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Thread: Map Peeves and Common Errors

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      PixelFish is offline
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    Post Map Peeves and Common Errors

    What are some pet peeves about maps? Or maybe common mistakes?

    I think one of my peeves is when the book gives a world map, it is labelled as a world map, and yet there are only two and a half countries (if that) on this world map. And these countries have approximately two cities and three towns between them. Or there is a castle, a battle plain, and the den of the Evil Overlord, and nothing else. It's more a failure of world building than any fault of the mapmaker usually, but it still makes me not believe in the world a little less when I see a map like that at the front of the book.

    Another minor nitpick is when they show a map of the world and it is all terra firm with nowhere near enough water.

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      Ascension is offline
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    For published maps I hate when they go with simple black and white and then the ink bleeds out (like in the Elizabeth Haydon "Rhapsody" series) but this is more of a printing problem so others might have a legible map where I don't. What irks me is all of these fancy illegible fonts that aren't kerned correctly or are just plain hard to read, although I'm quite guilty of committing that sin myself on numerous occasions Despite being a river cop that doesn't really bother me too much since we're all here to help but terrain that is not thought out kind of bugs me (like a mtn range that goes in a circle or a river that skims by a bay only to cross the entire continent and empty somewhere else).
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    Guild Master Gracious Donor Midgardsormr's Avatar
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    The issue with most maps attached to novels is that they have to reproduce legibly at a very tiny scale for paperbacks, and they have to do so in black and white. There typically isn't even the option to make it grayscale, except by halftoning it. That's a significant technical challenge, so those maps are often simplified to the point of only showing locations mentioned in the text. Sure, there are likely hundreds more cities and towns than are shown, but if the characters never go to or mention any of those places, including them will merely crowd out information that might be more important.

    That said, there certainly are plenty of stinky maps in books I have read. I think some editors don't quite get how important the map can be for a fantasy reader, so they don't allocate the budget for a good one. Instead, we get a scan of a napkin where the author jotted something down intended as a guideline. (I don't know that that's actually ever happened—it was intended as hyperbole.)
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      PixelFish is offline
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    I have my own reasons for regarding the Rhapsody books as notorious, but since this is a mapmaking forum, and not a book forum, I'll try not to digress.

    But yeah, I know what you mean, re: bad inks and bleeding contours.

    Typographic mistakes: using script fonts in all caps drives me insane. (Not regular serifed fonts, but the calligraphic kind. Calligraphic flourishes don't connect on capital letters usually.)

    Oh, another peeve: Indistinct legends. Particularly on maps that have a lot of borders and a lot of roads and a lot of trade routes. And something that was legible at the size it was drawn gets turned into a tiny dotted line when shrunk to paperback size. So the guy who thought he was being all clever with his -*- and his * * * and his === but drew it at a size that was 2 feet wide to start....it all turns into a hodgepodge of lines and you can't tell if that was the border between Astynonia and Zambolin or if it was the Great King's Road or if it was the Wall of EpicNameHere.

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      Turgenev is offline
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    Sigurd's signature covers one of my pet peeves.

    Dollhouse Syndrome = The temptation to turn a map into a picture, obscuring the goal of the image with the appeal of cute, or simply available, parts. Maps have clarity through simplification.
    Along the same vein, give me fonts that I can read. Fancy fonts might look nice but if they are hard to read then you are defeating the purpose (of passing info to the reader/viewer).
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      Gidde is offline
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    @ Ascension: You made me run over to the bookshelf and grab Rhapsody, and the map looks excellent to me. Maybe you got unlucky?

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      NeonKnight is offline
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    Well, I've said it before, but I'll mention it here.

    My biggest, BIGGEST pet peeve, that makes we wanna spit nails, is city maps with all buildings as separate entities. Think of it as the following:

    O O O O O

    The O's represent buildings and they all are separate. Like an entire city built on the suburb style. No city in history has looked like that. The look like:

    OOOOO OOO O OO OOO

    With the buildings in clusters, sharing common walls, etc.

    So, as said, I have seen a great many beautiful city maps (and a lot of them here in this forum), and then they lose that sense of verisimilitude (The quality of appearing to be true or real. / Something that has the appearance of being true or real.)

    And that is a crying shame
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      Ryan K is offline
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    My pet peeves are quite the same to PixelFish's, in that you have what is supposedly a 'world map', but not only are there only two or three countries (at least one being a utopian paradise, and at least one a barren wasteland of ebilness), but those same countries apparently have areas the size of the former USSR, and of the whole world there is just one desert, and/or one jungle (or 'dark wood', if you prefer), one so on, and one so forth. Basically, maps that serve only to tick boxes - as long as you have one of everything (an ocean, a sea, a waterfall, a volcano, a canyon...), you've got yourself a world map. A world map.

    I think I would do well in future to point those people in the direction of this forum, to be honest.
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      Lwaxana is offline
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    I agree on the world map but one continent thingy. That's my main issue as well.

    On maps of settlements I find it annoying if there is no center like a market place or government building. Even small villages have a place for the people to meet and talk.

    On maps for buildings, it's the lack of a toilet, even in some modern settings. I can see why in some fantasy settings you'd have an outhouse, but otherwise it is just a silly oversight.

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      Lwaxana is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by NeonKnight View Post
    Well, I've said it before, but I'll mention it here.

    My biggest, BIGGEST pet peeve, that makes we wanna spit nails, is city maps with all buildings as separate entities. Think of it as the following:

    O O O O O

    The O's represent buildings and they all are separate. Like an entire city built on the suburb style. No city in history has looked like that. The look like:

    OOOOO OOO O OO OOO

    With the buildings in clusters, sharing common walls, etc.

    So, as said, I have seen a great many beautiful city maps (and a lot of them here in this forum), and then they lose that sense of verisimilitude (The quality of appearing to be true or real. / Something that has the appearance of being true or real.)

    And that is a crying shame
    Generally, I agree, but in fantasy settings I've done this once or twice, because the culture it was set in was one of distance and privacy. They didn't even have many cities to begin with

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