View Full Version : WIP - Map { Eshkura }

01-24-2014, 12:49 AM
Hello people :) First timer here. I've used photoshop for a long time, but not very much for the last couple years. Recently I've had the desire to draw out maps, so I finally started attempting to create one in Photoshop. Looked up a few tutorials last night, had a bit of trouble following them with some bits, but I was able to somewhat learn how to shape the land.

Here's what I've got to start with at the moment:

Any tips on how to easily clean up edges is also appreciated :)

Edit: I may change the left land mass around a bit, I don't like how round it appears. Also, there's a few little ridiculous things, such as the 2 skulls, also the dog/panda looking face that I may get rid of. Although the skulls I think look cool, it's probably not too realistic. But I suppose that's the point of a fantasy map :P

I also want to add more detail all around. With less detail it doesn't look as large as I intend for it to be. Maybe it just looks that way because there's no features on it yet.

I'd like to learn how to make simple & clean, varying mountains, forests, rivers etc. I've looked around a bit and tried a few things but didn't turn out as I had hoped (or I couldn't get it to work at all), but if anyone has any tutorials to share that aren't too complicated, it would be much appreciated! Thanks!

01-24-2014, 02:27 AM
Fiddled with the landscape, tried cleaning it up a bit as well. Fairly satisfied with it at the moment. My biggest problem is implementing mountains, forests, rivers etc.. Guess I'll go tutorial hunting some more :)


01-24-2014, 02:42 AM
The color looks really great!!

01-24-2014, 03:05 AM
Thanks! :) The style of mountains/forests etc. I'm looking for is something like these:



01-24-2014, 10:43 AM
I couldn't find out how to make my own mountains/forests, but I found a few pre-made brushes that were posted up on this site that I was using. I'm going to get my hands on a tablet tomorrow so hopefully I can draw my own and not be so restricted. I like the look of the mountains, so hopefully I can match them decently when I draw my own. If not perhaps I'll just start over with my own mountains, or just continue on using the brushes. It's tedious but oh well.

Still lots to do though, lots of mountains/forests to complete. Once I figure out where I want all of them and finish, I'm going to work on the rivers. Next is meadows/grasslands, and then perhaps wastelands/deserts.


Pretty satisfied with the look of it thus far considering my lack of experience :3

01-25-2014, 08:43 AM
Bit more work done, tossed in a few rivers as well. Figured it'd be more important than forests/mountains. Easier to form the mountains/forests around the rivers I suppose.
Not sure an easy way to represent plains and deserts. Tried drawing tiny cactuses but I thought it looked cheesy.

Trying to make things look as natural as possible and not so uniform/fake. Hopefully I've done a fair job at it so far :P


01-25-2014, 08:58 AM
You're actually thinking backwards about the rivers and mountains – rivers start in the mountains and their flow is dictated by the height of the land, so even though it's absolutely possible to build mountain ranges around rivers, it tends to look more natural if it's drawn in the same order as nature does it. And forests grow where the land is watered by rivers, so they would be added last, to not end up with a forest in the middle of a desert.

That said, your map looks good! Interesting land shape and nice colors.

01-25-2014, 02:27 PM
The rivers are a little bit iffy. Be careful of having a tributary join a river at a right or obtuse angle; erosion usually causes a tributary to join at an acute downstream angle. Also, there is a lot of meandering going on, especially in the top central section of the map. How much a river meanders is typically directly correlated with the steepness of the terrain, so the impression I'm getting is that the lands are pretty flat and close to sea level everywhere except for the suddenly steep mountains. I would expect that one extremely squiggly and loopy river would just erode its boundaries and turn into a fen or swamp.

For deserts, the simplest strategy is probably a pattern of random dots, maybe with a couple sand dunes thrown in there.

Keep up the good work.


01-25-2014, 07:47 PM
Ah, alright thanks for the advice! Guess I got some research to do on rivers :P I wish I could better draw my own mountains and forests and what not. I tried with the tablet here but I was terrible at it hehe.

