View Full Version : WIP - (ambitious) World Map of fictious earth-like planet

01-21-2014, 07:47 PM
Right, so, first of all, some info:
I am aiming at recreating the vivid world I have created with friends many (many!) years ago. But this time, as realistic/plausible as possible. There is quite a lot of background in my map concerning culture, history and even climate, which results from so much goofing around as a kid, but I will be trying to accommodate that as I can as the focus is on plausibility.
With this in mind I have been reading a lot on tectonics and geology, on climates and geography, etc. In the middle of so much "navigating around" I found this site and it has given me already invaluable advice and pointers.

My first goal is to achieve full-on detailed maps of elevation and climate.
Then create some history, fitting it to what I have in my memory from teenhood and to what climates/terrain allow. (Strictly no magic :))

Should I reach this point... then... possibly, draw historical maps / geographical maps.

I am currently working on elevation, having created a draft coastline and a complete tectonics model. This:

These are smaller copies of the original multi-multi-layered original. I sometimes export small files to G-Projector to have a look at the planet with different projections (seeing Ortographic projections of the poles really helps!). It took a few weeks and experimenting with several possibilities until I got a balanced model.

I am now on the process of hand-painting a planetary elevation map and, oh man, is that a lengthy process!

01-21-2014, 08:10 PM
This looks like a very interesting project and I will be following
the progress as it comes. Have you looked at the site's tutorials
yet? Depending on what software you might be using, or could
download (Gimp is free), those could be big boosters to your

I've always wanted to see a very scientific/accurate map on here,
and particularly while it's being made :)

01-21-2014, 08:27 PM

I am using Photoshop (and G-Projector every now and then). For now, the job is lasso -> bucket fill, lasso -> bucket fill, lasso -> bucket fill, almost at pixel level. Every now and then I do some other tasks (like warping a selection to change/squeeze/stretch the overall shape of a mountain range, or to open a valley/rift). Once all land-area is colored this way, I'll work on noise and effects (might use Wilbur at some point). Once land is about right, will repeat the technique for submerged crust.

I am aiming at something along the lines of this:
(BUT... a little less detailed, I'm not mad ;) )

As for tutorials, I have read a few yes. I've been lurking for a while.

01-26-2014, 07:48 PM
Just wanted to share my current state of affairs concerning this map:

This is a partial screen shot from the continent where my work is more advanced. The method is to paint small areas at a time, highest bits first.
It's a slow task but I'm enjoying the result. Specially now that the main ridges stand out, as well as some volcanoes, and I'm starting to cover other areas with lower/older mountainous areas.
The elevation map is a separate layer, obviously.

This second pic shows the color code I'm using.. just for reference (and the continent is zoomed out a little).

Any thoughts? I've seen this so often lately that I'm curious to know how it actually looks to others.

02-01-2014, 09:14 AM
Another peek the the current state, a week after the previous one. I decided to work on single continent at a time, and started with the smallest. So, at the current pace I know it'll take no less than a month to finish the elevation map.
This has been 100% hand painted with lasso -> bucket fill technique, often with a lot of zoom.

I have also took some time experimenting turning my work into a B&W heightmap and testing it with Wilbur. It works fine, but Wilbur can't make precipitation vary from area to area and considers all terrain to be equally hard/soft for erosion. On a continental scale it doesn't really work that way... Hence, I'll use it only in the last stage, to create some localized erosion, because on that particular aspect it's way better than I can ever be painting by hand. I will still have to develop that technique once I get to that point.

Anyway, that's the future in a month or two time... Without further ado, the current state of affairs:

This first one shows the whole continent. I left latitude/longitude lines, which are 30 apart in both cases. The map goes roughly from 35 N to 60 S.

This second one has more detail. In most of the map there's only 2/3 levels of altitude to go...

02-01-2014, 10:25 AM
Oh that's shaping up well. :D Looking forward to the next installment!

02-02-2014, 08:12 AM
Nice work on your mountains! And yeah, an ambitious work (the world maps often are :))

02-09-2014, 09:21 AM
Well, again, here's a the weekly preview of the "Work In Process"...

I think I am getting better and faster with the technique, but at the same time, more demanding with myself and I now spend maybe 1/3 of the time retouching what's done (not a bad thing in itself, but it will make everything take longer).

Also, the color key had a problem which had to be fixed (inverted colors in the lower levels) so I had to redo some parts over, which made me move "sideways" instead.

Yet, I'm still pretty proud with what's done, and enthusiastic about what's to come. Here's the preview:
(This time at 100%, meaning no zoom, meaning larger image)

02-09-2014, 10:07 AM
Wow that's beautiful! I wish I had your patience!!

02-09-2014, 01:09 PM
It's coming along really well pixie :)

02-09-2014, 01:17 PM
That looks really great. As other folks have said, I admire your patience!

02-11-2014, 03:21 AM
This is pure madness... I love it! Pixie, one tip: try to make a grayscale version of these layers as well, so you can easily turn them into a DEM file. That might come in handy afterwards when you're bumpmapping/shading the map.

Oh and my sincerest compliments with the humongous amount of work you're putting into this. The result is pretty awesome!

02-11-2014, 07:23 PM
Thank you. Thank you all, encouragement is greatly appreciated.
It's a work of passion more than a work of patience. After all, this is "my world" for over 20 years. Still, the perspective of needing months at the current rate of production to have this finished is pretty daunting.

