View Full Version : Island in gimp - attempt to turn hand drawn into atlas-ish style map

Ferra Dubrinsky
05-22-2014, 09:55 AM
I've been lurking for about 4 months on and off at the guild, when I had time. I was really impressed by many of the maps created here. well, a few weeks back i started having a series of dreams involving a place i've never heard of, and different peoples who don't exist. As a writer, this tends to happen a lot, a muse grabs you and this time, i had started not just dreaming of the characters, but of the places and the influences in their environments etc. and since i started looking at some of the maps on here, i thought to myself, i can actually make my own map, i have 10+ years graphics design and a great imagination......... yeah...... y'all make it look sooooo easy. lmao.

so one night at my work when it was slow and i was really bored, i drew a quick sketch of a map. the one i had seen or at least a close rendition of the one i had seen in my dream. don't laugh when you see it even i know an 8 year old could do better.

sorry i didn't correct the portrait into landscape.

so i found several wonderful tutorials on atlas style, by Ascension, which rock. as a matter of fact using those tutorials gave me an even sweeter land mass than i could have drawn.


and it worked great right up to the part where you have to do a gradient map for the land color. the down side to running off my map is, i have specific regions where geographic formations have to occur. deserts, mountain ranges, valleys etc. and i need a different method of doing the land color/s than a gradient map. i have tried several ideas, like painting in my land colors, but sadly i am not sure how to get them from the initial coloring to a finished product like Ascension's and others' i have seen.

are there any keywords for tutorials i need to search that i am just not thinking about? i have tried land color, mountains, mountain building, forests....

thanks for any help and crit you can give.

have a great day!

05-23-2014, 09:35 AM
Its not for GI p but I found the tutorial here very helpful in that regard
Looks like an interesting land mass, you might want to leave a little more negative space around it or even angle it a little so it doesn't conform to strongly to the rectangular shape of the paper.

Ferra Dubrinsky
05-23-2014, 03:21 PM
Its not for GI p but I found the tutorial here very helpful in that regard
Looks like an interesting land mass, you might want to leave a little more negative space around it or even angle it a little so it doesn't conform to strongly to the rectangular shape of the paper.

sweet thank you. to be honest i am not sure if this is actually an island or a peninsula off a larger continent. the scale is roughly 1/2 inch = 20 miles. i was really just going for the part that was labeled as Gadmira and a portion (with trade routes) of Carthos, your idea about using more negative space is actually better for that. i can focus on what i really wanted to focus on. thank you so much for the help!

Ferra Dubrinsky
05-24-2014, 04:14 PM
so i started reading the tutorials posted earlier. i rethought how i wanted it to look and what was actually known about the place i am maping. i am also playing around with using a larger scale as well.

the color in this picture i am using soley for reference. it is most likely going to change some as i change my mind ;)


05-24-2014, 05:32 PM
Making adjustments as needed is what I like best about working digitally.

Ferra Dubrinsky
05-25-2014, 01:32 AM
i love the fact that you don't have to have a whole bunch of eraser bits on a desk and pencil marks of varying hardnesses that you will never be rid of if you change your mind. lol. that and the reems of paper i go through when hand drawing.

05-25-2014, 09:31 PM
When something like this springs from your subconscious, do you feel like if you get it "wrong" with respect to the dreams your muses are going to corner you in a dark alley and whup you? Or are they okay with your waking imagination taking over?

Ferra Dubrinsky
05-26-2014, 02:42 AM
lol a bunch of times, yes. my muses are a little bit deranged... as last night i dreamed for a reason i still can't seem to explain, that i was protecting 2 pokemon from a crazed doctor who sic'ed his giant tyranosaurus on us and it destroyed my house. <-- no joke i woke up this morning in cold sweats. i haven't watched pokemon in years, and i haven't watched any prehistorical documentories lately.... yeah, my muses scare me sometimes lol. when insparation strikes, i try to stay as true to what the "rules" were in the moment of creation.

