View Full Version : Skenth: The known world - By Viking

09-08-2013, 04:44 PM


Created in: Photoshop

From the initial inception of this piece it was clear that it was going to be something really special. Months of labor have succeeded in bringing to life the potential that was there from the beginning. Skenth is a very fine example of a fantasy map, and a welcome edition to our Cartographers Choice section. Exceptional work Viking.

I have always loved creating maps and when I took up being a dungeon master I knew I would need a world map and after many months and countless hours of work I have lovingly created this. This world is filled with numerous races, gods, monsters, and magic like many fantasy worlds and I hope my players will really get a kick out of this map and through it become ever more immersed.

Original threads
Click here to view the Finished Map thread. (http://www.cartographersguild.com/finished-maps/24564-skenth-known-world.html)
Click here to view the WIP thread. (http://www.cartographersguild.com/regional-world-mapping/23471-world-skenth-wip.html)

09-10-2013, 10:55 PM
Rightly earned Viking. Congrats. :D

09-11-2013, 12:20 AM
Thank you for selecting this map! I am really honoured to be featured! It's very gratifying :)

Thanks Korash!

09-11-2013, 12:45 AM
Happy Days, Viking! :) Congrats, well deserved!

09-11-2013, 01:02 AM
(tried to rep though i cant but i added 5 stars in the hopes of getting this as a featured map even if it does mean knocking my map off the front page :) )

told you :) now i need to start working on something new to get onto the front page :p

great work. now start bugging the admins to give you your badge!

- Max -
09-11-2013, 04:01 AM
told you :) now i need to start working on something new to get onto the front page :p

This^ :D Well deserved Viking, that's a great work, congrats!

09-11-2013, 01:28 PM
MapSkenth is a very fine example of a fantasy map, and a welcome edition to our Cartographers Choice section.

It is lovely, but you meant "welcome addition".

09-11-2013, 04:26 PM
Great choice and well deserved for such a fine work. Congratulations!!

09-11-2013, 08:02 PM
Thank you everyone :)

told you :) now i need to start working on something new to get onto the front page :p

great work. now start bugging the admins to give you your badge!

Given your track record I'm sure you will! I am still waiting on that latest map of yours to see completion :p The one with the five billion labels? haha

09-15-2013, 12:49 AM
Beyond impressive Viking. Makes me want to redo my map all over again. :(:D

09-15-2013, 10:21 PM
This isn't a map... It is art. Truly magnificent piece..

09-16-2013, 12:04 AM
Amazing work!! I could look at this for hours!!!!

09-17-2013, 11:35 AM
DashBranaghan: Thank you :) I know the feeling I swear!

Umberfane: That's high praise! Thank you very much!

mariuccij: Thank you very much! :)

09-17-2013, 11:28 PM
Visually very impressive as everyone has said. I wish I could pull off that sort of thing myself. There are a number of things that you might want to consider in future though.

The labeling doesn't really mesh with the rest of the map. It looks like a computer overlay. It's also rather hard to read in places due to poor contrast. Labeling is one of the things that really distinguishes a cartographer from a graphic designer or geographer as it is a very specialized skill. Careful label placement, careful adjustment of letter spacing, paths, or even individual letter positioning makes a huge difference in the look of the map. The straight line diagonals and extensive use of broken labels in your map hurt it. Text Along Path, and letter spacing control would help a lot. If your software doesn't support it, you might want to try doing your labelling in Inkscape. It's particularly time consuming, but if you can adjust how you draw the underlying features in order to 'make room' for the labels without relying on halos or garish colours for contrast, that can make the map more of a cohesive whole, rather than a stack of layers (in all honesty, I've only gone this far once).

The road map locator grid really doesn't make sense on this kind of map. It's the kind of thing you need on a road map, where you have a very dense set of named features (roads) that you need to be able to locate purely by name with no other information about location. This map is not like that. It also seems anachronistic for what appears to be a pre-industrial fantasy setting. You may be confusing the locator grid with lat/lon graticules do occur on a wider range of maps, although still not on most of them.

Given the what seems to be significant variation in climate, I'm assuming it's a quite small scale map. If so, the scale bar indicating a fixed linear scale doesn't make sense (and yes, I know someone else said you SHOULD have one) Maps that cover a significant portion of a globe, can't measure straight line distances consistently. You have to stretch, squash, or tear the map in order to flatten it. The compass rose/rhumb lines and the polar terrain at the top make it worse since they say other things about the map that are particularly incompatible with a consistent linear scale, which is what the scale bar says about the map. Different maps preserve different properties of the features they present and these funny things on the map that might seem ornamental like compasses, graticules, and scale bars describe what it is the map is preserving. For a map with the extent this one appears to have to be bearing preserving for the compass, it would have to be in Mercator projection, which means everything gets stretched out as you near the poles.

