View Full Version : First Map Ever: Handdrawn "Westlands"

02-06-2010, 12:09 AM
Tada! These are the first two maps I've ever drawn. (Please, don't laugh! I'm a much better painter!) The first one is several months old. The second is the updated version, because the first wasn't quite right. I'm still working out the kinks. I have the fantasy world all planned out in my head, but working out the missing links is proving difficult. I nicknamed this continent "westlands".

Oh! And the second looks so sloppy because it was too big to scan. I had to scan it in parts, but couldn't get it to line up straight. :(( You get the idea though. I'm currently trying to recreate a much cleaner version (using the tutorials) on the computer.

So, there ya go! Any comments or suggestions welcome! :)

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02-06-2010, 01:17 AM
It looks very nice so far! I love the look of hand-drawn maps, especially with colour :) One comment I have, is that you seem to have a lot of land-locked rivers. Unless they turn in underground rivers and go wherever underground rivers go, rivers will ultimately end at a large body of salt water.

02-06-2010, 01:34 AM
Hey, don't sell yourself short - the second has a really nice look. The first ... hand composed contours are tough. They'll look better less bold. When I look at bits of land like the peninsula from south center to southeast, I wonder why it's flat. When dreaming up terrain, think how it got that way. Did your landmass start as a pile of roughness that eroded, with the bits filling up the low areas? Or are you thinking a flattish landmass with some wrinkly bits poking up out of it? The two would look different.

Water runs downhill... if there's nowhere for it to go, it puddles. As it stands, your landmass must be really porous, because some of the rivers disappear. Real ones do sometimes duck underground, but unless thousands of miles of massive caverns, flooded and flowing, somehow figure into your setting, it would be easier to stick with more 'normal' rivers running from high ground to ocean, or at least to inland sea. A big inland sea with no exit is likely to be even saltier than the ocean - if that's what you want story-wise, it could give interesting details to your setting. Hmmm - if you have seriously ambitions farmers, they could be irrigating some of those rivers to death - our world's Rio Grande and Colorado rivers barely make it to the sea alive.

For the Mighty River to flow so far, surely it flows down a lot. If its headwaters are in those north-coast mountains, then the flattish bit it crosses close to the north coast must be a serious high-altitude plateau. That'll look sensible if you somehow indicate cliffs down to the sea and a tilt southward. An easy way to show tilt is to put some little tributary streams in. One doesn't have to show all of a land's rivers of course, but if the middle of the landmass has all those interesting close & twisty watercourses, surely the Mighty has a bunch of tributaries of similar size. If the midlands are wet enough to support the South Forest, there would logically be some water flowing through it.

You mention the whole fantasy world - are you dreaming it up for gaming, for a setting for writing, or just for the fun of it? I ask, because if your focus is character action of some sort, it matters what their scope is. If you're going to write about people who live along the east coast, and all they know of the west is indistinct, third-hand, bard-sourced geography, then the detail level can sensibly fall off east to west. Another way to think of the question is author (and cartographer) viewpoint - are your maps from an omniscient view, showing more than any character would know? Or are they the product of one or more "in-character" cartographers?

Is the Bone Basin the black zone amid mountains? If so you may have another of what's referred to as river violations - several rivers seem to be emptying the basin. If the basin is a lake, that wouldn't happen. If it's just a flat area between a ring of mountains, you could have different parts draining different directions, but it's stretching plausibility.

Seriously - if you're a better painter i want to see your paintings too :-).

02-06-2010, 02:15 AM
Thank you both for the suggestions! :) (Taking notes) I did go kind of crazy with the rivers, didn't I. :lol:

I was trying to make the Mighty River similar to the Mississippi River in idea; a long, strong river with a large watershed. I'll definitely use your suggestions! With Photoshop, Iíll try to show the terrain more clearly.

I'm drawing from an omniscient cartographer's point of view. It's a map for a novel I've been working on since I was about 5 years old. Of course, it's grown into a more mature and complex story since elementary school. Now, I'm trying to plot out the world for myself, to better understand it for myself...if that makes sense. :?: If the novel is ever published, I will only need a few parts of the map, but there are a couple of races that have no place on the map. I was hoping that making the map based on what I already know could make a "home" for them.

The Bone Basin was an accident. I was working on that area when my hubbie looked over my shoulder and commented that it looked like a body part. :oops: So, a little peeved...I just frantically drew mountains and filled in the area with black in attempt to make it a lake. :lol: Didn't turn that great, but gave me an idea for plot. I was thinking a basin that was later filled with sea water by an epic earthquake? Perhaps, if I move it closer to the shore and make it much smaller it will be better?

How about the river running through the valley in the northeast? Is that too unrealistic? I need it to be a fertile river valley, like the Tennessee valleys in the Smoky Mountains.

(Note: The names of places will change. The goofy names are just WIP titles. "Bone", "Gre", and "Necro" refer to races that live in the area.)

02-06-2010, 01:48 PM
You're off to a great start Autumn rain. Are you planning to keep the "hand drawn" feel of your map in the "cleaner" computer version? If so, you might be interested in some of the great hand drawn style map elements (trees, hills, mountains) brushes that some of the guild members have posted in the mapping elements section. There's also a tutorial on how to make old paper (parchment) in GIMP floating around somewhere in the tutorials section. Thanks for sharing your work with us.



02-17-2010, 12:58 PM
Thank you! :) I'm hoping to clean up it up on the computer, but add the "aged paper" texture. I just prefer to hand draw everything since I'm not quite used to my tablet yet. :P Everyone's advice it really helping, though. I hope to have the new version up soon. :)

02-17-2010, 07:25 PM
i love handdrawn maps and must say this one looks pretty good! looking forward to seeing the aged-paper look. cheers

02-17-2010, 07:33 PM
Really nice indeed. This is looking great.