View Full Version : The Gold Coast, first map attempt

11-17-2013, 07:59 AM
For almost a year now I have followed WIPs on this forum, watching the inspirational work of truly amazing artists and cartographers, pondering over all the stunning worlds that exist within the border of this forum. Cartography and world building have always been the purest form for me to express creativity, a life-long curiosity and love. From the bottom of my heart I can honestly say, there is simply nothing like it.

A few weeks ago I decided to make a account, but haven't had the time to introduce myself proper. However, having some extra time to spare I figured what better way to introduce myself then with a WIP thread of my own!

In the past I have done a few simple maps, mostly land outlining some borders and heraldry. Though with this map, I want to broaden my limits and perhaps learn a thing or two by drawing a colored map with mountains, forests, rivers and all the goodies I can conjure! The project will be called, "The Gold Coast", a regional map over a landscape ruled by Greed and Blood, due to the rich mineral founding's within the mountains and rivers near the coast. To kick it of I have drawn a simple draft over the coastlines. Enjoy!


11-17-2013, 01:19 PM
Following the coastlines I decided to start attempting on drawing some mountains. This is how they are coming along so far. With some color and shadows, they will hopefully work.


11-17-2013, 08:15 PM
That's a fantastic start; very convincing mountains. Have some rep for jumping right in with a map!

11-18-2013, 01:04 AM
Those mountains look amazing. Great work!

11-18-2013, 06:40 AM
I attempted coloring a test mountain and it came out fine. However, It's not really the style I want so will have to put some work into fixing it. Right now it's to me more "cartoonish" approach, while I'm hoping to achieve a more rustic, antique style. A more shifting color scheme should probably solve that.
The idea is to have forests climbing the lower mountainsides, on some part even draping them in green mantle. Perhaps even some mountain rivers and waterfalls if I dare.

No shadow


Some surrounding grassland and a half-assed attempt at a touch of green within the ravine and the mountainsides

11-18-2013, 07:05 AM
God those look stunning. Hate to harp on about it but you have some talent for mountains :P

Personally I prefer the half-shaded "no shadow" ones, on the whole, when I look at maps. When you shade the entire mountain, when you zoom out and look at the map as a whole they tend to just come across as blotchy smears rather than anything concrete. To each their own though.

11-18-2013, 07:50 AM
Thanks a bunch :)
I agree, the first one does look the best out of the three. It's more "Clean". Though, seeing as the map will be a covered alot with grasslands, I will have to find some solution how to seperate the green ground from the mountains :)

11-18-2013, 07:50 AM
Very cool! I dig it.
The only thing that popped into my mind is "how big is the landmass he's showing?" ... because for me, i was under the impression that this is continental scale...and if that is the case (i could be totally wrong of course, but that was my first impression anyway), the mountains are out of scale aka too big.
Maybe you could add a scale-bar to the map?

11-18-2013, 09:27 AM
Wow, great mountains! I remember how I struggled with mountains, in fact, I still am. Very inspirational!

11-18-2013, 10:52 AM
Thanks a lot for the feedback!:)
Here comes another update of the map, with what I think is all the mountains I want (more or less). However, seeing them all there, I realize that some of them are enormous! Especially the ones around the upper left corner :|


To answer your question, the map is supposed to be a regional map, far from anything continental. Can't say any figures because I actually haven't thought about it. So thanks! I will consider it more, and perhaps add a scale bar to make it clear.
Furthermore I have a question for any Cartographer here that know the answer and wants to help out. When drawing coastal waters, what style is the best when it comes to a regional map like this one? Does any of these quick-drawn examples work? Thanks in advance :)


11-18-2013, 01:03 PM
Your mountains are just awesome! Wish I could draw mountains like that.

As everyone, the b&w looks better. Your coloring is well done, but I agree with madbird-valiant, it's often different on the map, in the middle of other elements.
I have to say that I'm curious to see your forests & cities!

11-18-2013, 01:58 PM
Thanks a lot! While I still have time tonight, I might as well post another question/update, concerning forests. I've never drawn forests before and as I draw with ink, one mistake can be devastation for the map. So I decided to draw two quick examples, with the hope that someone might tell me if they look to much like a lake, hill or perhaps even a fluffy cloud. Or if they actually look like forests and I should keep going. A big thanks in advance :)


11-18-2013, 02:51 PM
That works for forest, I prefer the extra edge detailing on the top one vs. the bottom one. Something I do - since I draw in ink as well and never use pencil (unless using only pencil). I do my mountains the same time I do rivers and coastlines, however, I do forests separately. Once my mountains are done, I place a piece of tracing paper on top and then do my forests. That way if I make a mistake, I can do the forests again, and not have to do the mountains and everything else, again. Just how I process my hand-drawn maps.