The marine routes might work if the setting has extremely long fixed ferry routes, or as an indication of effective distance if they are using a relatively fixed speed propulsion system. Either of those seem a bit anachronistic though for a typical fantasy world. Ships vary, and most fantasy worlds have sailing ships that vary significantly with weather and the direction they are travelling. You may again be projecting ideas of modern road maps at much larger scales, which do show ferry routes.

If you want to fill up the 'empty' space of the water, more rhumb lines would work or fantastic creatures, or just let it be. The temptation to 'fill up space' or 'balance things out' really hurts maps. Real maps look just fine with empty space and with unbalanced appearances. Adding stuff 'because you can' is also one of the banes of cartography. Good maps present the information they were designed to present as clearly as possible, and that means not including anything that doesn't need to be there: A population density map shouldn't have a compass rose meant for navigation maps, even if it is bearing preserving. A road map shouldn't have a 'dominant tree species' symbology, even if the map maker has access to that information. Less very much is more.

It's not that any one thing is outright and singularly wrong. It's that the combination of them, particularly with the rest of the map, doesn't make sense. If all you want is a pretty picture that looks like a map then the only criticism that really I'd maintain is the labelling. It looks "off" to me in a way that detracts from the beautiful work underneath but I admit that people who really know about maps are fairly rare and so it's not going to impact that many people who look at it, and there's nothing wrong in making pretty pictures that look like maps if that's what you want to do.

09-18-2013, 05:13 AM
Beautiful artwork, Viking. Well deserving of the Choice award. :)

09-19-2013, 09:52 AM
Thank you Ramah!

Thank you for your considered response Hai-Etlik. I totally appreciate your points and will take them into consideration in future maps. :)

I fully admit that labelling was my biggest challenge and I still struggle with it and have a huge amount to learn about it. At least I am no longer trying to use super ornate font for small text :) I will have to look into inskape and perhaps illustrator or something for warping text as I only have photoshop and I resisted putting text on curves too much as I didn't want to warp individual letters.

This map definitely is not realistic in many ways and probably would work on a flat earth best. There is no warping as you've pointed out. The travel lines were not intended to fill space but rather as a tool to provide a rough idea of scale and travel time as the intention of the map is for a pen and paper campaign setting. The travel times definitely are simplistic as like you say, different ships, weather conditions and prevailing winds will vary travel time by ship a great deal in the real world.

Thank you again!

- Max -
09-19-2013, 10:03 AM
Thank you Ramah!
I will have to look into inskape and perhaps illustrator or something for warping text as I only have photoshop and I resisted putting text on curves too much as I didn't want to warp individual letters.

Though Photoshop is probably not the best tool to label, path tool that can make curved labels don't warp individual letters.

09-19-2013, 10:30 AM
Thanks Max! I've used photoshop so long yet am so ignorant about much of it. I need to look into this then. :)

09-24-2013, 12:11 PM
Congratulations, this is a magnificent contribution!

09-24-2013, 12:55 PM
Wow, thats awesome work, I love your spine like mountains on Ostrothlia. I also really like the names, did you just come up with them or are they derived from something?

09-24-2013, 10:26 PM
jljansen: Thank you so much! :)

Domino44: Thank you Domino! I came up with them all but I did try to keep names sounding like they fit in certain regions but I don't know how successful I was at that. I do have a lot of fun with names in general however :)

If anyone should want to buy a full sized print of this map you can do so here (http://fineartamerica.com/featured/the-known-world-of-skenth-pieter-talens.html?viewall=true):)

10-01-2013, 02:52 AM
Outstanding work! In particular I love the volcanoes, any chance you do a little blow up view of the Rektsiav detail?

10-02-2013, 11:25 AM
Truely amazing map. Congratulations for this impressive piece of work ! :)

10-02-2013, 09:59 PM
Thanks Fifty and Nathan! :)

Here is a blow up, maybe 70% size:

10-05-2013, 08:42 AM
You are more than a talented map-maker, you're a great artist! The composition as a whole blows me away. Yep, I really can't say more without being redundant, I just definitely appreciate your use of Photoshop!

10-05-2013, 09:03 AM
Excellent map, even better close up!

10-12-2013, 04:28 AM
A masterpiece ! Congratulations. You inspire me...

