View Full Version : WIP - Unnamed fantasy world with realistic concerns

01-20-2014, 01:20 PM
Okay. Been doing some maps for settings for years (like 10 or more) but never really sought to perfect the craft. Some scribbles on a page or a quickly drawn up GIMP image was all I ever went for. Recently, I decided that this just won't do. Why have crappy maps when I can put in some hours and actually get something that is worth showing off to people/publishing? So here we go.

This image is just a quick Inkscape doodle with some fractalized paths to get the gist of my layout. This world is meant to be extremely earth-like in its climate, and does obey the laws of science (physics, geology, biology, etc), so I tried to make shapes that could vaguely fit together Pangaea-like. I also tried to maintain the rather important frozen over polar cap, because as I understand it, Antarctica is very pivotal in the maintenance of our climate. I think the land mass is just a little less than that of earth (maybe 80% water or so) so I may need to add another continent or change up one for size.

Anyway, here it is, please give feedback (and I prefer honest, even harsh critique, as its much easier to learn from that than from trying to discern the issue from a left handed compliment).

Again, right now I'm trying to nail down the geology of the map (plate tectonics and all that) so that is the primary concern. The other big concern would be am I close to 70% water? Lastly, would the climate be similar (ocean currents and all that jazz).

01-20-2014, 03:30 PM
I think the land mass is just a little less than that of earth (maybe 80% water or so) so I may need to add another continent or change up one for size.

Well... actually if the land mass was LESS than earth, the water would be MORE than earth. 71% of the earth's surface is salt water oceans, then you have lakes, seas frozen water in the polar ice caps, rivers, etc... that leaves you right about 80% water. So if your planet was MORE water than earth, it would have to be over 80%. If you want 80% OCEANS, then this is right.

here it is, please give feedback (and I prefer honest, even harsh critique, as its much easier to learn from that than from trying to discern the issue from a left handed compliment).

Again, right now I'm trying to nail down the geology of the map (plate tectonics and all that) so that is the primary concern. The other big concern would be am I close to 70% water?

So I just very quickly squished your continents together and slapped on some color to make it easier to see. I got this:


To me, if that is the entire map it appears to be about 60% water (maybe closer to 2/3 of the planet) ... nowhere near 80%.

would the climate be similar (ocean currents and all that jazz).

That depends on several things. Climate is affected by the gasses in the air, distance between the planet and the sun, activity WITHIN the planet, etc. Currents will be affected by the same things... and by tectonic activity and by the distance/size of the moons.

Tons of things can affect climate so I couldn't tell from this :s

As for tectonics... I don't know much in that area, sorry :)

Best luck!

01-20-2014, 04:42 PM
Ok. First of all, that pangea mash up of continents is awesome. I didn't realize I had got them so close to fitting together (I know there was some wrangling and editing, but it looks pretty much original).

Second, the thing about climate was simply about how continents affect currents, which therefore affect climate. I read about it in some magazine but I was uncertain of details. Hell I could be completely wrong on that count.

Thanks for the feedback! I'll shrink the landmasses a bit and see what comes of it.

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01-20-2014, 07:56 PM
Simple enough to take a look at currents here on Earth and get an idea of how things work, then go ahead and plot those out on your map. Northern flows go clockwise, southern counter. Water from the equator heading south is warm and therefore warms the atmosphere and that brings moisture to eastern coasts, while western coasts are cool water. Then you figure out your air currents, the ITCZ and its meanderings... get the gist down and you can figure out a realistic enough climate fairly easily.

You could be a climatologist and the best you can really do is make it plausible so far as we understand now... its a complex system that we really don't have a complete grasp on in the world we live in, let alone one we construct, so make the generalities plausible and go from there, LOL.

01-20-2014, 08:58 PM
Ohh. Cool idea. I'll smash both these ideas together when I get home from work and repost. Thanks again!

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01-21-2014, 06:42 PM

Your map looks fine and realistic at first sight. There is one issue concerning tectonics that I need to note though, and I would try to fix it if I were you:
Towards the west of the map you have a huge arc-chain of islands, big ones. An arc like that happens as a result of oceanic crust being subducted under another plate and by the size of the islands, that has been going on for a while... However, at the same time, there is a clear West-East oceanic ridge spreading the northern continent from the southern ones. They are sufficiently away to say this has been happening for some time as well.
My point is that you have created an impossible area. You cannot have subduction and crust-formation in the same point, there is no way a ridge suddenly ends in a subduction zone (I just double checked this on an Earth's map and can't see it anywhere)

On a more positive note, I quickly drafted a map of oceanic currents for you. This is draft though because there is one very important information needed to make it more accurate - the limits of the continental shelves.