11-18-2013, 05:13 PM
I agree with Gamerprinter, both forest work well but the top one I think is a little better. I also like the mountains you have as well.

11-19-2013, 03:14 AM
Yup, the forest on the top is definitely working. Maybe you also want to draw a few little "peaks" of single trees amidst the mass.

11-19-2013, 05:22 AM
No doubts, the top one has more "in perspective" as we better see the tree trunks. It looks more detailed too.
Good job already!

11-19-2013, 09:17 AM
Thanks a bunch for all the feedback, it's very helpful and much appreciated!

I begun drawing some forest following the first design, and here is the result. To me, they feel a little to "sloppy" and the lines feel too thick. However, with a little more detailing, they will do.
I also added a design of a smaller wall/beginning of establishment that will be a Mining Industry/colony in the bottom left corner. Perhaps that will help making the scale more clear.

Ps/ After adding color to some doodles in PS over lunch ( uploaded them in a album on my profile) I couldn't hesitate to give this a quick touch as well. Just to see how it could look.



11-19-2013, 10:52 AM
That looks fantastic, beautiful work.

11-20-2013, 02:31 PM
A quick update of today's progress. Just the forests along the mountainside.

I'm starting to get ideas for settlements on the map. First out a port city, covering parts of the peninsula (I think?) to the right on the picture. Also the want to draw a smaller settlement on the spot of land in the north, where the forest rivers cluster in the top of this picture. Could become cool. Though, I will have to draw some buildings designs separately before I begin drawing them on the map!


11-20-2013, 06:47 PM
Love the chopped-down stumps!

11-22-2013, 08:13 AM
Thanks! Another update, not much more, but something. More forest. The settlement I mentioned - with a holdfast. A small campsite in the forest. And I've begun to sketch outlines for the City and crop fields that will cover the spot of land between the bay shore and the northern forest. What do you fellow cartographers think? Too much or does it work so far? :)

11-22-2013, 10:53 PM
It's looking good!

11-25-2013, 03:50 AM
It's looking good!
Good? Man, that's like saying Da Vinci was an OK painter! :)

11-25-2013, 04:57 AM
Haha thanks ;) I'm hoping to get some time to draw later today, so I can post a update of the city progress. :)

11-25-2013, 07:31 AM
Well, I have to agree, that's really a nice map!

One thing though: if viewed at 100% the mountains can get confusing. Maybe a little more shadowing? It'S just an idea, it might very well mess upt the style.

11-25-2013, 01:04 PM
Right. Started on city. Mostly just outlining as it is, don't want to get to detailed just yet I might want to add something later. It's very tricky to draw, considering that the size of the keep is close to the size of a fingernail, so you might be able to imagine.
What we see there is about 1/10 of the whole city. Does it work so far? :)



11-25-2013, 01:09 PM
To answer Llannagh. Shadows will be added in a later stage of the map. Probably when everything else is drawn. Haven't done any so far. However, what style I use depends on how I decide to color it. If I color it. :)

11-25-2013, 04:53 PM
that is beautiful! I really like your city!

11-27-2013, 05:01 PM
Thanks! Todays city progress. Not much more since the last one, but some :)


11-28-2013, 02:20 PM
I like it! Looking forward to watching this piece develop.


11-30-2013, 05:13 PM
Thanks! Here comes a bigger update. Almost finished drawing all the buildings within the city. When that is done I'm going to draw the outskirt settlement and the port district. And last but not least I'm going to add smaller details, like brickwork, some cobblestone streets and perhaps some lesser objects. Hoping to finish that tomorrow!

Added a picture of the whole map, so you can see how it's coming along. What do you think?


11-30-2013, 05:46 PM
I think this is going to be insanely cool when it's done...

11-30-2013, 08:07 PM
Amazing, this map is looking really cool! I love all the elements from the mountains to the forests to the city and buildings. I'm just curious if you will be adding any colour to this map eventually? Also what medium are you doing this in?

12-01-2013, 07:12 AM
Thanks a lot. Much appreciated!
It's hand drawn on a A3 ark with a ink pen. When it's all done I will definitely color it. However, I haven't decided if I'm going to do it digitally in Photoshop or with watercolor!