10-18-2013, 01:49 AM
Thank you guys :)

10-27-2013, 10:40 AM
I'm a long-time lurker, never a commenter (I love looking at maps, but not so good at making them) but I have to say, this map makes me want to know more about the setting itself which a good map should do. And this is incredible. It makes me seriously consider learning how to do this stuff on the computer because it's really inspiring. "Well done" doesn't even scratch the surface of the praise this deserves.

You should tell us more about the world sometime, I want to pack my backpack, grab my trusty walking stick, and go exploring. :)

10-27-2013, 06:04 PM
Wow.. thats all I can say.. :o

10-29-2013, 02:29 PM
I can't get over how amazing this map looks. In particular I'm really digging the Madenska continent. And the amount of work put into the house sigils is incredible-- bravo!

10-31-2013, 08:22 PM
Fnord: Thank you very much :) I may do a write up of Skenth at some point and put it up here.

MisterB: It's enough! Thanks!

Darkside989: Thank you very much!!

Rush Wingate
11-04-2013, 06:54 PM
Hello there! For those of us interested in a larger resolution version of this map, would you be able to accommodate? Via email or something of the like?

Rush Wingate
11-10-2013, 09:57 AM
Well I showed your map to our gaming group, and they fell instantly in love with it, so I will be ordering a print version soon as they have all requested me to craft our campaign around the map. Obviously we will be using the Genth Coast in Aritihia since thats where the most detail is, but heres hoping we get more areas done in detail like that!

11-14-2013, 08:09 PM
That's awesome to hear Rush :) I am glad your group is keen to use the map! Certainly, I will create more such regions in the future and am dedicated to the world. The Arinthia one will be the next region to be finished.

Rush Wingate
11-17-2013, 08:43 PM
We can hardly wait!

Will Phillips
11-22-2013, 07:38 PM
Damn impressive work, Viking!

11-29-2013, 12:08 PM
Absolutely amazing! Just Wow!

Kung Chris
12-05-2013, 07:31 AM
I can look at this for hours! Such skill, amazing!

12-07-2013, 11:21 PM
Wow, this is simply amazing! A real beauty! Thanks for posting this. Truly inspirational.

Petar Kaić
12-08-2013, 10:36 AM
Genius! What do you use the map for?

12-08-2013, 08:43 PM
PokealypseNow: Thank you :)

Norkweylan: Thanks!

Kung Chris: I'm glad you like it so much!

eltomate: My pleasure haha. Thank you for liking it so much!

Petar Kaić: Thanks! I made it for my DnD campaign. My party has yet to even see it since I've been too busy to play lately haha.

12-12-2013, 11:13 PM
As countless people have said before me, this is a truly stunning map. I love the way you did the seas especially.

12-15-2013, 11:30 PM
Love the attention to detail. Award we'll deserved!

12-16-2013, 01:06 AM
Thank you EnglishedFeathers and Aventhar :)

12-16-2013, 04:41 PM
Great painted style.

And, while it might seem like an odd thing to focus on, the borders and legend just blow me away. Extremely clean, detailed, and aesthetically pleasing. I've seen very few indeed that look that good.

12-19-2013, 12:12 AM
Thank you Zahr, that's very kind. I'm glad you appreciate the work I put into the border :D

Lord Thomas
12-24-2013, 09:15 AM
this is beautifull! i have looked on it for about an hour and i was still blown away by its beauty...
sir, you have done a great job!

12-27-2013, 05:55 AM
Your map dumbfounds me. Superior work!

12-28-2013, 11:54 AM
Amazing work! Very very good! I'm enchanted!

Bush Troll
12-31-2013, 11:06 PM
nice map.....cool layout...differently a sea based kingdoms

01-02-2014, 06:40 PM
This map is amazing!!

01-03-2014, 04:45 AM
Congrats on an awesome map! Well deserved praise as the Cartogrophers Choice

Rudy Boe
01-05-2014, 07:35 AM
Wow, that's a lovely map. I love the heraldic inset. Also love how the map, although obviously made with a lot of effort, retains a simple look. Nothing too complicated, a straightforward, natural look. That's the hardest part, I find, making it look simple.

01-08-2014, 08:13 PM
Thank you all :)

Ruby: I definitely like that philosophy so it's great to hear that I've accomplished it in some way :)

01-31-2014, 12:41 AM
This is my first time to see any of the works of any of the members and this is amazing. It should be made into a wall map! And I'd put it in my living room.