As for the grayscale version DEM... I've played around with it already but it's not so simple. This look gains from the mixing of layers and "partially" selected pixels. When I use selection to make new layers, in grayscale, there's a lot that goes awol. I am playing about with the idea of enlarging the finished heightmap 4x, then grayscale it, then using wilbur to soften/erode/fill the blanks. But, as I said, I think that's a far ahead, not an immediate issue.

02-11-2014, 07:39 PM
And I thought I was having a rough time D:

02-15-2014, 09:10 AM
Latest update for the guild.

I have developed a new technique that works better for the lower levels of elevation. I'm trying to put it in words but while it's simple, I'm struggling to explain. Nevermind... So, I just decided that sometime in the upcoming weeks/months, I will make a small movie of 15 mins of work or so. But not just now. This is allowing me to speed up with very decent results and I want to see this first continent finished.

On the other hand, as I said last week, I am getting more demanding with myself and picky, so about half my time spent on this is making small alterations, adding smaller mountains, steeper valleys, etc.
Anyway, a lot more is to come. I reckon two more weeks before I leave the western continent... (Might post a reduced version of the entire world map next time, so you can get a scaled grasp of how much I still have ahead).

Here it is. The lowlands north and south of the eastern range is what I am working on, so don't mind those. The rest is pretty much done.

Feel free to throw in suggestions or anything else.

02-15-2014, 09:33 AM
This is so amazing, I will definitely be watching intently! Keep it up

02-15-2014, 10:39 AM
It's looking great. I'm just trying to figure out how you get that effect between your biomes that looks so.... idk. but i want to steals it D:

02-15-2014, 10:53 AM
It's looking great. I'm just trying to figure out how you get that effect between your biomes that looks so.... idk. but i want to steals it D:

Biomes do not appear on this map. I'm pretty sure it's a physical map instead.

But yea, it has a lot of details !

02-15-2014, 11:15 AM
But I can SEE the biomes in my head D:

Edit: You're right though, but I meant between the different areas ... words mean what I want them to mean, right??? D: :P

02-18-2014, 03:36 PM
No, words mean what they do... their existence predates you, thus, they take precedence. :D

This is a simple colored heightmap. Just that. No biomes, no rainfall, no temperature.

I have those more or less drafted though and if you want to know (dunno if you do, but I'll showoff anyway):
- this continent has large rainforests in the east coast, NW plains and the SE peninsula
- there is a a large inland desert in the southwest, crossed by two continent-size rivers (think Nile scale)
- the nothern coast of the west block is savannah/monsoon
- the southern coast of the west block is temperate and colder/drier as you go west
- and the highlands in the center are dry to partially dry, particularily in the raishadow of the main western range.

02-26-2014, 08:25 PM
Yet at this, and enjoying it very much. It's just that I have been busy which reduced the available time for fooling around and I made a big mess on a couple of layers which took that little time to clean up (and if you look closely, it ain't yet right in a lot of places).

Still, the map is coming along and I wanted to share its latest stage. I have re-worked some valleys and some ranges, major and nearly completed the western lowlands, both north and south.

This time I am showing the continental shelf layer as well and a different color for the ocean (both still in draft form)

Still to be done in this continent:
(1) lower altitude on two mountain ranges / another way to put it is re-do them... (the smaller peninsula in the north and the eastern-most line, kind of crescent-looking)
(2) finish the little bits of land still incomplete (pretty quick job)
(3) fix a big mess on some height levels (light/yellowish green - which are levels 7/8/9 to me)
(4) complete the island-arc in the NE tip
(5) maybe... redo the main SW-NE eastern range, including adding one or two intermediate height levels with intermediate colors (this range looks a way worst job than the rest)

02-27-2014, 06:02 AM
I really don't know what there is to say, except that I really, really love your map, and I strongly admire the amount of work you're putting in it. This is amazing work!

02-28-2014, 08:22 AM
Thank you.

I am really loving the task in hand. But looking at the same thing for so long has left me wondering (and this is where members input would be really helpful) if the whole thing looks believable.
I mean, really, completely, utterly... real-looking?
- Too many mountain ranges, not enough?
- Too many highlands, not enough?
- Are plateaus visible?
- Are river basins clear, not enough, too obvious? That sort of thing..
- Do the islands feel right?
- Can you "get a grasp" of where the crust is bending/wrinkling?
- etc, etc

02-28-2014, 08:59 AM
- Too many mountain ranges, not enough?

Looks about right to me. I checked the scale of the continent on the full world map to be sure, and it's definitely believable.

- Too many highlands, not enough?

Depends on the underlying geography really. It's quite a tall continent, but it's definitely within reason. Personally, I really like it, rugged terrain like that can be really interesting.

- Are plateaus visible?


- Are river basins clear, not enough, too obvious? That sort of thing..

They look really good to me, even without the rivers visible you can clearly see where they'll go because the elevation is so clear.

- Do the islands feel right?

Yes, though I think they could be improved by adding some contour lines to the sea floor, so they look more like peaks of underwater mountains (since that's effectively what they are). Basically continuing what you're doing for the land itself down into the sea, all the way to the edge of the continental shelf (and maybe even beyond?!). Looks like it'd be a huge amount of work, but then again I'd have said the same for what you've done so far on land.

- Can you "get a grasp" of where the crust is bending/wrinkling?


Really loving it so far, it definitely feels realistic to me. I think you're doing a good job of keeping it realistic both at small and larger scale tbh.