12-01-2013, 08:01 AM
Very cool, the city is fantastic (though quite out-of-scale with the mountains :P)!

I think your lines could use some clean-up, you have double lines in a lot of places. If you choose to color it digitally, that kind of clean-up is easy to do in PS. If you go with watercolors (which I vote for, by the way!), you can do it by going over the lines with ink again, thickening them to hide the double. Some unevenness in line weight just adds interest. Unless you are going for a sketchy style, of course; then keep it :)

If you choose watercolors, make sure the ink is waterproof first. Even if it says waterproof on the pen, test it! I ruined a map once by assuming that the manufacturer didn't lie ;)

12-01-2013, 08:46 AM
Thanks! :)

Yea, I noticed but hope it's not too much of a dealbreaker. The size of the first buildings I drew, in the left bottom corner are more to scale (if you pretend that they are really really big buildings). I realized that it would be way to tricky to draw a city with that small buildings on a A3. Hay! In the end I could always claims it's a city for civilized Giants :P

I agree, it definitely needs a clean-up. I will probably end up editing it to make one clean version digitally and one more sketchy hand-drawn with color.

Wow, thanks! Hadn't considered your last advice. The Horror! Talk about a downer ...

Klaus van der Kroft
12-03-2013, 08:16 AM
Ooh! Yes, I like this!

I really appreciate it when a map is fully hand-drawn; it oozes with the style and personality of the author, and fills it with uniqueness. Plus the city is fantastic.

I demand to see more.

12-03-2013, 01:12 PM
Your city is just awesome man!

12-04-2013, 10:37 AM
Thanks for all the feedback, it's much appreciated! Have been busy writing the past days so progress is slow. I did most of the "port district" and some outskirt settlements. Also added brickwork to the stone buildings and some smaller details. Here it is!


However, I have two style questions that I hope someone can advice me on.
First, I'm unsure what style to use when drawing the ground in the city. Keep it as it is and make it more clear with color. Or give it a cobblestone touch like something in this picture.


Second, does it work when I shadow like this. Or will it make the city way to sketchy? Here I've attempted it on some cliffs at the edge of the city.


What do you fellow cartographers think? Thanks in advance. Cheers :)

12-07-2013, 07:48 AM
I begun drawing the outskirt farmlands that will connect the city to the settlement around the Bridge over the canal. This is the current progress.


12-08-2013, 04:17 AM
Concerning the questions in the post before your last, I'd say – in my opinion – no cobble and shading. It's so crammed with detail already, I think it'd be best to let the color do the remaining work in those areas.

The farmlands look fantastic :)

12-08-2013, 08:50 AM
I second Lingon about cobbles and about farmlands :)

12-10-2013, 10:35 AM
Thanks a lot for the feedback, every encouraging word is like a inspirational boost to keep me at it :) I will steer clear of cobbles and too much shading! Hoping to finish the drawing during this or early next week. And then color it after the holiday!

Might as well post a small update of this days progress the farmlands are almost finished. Cheers!


12-16-2013, 08:55 AM

Here we go! What I would call a prior to coloring finished map (except for some smaller touches and frame design). However, after drawing at this for several hours the past weeks, I can't really tell if I like or dislike the result. What do you think? Feedback is much appreciated.


Since I begun this project my "technique" have changed significantly. After all this is my first attempt at something like this, so I guess the mix of style and scale in this map was bound to happen. Comparing the left and right half of the map this become clear. That's why I chose to add the second picture. A "version" of the map that only keep the right side of the map where scales and styles are more consistent. And thus, I come to you fellow cartographers with the question, should I stay with the original draft or go forward with the regional regional version?(Inception map! :|). Thanks in advance.

And, of course, Merry Christmas! :)

12-16-2013, 12:01 PM
I like this one...all that detail makes me want to just sit here and examine it for a few hours...:)

- Max -
12-16-2013, 07:38 PM
There's obviously some scale issues from the left part to the right part, especially looking at hills sizes. The mountains and hills sizes seem more consistent on the left part. On the right part, the mountains look way too small regarding the other elements of the map.

12-16-2013, 09:29 PM
Scale issues aside, I quite like this map. It is bursting with all sorts of lovely detail. If I had one piece of advice, it's that your line work looks somewhat rough around the edges. I'd try and work on smoothing out your brush/pencil strokes a bit. This will help with overall clarity. Very good job though.