Edit: I skimmed through a post here about rivers the other day actually. I tried making most of the rivers begin from a mountain range and end in the ocean. There's a few random rivers that don't have anything around them yet, I just haven't gotten around to adding anything there.

01-25-2014, 08:29 PM
For rivers and mountains lay out trainning I recomend you spend some time praticing Wilbur.
Dat program is amazing making you spend time studing a right topography, also help you to define some randon border shapes.

01-25-2014, 09:39 PM
Thanks for the input guys, I tried incorporating what was mentioned about the rivers and such. I know there are rivers with nothing around em - I just haven't gotten to em yet. But the ones that I have added mountains/trees to, what do you think? Is there anything off geographically? Personally I'm not TOO worried about precision and perfecting and following natural laws, but if It's close enough I'm okay with it. I'm mainly creating the map as a reference guide for myself. Mountain size is obviously out of proportion I believe (I tried resizing the brush for them and the quality was worse so I just stuck with their original size), I don't know if there's a natural order to the formation of mountains and if there are any right or wrongs for their placement correlation to other mountains.

Anyways, enough babbling, does it seem as though I understood/better incorporated what was said about rivers?


01-26-2014, 10:11 AM
Got a bunch done today. Tried a few new things for the terrain, kind of like the addition of em. I think I'll be done with the landscape soon. I wish I knew a better way to do grasslands, but I suppose the little grass splotches will suffice.

Stil gotta figure out how to & how I wanna map out roads and locations and such.


Half of me thinks some parts look a little silly, but the other half likes those parts, so, eh, if it's not over the top ridiculous -- I'm okay with it I guess :P

01-27-2014, 02:48 AM
Nearly done!


01-28-2014, 04:10 AM
I think I'm pretty much done with the landscape. Maybe a few tweaks here and there needed but I'm pretty happy with it. Distance meter might be a bit too small but I like the simplicity of it. There's a few silhouette animals just chillin' in the ocean I tried making for future use. I think they're alright, got a couple more I'd like to try making.


01-28-2014, 04:21 AM
"Look, ma, I can walk on water!" :P

I thought that was the scale at first. :D

No, seriously, though, it looks good... you've come very far! :)

01-28-2014, 09:17 AM
It may be a little late for this, but perhaps it isn't.
Are you concerned with the number of lakes/inland seas that have no outflow to the ocean?
Because what I'm seeing are a lot of hypersaline (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypersaline_lake) water bodies that have no place to dump sediments and salts, and are no good for settling around.

01-28-2014, 10:11 AM
Ah, good point. There's what, 2-3? I suppose that's easy to change and fix up. Thanks for pointing that out :)

@Jalyha: haha, thanks! :)

Edit: There's a few bodies of water that have tiny rivers flowing out into the ocean that goes under/in between the trees that are a bit hard to spot. I'll try making them more pronounced.

01-28-2014, 12:43 PM
Good job, though I would change the color of your water bodies to match the sepia tone of the rest (unless you've planned to color the rest, of course :))

01-29-2014, 04:00 AM
Yea I was thinking about doing that (changing the water color). Although I do think blue and tan(ish) are a decent color combo. I'll mess around with the color :)

02-01-2014, 02:40 PM
As much as I enjoyed making this map, I think I'm going to start over now with something completely new and fresh :) Hopefully I can go faster now that I know what I'm doing. I want to better orient and place all the landscape. I think through making this map, It showed me what I really wanted out of the map so I won't just be aimlessly adding landscape anywhere I please and what land looked 'cool'.

I think my plan is to make a bigger map to allow easier name marking so things don't get cluttered up. Also allow me to better make actual unique landscape features so it's not just a dot. Also be patient. I wanted to rush through and finish that last map so I just rushed through it. I think if I make it bigger to allow more features, It'll force me to put more effort into it rather than rush through.


Alternatively make it just.. an average size with region names, and have separate work zoomed into a certain region with more details.