Here's my rules of thumb for creating currents (assuming Earth-like conditions):
- at the equator, hot currents develop in from East to West, they will flow poleward as soon as they find a significant continental mass (even if underwater, some continental shelves are submerged).
- this poleward movement of hot water remains "glued" to eastern coasts until they are more or less around 45-60 - they will be turning Eastward by then.
- Once they become eastbound they start cooling down into cold currents, they will move towards the equator once they meet another continent.
- Even for smaller gulfs, the basic rule is that hot currents will also go polebound in the eastern coasts.

01-21-2014, 11:13 PM
Ok, first off, thanks so far to everyone. So much help already. This is exactly what I was hoping for when I tackled this project. So two maps following, one is with currents added, to make sure that I'm on the right boat. Pixie, I didn't copy your map so much as I tried to recreate it using the techniques you said. I glanced at your example map and the two looked similar, but hey, just wanted some more feedback. I also moved the island chain. I totally understand what you are saying, but I kinda like the islands (not that they have to stay, I'm just partial, for some reason). They may still not work, but hey, here's to trying, right? :D Also, if you or Veldehar have any ideas where I might find out more information about air currents, as I am completely uncertain about them, whereas I had at least a basic concept of how ocean currents work.


The second map is my own version of the pangea concept, firstly to see exactly how it goes together (because I may need to adjust some continent sizes/shapes) and also because I have a sneaking suspicion that it will be important in the next step, which is that I want to get a broad idea of the plate tectonics at work here, so I can know if I have a "ring of fire" situation, and other such important bits. So thank you Jalyha for the idea. If anyone knows a good way to get started on that, I don't even know what to look for, except the continent in the center of the "C" like formation is like the African Rift Valley (that was the intention anyway) just much further along its course.


And I can post my Inkscape SVG work files, if anyone wants them. I dunno if thats like a faux pas or anything around here, but if it would make things easier I can.

EDIT: Oh, and I also thought it would be a good idea to think out land bridges and that kind of stuff, even though that is more into the history "moving populations around" stage in some ways. I think that might fall into the suggestion of figuring out continental shelves, but again, I am a noob at that stuff. Just enough geological knowledge to hurt myself. :D

01-22-2014, 05:18 AM
Looks good. Looks pretty good.
There's one more rule I forgot to write.
- above 60, the currents will also have the tendency to turn Westward

Still, I think tectonics before climate is a better route to follow. With a tectonic model you can determine where you have continental shelves (which will add detail to your currents pattern) and you will have tall mountain ranges (which will add detail to your winds pattern).

Anyway, as for wind / weather. Have you read this?
The Climate Cookbook (http://jc.tech-galaxy.com/bricka/climate_cookbook.html)

It's an awesome DIY guide, a must-read I got pointed to from this forum.

And also, have a hard look at pics like this:

01-22-2014, 01:13 PM
First, that is an amazing resource, the whole website is full of awesomeness. I got an attempt at the plate tectonics, but I'm pretty sure I'm way off. I quit messing with it when I got discouraged. Maybe I'm closer than I think, but right now it feels like a jumbled mess. Here is what I've gotten.


01-22-2014, 01:18 PM
Um... I know absolutely nothing about tectonics, but... I thought each plate moves in one direction?

It looks like your plate in the middle (the one that's all water) is moving every direction at once?

Or I just don't get it. I'm not real bright :P

01-22-2014, 01:21 PM
No I think your right, but that's all I could think of. Thats when I started getting discouraged. I really don't think its right, but I think maybe I'm close. Not sure.

01-22-2014, 03:16 PM
Some quick considerations about plates
- You have 2 kinds of plates, continental (less dense) and oceanic (more dense)
- Plates can rotate, translate and deform (Larger plates are less likely to rotate than smaller ones)
- When two plates collide the outcome depends (amongst many other things) on their density. More dense plates will subdue under the less dense ones forming a trench and a mountain range.
- A plate colliding on one side is probably creating crust on the other side.

I see some problems:
You have an oceanic plate that's moving towards all directions. Plates can really dilate, but usually not a big plate such as that one, and not enough to be relevant here.
You lack the small plates, that usually are formed after the fragmentation of bigger plates. Look for the pointy edges of the large plates and fragment those off, as that's usually what would have happened.
Your plates are moving really antagonistically everywhere, that's probably not impossible, but most uncommon. You continent will be riddled with earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanoes. Usually there's a lot of plates frictioning laterally.