for this, the rules were, a small village or rest area/trading post every 15 miles in the Gadmira region. this is so people can travel through the day and have a place to rest safely at night. second, Gadmira is mainly in desert and grasslands. there are mountains and a few small rivers/oasis, but it's nothing like on the west side of the landmass. i had my dreams "through the eyes" of a Gadmiran. so i really only know what they know. they know through trading with their western neighbors that the west is filled with snow capped mountain ranges and lots of lakes and rivers that flow to the sea. they know that there are people whom they've never met to the north who ride horses almost as good as them and there are possibly several more kingdoms.
the Gamirans have very good relations with their trading partners to the west. there are at least 3 small kingdoms within 2-4 weeks walking/caravan distance, trade goes on through out the year thanks to the mild climate.

there are a few more details that are probably too boring for here about climate and precipitation that were in the dream, along with the types of oasis and cystern colections etc that were in my dreams. but do i feel i need to make sure i remain true to what the muses have laid down, you betcha. if they are happy and they send a t-rex to pick on me, immagine what they do when they are mad! lmao

have you ever had something come to you like that? ... not a t-rex, but an idea ;) ?

Ferra Dubrinsky
05-27-2014, 11:55 AM
i have realized that i really don't like the tediousness of putting in rivers. lakes is ok. rivers.... rivers are the bane of my existence right now..... they are evil... evil i tell you. after 3 days.... i thought i would be much farther along than i am now.... but noooooooo. *sigh* evil.... down right evil.... *mutters to self as she goes back into her cave to modify the map some more....*

Ferra Dubrinsky
05-27-2014, 02:40 PM
so i have gotten this far on the map, i did move the northern river a bit. i am not sure if i want to add the undergound aqueducts to the map or not. i think for the long run i should, but i don't know if i should continue with the geography first before adding in the man-made stuff or not...
and yes, the Inca had a vast water system in the desert that they had to clean out every 3-5 years, it was wide enough for someone to fith through and it provided fresh drinking water through out the year to all the desert citizens of their empire. it was pretty ingenious really. it was dug from underground too. they used rocks to sure up the walls and added wells that you could climb into and out of as needed for cleaning the aqueducts etc. and there's the histroy lesson for the month. go check it out if you get a chance to, there's a lot of interesting stuff. have a great day!

05-28-2014, 01:47 AM
Yes, sometimes an idea seems to jump into place fully formed in detail. If the details are altered it seems somehow wrong, even if the edits were to 'improve' the initial setup. But more often my dreams vanish and my awake imagination has to do all the work. I find landforms a HUGE help to imagining societies and events and characters and stories - even if random at start.

Rivers. Well, yes - you have simultaneous greatness and weakness going on. THe great thing is you have the knack for hand-scribbling into place river courses with believable varying degrees of roughness. Some people can hand-wiggle lines, but all the curves are about the same diameter. Yours include big and little, and include random-ish diversions that if one knew the topography would make sense. And therein lies the weakness: some of the implied topography doesn't make sense. When drafting our imagined worlds, it is usually best to keep all the mundane characteristics earthlike - the laws of physics, the way biology works, human nature -- unless and until you have a *reason* for a difference and then it becomes an important defining distinction. I'm sure you've read fiction where the author tried to make *everything* unlike earth.... tiring, wasn't it? Well, water should run downhill. Some of the rules of thumb that generates are that a lake can have many inlets but only one outlet. If there were two outlets, even temporarily, one would be just a *little* lower and would 'capture' all the outflow. the extra flow would deepen its channel, and it would wind up substantially lower. Sure, in flood season, an overflowing lake might for a day or a week go back to leaking in more than one place. But the odds of there being multiple exactly lowest places in a lake's coast are tiny, and pretty much zero, long term.

You have some lakes and rivers doing the unlikely multiple outflow thing in your middle western coast.

Another way of thinking of this is that from any one point on the land, there's most likely only ONE "most downward" direction. Water will flow that way. If there seem to be two ways 'down', one will be 'most down', and water will go that way. If two ways 'down' differ by but an inch in drop, and the water depth is a foot, the difference will be overwhelmed, true. But at a low enough flow, one will be the wet channel and the other will be dry.