I'll post my progress here with whatever I choose :)

02-27-2014, 02:10 PM
So I've been working on this for the past couple days, mainly just the shape and what not. All of the mountains/rivers/lakes and forests I've done today. The look of the mountains are meh I suppose, but they're easy and fast and easy to shape how I like em. Also discovered a really fast way to make the forests, maybe not the best looking either but I think it gets the job done. I've probably spent the most time on the rivers, hopefully they're accurate to their flow, tried considering the angle of the land and river meet-ups and what not. Still lots to do [obviously] but even on what I've gotten done at the moment, still gotta add/tune things up a bit.

I'm also going to change that lake sitting between those mountains in the middle so it's edges aren't so rigid.


Edit: Had to lower the quality so the picture would load on here :/

Edit again: Not much different, all I changed was the mountains (Will probably change them again), the large middle lake, and cleaned up the edges of land

02-27-2014, 07:06 PM
Think I'm done workin on this for the day. Got a lot done, pretty happy with it. I like it loads better than the first one I made. Still I feel it can be improved of course, but not sure how. I'll continue to tweak it :)

Any opinions on the rivers/lakes? I'm not TOO concerned with 100% accuracy but I tried my best. Are the rivers and streams on the right a bit exstream? (ahehehe see what I... did there?

I think everything will fall together once I toss in roads/borders, names etc... I guess that's a given though.

Also, it's too bad it's such a big file, I have to set the quality down soo low just to be able to load it :(


Edit: Thinking now, some rivers are probably a bit thick for the scale I want - with the scale I want.. the thick rivers would be miles wide lol, I guess it doesn't have to be to scale river

03-04-2014, 02:12 AM
Not much different, haven't worked on it for a while but, I was messing with mountains in the lower right. Also, obviously cropped it down. I'm trying to come up with a way to do mountains that's both simple and not copied from others.


03-08-2014, 08:49 PM
Redid all the mountains, pretty happy with these ones.

Worked on a compass, I like it but.. at the same time I don't like it. I don't have a clue how to make smooth "wavy" lines so I was just stuck with using the Marquee tool and rotating stuff xD Not sure how I want to spruce it up either.

Also added a few locations. Have a brush with various 'castle' shapes. I'll probably end up changing those as well with something I make myself later on.

Still not sure what I want to do with the bottom right land mass. I'll probably take all that junk out.


Micah Doulos
03-08-2014, 09:21 PM
Hi Zarxiel! I really like your map. I can tell you're still kind of new like me at doing this, but you're definitely more advanced! A few thoughts. The trees run into the coasts in a lot of places. When this happens the coast just cuts the tree in half or something. In my opinion this looks very tacky. With that said however. I really like the brush you are using for the trees. I've never seen trees placed like this before. I like that when the trees overlap they just seamlessly blend into one another, giving an excellent foresty look! Did you come up with this technique on your own, or did you find this somewhere else? I'd really like to learn how to make a tree brush like that. :) Pointers?

Aside from my envy for your tree technique. I also like your mountains, and everything else in general. The first thing that caught my eye about your map is the lines that outline your coast. I saw that on another map and I haven't been able to find a tutorial on how to create this effect. I'd really like to learn how to do that. Thanks in advance for anything you answer! Keep up the good work. I'm looking forward to the finished product!

03-08-2014, 11:13 PM
Hi, Thanks!

Yea I know, I'm really lazy with the trees haha The technique I used was one I sort of saw in a tutorial about something else and just applied it to creating forests super quickly.

I drew a few different trees myself and saved them as their own brush. After that when I have the brush selected, you open up the brush menu in windows and you get a bunch of options, all I change is the "Brush Tip Shape" and increased the spread, and then I selected and increased the "Scattering". Then all you have to do is drag around a bit with the brush wherever you want and forests will pop up :D It's really quick. And about the trees being cut off on the coast-line, it's from the scattering going off into the ocean and then afterwards selecting the landmass alpha and inversing the selection to delete any trees in the ocean. -- Also I played around with the options on the trees, there's a 1 pixel black stroke, with a leafy pattern with I think overlay and opacity turned down and a green color overlay as well.

