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Thread: Hand Drawn Map tips?

  1. #1
      Yandor is offline
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    Question Hand Drawn Map tips?

    Well after kind of floating around and going farther and farther into the posts and topics that people have brought up over a while, and well hand drawn maps is something most people do or have done, and well to be honest theres still some stuff I am kind of vague on. Here are some things I'd like to know more that I've noticed people commenting on.

    Remember hand drawn
    1. Drawing more "spherical" maps instead of just using the dimensions of the paper
    2. How detailed do some of you go when hand drawing? Just basic continents? Rivers, lakes mountains? I personally just draw continents upload them and then start splashing them with color (related to mountains, lakes deserts, etc.) so I can get an outline of where things can go.
    3. Size of paper, do people usually use an 8x11 or use some larger peices?
    4. How many copies do you make of the map depicting different parts of the world? I've personally have made 4 or 5 copies of the map I posted a little while ago, and each has different purposes like a terrain map, a political map, language map, demographic map etc.
    5. Lastly how the crap do you guys name half of the stuff you make? Map names, City names, lakes, rivers etc.
    6. Any other ideas that come to mind

    A lot of these are things I already kind of know about and have put to my own use, but it would just be nice to know how some of you guys think when started a map (since hand drawning is generally a first step) and possibly help those out who are just floating around with different ideas on creating maps. Instead of decorating them with flashy colors and other techinques I absolutely love but yeah. Thanks in advanced.

    p.s. if this is in the wrong forum, would for one be nice to know and can be moved =D
    Last edited by Yandor; 11-11-2007 at 12:04 AM.

  2. #2
    Guild Journeyer terrainmonkey's Avatar
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    as one of the people on here who does hand drawn maps primarily, i will tell you how i go about doing them.

    maps are by their very nature pieces of art. for the case of RPG maps, one has to tell a story and create a setting that allows that story to unfold in all of its parts. a simple dungeon needs to be planned, not just a bunch of boxes and corridors. each room has to be given a part in the unfolding tale you are going to be putting your players through. each town or city needs to have certain elements that add to the narrative. with this in mind, i usually start sketching. while i am drawing, i ask myself the following questions:

    1. who lives here?
    2. what resources do they have?
    3. what is the basic economy built upon?
    4. is there plentiful food and water for the populace?

    for towns and cities, there will usually be a river or stream nearby that the inhabitants use for everything from drinking and irrigation to sewage and waste control. if not, there has to be some way, either a community well, or an aqueduct. in a dungeon it is a cistern, a natural water cave, etc. don't discount magic either. i usually don't include this option when i design a town, as wizards IMC are few and far between, and the clerics of the area aren't about to go casting unlimited water spells every day.

    for continents, or large land mass maps, i tend to look at normal earth features for the coastlines. it's all fine and good to draw a squiggly line and call it a coast line, but i like to use google earth (which is a free download at google) and look at how nature decided the coastlines. then, i design my map thinking about plate tectonics, where the rivers go, where the forests would be, hills, and other natural features. i usually draw mountains, forests, hills, swamps, rivers, towns, and roads. for alrge maps, i'll put the largest cities and towns but nothing else. for smaller regional maps, every village, tavern, town, etc. is laid out. i don't name these on the map, because i usually scan it in and then add them with the caslon antique font. this also allows me to do various other types of map, like regional naming, resources of the land such as gold, silver, etc., and in some cases, putting where the predominant races live so i could work out the back story for the PCs i was running.

    usually my maps all start with a pencil sketch which is then put into pen and ink. i like to draw on an 8x8/inch graph pad, which usually gives me the scale i need. that way you can make one square equal 10 feet, 5', one mile, ten miles, etc. this makes it easier to keep everything in scale. it is easy for the viewer to see where scale is off kilter a bit, which kills the supposed "reality" of the piece.

    you can see many of my maps at the following link:
    Terrainmonkey's Map-A-Day thread

    hope this helps.

  3. #3
    Publisher Gamerprinter's Avatar
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    Post Since my November challenge is a hand-drawing...

    The way that I'm going about creating my hand-drawn map for the November challenge is somewhat different in that the final map will be compiled in a graphics program. I am creating specific map content like rivers drawn by themselves to help dictate the form and placement of final objects. All other objects are created individually on own piece of paper, then scanned to digital format, scaled and painted in image editing software.

    Finally I will use Xara, though one could use CC3, Dundjinni, PS, GIMP, Fractal Mapper or any other mapping software to import my PNG map object files and build the final map.

    So although, all elements of my map were created by hand, composition occurs in digital software. This way I don't have to create the entire map and all it objects onto one document or map area - entirely by hand.
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    Guild Master Gracious Donor Midgardsormr's Avatar
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    Most of my hand drawn maps are scribbles, at best, because I typically draw them while the players are watching. However, when I do set myself to drawing a more attractive and deliberate map, I can do so. I'll answer your questions one-by-one.

