feel like a real cartographer) in Inkspace for this one. 56497

Parts 3-5 share the same regional map, though new locations get added with each part. This map is next on the chopping block for revision.56498

Part 5 also has a city map. This was a revision of an earlier draft that was comically awful. I tried to use tile textures to circumvent drawing buildings... *shudder*. This map was a bit of a hybrid. I used a filter in Photoshop Elements in combination with the embossing of GIMP to do the river valley. It's what gave me the idea that I explored with the Part 2 map. I made the skull logo in Inkspace. It's meant to represent a dragon pharaoh who loves necromancy and wants to destroy the world (Now you just have to buy the novel, right?)56499

Thoughts? Reactions? Suggestions? Critiques? Mockery? I welcome it all.

07-30-2013, 07:01 PM
These are looking good so far Coriolis. As I've said, I think the biggest area where there is room for improvement is in the mountains, particularly in "Part 1" and "Part 2". You may wish to check out the tutorials section, there are quite a few different techniques for generating mountains in GIMP that can help you out here. I have a mountain creation technique in my Eriond tutorial that I think would work well with these maps but it may be a bit advanced for someone just starting out. However, if you go to the last page (or second to last page, not sure) of the Eriond tutorial thread, Waldronate has offered an alternate mountain creation technique that is much easier and would look quite nice with your maps. It requires getting one more program however, Wilbur. The program is free and Waldronate has created several tutorials that will walk you through the process of how to use it. It is up to you if you wish to go this route of course, there are other good mountain creation techniques as well.


07-31-2013, 11:25 AM

That tutorial is amazing, and I'll definitely give it a go.

With parts 1 and 2, most of that terrain is ridges, not big mountains. Although there are many obvious differences between the regions I'm depicting and real life (this is~300 years after an apocalypse that's a century ahead of modern times), I try to use real life as a reference.


Snow-capped mountains aren't right for what I'm trying to do here. It's more of a collection of ridges and hills. My effort in the Part 2 map has a decent texture to the topography, but the shape and width is too uniform. I'd like to try your approach. I suppose I could accomplish this by using a darker cloud layer for the adding mountains step.

I'll have to tone down some of the noise-based topography in Wilbur. I can use randomization and noise to a point, but that's more for the purpose of adding texture than adding topography. The only river in the area (the Jordan) is pre-defined, and I need to fit the topography to fit it, rather than vice versa. Still, your approach offers a lot of tricks that I could definitely use. Thanks again! I guess I'll go see what I can cook up now.

08-11-2013, 11:45 PM
Here's my second attempt at the cover.


Ok, so maybe the snow-capped mountains do look good. I have some tweaking to do on this yet, but it's coming along. Current issues:

1. The Nile ends too abruptly (Wilbur won't work on this one; it wouldn't go where I wanted. I think I can airbrush it in.
2. I haven't done any water effects.
3. I need to put in a good-looking border that extends up and down from the map, brings it to the required paperback dimensions, and makes the title, sub-text, and author name look good, clear, and prominent.
4. I need to incorporate a fallout shelter symbol prominently on this cover.