I might go in later and add in some trees that'll pop off out of the land, stickin' into the ocean. Also was thinking of doing that with the bottom of the mountains, so the trees don't just cut off around them. (The tree layers are beneath the mountain layers)

I hope that explains it well enough xD

And for the coast line, it's super easy. If you've got the land alpha, all I did was take the selection of the land, inversed it, and in a new layer, Modify-> Expand it by a few pixels, I did 3 I believe. Went to Edit-> Stroke and did I think a 3 pixel stroke. Then just repeat that a few times either in the same layer in or another, I don't think it matters. Just remember to account for the gap + the stroke when expanding again to evenly space them. So when expanding for the second line (If expanding from the land again), if you wanted a 3 pixel gap between the two, you'd expand it by 9 and then set a stroke again for however much etc. (The expanding is probably obvious, but I'm oblivious sometimes and screwed up the coastline the first time I did it haha) Course you could also reselect and just expand for how much of a gap you want + the thickness of the stroke you set previously.

I think my coastline is something like: 3 pixel gap, 3 pixel stroke, 3 pixel gap, 2 pixel stroke, 3 pixel gap, 1 pixel stroke.

Just gotta mess around with it till you get your desired look :)

I hope I made sense, I'm not great at explaining things like this without rambling.

03-11-2014, 05:25 AM
Created a bit of space between the forests and the ocean. I kind of like the border it creates, but I may try getting it right up next to the ocean.

Edit: Just noticed I forgot to replace some mountains xD


Micah Doulos
03-11-2014, 09:16 AM
That's looking much better! Good job!

03-12-2014, 12:17 AM
Amazing development. Now the map is looking great! Love the way you've done your rivers. Also, I like your coloring very much. The coastlines look authentic. Hoping to see the completed product.

03-12-2014, 11:04 AM

Replaced the small mountains/hills. Added in a road just to see how it'd look. Made a new compass, kind of like it but, may change the colors, Also fiddled with the mile marker colors, may change them again as well. Still got some mountains to put back into the East, and ofcourse the big empty space -- Gotta figure out what I want to do there. I have an idea though.


Edit: Was looking at the roads that go over the trees.. I'll have to find a way to make them a more defined pathway through the forests rather than just lazily going over them.

Is there even a technique to making roads? All I did was take a brush and increased the spread and dragged in some roads :P

03-14-2014, 07:26 PM
Worked a bit on the upper landmass, basically just a giant forest. Added back in a few missing mountains, and made the forest/mountain lines/overlap better. Increased the size of one of the forests.


Maybe I'll crop them evenly next time.

03-25-2014, 11:18 PM
I've been a little dissatisfied with my scale, the largeness of some features such as mountains, river thickness etc. makes the land appear to be smaller than I had liked. Also not too into the vibrancy of the colors anymore lol. I might remake a couple tree brushes that are from a birds eye view, that way I can better make mountains and have things not be covered up because of the angle of the mountains/trees etc..

I'm considering started all over, because I don't like how the land resembles Louisiana haha I think if I restart It'll go along much quicker, especially if I do a birds-eye view rather than from at an angle. If I do a birds-eye view the way I'll probably make the mountains is just with the magnetic lasso and bevel the outcome with a rocky pattern etc.. The problem with that is it comes out a little cheesy, but maybe I can fiddle around with it to make everything blend better, I dunno - I suppose I'll just have to give it a shot.

Here's a recolor I did, there's also a lot of things changed. Changed the shape of the forests, also added some simple lines to help display varied height of the land, make it less flat. Also turned a desert into a sort of forest/meadow.

But anyways, I think I'll attempt to restart if I'm not feeling lazy :( Go with a less vibrant look and a birds-eye view. And less Louisiana looking lol

Edit: Also been curious about how to accurately display climate regions/changes based on location, height etc, rather than just sporadic zones randomly placed about.