12-17-2013, 05:42 AM
It's a lovely map, all of it, but to get the strongest composition and scale consistency I'd actually suggest to use the regional regional version and crop away a small bit on the right as well. Just east of that fortress in the south.

12-22-2013, 06:03 PM
Thanks a lot for the feedback, always warming and very helpful! Right now I’m leaning towards making one version digitally of the regional regional map, where I clean up double and to sketchy lines, add color and add “cover up” legends over the mountains I can’t avoid. This should help with the scale issues (I think.) However, just for the living room wall I will probably color the initial design as well. But with watercolor. Cheers!

01-08-2014, 10:16 AM
After three weeks away I begun coloring the map. It's still far from done, but anyhow, this is the current version. What do you think? This post is made for two reasons. To show the progress but also because I'm uncertain about the result. The picture isn't at all turning out how I wanted it to, I think, because the color style and the more sketchy original piece don't match. However, I might just be blind from the whole picture, seeing that I worked on this for some time now. Feedback and opinions about the color would be much appreciated to help me forward. Cheers!


01-08-2014, 12:20 PM
Sure the color is rather pale but I think it look nice even if I would prefer to have more contrast. Aside from that, the map is really loking good.

01-08-2014, 01:30 PM
I like the look. About the only thing I would change were I you is to make the sea color lighter. I think your land colors fit in well with the style. They look hand-colored even if they're not.

01-09-2014, 06:21 PM
Thanks a lot for the feedback. Since my last post I attempted a ton of different styles and coloring techniques; still feeling that I can't find the right one. Starting to feel that this map might be better off without coloring. However, tonight I came closer to the one I imagined. Its closer to the antique feel I want to achieve, yet still inviting with the stronger colors. What do you think? Better or worse? Cheers!


01-09-2014, 07:19 PM
Wow, I don't look at this thread for a few weeks, and now it's full of awesomeness. I definitely like the second/more antique-y version better.

01-09-2014, 11:42 PM
This newest one is excellent in my opinion.

01-10-2014, 06:32 AM
I am rather undecided on the water. It takes quite a lot of space on your map and, in it's current depiction, looks rather flat.

I very much like the rest of the colouration though. I'd say it fits perfectly both your drawing style as well as the intended antique feel.

01-10-2014, 08:08 AM
I wasn't convinced by your first coloring, but this last one is just fine!

I like the idea of different colors for the roofs : it adds a nice touch and is really helping to distinguish the buildings in a glance!

01-10-2014, 09:39 AM
This is a wonderful map :)

Your unique buildings, especially how they are
portrayed in 3D, really make the map seem
busy. In a couple places, some of the buildings
look odd or slanted, but for the most part it's
a really nice touch.

I also like your classic color scheme; it sort
of contrasts the buildings by adding some calm.
A calm but busy map :P


01-10-2014, 09:58 AM
This map has some really nice indivdual parts but they just do not match up that well --> scale issues. Also, there is one river splitting downstream (which is very unlikely in the real world, just FYI).

As a piece of art, ignoring the scale mismatch, this is wonderful. I really dig the whole city and bridges stuff and i also think that the forests, on their own, look very nice.

01-10-2014, 10:38 AM
I'm really glad that people like this. All the feedback is very warming and motivating. Right now I'm in the stage of just wanting to get done with this and move forward to my next project. After all, this is my first attempt at something like this and I can't wait to use everything I learned. However, I won't let that make the final work stressed. :)

Eilathen, when you say that the river split downstream you mean the canal that runs through the city, yes? Where they split there is, or what is supposed to be a dam (I realize that it's very blotch at the moment) that directs the stream of water through the city. I will try to make this more clear when working on Freodins point, the flatness of the water.


02-03-2014, 11:15 AM
This project and drawing overall(sadly) have been at a standstill for the past weeks / month due to a lack of free time. Yesterday I got a chance to work some more with this (hurray) and manage to design a frame that I think works with the general style. Like the rest of the map it's hand drawn and then colored in PS. What do you think fellow cartographers?

I also added labels and gave the water a small touch. I think that the only thing remaining now is to design three shield for the three label categorize, give the labels a more antique touch and some final polishing. Cheers! :)


02-03-2014, 12:57 PM
It think the frame and the map look great together.

02-03-2014, 01:24 PM
I agree with Azelor. I think its just the right amount of fancy to be perfectly congruent.