01-31-2014, 08:46 AM
Thanks Darcsied! Welcome to the guild! Thank you very much for the kind words too.
You actually could buy a print if you wish here (http://fineartamerica.com/featured/2-the-known-world-of-skenth-pieter-talens.html). Shipping costs may get you if you don't live in the US though.

Jaap Visser
02-19-2014, 10:44 AM
This map made me register. I was looking for some info on cartography and ended up on the homepage here and I saw your map and I was like....wow! Really splendid work and an true inspiration to dig into mapmaking!

02-20-2014, 05:58 AM
Viking, Awesome work.
I'm currently writing a book for game developers (building RPG games) and I'd like to use your image for promotion in the book for yourself and the Cartographers guild.
Site rules seems to indicate this would be ok, but wanted to check you be fine with this? if you need any specific attributions then also let me know.

02-28-2014, 08:08 PM
Thank you Jaap Visser! Welcome to the community!

Thank you for the kind words Simon!

03-04-2014, 06:50 AM
Wow!! Well, that's what you call a map!!

03-04-2014, 03:42 PM
wow simply amazing how many hours of work did this take you?

03-06-2014, 11:19 AM
really nice... if your still responding to this thread i would love some input on the steps you took to go from rough photoshop painting to fine tuned painting... did you do a lot of blending? or do you delete layers as you draw better layers on top? i have difficulty getting how people go from that quick brushed in look to that sharp well defined painting style? thanks soooo much! great inspiration!

03-06-2014, 11:34 AM
@ CloudFang: There is a WIP (work in progress) for this map here (Skenth WIP) (http://www.cartographersguild.com/regional-world-mapping/23471-world-skenth-wip.html) which roughly goes through the steps he took.

03-06-2014, 01:10 PM
yea ive seen that thanks! i was just hoping for some more clarification on the steps between the rough painting and the refinement... i.e. do you use the blend tool to smooth things together? do you add filters... do you re-draw layers on top and refine as you go then drop the "sketchy" layers... etc..

i appologize if i shouldnt post stuff like this here im extremely new to these forums, and figured once the map is complete people probably dont respond to the wip threads...

03-07-2014, 04:34 PM
paperbackmonk: Thank you very much! The map took maybe five or six months with perhaps around 200 hours. This is partially because I kept changing things, was learning and experimenting with different techniques, and was thinking quite a bit of how to arrange and do things. Now I'd be able to do something similar much faster I believe.

CloudFang: Hi CloudFang, I don't use filters much at all when painting. I don't really use a specific blending tool other than the Photoshop brush. I set the opacity of the brush somewhere between 10% to 100% depending on how strong I want the impact of what I'm doing to be. Most painting is done at maybe 50 to 70% opacity. I pretty much leave the flow at 50% or so and let it be. A major part of the blending process is the colour picking/eye drop tool. I may lay down two strokes at 70% opacity or whatever and eye drop the colour created between them, lower the opacity and then paint out the area between.

As for layers, with this style I tend to use only a few layers. Sometimes the landmasses and the ocean are a single layer but sometimes separated. Both options have pros and cons. The rivers may but the trees definitely will have their own layers on top of that. For painting the land however I do tend to keep things on a single layer if possible. if I create a gap due to moving something with the selection tool I'm likely to fill it in with a layer under the main one and merge it later. If I am trying something out otherwise I will create a layer on top and if I elect to keep it, merge it down into the main one layer.
There are pros and cons to using varying amounts of layers:
1. Fewer layers:
-Simpler to keep track of.
-Smaller file sizes that load and save faster and can be worked on more smoothly.
-Manipulating landmasses in a big way is in some ways easier. You can move land around and the mountains or hills on top come with it.
-Less flexibility with revision (though I find this minor most of the time)

2. More Layers:
-More control and flexibility to refine, but the process is more tedious.
-More to keep track of and the possibility of painting on the wrong layer is larger.
-Larger file sizes, more system resources use to work with the file size.

I will use custom brushes to get textures, usually on oceans or when creating parchment looking areas. I tend to paint directly over earlier sketches and outlines although this is not always the case. When I create landmasses I like to block out the masses with a 100% opacity brush instead of focusing on outlines.

I hope that offers some insights :)

03-11-2014, 08:28 PM
Great Map!

03-14-2014, 03:29 PM
Oh yes, this... this is one to learn from. It really gives a sense of immensity I've been aiming for and falling short of in my world maps lately. Also, the easily-seen but low-key political borders. Kudos, and well-deserved notice.