02-28-2014, 12:30 PM
I second what Raptori said : don't worry, everything's fine so far :D! Your mountains looks like a lot of work, but the result is good and feels very "atlas" to me.

Anyway, I really understand your questionning... You have to, when you're throwing yourself in a long-term work like this.

Micah Doulos
02-28-2014, 02:25 PM
This continent looks like a penguin to me. Was that intentional? Great work by the way!

02-28-2014, 03:13 PM
This continent looks like a penguin to me. Was that intentional? Great work by the way!

LOL I can't believe I didn't notice that!

03-05-2014, 11:06 AM
It took me a while to "find the penguin", but yep, I see it now.. It wasn't intended at all, lol.

03-05-2014, 11:13 AM
Just wondering: roughly how much time have you spent on this so far?

Can't wait for the next update! :)

03-07-2014, 05:46 PM
Next update due. I was away on holidays this weekend, which means there's less novelty.

Answering your question, Raptori, I think I am averaging 1h a day for the last month, so something between 30 and 40 h of work. However, a lot of the initial stuff has been redone already. I will probably be much faster in the next continents. As I said, I will make a movie of my technique one of these days, but for now there's other priorities (finishing the damn penguin!)..

In fact, this could have been completed if I wasn't aiming for as-perfect-as-I-can-make-it. The main range didn't have the detail of the rest (more recent) and I jumped into redoing it... you can see the "note" in the map.

Currently the file has 23 layers dedicated to the height map. I have also experimented turning the colored thing into a grayscale DEM-like image and it works pretty well. Requires upper layers inverting the upper layers after B&W and tweaking levels but it's possible.

Please comment on the following (if you please):
Does that Thailand/Java like peninsula work well where it is? It is created by the subduction of oceanic plate on old, submerged, continental crust.
Does the coast look alright or too linear? I can't make my mind about this.

03-07-2014, 08:59 PM
Answering your question, Raptori, I think I am averaging 1h a day for the last month, so something between 30 and 40 h of work. However, a lot of the initial stuff has been redone already. I will probably be much faster in the next continents. As I said, I will make a movie of my technique one of these days, but for now there's other priorities (finishing the damn penguin!)..

Thanks! Awesome, that'll be very interesting to watch :)

Does that Thailand/Java like peninsula work well where it is? It is created by the subduction of oceanic plate on old, submerged, continental crust.

Yep it looks fine. The penguin has an antenna.

Does the coast look alright or too linear? I can't make my mind about this.

Coast looks good too. I have a hard time with that too, I usually just open an atlas map of the real world to compare, and it's surprising how straight the coastlines look at that kind of distance.

03-16-2014, 03:55 PM
Latest update on the first continent of the world... At surface the job is done, the whole continent is finished. Under the surface, there is still plenty to do before moving on to the next continent. (as I said before, there is a large mess up with some layers, it doesn't show because there is a multicolored layer on top of it which I am keeping until I sort things out)

In the meanwhile, as to avoid the repetitive work, I took some time to experiment with political maps and climate maps. Not everything is at a standard I am ready to show, but I am also sharing a small test with political borders.

In this political map, I placed a semi-transparent brownish layer on top of the topography and then added the borders and country names. The drafting of borders was made to resemble the original 20-year-old-long-time-lost map, but accommodating the present topography. It ain't final as it will take into account climate as well, and history... (but most of the history I got in my mind already and it is mostly reflected in here)
I ended up with a kind of incomplete colorful atlas look, sort of the thing one would find in a early-teenage book about the world, I think.
I would love to hear some criticism about this one, it's by no means a finished job.

So, without further ado, here are the previews! :D


03-16-2014, 06:12 PM
This is really wonderful, Pixie! The full world map will look stunning.
For the political map, Have you considered using something like a dashed line instead of the colored borders? I think that looks better in this type of map, plus it'd hide less of the terrain. The brown layer could also be at lower opacity then, as the green wouldn't be clashing with lots of other colors, and that would show even more of the terrain. I think it's a shame to hide it when it's so beautiful :)

03-17-2014, 03:43 PM
Thanks for the positive remarks and good ideas/encouragement.
I did spend some time (very little available in the coming weeks) trying a black, unshaded line for the borders. Indeed it allows for a less opaque layer on top of the topography coloring (but still, some opacity is needed, the green/yellow/brown theme is far too saturated). The map also becomes less cluttered and I can add capitals and other geographical info (I tried a few, but alas, no time).

Still, it was a fait-divers. My primary aim is to fix the actual layers in the topographic multi-layer file and then apply (or attempt to at least) Nathan's (http://www.cartographersguild.com/tutorials-how/26395-how-make-topographical-shadow-illustrator-layer-technique-1-a.html) technique.

03-19-2014, 06:50 AM
My primary aim is to fix the actual layers in the topographic multi-layer file and then apply (or attempt to at least) Nathan's technique.
Hah! I was hoping you were gonna say that! Looking forward to the result, Pixie. With such a detailed terrain map, this MUST be awesome!

03-19-2014, 08:17 PM
Hah! I was hoping you were gonna say that! Looking forward to the result, Pixie. With such a detailed terrain map, this MUST be awesome!