Seeming exceptions to this usually involve same-level water - like the threaded channels of a delta, or a river that parts around an island. Think of most such islands as almost like a bit of lake with a big island in its middle, leaving only narrow channels around its sides. THat's only approximately true, but it is true that most all such situations have the water on either side of the island rejoining soon, not many many miles downstream, nor all the way at a coast - which is rejoining since all the water along a given coast is the same level. If you want some unique stuff, great - make it a necessary feature of the setting. Shoot, Earth even generates weird stuff like rivers that run backwards (google Tonlé Sap). But the more unnatural things your setting contains, the more attention your reader/ player/ viewer devotes to them, and less to the plot/ narrative/ whatever you want the focus to be. Attention is a limited resource. Renewable, yes (like, introduce strange aspects in turn, not all at once - the viewer who's gotten used to a red sky in one chapter can go on and accept mountains that float in the next, and eventually politics that make sense. Well maybe the latter is too fantastic...). But at any one time limited.

If this makes sense, fine. If not, take a look at a Most Very Useful tutorial in the tutorial section titled How to Get Your Rivers in the Right Place. (http://www.cartographersguild.com/tutorials-how/3822-how-get-your-rivers-right-place.html)

Another weakness that also has to do with water flowing downhill is the reality that headwaters are higher altitude than mid-course, which is higher than river mouths. What you draw for watercourses implies a huge amount about your topography. For instance higher ground separates two near water bodies, be they lake, river, or sea. A river course that arises near one coast and meanders to a distant coast of the same sea COULD happen, but the same amount of 'down' has to happen in the direction the water didn't flow, and a whole lot quicker. Some landmasses are like that - tilted plateaus for instance with cliffs a the high side. More often you'd expect high land to be somewhere in the middle - unless you INTEND coastal ranges that divert most flow away from a near coast.

Take that West to East river emptying into the great southern bay. See how close it starts to the southern coast? If you intend sharpish mountains there, fine. Otherwise, not so believable. And when your viewers are reasonably knowledgeable about hydrology - even instinctively or subconsciously - such an arrangement will slightly irk them. Same thing for the southernmost river on that southern island - if it got that close to the southern coast, why does it not 'fall off' into the southern sea, and instead wander off to the west? The North-South river in the middle of that island: its believability depends partly on the scale. A thin peninsula exists because it is a general ridge sticking up out of the water. Higher in the middle. If that's three miles across, or maybe even twenty, it looks like a river running down a ridgetop ( *unless* you intend and indicate a pair of coastal rises enclosing a trough in the middle). If that's fifty or five hundred miles across, I'll buy it.

Can you see the topography that your watercourses imply? If you can visualize in three dimensions, and see the rises and falls, that'll help you continue. If you can't - well, rules of thumb and generalizations will suffice :-).

Don't be dismayed that some rivers currently 'break rules'. You can remedy most by breaking *them* in a few places. Then you'll have pairs of rivers flowing opposite directions, in a somewhat likely configuration.

Ferra Dubrinsky
05-28-2014, 12:14 PM
Thank you for the feed back on the rivers. those dual rivers in the west, i completely forgot about them the other night. i was so frustrated with how the rivers were turning out and how long it took, i guess i blocked it out. thank you for the catch.
the map below should help explain some of the geography a little better.


brief description:
on the west side, there is a folded mountain region that runs from north to south of the land mass. these are similar to the Andes, Himalayas, or rocky mountains andthey are high enough to block most rainfall to the intward part of the land mass.

the light and dark green represent grassland/forest areas (possibly small farming areas) respectively

the light tan sand color is desert. doestn't mean its a sahara sandy desert, it's just not a place that many trees and many flowering plants can survive. there is flora and fauna, just not of the forest veriety.

the orange is a different set of mountains. not nearly as high as the light and dark grey folded mountains, these are the type you'd see in new mexico etc.

the ground slopes from west to east, most everything east of the grand mountains wants to run to the east.

Ferra Dubrinsky
05-28-2014, 12:17 PM
i give up trying to get that post to look right lol

anyway, from a side view here is what the immediate land mass looks like... in a very simplified way
before bigger and heavier land mass hit it 64494 and after 64495

Ferra Dubrinsky
05-28-2014, 12:56 PM
i know it's hard to assume when looking at a black and white picture as to what the other person is seeing. i should have included a color one that has the basic geography, that way it's easier to tell if i got it backwards. thank you for the feedback, i've actually printed out a copy of what you said for future reference ;)