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happywanderer
08-17-2014, 08:10 PM
So - I've been working on building world-level maps lately and would like some input on how to improve/what to improve. I'm planning on adding some texture under the darker spots for the "forests". Perhaps some more hilly areas radiating from the main mountains....

This is technically one continent ... The other three (western and southern hemispheres) will be coming along shortly.

Anyway - my first attempt:
66717

Ravenfield
08-18-2014, 07:33 PM
It completely depends on what you want to achieve and what you want to improve.
I'm fairly new when it comes to maps myself so please don't take anything I say for the ultimate truth or for real criticism, I'll just list a few things I came across during my research. So, everyone, please correct me if I'm wrong.
Do you want to build a realistic world or a fantasy world to your liking which doesn't follow Earth's rules?
If you want it realistic there are a few things you could consider, a non-realistic map, however, can be made however you want.
Realism, unfortunately, can be pretty exhausting, so I would stick to a few things to consider while creating your world:
1. Tectonic movement is pretty tough but as far as I understand it, there are continental and oceanic plates which behave differently. Both float on molten rock but the oceanic plates are more heavy than the continents so they sink in deeper than the continents.
When two plates drift towards each other they'll eventually crash. Depending on which kind of plate crashes into another different things happen.
Oceanic plate + continental plate: The oceanic plate is lowered so it slides beneath the continental plate. A trench will appear at this exact spot while the land folds itself to a mountain ridge (Imagine sliding your hand beneath a tablecloth, the cloth will ripple and fold).
The same thing happens when two oceanic plates meet. Since both lie under water, the mountains might not rise above surface level but there again will be a trench and mountains.
Two continental plates colliding is a different thing because neither can slide beneath the other, so there won't be a trench but the land still folds.
Plates drifting away from each other tear the solid surface apart. Those cracks allow lava to flow through and, depending how long this takes, might even build islands or mountains.
The mountains' convex side will always face the lowered plate (look at Japan for example, as far as I figured it, the pacific plate lowers beneath the philipine plate, thus creating the islands)

2. The planet's tilt is equally complex but there are a few, sort of simple things you could consider: If your planet's tilt is similar to Earth's (23,5), you'll probably have similar climate. If not, everything changes. A tilt of 0 will give a pretty even climate all over the world. Days will be equally long everywhere and you won't have seasons like we know them. At 45 the seasons will be more extreme and the polar regions will be larger because they'll be dark for longer. At 90 every hemisphere will lie in darkness for months while the other has a single day going on for months which would make the climate quite uncomfortable.
You can monitor this closely here Seasons Simulation (http://www.fossweb.com/delegate/ssi-foss-ucm/Contribution%20Folders/FOSS/multimedia/Planetary_Science/binders/earth/earth_motions/seasons_simulation_1.html)

3. Climate zones, again quite a topic but with some rough guidelines: (Around 23,5 tilt) Latitude pretty much directs how your climate is spread. The tropical zone spreads from the equator (0 latitude) up to 23,5. Here you don't have big seasonal changes and it's quite warm, so you'll find deserts, rainforests and mostly humid areas. From 23,5 up to 40 you have the subtropic area, again quite warm (average above 20C) but this time pretty arid, so you'll find steppes, deserts and other dry landscapes. Temperate climate goes from 40 to 60. You pretty much find the conditions in most of Europe, North America, China, etc. here. The rest is polar region which is pretty cold.

4. Deserts, bleh: I'll just cover deserts quickly. Deserts can occur behind mountains where the clouds rain down before they pass the ridge and leave no water for the region behind. Then there are deserts caused by cold ocean currents (air cools down, can't hold the moisture anymore), by porous soil, by wind or because the locations are far away from oceans.
The distance between 0 and 30 latitude (aswell as 30 and 60, 60 and 90) on earth are 3336 kilometers each, so you have roughly 1100 km for each 10
A calculator for this sort of thing can be found here: Calculate distance and bearing between two Latitude/Longitude points using haversine formula in JavaScript (http://www.movable-type.co.uk/scripts/latlong.html)

That's realism for you (all the perfectionists probably threw their hands up in horror reading what I wrote and I know this doesn't even cover the basics but it's a start I guess)

From a designing point of view just look at some tutorials if you want to improve. The rivers don't look like they are part of the continent yet, you could integrate them like this (in Photoshop): On your landmass layer go to layer options and use "Stroke" (3 pixels or so). This will give you an outline around the land. Now get your eraser and remove the parts where the river beds are. Your rivers then look like they'd flow directly into the oceans. The same goes for lakes (at least I didn't find a better solution yet) Be careful not to paint over rivers and lakes on other layers though.

Sorry for the wall of text, I get excited easily ;)