Let's hope so. "Awesome" is a nice little target ;)

05-27-2014, 01:14 PM
As an update on this (which isn't a "dead" WIP!) - I have recently found that I needed to reconsider quite a lot of the tectonics underlying these planets. To see the discussions that generated this "need", see this thread (http://www.cartographersguild.com/regional-world-mapping/27111-wip-unnamed-earh-like-planet.html) or this one (http://www.cartographersguild.com/regional-world-mapping/27204-how-do-plate-tectonics-work-poles.html).

So, we are all working around our limitations. I have been trying out separate stereographic projections centered on each place and then manipulating those maps to get a sense of proper plate movement. While doing this, I've been roughing notes on top of a nearly blank map of my world. My job now is made harder as I don't want to waste the topographic work done at the "penguin" continent, so I started re-tectonics from that one.
Here's my current "state of the art, yet extremely incomplete" tectonics model:

There's only 4 plates which have been analyzed already. The large Palamb plate (eastern continent - the penguin, except it's wing) may end up having to be an aggregate of several plates and I may have to make move separately (hence, the dashed lines). Also, the central "Austral Ocean Plate" may have some surronding microplates... Not sure yet, it's a WIP.. ;)

Ferra Dubrinsky
05-27-2014, 01:31 PM
Pixie, it's still looks incredible. you are doing an amazing job, can't wait to see more!

05-29-2014, 04:41 AM
Can't wait to see more either, you KNOW (as you are kind of my inofficial Godfather) I'm very interested in seeing what you do on your map.

05-29-2014, 02:18 PM
Thanks. But it's like you said... figuring this out makes the head hurt. ;)

05-30-2014, 04:25 AM
Indeed it does.

You wondered in another thread "how long how many of us will keep digging for greater realism...", I think it's clear that of all of us I'll be the first to give up, since I'm the one more limited to understand the complexity of tectonics and apply them to a fictional map, in fact, I've already given up on worrying about how projection affects the type of boundaries. But no shame, I do what I'm able to and that's just fine, after all it's just a hobby for me, not a job.

Same to the rest of you, some will be able to take it more far than others when it comes to realism, but we are only human and our beloved planet is very complex to understand and even more to reproduce it's rules on a different world. What really matters in the end is that we have fun working on our projects and I personally will be very happy to one day see them finished, because they feel like "family" to mine.

Sorry for the little rant that really doesn't bring anything useful to the discussion.

05-30-2014, 02:11 PM
Sorry for barging into this thread, but I just wanted to say that there's indeed no shame involved if you don't want to make your project "picture perfect". Like you, I'm an amateur too and my project is also a hobby. And apart from the joy of creating a fictitious new world, the aspect I enjoy the most is the process of learning and discovering all these fascinating things about tectonics, ocean currents, wind patterns, and what not. I would never have learned so much about these interesting things if it wasn't for this forum and its helpful members (not in the least by Pixie!). I think that if your project is a hobby, it should be enjoyable and not give you a headache. If your project evolves and ends up the way you want, it does so the way it should.

Just my two cents of thought...

Cheers - Akubra

05-30-2014, 03:17 PM
I second that Akubra.

But the thing is... groovey, our historian with little science background, ACTUALLY GOT IT near-perfect (http://www.cartographersguild.com/regional-world-mapping/27111-wip-unnamed-earh-like-planet-5.html)!

Also, the thing with dwelling this deep into the background business of a made-up-world only draws us closer to that particular setting. That's why every now and then someone pops up at this forum telling about their boyhood world.

06-02-2014, 02:21 PM
Update... I haven't yet worked out all the greasy-ugly corners, and I'm sure by progess will be slow in upcoming weeks but here's how my "revised" tectonics map looks like at the moment:


I'm fighting hard to keep as much as possible the original land forms. Still, there will have to be some changes, including in the elevation map already done for Palamb (the penguin continent).

From my simplified tectonics way at the start of the thread, there are major changes:
- there's a sea closing at the NW side of the map - I stripped it from having an active ridge
- main eastern continent is composed of three plates, instead of two - I had originally planned for them to be "sutured", and no longer moving separately
- the huge central continent (Acur / Acuran) plate is no longer a single plate and I reversed its movement.
- east of that continent there was a closing ocean (no ridge) - now it's opening still as it a divergent boundary in the middle.
- the NW "squared" land isn't a single plate anymore but a rifting apart piece.

a WIP, yet...

06-03-2014, 03:20 AM
Wow, lots of changes since the last update, and you have a lot of plates right now, that should spice things up.

Such a shame you are going to have to re-do some of Palamb's elevation work, just from following your updates on the thread it looked like a lot of work, but in the end you found a faster way to so it, didn't you?

You'll have a ring of fire too, wouldn't you, on the ocean connecting both sides of the map?

06-03-2014, 05:31 AM
Impressive map, Pixie!

I do like the level of detail you have incorporated: you have some very tiny plates in between the bigger ones.
Those continental shelves are also tasteful and elegantly draped around the shorelines.
Changes - even considerable changes - are certainly an important part of creating a world like this. Everything is connected: like breaking up plates means redoing an elevation map. It's probably inevitable. But if you enjoy the process and it leads to a better result it's not that bad, is it? I'm looking forward to seeing how the new height map of Palamb will shape up.

Cheers - Akubra

06-03-2014, 07:19 PM
Thanks for the praise, fellow world-builders ;)

I am enjoying watching all our "sister" earths revealing themselves. I really think we are doing well in motivating each other, hurray for us all!

@groovey - yes, I'll have a sort of ring of fire, but interrupted. And a "crown of fire" around the northwest side of the Acur (the central continent).