    1. Drawing more "spherical" maps instead of just using the dimensions of the paper
    I've never needed to spherize a map. My campaigns are typically too localized to worry about that sort of thing, and it's not as though I'm making the PCs plot actual navigation courses.

    2. How detailed do some of you go when hand drawing?
    Depends on the purpose of the map. The regional map will include mountains, forests if they're dense enough to be an obstacle, major rivers, cities and points of interest.

    Adventure sites are highly detailed, of course, though I don't use battlemats.

    I usually only zone cities. The only buildings I draw are the ones that are important for one reason or another. If I need to draw in additional buildings, I can do so later.

    And that answer covered question #4 as well.

    3. Size of paper, do people usually use an 8x11 or use some larger peices?
    I use whatever is handy, which is usually 8.5 X 11" printer paper or 11 X 17" sketch pads. For a little while, I used some even larger drafting vellum because I had it left over from a professional project (nothing better than supplies paid for by someone else!)

    5. Lastly how the crap do you guys name half of the stuff you make? Map names, City names, lakes, rivers etc.
    I just pull a random assortment of sounds out of my head. Or sometimes I roll Word Yahtzee dice. I'm no linguist, so I don't really even attempt to make believable names. Sometimes my names are puns or culture references; none of those showed up in Vendria, though.

    6. Any other ideas that come to mind

    A lot of these are things I already kind of know about and have put to my own use, but it would just be nice to know how some of you guys think when started a map
    I run very character-driven games, and the relationships between people and groups are more important than geography. I usually know something about factions when I start world building, but putting them down on a map, even a scribbly one, helps to clarify my thinking. It shows me where my preconceived notions about what the world is are unlikely, or even impossible.

    Sometimes following that practice results in some unlikely geography (like the river switchback that RPMiller pointed out in Vendria), so it's not the best way to make consistent and reasonable maps. It works for me, though, and since most of my players seem to enjoy playing in my games, I think I'll keep it up.

    I don't know if I said anything particularly noteworthy in there; take what's useful and discard the rest.
    Bryan Ray, visual effects artist
    http://www.bryanray.name

  5. #5
      Yandor is offline
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    No these are all great, I wanted to make this post, to help others mostly, to maybe get an idea of where to begin, I've done things the same way over the last years, just grabbed a piece of paper, a pencil, threw down blobs and then defined them. Very easy, but it requires a lot of sketch lines and erasing. So like some of you have said, having an idea of factions, some features you actually wont on there etc before drawing it will really help in drawning my maps, and plus this is to help people get another insight on how to draw stuff, maybe they've never hand drawn a map =D

    The other one I really wanted to know is how you name things, I've used generators and all sorts of stuff to get names, and well the best thing I've found so far is to get a word part like "Dor, Ion, Lon, Ius" etc and just add other word parts, such as my map name "Ashlon", Ash - Lon...
    Last edited by Yandor; 11-11-2007 at 10:35 PM.

  6. #6
      NeonKnight is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yandor View Post
    5. Lastly how the crap do you guys name half of the stuff you make? Map names, City names, lakes, rivers etc.
    This is the one thing I have been personally asked a lot, so here is an answer I put forth to another group I belong to regarding naming of areas.


    For me, when I was creating my world, names were kinda easy.

    A few examples:

    Empire of Brighton, saw the name Brighton on a sign post as a street name.

    Ferringio was just a play on the name Ferigno (guy who played the Hulk on the TV Series).

    As I got older (yes that campaign world is over 20 years old), I started thinking, how do we, as humans in the real world come up with city names? In our English speaking culture we have a tendency to name them after eaither people, other places (England has York, The US has New York, England has Jersey, US has New Jersye, France has Orleans, US has New Orleans), or after prominent physical/environmental features: Swiftwater, Bridal Falls, etc.

    So, Kingdom names aside, place names are easy.

    The name of the Human city should be First Landing (as Grey Fox was saying to me the other day), because it makes sense from a entymolgical point of view. Its where the first arrived, it would be their biggest settlement, as a lot of the first timber for construction would have come from the dismantleing of the ships they arrived on, etc.

    A web search on Toponymy (the scietific name for the study of place names), brought me this little gem regarding place names in Britain:

    Quote:
    Places were originally named in Old English, Norse, Scots, Welsh, Gaelic or Cornish, according to landscape features (topography), nature of settlement (habitat – city, town, village, fortifications) or the people or tribe living in the area, often combining two or three descriptive terms in one name. These names were then influenced and modified at various historical periods through language shift driven by socio-economic and political changes.

