View Full Version : A Writer's Questions

07-08-2014, 08:15 AM
Hello all! I was delighted to find that there was a forum dedicated to cartographers! Doubly so when the few posts I have read so far indicate that there are many professional artists that do commissions. I am a amateur writer working on my first book, no publishers deal or even thoughts of publishing any of my work at this point. During the creation of my fantasy story I hit a massive roadblock, not in writing but in..... You guessed it: cartography. Terrible artist not withstanding, I am a great fan of fantasy maps like Robert Jordan's maps, or from this site Ramah's Vaniya Redone. So I have come to the experts with a few questions.

I find that the geography of a region or a continent plays a major role in cultural development, history of warfare, natural resources, population (and more) thus without a completed and viable world-map back story and thorough world-building have become a problem. Especially considering that if I continue to change the world map these histories of nations will have to be constantly written and that is a MAJOR pain. I would have done the world map first, sadly I was not that fore sighted and already have certain points fairly fixed in their relation to each other.

So after all this writing what do I want to ask? I need a basic, to scale, black and white, neat, map of 2 continents. I have mostly the shape of each continent and some specific land features and city locations. Other than that I have nothing really set in stone because I don't have the geography nailed down.

So any tips on creating hand done, scale, maps? biggest killers for me are rivers, any terrain that isnt mountains, and scale.

07-08-2014, 11:18 AM
Doing maps first would solve a lot of issues, yes. Then doing the history of the kingdoms/population/what-have-you-not. Of course the borders are bound to change as kingdoms themselves develop, even landmass might be altered depending on your story ("Cracking of the world" by Torak in David Eddings' Belgariad comes to mind).

If you wish to do the maps yourself you have several options. You could try Campaign Cartographer 3 (https://secure.profantasy.com/default.asp) which is a CAD-like program you can use to draw whole continents to small regions without much hassle. Then there is the beautiful treasure chamber called "Tutorials/how-to (http://www.cartographersguild.com/tutorials-how/)" with a ton of tutorials on how to create maps with free software such as GIMP or paid software such as Photoshop.

Oh, there's also a very useful tutorial on how to get your rivers in the right place (http://www.cartographersguild.com/tutorials-how/3822-how-get-your-rivers-right-place.html).

Another thing I would like to add is this great article (http://christopherdeldridge.com/blog/?p=405) by Christopher Eldridge on how to create a worldmap from scratch. He tackles on most of the important aspects, safe for the map projection type (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_map_projections) used. Which is quite important.

Variable Agent
07-08-2014, 11:27 AM
I'm new here, so I'm inexperienced. I have been in a similar situation so I'll share what I have to say regardless.

Don't worry about neatness. When I first mapped out my world, it was a sloppy mess. Get to know your two continents and first point out the cities/towns and your specific land features, then start big and get smaller. Start with biomes if those apply, then focus on your mountains. I have a hard time representing mountains on my map so I just used a solid line. As you get smaller, the features of the land start to stand out and natural borders start to form, which helps develop countries.

My advice on scaling is to draw your sketch over top of an actual world map. It'll let you see how big your continents are and where biomes should can relative to the equator.

Then, re-draw the map. Trace over it. Make it look nicer. Repeat that step until you've got something vaguely decent looking and then write your backstory. Oftentimes, writing backstory can change the map just as changing the map can change the backstory. It can be a pain, yes, but if you enjoy worldbuilding, then all is good!

The main advice I can give you, though, is to read the tutorials on this site and to study other people's maps.

07-10-2014, 08:41 AM
Excellect advice!!! Thank you for the advice and feed back, it has really given me a game plan for how to move forward with my map.