03-14-2014, 04:12 PM
Thank you for your kind words TristanGregory! I agree with the premise that balancing the right balance of political information on a map can be tricky so I am glad you like what I've done. I think if I were to do it again I might to it a tad differently but it works well enough.

03-20-2014, 07:39 PM
I am new to the site and making maps but this is wonderful truly great job I am so impressed.

03-24-2014, 08:54 AM
I came to this site because I saw a link to this map. It is really adorable.

04-04-2014, 01:54 AM
I love this map. I like how the continents look like they are rotating around a point as if the continents are in a maelstrom.

04-24-2014, 09:40 AM
AntoniusRex: Thank you very much!
Rollsomedice: Thank you :)
gtwecla!: Thank you. That effect definitely was deliberate :)

05-15-2014, 09:52 PM
That is quite beautiful, very good job! I can't stop looking for new cities :-)

05-19-2014, 02:54 PM
Thank you Celtian! :)

Bruce Fergusson
05-29-2014, 03:01 AM
Beautiful, Viking. I'd love to have that quality for the world map I need done for my Six Kingdoms series...

05-30-2014, 09:55 AM
Hi Bruce! Thank you very much! I have sent you an e-mail through this site if you want to discuss our possible collaboration further.

05-30-2014, 08:55 PM
Wow! This is absolutely incredible Viking! Love the colours and the names and logos of all the nations. Also love the detail you put into this, e.g. how far apart the dotted travel lines are indicating the time it takes to travel them. I hope you have many great adventures in these lands!

06-06-2014, 08:53 PM
Thank you Orion! :)

07-04-2014, 10:20 PM
Found this and definitely became one of my favorites!

07-10-2014, 07:42 PM
Thanks Benwyn! :) I am glad you like the map!

07-24-2014, 05:08 AM
I love how Kawthra looks like a dragon, and Sainopia, Madenska, and Arinthia combined remind me of a phoenix, and how Ostrothlia looks like a serpent. Really cool work!

08-09-2014, 01:54 PM
Thanks Galuf :)

08-17-2014, 06:14 PM
Registered just so I could express my severe case of map envy. Seriously awesome work.

08-23-2014, 01:12 PM
Thank you, Syris! Welcome to the guild :)

08-28-2014, 02:12 AM
I might be way late on this post, but i thought it was worth saying something about.
This might be the single most inspirational map I've seen. The detail is just outstanding. great work Viking!

09-02-2014, 12:57 PM
Wanted to express my appreciation for your amazing work.

Steven Reed
09-12-2014, 11:40 AM
Amazing! Great work, Viking.

09-18-2014, 06:02 AM
impressive. front page's not far.

09-25-2014, 12:04 AM
Wittness: Thank you so much! I appreciate your words. :)

Cards77: Thank you!

Steven Reed: Thank you!

Dekee: Thank you. It already has been on the front page I am happy to report :) Maybe not for too much longer, we'll see.

10-19-2014, 04:24 PM

Skenth is the type of map DM's dream of. I particularly like the Serpent's Straight, the valley of Kawthra, and the borders and shield symbols. This is phenomenal work, and you should feel incredibly proud. Nicely done and thank you for sharing this gift.

10-21-2014, 01:03 PM
This is really top notch work, love the painted look.

10-28-2014, 07:46 PM
This is just beautiful. You do some very nice work Viking.

10-29-2014, 01:35 AM
Beautiful work!

11-04-2014, 09:15 PM
Penandpaper2: Thank you so much. Ironically, my dnd group has yet to see it!! Thank you again :)
NorthHammer: Thanks!
Lucid: Thank you Lucid. :)
Smichaelpitt: Thank you very much!

Tomas L.
11-19-2014, 12:15 PM
Excellent piece! I love that appearance. Well done Viking. Truly talented and this serves as a great example worthy of recognition for inspiration.

11-26-2014, 11:29 PM
Thankyou Tomas! :)

12-15-2014, 02:55 PM
Awesome map. It makes me want to play and discover in the world right away. I really admire the diversity of artistry demonstrated in creating both the map and the blasons/shields of heraldry.

01-14-2015, 06:56 PM
The ocean topography is beautifully done. Very nice work.

01-24-2015, 10:49 AM
Thanks guys :) I appreciate your comments and am glad you like the map!

04-22-2016, 10:04 AM
Time to get on the longboat and head out to sea!

04-25-2016, 11:08 AM
White Eagle Fortress Ruins

04-25-2016, 01:20 PM
Beautiful map, filled with details and rendered in lovely colors - great work I think I'll have to rep you ;)