06-05-2014, 08:35 PM
Update. I think I have a full working model now, and will settle for this apart local adjustments on boundaries. This thing has 36 plates, Earth has over 50.. but I'm happy and it seems balanced to my eyes.

Having worked it with this depth has given me a lot of special places which I am excited to work on now.
For example, the (newly created) large peninsula on the NW; the complex rift + highland in the large middle continent (where I'm considering adding a micro-plate); etc.

current state of affairs:

This image file looks great superimposed on the globe of google earth, and I found that that is also a nice easy way to visualize plates at the right angle (well, at "any" angle, actually).

So, please, if you spot any inconsistencies or if you have any good ideas about some area/plate, please share. I'm open to suggestions.

06-06-2014, 04:08 AM
Pixie, I'm jealous now! Your map looks amazing! Plates, continents, islands, it all looks so well balanced. I am really looking forward to see your next steps. As you say, there are enough interesting areas to work on. And I have to admit, your map almost pushes me back to my own tectonic drawing board to add some microplates here and there (which I deliberately left out for the time being). This is absolutely great work!

Some ideas:

The size, shape and latitude of the long island smack in the middle of the map makes me think of Sumatra (assuming your planet is comparable in size to Earth). It looks like it is formed by the subduction zone to its south, and you could give it plenty of volcanoes.
The new peninsula on the western continent looks a bit like an upturned Kamchatka, but lying more to the south. Surrounded by different plate boundaries at close range I imagine it being very active too, but in a milder climate.
I'm wondering what forces that small plate in the northeast of Palamb (lying completely within the continent) will unleash in that area.

Cheers - Akubra

06-07-2014, 04:49 AM
I'm jealous too.

I love the complexity of the map, it adds a lot of realism, and it's not even finished!

06-10-2014, 07:35 AM
Ok, so I call this tectonics-devising finished. With some minor alterations, the last wip map I posted is the latest version and I am working on a final look.

This includes re-painting boundaries with an appropriate technique, including triangles for subduction areas. It also includes labelling the map to make it a self-standing object and not just a notes holder. Both are unfinished tasks at the moment, but here's how it is shaping up:

This might well be my first finished map to post at the finished maps section... I'm happy.

06-10-2014, 11:30 AM
And I'm happy for you :). Looks like it's going to be a great map!

Cheers - Akubra

06-10-2014, 11:42 AM
Ooh, looks sexy!

Can't wait to see you working on the height-map again. Will you ever share with us what the technique you used on the cute penguin is?

EDIT (pinguin talk): see post #26 (http://www.cartographersguild.com/regional-world-mapping/25903-wip-ambitious-world-map-fictious-earth-like-planet-3.html), doesn't the continent on the east remind you of a pinguin?

EDIT 2: Checking the thread again from the beginning, Pixie does talk about the technique for the height-map (see post #3 (http://www.cartographersguild.com/regional-world-mapping/25903-wip-ambitious-world-map-fictious-earth-like-planet.html)), which involves some lasso+bucket tool, but still I don't get the specifics of it.

06-10-2014, 02:00 PM
Cute penguin? I think I must be lacking imagination. Great job Pixie if my map looks half as good as yours I'll be happy. Keep up the good work

06-10-2014, 04:58 PM
Ooh, looks sexy!

Can't wait to see you working on the height-map again. Will you ever share with us what the technique you used on the cute penguin is?

I second this! As im starting on my heightmap i do wonder what techniques are out there to help me along.

06-24-2014, 12:45 PM
Stuck with a little decision... a detail, really, but I need to choose either option 1 or option 2, before I can continue this area of the map.. so, please, let me know:

Of the two maps below, which one seems more natural looking (the only difference is the subduction area)?
This one I call "plan A"

And this is "plan B"

(Oh, and please don't note... the triangles are on the wrong side of the subduction lines, I know)

06-24-2014, 03:15 PM
Pixie, if I follow my gut feeling, I would say plan B. I compared your solutions with the real thing (Earth), and I can't spot many long subduction zones that are split into different arcs. There's one running through Indonesia, but it's cut up with many microplates, very unlike your smooth boundary. When I look at the subduction zones east of the Nazca plate and the northern and northwestern boundary of the Pacific plate, they do look a bit like your plan B. But that's just what I see, of course.

Cheers - Akubra

06-25-2014, 04:30 AM
yeah I would go with B also.

06-25-2014, 06:21 AM
plan B it is!

06-26-2014, 06:12 AM
I'm late but I agree, Plan B really catches my eyes, while Plan A put me a bit off I'm not sure why though.

Anyway, the boundaries' style looks really neat, can't wait to see the whole of it. So glad to see your working on your own map again.

07-01-2014, 06:54 AM
So here's a final (or next to final) version I am very proud of.
Now it's about cartography and graphical aspects.

Re-working things again with the help of g.plates was really productive but it also revealed inconsistencies in the direction of parts of plates I was confident about. This made me work a little harder and I admittedly spent a lot of time in the last days grinding all the details. Plates are as they are and I won't reconfigure them in any way (shape or movement). My adjustments also involved changing quite a bit the coastlines - these are not absolutely final as the work on the topographical map changes that a little bit. New mountains rose, a few valleys opened apart, a couple of lakes and inner seas found their way to the surface and a lot of islands popped up...

So at the present state this is my candidate to "finished map". But I am wondering about the graphical sides of it, and here I call for the mapping experts here at the guild.

