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Thread: First map (Tjer) and what I learned from it

  1. #1
      Rhadryn is offline
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    Map First map (Tjer) and what I learned from it

    I found this forum a few days ago and was thrilled. I've been doing fantasy cartography since I was eight years old, but I've never actually tried to make my maps aesthetically pleasing. Through following the tutorials here I managed to create my first map that wasn't just squiggly lines and painfully bright colors. The map presented here is sadly at half resolution, but full resolution is available here.

    I loosely based the land placement off of the incredible Hereford mappa mundi (if you haven't seen it, here's the wikipedia link.) For the most part I followed Gidde's comprehensive Hand-drawn Map tutorial, and for the woodcut ocean I used Coyotemax's tutorial found here.

    I welcome comments and suggestions. I'm particularly not happy with:
    • Placement of rivers, mountains, and forests.
    • Icon placement—in some places too dense, graphically.
    • The desert—the waves are too homogeneous and the color doesn't quite fit.
    • The roads—I'd probably prefer dotted lines for borders and solid lines for roads.
    • The size, which diminished from the graphics as well.

    The map is lacking country borders and names. The names are because I take forever to think of them—it will take me months if not years to make enough for this map. The country borders were the last thing that I was going to draw, but at that point I decided that the map wasn't worth the effort and I just wanted to make something like a finished product.

    I've been working on this world for years but I've never had any firm opinions about the geography, so I just dove in with very little planning. Probably I should have spent more time looking at other maps, but now I can appreciate and understand them more.

    For this map I learned:
    • To plan the climate ahead of time. I got halfway through this map when I realized that I wanted a desert and an icy area. I decided to give up on the icy area.
    • To plan all the types of terrain I want in advance—cliffs, swamps, grasslands, etc. In this map I had to rearrange some rivers to make the swamps, and I think they were placed somewhat haphazardly.
    • That trees and hills do not mix well.
    • To make icons more sparse, especially the hills.
    • The importance of layering, and making sure that I am editing the appropriate layer. Hah.
    • To gather all the icons I need before I start, and then to place them on the appropriate layer. For example, I would have liked to have made a mountain pass or two, but since I can't just draw a road on top of the mountains, it would have been time-consuming.

    For my next map, I'll first create the land masses for the entire world (and maybe the terrain as well), but then I'll focus on a smaller region. That should help me a lot with the scale of the map.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails First map (Tjer) and what I learned from it-tjer-version-1-small.png  
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  2. #2
      arishok is offline
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    This looks really nice! The rivers and deltas look natural. For your next map, you may want to spend more time defining the coastline. Just a suggestion--aesthetically the smooth outline looks nice, but if you wanted a more realistic looking map a more jagged coastline may benefit you.

  3. #3
      Freodin is offline
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    Or you could do the opposite of what arishok proposed: leave the rather smooth coastline and adapt the style of your rivers to that. That would give the map a more consistent antique feel.

    But that is already going into details. The overall look of your map - composition, colours, execution - is really great.

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      Rhadryn is offline
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    Thanks for the comments! I think the coastline was originally more jagged, but the tutorial was intended to produce a smoother coastline, and shrinking the image probably made it even more smooth. I don't know how to make the rivers less jagged since most of them are only one pixel wide anyway--maybe by making the lines straighter?

  5. #5
      Freodin is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rhadryn View Post
    I don't know how to make the rivers less jagged since most of them are only one pixel wide anyway--maybe by making the lines straighter?
    Just use wider curves, instead of these highly detailed fidgety ones. Take a look at the map in this post for example. You could even make them wider (and, of course, more simple).

    It would not look as "modern" as some maps, not as detailed as we have become used to. Many "antique" maps posted here are in an already very refined style that dates to the late 16th or 17th century. Joan Blaeu's "Atlas Major" is an often used source of inspiration.

    But you could - if it suits you - aim for an even older style. You already mentioned the Hereford Map as an example. Or take some peaks at the older maps on this site.


    One thing that I think is very important in a map is consistency. When I try to do an "historical style", I always try to consider what the hypothetical olden-times creator of the map would have done and how he would have done it.

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