Take earth's plates as an example:

And this are possible plate interaction outputs:
File:Tectonic plate boundaries.png - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Tectonic_plate_boundaries.png)

01-22-2014, 03:49 PM
I dont know much about tectonics, and I have only 5 minutes before I have to go, so there will probably be a lot of mistakes on my examples bellow, (take that as a great learning opportunity lol) but what I what I usually do is:

- First of all, determine where your continents are separating and where you are creating crust. Look for big archipelagos and separated landmasses. Then look for landmasses that might be colliding. This is my (quick and probably wrong) guess:

- From there you can devise some majos plates and estimate their movements, this is my (quick and probably wrong) guess:
Then usually you have to makea few corrections to the map. For example, the place marked as #1 the map might have island formations.

- Fraction the plates under the most stress, usually at the pointy edges, propagate the implications of that to the map.

PS: A bigger number of plates, and more carefully thought ones, will make more sense and produce a better map. That up there was just a rough example of how it works.

PS2: I'll revisit this thread when I get back home and to things more carefully.

01-22-2014, 04:54 PM
Slightly off topic at this juncture, but here is a real nice website that takes a look at the ITCZ and basic weather patterns.


Another thing with your tectonics, aside from the already stated, is that you tend to have your land masses sitting on a single plate, with very little land to land collision... not impossible, for certain. But it does leave out some "drama" to the whole thing, LOL. And land masses isolated in the middle of plates can become barren over the millennia, as volcanic activity helps promote fertility in the soil. Australia is an example, where even with ample rainfall in areas, the land can still be desert-like. But that's really here nor there, just babbling by now, LOL.

When looking at currents, note that on Earth there is the east-west equatorial current, there are also counter currents. Not a huge deal, might be worth noting.

01-22-2014, 10:47 PM
Ok. I think I'm on the right path here. This is not finished, its just all I could get done before bed. I have most of the major zones squared away, and if there is anything else that needs to be tweaked, I can do that before I finish up in the morning. I hope you will agree that this attempt is much closer to right so far. Thanks again for all the help so far. Certainly could not have gotten this far on my own. Once this is straight, I'll be able to map out my mountains and then I should be able to get a good grasp on my climate zones.


01-23-2014, 12:10 AM
Oh, now I like it! Its very believable, but I still think that you should add a small plate or two ;)

Another thing to consider is for how long some tectonic movement trend have been going on, and how fast it happened. For example, depending on how things played out, you should dot some divergent boundaries with a few islands, since those can have pretty mad vulcanism. Like the point where you have three plates diverging, that's a good candidate!

My little 2 cents for climate is to divide and conquer. Trying to place all the climates at once can be very confusing, usually at first I separate the maps into Very cold, Cold, Mild, Warm, Hot and Very dry, dry, wet, very wet, and from that I work out actual climate zones.

Just some pointers that you might already seen, with all the material you got:

On earth-like planets winds blow like this:

Factors that increase humidity:
Wind blowing from the ocean into the continent.
Wind blowing into mountains (orographic rains)
Heating of air in general, such as locations at the equator or the tropics (+- 60). When the air heats it goes up, and looses its carried water in the process.

Factors that decrease humidity:
Strong dry winds.
Cold currents.
Being on the other side of the mountain.
Cooling of air in general.

A good reference material:
7(p) Global Scale Circulation of the Atmosphere (http://www.physicalgeography.net/fundamentals/7p.html)

01-23-2014, 01:12 AM
Pixie's rules of thumb are probably good enough to get a plausible set of circulation going. But to get a really interesting set of winds and waves, you may want to first figure gross overall seasonal air circulation. As best I understand, a main driver for surface currents is the prevailing winds across a stretch of water. That gets modified of course if winds would seem to pile up water in one corner of an ocean basin - then you get currents just to 'relieve the pressure'. Plus, the ocean currents will tend to stick around once set up - most stay stable, with a few odd seasonal oscillations or even reversals.

I am not a climatologist (!) but take a look at the kind of figuring I've suggested & others have suggested in this post (http://www.cartographersguild.com/general-discussion/21580-ecosystem-clima-zones-my-new-world.html#post204270). If it seems too complex, ditch it. If it seems like fuuUUUuunn, though......

About the island chain... how about if instead of a subduction zone ring-of-fire thing, you had a *really* energetic hotspot going? You know how the Hawaiian arc apparently developed as the Pacific plate passed over upwelling magma: littler islands older, as they have eroded (or the hot spot has been strengthening), biggest still all nice and lava-splashy, Kilauea-like. In the mood for some serious volcanic activity? The plate under the arc would need to be moving perpendicular to what would form subduction islands.

01-23-2014, 10:36 PM
Ok. So this is my plates done. I think. :D I may have goofed up the last half. There may be to many small ones. There may be to much conversion and diversion still, or some of the transform faults may be wonky, etc. But I think it is right. Here is the final tectonic map.