What strikes as missing? How's the color balance? How's readability?
This is a modern map, sort of a reference map you would find on wikipedia today, and it is inspired (shamelessly) on this one (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plate_tectonics#mediaviewer/File:Tectonic_plates_boundaries_detailed-en.svg).
I am uncertain about adding curved arrows to show plate movement or any other stuff as I am worried that I won't be able to do that without harming the clean look it has now.

07-02-2014, 06:22 AM
Great work Pixie! I didn't expect less from you. Wish I could rep you right now, but I did too recently so I can't sadly.

You know I'm far from an experienced guild member, so while they share their thoughts, I'll share my thoughts as an average person looking at a tectonic map:

1. It looks very clean and polished.

2. The colors for either the land, the sea and the boundaries work really well, though I could mention that sometimes black and blue were a bit difficult to differentiate at some bits, even when zooming in, like Uralkia/Tinike or Jarabeu or the little transform bit on Hoppan/Palamb.

3. Silly detail perhaps you have an explanation for it to be there: Martinia/Krasia, shouldn't the subduction triangle inland be empty like the other ones, since you seem to use them empty to indicate continental/continental convergence?

4. The font for the labels is very easy to read and looks attractive too. I think even when some letter gets a bit overshadowed by the map elements (like Shidian, Campala), it's still readable so I don't thing is an issue.

And that's all I can think about.

07-02-2014, 07:03 AM
Very cool , is there any tutorial on follow the same steps as you did in using gplates?

07-02-2014, 03:28 PM
Thanks for your points, groovey, I'll try to play about with that blue to get more contrast. And yes, good eye for detail, I missed a couple of triangles.
About the clash between fonts and the brown "border" for the land, I am aware of it and couldn't work out a better solution yet.

@Naima: if I find the time, I might make that little tutorial (along with finishing the other tutorial I left half-done, about climates).

07-02-2014, 03:59 PM
Cool thanks :=) .

07-02-2014, 05:14 PM
Hey there Pixie. I really like the map and I would like to say congratulations on reaching a point you are confident about calling finished, at least for this stage.

Overall I think it is very well done and I especially like your balance between large, mid, micro and the extreme micro plate between Wealat and Nagaraib. I do like how clean it looks right now, I don't know if adding the arrows is worth it. You might want to place a few just to see how they look and if they clutter things.

aside from the blue black color problem I suggest getting rid of the brown continental boarder. The blue, cold color, will contrast very well with the pale brown, warm color, without the need for the brown boarder.

07-03-2014, 07:28 AM
Many thanks to everyone's remarks.

I've lighten up the blue transform boundaries, fixed the triangles that needed fixing, made the land border lighter (inexistent didn't work), added arrows to show movement, added names for the sea masses, added a small legend... and called it finished, complete and closed.

You can see the final result here (http://www.cartographersguild.com/finished-maps/27576-tectonics-map-maward.html).

PS: (groovey, see if you can find the word "Pics" in the map - it's there...)

07-10-2014, 04:28 AM
New mountains rose, a few valleys opened apart, a couple of lakes and inner seas found their way to the surface and a lot of islands popped up...

I'm trying to figure out how to determine where big lakes (visible in world map scale) would need to be, then I remembered you seem to have come up with yours while doing tectonics, so I'm a bit confused about that. How did doing tectonics let you know where those lakes would have to be?

Also, what will you work on next? Tutorials or height-map? Though an eventual tutorial or guideline of your height-map technique would also be awesome.

07-10-2014, 08:43 AM
Btw did you have still ur old maps or you reconstructed by memory ?

07-10-2014, 08:12 PM
There's two types of big lakes related to tectonics that you can find on Earth as exemplary. First you've got rift lakes, where two plates are diverging (or where one plate is breaking apart). Lake Baikal and Lake Malawai are good examples, but the Dead Sea is another one. These tend to be quite long and thin. Then you've got former seas which are getting closed or uplifted. Lakes/seas north of the main the ridge from the Alps to the Himalayas are the best examples, but a much closer example to you is the Ebro basin. I think you'll like this link (http://www.igc.cat/web/en/mapageol_atles_evoluciopaleo.html).
So, I just placed some lakes close to where I had continental crust "stitched" together.

No, unfortunately, I have no idea where I have those maps or even if they still exist. It's a shame, but alas... it's all done by memory (but I still remember a lot - it wasn't just a geographical map, it was a whole world with history)

07-12-2014, 12:24 PM
Thanks Pixie, that makes a lot of sense, I can't believe I didn't think about that. And it blew my mind to see what the origins of the Ebro is, amazing.

10-16-2014, 01:43 PM
This *is* a wonderful thread, and I cannot wait to try and replicate the layering myself.

Although... While some have noticed the penguin....

http://imghost.thumbprintpro.com/var/thumbs/Maps/PenguinWithTattoo.png (http://imghost.thumbprintpro.com/var/albums/Maps/PenguinWithTattoo.png)

No one noticed the dragon / phoenix tattoo!!!!

:D Very nice Pixie!

04-24-2015, 01:48 PM
Reviving this post and also "coming back from the dead".

I spent maybe half a year in silence, mapping less and forcing myself to lurk only at cartographer's guild. This was 1) because I was burdening myself with too many tasks here at the guild to a point it wasn't being just stress free fun (my sincere apologies, Azelor, Groovey, Ascanius, and others, for my sudden demise) and 2) because real life commitments have this ability to reduce hobby time to nearly zero.