    These sometimes introduced new language influences, such as French from the Norman Conquest.

    So, if you have names for towns villages, etc called Walden's Bridge because some guy named Walden built a bridge and a village srpung up there because it was a good crossing point, so be it. Even the name of the game "Neverwinter Night" is based on the city of Neverwinter in the Forgotten Realms, so named because even though it is far north, it seldom experience Winter in it;s full force.
    So, for example, in Britain, there is this place called Oxford, which obviously was named because it originally was a good place for herdsmen to bring the Oxen across a river.

    Here in the province of British Columbia, I was born in they city of Prince George, which was originally known as Fort George (Named after the Prince of England, named George).

    All around Prince George are communities with names like MacKenzie (Named after the explorer of the same name), Fort St John, Fort St James, Dawson Creek, and the youngest, the mining town of less than 30 years, Tumbler Ridge. Even Canada was named (incorrectly) because the local natives invited the French Explorers back to Can-na-ha (or something of that effect), which in their language meant Village or Group of Huts.

    So, when naming your areas, feel free. Look at the names of things around you and switch some letters or excagerate other parts of it.

    For instance, I am looking at my MONTITOR as I write this. Monitor has a cool sound, so change a couple of letters and I have Monather, or Monistor, or reduce to two sylables, Montor. I guarantee, when people see that name on your map, they are not going to go: "Hey you just changed a few letters in Monitor! You Suck!" Nope, never will happen.

    Finally, use a bit of immagination when naming areas too. Swift Current is a cool name for a small town/village on a river. So what if there are umpteen million real world Swift Currents, it is a descriptivename. Why do you think there is practically a Springfield in almost every one of the states in the US

    So, think of geographic features and simply name communites after them. This gives you BlackRock, Red Rock, Greenfields, Blue Water, Windbluffe, Blue Lake, Pineglen, etc.

    Best of luck!
    Daniel the Neon Knight: Campaign Cartographer User

    Never use a big word when a diminutive one will suffice!

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      landorl is offline
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    For town names, I like to do a combo job. I will pick a culture that I want the current kingdom to resemble. For instance, I have been working on a map, and I view the kingdom as having some vague similarities to the Welsh people, so I looked up a lot of Welsh towns, and simply used names similar to those. I then had some towns that were named in the more "modern" common tongue of the area. A lot of those were people names with some sort of functional name like Boris Bridge, or Wheedon's Crossing.

    In addition, what I first did for my world is to create the global map in CC2/3, and then work on the continents from there. I am only doing hand drawn maps on my kingdom level maps. Later on, I may come back and do a hand drawn map for each continent showing a general overview of the continent.

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      RobA is offline
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    And for street names and city districts, location and vocation tend to lead the pack:

    Market Street
    River Road
    High Path

    Coopers Lane
    The Millway

    and vocations often extended to communities.... Milton (Mill Town) for example.

    A nice way to extend this is to come up with your own prefixes and suffixes and mix them up with words.

    -Rob A>

  9. #9
    Publisher Gamerprinter's Avatar
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    Post I don't sketch...

    Quote Originally Posted by Yandor View Post
    Very easy, but it requires a lot of sketch lines and erasing. So like some of you have said, having an idea of factions, some features you actually wont on there etc before drawing it will really help in drawning my maps, and plus this is to help people get another insight on how to draw stuff, maybe they've never hand drawn a map =D
    I never sketch. I prefer pen, because I pre-draw the image entirely in my head prior to placing it to paper. I never erase. I start drawing away and if I make a mistake that I can't hide, I start again, but usually don't have to.

    Just because I draw it in my head, doesn't necessarily mean the final outcome is exactly how I saw it, rather it just gives me direction and the artwork finishes itself. If it doesn't work, I try something else.

    Quote Originally Posted by Yandor View Post
    The other one I really wanted to know is how you name things, I've used generators and all sorts of stuff to get names, and well the best thing I've found so far is to get a word part like "Dor, Ion, Lon, Ius" etc and just add other word parts, such as my map name "Ashlon", Ash - Lon...
    I am no linguist, however, like cartography, its something that interests me, so I know little pieces and parts of words from various languages. I research anytime I need more data. However, I choose from what I know, then look at an ethnic regions words that describe town or river and add them to the parts I know.

    Sometimes, I completely make it up out of my head, say it outloud, to see if it sounds interesting. If it works I use.

    More often than not, I plan my map site names like I plan everything else - in my head.
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      Yandor is offline
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    Awesome! all great ideas, and hopefully it will help not only me but others too

    The thing I've discovered, but no idea if its actually linked anywhere here (probably is) but heres a link to a very simple but can become complex when you get the hang of it, its powerful when used right... Its a Fantasy name generator as many of you probably already know =D

    http://rinkworks.com/namegen/

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