View Full Version : Old school hand drawn map in photoshop.

12-30-2013, 03:28 AM
I have tried to make maps outside my artistic level and failed miserably so I decided to go back to a hand drawn map like I used to do as a kid playing AD&D. I used techniques that I learned from youtube tutorials for the coloring. I have yet to figure out a good border and legend for this map. I like the idea of a masked compass rose but the one I have is too basic.

I also am thinking about using dark lines on the coast instead of actual blue for the water. The border is supposed to be a leather scroll/roll with the map attached to it on the inside, even though the actual map doesn't have a cartographer border.

Anyway for what it is I was looking for some feedback keeping in mind I am not an artist, just wish I was.

01-02-2014, 03:15 AM
This is a great example of a hand drawn map... but exactly because of that you should be very careful with the digital effects. The drop shadow on the mountains and forest details rather destroys the feel. Try to do without that.
If you think that bare triangles are too simple to represent your mountains, try to add some lines for shading.
For consistency's sake you could also try to redo the coast line with a soft brush, similar to the rest of the linework.
And finally, turn down the intensity of the labels a bit, or add some slight structure. Pure white looks rather fake in these maps.

But all in all... for your claim that you are not an artist you managed to deliver a rather nice piece of art.

01-02-2014, 03:33 PM
I agree with Freodin, I'd remove the drop shadows (which, incidentally, gives the impression that the mountains are hovering over the continent). Otherwise, a nice hand-drawn piece.


01-03-2014, 02:11 AM
What they said. Insecure artist, maybe, but still artistry. Or do you prefer craftsman, as that has a bit different connotation? In any case, nice work.

Again with the making-digital-look-hand-drawn: nothing wrong with a coastal wash of blue to emphasize ocean... just tinker with making it less perfect. The outer edge can show some brush swashes. The inner edge can even show roughness - I've seen plenty of hand-tinted period maps where the tinting was way less precise than the line work.

I like it.

Cunning Cartographer
01-03-2014, 03:23 AM
Agree with the drop shadow, doesn't work for this style at all. Using digital elements in hand drawn maps CAN work, but it's finding the right balance. The issue really is that you put the drop shadow on the linework itself instead of the whole items, though personally I think it would look better without the shadows altogether. Your linework isn't necesarily all that bad, just a little too conformed with the width, so it loses the hand drawn feel. Presumably you don't have a stylus/tablet, but (depending on the software you are using) you might be able to alter the brush settings to change the line width to be a little more random so the linework isn't so digital. Alternatively go around your lines with an eraser (or a mask to be more specific so it isn't destructive) and thin the lines out in areas (as I did in the example below). Add a few extra details and the map will really start to work.

Use digital effects sparingly, I used a quick solid colour wash for the mountains and trees, but added a soft marble pattern overlay to the trees to break up the solid colour.


All in all, good start.

01-03-2014, 11:36 AM
Thanks for the feedback. I will have to figure out how to turn on the pressure setting for my wacom tablet. I took a pic of my layers just to see if I am on the right track when it comes to how I have it set up. From what I read I have to draw more detail in the mountains and forests and not rely completely on color layers and or effects to flush them out? I also used a displacement map for the paper to make the elements look like they were drawn on the map instead of floating above it. Unfortunately it didn't do much for the mountains.


Cunning Cartographer
01-03-2014, 11:59 AM
Everyone has a different workflow. I personally have all my "Ink" in one big group, then divided into mountains, forests, icons, etc., and have "Colour" in another group. This is a more traditional comic book style of drawing keeping colour and ink work separate. Definitely learn how to use the pressure settings, they increase your drawing ten fold. I went from thinking "my drawings ain't half bad" to "I am a master artist!" when I got my wacom (albeit I'm not a master artist in any sense of the word, but that's what it suddenly felt like :D ).

The key really is time, effort and details. You can tell when someone got tired of doing a map because they left out the little things that make a good map into a GREAT map.

Dimitri N. Bugnolo
01-05-2014, 08:28 PM
Has anyone made a topographic map of the USA & Canada on Photoshop at a scale of 1:2,000,000 ?

01-05-2014, 11:25 PM
Do you think it'd be possible to make a map like this in GIMP? Or is the free software not good enough? Because I'd love to be able to make maps that look similar to this.

01-07-2014, 02:44 AM
You can do with GIMP just about everything you can do with Photoshop. It is only the workflow that is different... quite often very different.
The main difference: PS allows you do modify a base layer with all kind of style layers, without destorying the original. In GIMP, most functions do directly change this base layer.