Yet, whining and personal ramblings aside...
I haven't stopped completely and over the last months this planet is still being "modelled". As a over-a-long-period-Work-In-Progress, I guess it's time for another peak at the current state. So, here is, inside the orange line is the area I have managed to complete. Outside it, you can see areas in different stages of completion.


side note: the dragon/phoenix (just like the penguin) is not intencional :)

04-24-2015, 09:57 PM
It's a really lovely map, I just urge you to be extremely careful with the distortion at the poles, it would be a shame to have such a high quality map be "damaged" (I don't really know what word to use) by such a simple issue

04-25-2015, 10:29 AM
Glad to see you back !

04-26-2015, 08:09 AM
Thank you, Azelor. Not "back" as in permament participant, however, I have way less free time than I did a year ago.

mbartelsm, I am aware that as I work the regions closer to the poles, I need to keep in mind the distortion.. it makes those areas daunting, and I'm avoiding them for the time being ;).

05-01-2015, 04:59 PM
Your alive!!! Well it's good to hear from you again and that you've been working on your map in the spare time you managed to carve out. The map is looking very nice thus far. I really like your color palette for the height-map.

05-05-2015, 06:46 PM
Thanks ascanius.

The color palette isn't mine. Credit is given further up in the thread. Unlike yourself (yes, I've been lurking your massive artistic endeavour), I lack drawing/coloring skills.

05-16-2015, 04:41 PM
Yet (and always) having fun with this fictional planet... But I haven't done so much topography lately. Instead, I took some a side road, by attempting to figure out oceanic circulation for the planet (not just the surface, wind-driven, currents, but the whole lot) and also digging a little deeper into climate.

This map is a WIP, kept in the backburner for a while. However I had major breakthroughs today, both in figuring out climates and in applying an easy way to use color areas and redo them over and over as needed, so I wanted to share the present-day state of affairs for this climate stuff. To my eyes, it's quite alright. :D

(This post is specially dedicated to Azelor, the standing climate expert ;) )73383

As it is a sketch more than a finished work, this map lacks latitude lines, legend for the climate codes, labels with regional markers like seas, rivers, capital cities, etc... I know that, it's just a WIP on climate.. For reference the equator is located close to the island that looks like a Y and the 30N parallel close to the three tiny desert islands in the west coast.

05-19-2015, 12:43 AM
I think your climates look ok even if I'm not sure the climate should be dry in summer in the east or if it would be winter dry more like in Asia. Because it reminds me of Tibet. More like Dwb, Dwc or even tundra if it's cold enough. And it could be the same thing for the plateau, it look pretty high to me. Also, I think the hot steppe is too close to the equator.

I also dame up with simplification of the climates. Unlike what the name might suggest, it is not a biome map. I might have to ''improve'' the colours. It doesn't make the distinction between oceanic Cfb/Cfc and continental Da/Db or between the f and w. Not sure if this is a problem or not.


And lastly, I would recommend to use these maps as reference instead of the one found on wikipedia. It's made by scientists and it's more precise. http://koeppen-geiger.vu-wien.ac.at/shifts.htm

05-20-2015, 05:39 PM
Thanks for the comment. Your views make me reconsider a couple of areas, namely the hot steppe close to the equator. As for huge plateau, I am divided. It isn't quite so much a Tibet, but more like Turkey/Iran - heights vary around 2500 m. Still, there's quite a bit still undetermined in my map.

I already know the reference you suggested, and a couple more. But thanks for pointing it, nervertheless.

And lastly... I'm curious about that simplification of yours (and I also like the colors in the map you posted!)

05-21-2015, 12:56 PM
In that case, your right. It's hotter than Tibet since the average altitude is around 4000m. Lhasa is 3500m high and it's low compared to the rest of the region.

About the simplification:

Ice and tundra are pretty obvious

The cold is for all the Dd and Dc climates. We already established that the difference between w,f and s was marginal because it's too cold to ever become dry. Dc is packed together with Dc simply because Dd is very marginal by itself. On the northern edge, it's the tree line but the southern portion is made of a dense conifer forest (almost exclusively). Agriculture is almost impossible except for the southern edge (having snow in the end of may is nothing uncommon in these area, although it usually melt after a few hours).

Temperate is actually not the only temperate climate, that is a temporary and subjective name (like most of them). For example: a subtropical make sense when it's close to the tropic, not when it's in the mid latitudes (45). Anyway... this includes all the Da and Db climates except Dsa and Dsb that are Mediterranean (or west coast) climates. The difference between Da and Db is that Da is hotter, of course. Cfb have milder winters and usually summer are a bit cooler than of Dfb. The difference is not always that large and the vegetation is not too different. Maybe Dfa should be with the subtropical instead ?

Subtropical is for Cfa, Cwa, Cwb, Cwc. Freezing temperature are almost nonexistent although they do have a colder season. these areas are often affected by the monsoon and can have long dry periods. Some places like Japan receive a large portion of their precipitation with tropical storm/cyclone.

West coast is for Csa, Csb, Csc (yep I have them on the map now) Dsa, Dsb (only in Turkey,Iran, Central Asia). Not sure but it look different enough to have it's own category.

desert and steppes...

Dry forest is for forests with a dry season. Unlike the subtropical climate, the dry season has a large impact on the fauna and the flora and there is no cold season.

