I've been lurking here for a while, figured I'd make a post at last.
So here's the map I drew for the first prolonged campaign I DM'd. It was sketched in about half an hour and colored in about the same amount of time. Also, what I'm posting is a photo - and a rather poor one at that - of it, so... Yeah.
Things I like about it - The paper itself and the effect it has - it's thick and brown and uneven somehow, communicating the proper mood. The woods, towns and fortress markers came out better than expected. They're clearly identifiable by type and even size of the inhabiting community. The names of the Njordheim cities - I'm especially proud of them. The forests too.
Things I dislike about it - mountains aren't named. Should have written names first, then drawn around them. The eastern lands are part of the Darian Imperium, a name that should have found it's way in the map, being the focus of the world and all. It didn't. Didn't know how or where to put it in order to to NOT obscure landmarks and province names too much, so in the end I didn't. The swamplands at the lower left came out worse than expected - and I had high hopes. Right after coloring the Unsunk Archipelago in the lower right I realized that I hadn't left space to write its name either. Also, the badlands feel... Empty, even for a broken wasteland...
Lessons learned - write the names of landmarks first and don't get ahead of yourself - coloring comes AFTER that. Nordic-sounding names are cool. Naming forest is difficult.
Norse naming conventions are pretty cool. You could use a germanic suffix word like weld/wold/etc to add to the end of a descriptive word. Often it may well just describe the forest by size, ownership, bounty (what it offers) or some more mythical connotation.
I like your hand-drawn map but then I like most. You conundrum reminds me of why I like working digitally these days too though. Nothing beats the undo/erase function. =P
I think it looks great. It takes a lot of courage to attempt a hand drawn map and you've nailed it. I think you answered all your own questions about where to put labels. Overall a great job and something to be proud of :)
I'm new here too andI recently posted my first map on here, but it's actually hand-drawn as well. I think you did a great job on it for a first time map. You mentioned naming the mountains, well you could still do so they don't need the names right in the center. If you happen to look at my posted map you can tell that I wrote the name of mountains parallel to the mountains.
As for labeling everything this is my method: Once I've drawn the whole landmass and rivers, I draw in borders then mountains if they are along a border. Then I label all major places like countries/geographical features. That way all important names are there, then I write in all other names. However, I will say that you need practice labeling a bit neater, because some of the names are sloppy, but that's a minor issue that if you take your time it'll look better. (My handwriting isn't much better but I use a certain style on my maps that makes it look a bit better).Developing a method for how you draw your maps is one of the best ways to do things because it's easier to avoid mistakes when you have everything planned out.
But again, great job.
If you want an example just click on the link to my user name and you can find my posted thread.
Thanks for the thumbs up and advice.
@ Rahl - Really like your work. Simply grand. Next time I draw something of the sort, I'm going to try out your style of mountains - it looks like it would take quite a bit more time than mine did, but the result will be worth it.
I think this is really great. I like it..