Assuming this is right, I'm going to sketch out some orogeny zones (almost sounds sexy... and maybe to the geographer it is :D) to get the ball rolling towards the next phases.


As a final note for the evening, my eye keeps drifting to the huge expanse of water to the west of the map and wanting to fill it with something. Should I, or should I leave it alone?

01-23-2014, 11:23 PM
I think it looks pretty natural to have a huge expanse of water in the ocean ;) :P

01-24-2014, 12:17 AM
Oh, but you have a thing there already - it is a churning, storm-wracked, endless expanse of vicious nautical adversary for any sailor who might dare to sail west. Here be sea serpents. If you have navigators who *can* brave its terrors, they will be heroic, or else require extensive fleets and preparations. If your era turns more modern, the expanse will call for endurance in air transport - zeppelins and seaplanes perhaps.

It's the biggest thing on your globe - though it has a visual sameness, don't think of it as nothingness, but as a magnificent, malevolent feature that can lead to great storytelling.

01-24-2014, 09:18 AM
It would make the circumnavigation feat really impressive to be sure. It seems bigger than the Pacific. Maybe by a considerable amount.

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01-24-2014, 11:35 PM
Ok. So assuming all my previous maps have been more or less correct, I made this, which is basically a rough draft of the summer (in the southern hemisphere*) pressure zones. I also left in the currents and orogeny layers, because I felt they would be necessary to get a full view. I think this is accurate, but again, I'm not 100% certain. Tomorrow I will generate the southern winter map the same way. At that point I will hopefully be in a position to place forests/rain forests/deserts etc.


*Its centered around the southern hemisphere, because that's where the great civilizations have been centered, if you are wondering

Edit: Updated the map with one better illustrating the pressure zones and also made some adjustments after studying the resources more.

01-26-2014, 07:16 PM
Looks good.

Are you following "Geoff's Climate Cookbook"?

01-26-2014, 08:00 PM
Yes, along with a few other suggested resources.

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02-08-2014, 01:44 PM
Ok, long time with no posts, but I have been working on this as I have a chance. I am about to figure up temperatures across the map and then I can start assigning biomes based on precipitation vs temp :D. Here are WIPs:

Winter Pressure Zones and Winds

Summer Pressure Zones and Winds

Winter Precipitation (Relative, not absolute)

Summer Precipitation

BTW, if anyone is interested in how I created the precipitation maps, I can gladly explain my methodology, but all the info comes from the Climate Cookbook referenced earlier in the thread. If anyone sees anything that might be off, let me know.

02-08-2014, 02:05 PM
Heya :) Long time for sure :P

I'm trying to do this on my map, but it's not working :( I guess I will pull up that cookbook :P

Yours looks great to me!

02-08-2014, 02:08 PM
Sorry, I must have missed your thread (been really busy lately). Give me a link, and I'll take a look at what you have. :D

And thanks for the compliment! I think it is right(ish) but I'm forging on anyway. :D Thats what lots of save files are for, right?

02-08-2014, 03:13 PM
Ok... I think I screwed something up. lol. SO, here is the climate/biome map that everything else has led up to. I don't think I should have so many "Mediterranean" climates, and I have one on the north ice cap continent that seems to not exist on earth. I also only seem to have one desert, which doesn't sound right either. At least only one major one. Anyway, take a look and see what you think. I'm off to work.


02-08-2014, 03:29 PM
It doesn't haave to be like earth, your planet isn't earth :?

AND it's coming on better than mine (http://www.cartographersguild.com/regional-world-mapping/26110-wip-since-nothing-working-i-have-add-world-tectonics-up.html) :P

02-09-2014, 12:56 PM
Oh... I'm a silly sod. Planets are spheres, so there is no WEST on Antarctica. Similarly, there would be no west on my polar continent. That will probably fix the "?" climate zone I have there. I'll mess around with it and see where it goes.

EDIT: And it did. Here are the corrected maps from above. Now that I have my biomes figured out, It's time for me to try and get this mess into Wilbur to get some nice detailed landscapes and rivers and stuff. :D




02-09-2014, 01:50 PM
Oh, that makes sense >.<

I think I did the same thing, actually :P Might be why my chart looked so crazy? :D

(Also OH! now I see what you did with the precipitations!

02-10-2014, 04:00 AM
Looking good, eternalsage.
Have you done / drafted any temperature maps as well? Those would be handy too.

Overall, I think your biomes make a lot of sense, and it was a good idea to just scribble the words in the area instead of defining strict borders by coloring. Good luck with the next bit. Coming from someone who's working on elevation and "wilburing" the process every now and then: do one continent at a time. Wilbur needs bigger detail or it will leave you with something along the lines of two mountains and one river per continent ;)