Equatorial is for forests with little to no dry season. Very little variation over the year : always hot and humid. Very high diversity and complexity. Low adaptability to climate changes.

As for the colours, I started with this map: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e4/Vegetation.png
but I thought the colours clashed too much (especially in the CWBP2 map), so I changed them and fused some of the categories (too many for the arid climates).

05-22-2015, 03:14 PM
So, while not a biomes scheme exactly, it is very close to a biomes scheme :D ... kinda half-way.

Again, the map you suggested is also on my "reference maps" folder. It looks like we use the same internet ;)

Once I have this a little more developed (a larger area of the map properly done), I will post a map with you coloring scheme, for your pleasure. Cheers!

11-03-2015, 09:04 AM
Well, an update is due...

First, about the weather map colored with Azelor's "palette". I already posted this in a sister thread, this one (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=31804&page=2). However, since some of us (Azelor mostly, BY FAR!) are still working on better guidelines for figuring climates on fictional worlds, the work done so far is only "midly valid" :)

Second, the topographic map is coming along, at a very variable pace. Some more areas are throughly finished, but I have also been making adjustments in "previously finished" areas and roughing in other areas. Thus, in absolute terms, there isn't much more that is complete, but there are many more hours put into this.

Current state:

(The method I used for shrinking the full world image made it crisper than it really is...)

11-04-2015, 08:20 AM
Oh! It's getting closer to be done! Once it is, and with the legend text and all, it's going to look so neat and professional. It'll be perhaps the best fictional height-map I've seen done from scratch (not using programs or automated processes that generate them).

How about the land area on the Krasia tectonic plate? Do you have to add more altitude on will it stay generaly low like now?

So keep going, it's coming along beautifuly.

11-07-2015, 01:32 PM
Thanks for the heads up, groovey. For some weird reason I still take pleasure in shaping this map, even if the task started over an year ago!

Krasian tectonic plate is a mess right now, I had a sort of plateau there, then I carved some wide river valleys and it obviously isn't finished at this point. Yet, the plan is to keep it low and "old". That much is settled.
Most of the time, nowadays, I start new regions in one of two ways: either from very small bits of pixels, at the max altitude of a ridge, and then draw the layers belor it (when I'm making mountains) or from a sort of random shape at the max altitude of a plateau and then start carving river valleys (often in several passes).

The double subduction area on the west side of Krasia, however, is due for "revision".. and I've been struggling hard with some other areas that don't fit tectonics so well.

12-02-2015, 03:43 PM
This is probably the last update of the year, as it gets busy from now on... In fact, it has already been busy! Which means not much to show concerning advancements in the heightmap. Because there's little that is actually new, I'm showing that stuff at actual size.

Here are the latest areas I worked on.

12-03-2015, 12:42 AM
Really nice, it reminds me of a real satellite shot over Scandinavia, lighten by the moon during night.


12-03-2015, 10:23 AM
While that is a fantastic shot, it isn't an actual satellite shot.. It is made to resemble one, with features exagerated. A similar picture of the Iberian Peninsula has been "travelling" FB walls here in portugal recently so I went and did some research (very very little).... Which resulted in finding this portfolio (http://www.shutterstock.com/gallery-487651p1.html?src=PS5DwrRy6S3EBRIUs8iKRA-1-1&pl=77643-108110)... and I find it awesome!

12-03-2015, 03:37 PM
it's looking good pixie. All I can really say is keep up the good work.

Hey pixie what elevation interval are you using. I'm using 500m and in comparison most of your continent seems to have a higher mean elevation than mine. It looks really good, I'm just wondering if maybe the difference is due to that.

12-08-2015, 03:19 PM
I'm not using a linear scale. I don't have the file with me, but on top of my mind, it's something like 0-100-200-300-500-700-900-1200-1500-1800...

The way I have the file setup, it's fairly easy to change the coloring and match an existing gradient of a topographic map of Earth - I might do that one of these days and post it here.

12-09-2015, 01:33 AM
While that is a fantastic shot, it isn't an actual satellite shot.. It is made to resemble one, with features exagerated. A similar picture of the Iberian Peninsula has been "travelling" FB walls here in portugal recently so I went and did some research (very very little).... Which resulted in finding this portfolio (http://www.shutterstock.com/gallery-487651p1.html?src=PS5DwrRy6S3EBRIUs8iKRA-1-1&pl=77643-108110)... and I find it awesome!

the earth lights in the portfolio look like the hires map i released but turned up to FULL brightness and saturation

12-17-2015, 10:52 AM
the earth lights in the portfolio look like the hires map i released but turned up to FULL brightness and saturation

Oh, shame on him if it's a rip off of your work. I don't always understand your sentences (as english isn't my native language), but it seems that's what you are saying, isn't it?

On a side note, I made a low-res image of Maward heightmap with a color scheme similar to an Earth's map and then pasted both into an image file, for comparisons sake. Here it is:

This comparison shows a few areas I should work on, particularly redoing altitude in eastern Palamb (the eastern continent) and further "lowering" equatorial Krasia (the western continent)... and some others.
But really, in terms of altitude, what comes to your mind, from looking at this?

12-17-2015, 02:03 PM
Greenland elevation took in account the ice-sheet. Otherwise, it would like more like an archipelago.

12-17-2015, 06:59 PM
Yeah, I know Greenland looks like that because of the ice-sheet. I have been toying with the idea of doing just that for the land around the north pole, which, at this point, is bare.