Here is a quick WIP of a continent on my world. It is my first attempt at a desert climate and wanted some general impressions of what people thought of this look.
4/24/2012 - Updated this map with a healthy dose of mountains and rivers, but still far from done!
I like the general shape of the continent. The long river seems to cross a mountainous region, but it's very hard to tell because it's very blurry.
I am not sure I "buy" the y-shaped mountain range, though. Where are your fault lines?
The North-South range is tectonic in Earthly fashion... Okay, here goes some explanation, LOL.
There are two major forces at work in the geography of the world, Standard Tectonics and Planular Tectonics. Whereas there are about 9 major Standard Tectonic plates there are in the neighborhood of 2 dozen Planular Plates which (mostly) ride upon the Standard Plates. The curved east-west range is the result of a massive Planular upheaval which is actually mirrored on the continent to the north.
I should also note that the blurry area (due to the low res of this picture) is more transition from lush to desert than any sign of high ground.
Updated to the above map, which should be a higher resolution image.
Oh yeah! On the mountains in the midsection I was going for an older more worn look on the north-south range, and a younger rougher look on the crescent, with the eastern section of the crescent the highest mountains, as they are a combination of old tectonic movement and more recent planular shifts. Does that come through?
A quick snapshot for anyone interested to get a feel for the world and how the continent fits in. A fairly low res image but should give folks a feel for what is going on. Still lots to be done and my old puter is begging for RAM, LOL.
The smoothly curved, narrow mountain chains look definitely magical rather than natural, especially the sharp point where the three of them join at 90 degrees (tectonic plates almost always join at 120 degree angles). If this is your intention that's cool.
I love the colours! Very convincing colour choices.
That long river kind of stands out to me as well. Having the elevation go so smoothly from one side of the continent all the way to the other looks really weird.
The rivers on the north side of the mountain range look more wiggly than one might expect for such a steep environment -- wiggly rivers are more common on very shallow slopes, and this looks like a fairly steep and tectonically active area, so I'd expect straighter rivers with deeper canyons than you seem to have here. The rivers coming out of the Sierra Nevada and joining the Sacramento/San Joaquin drainage are a good example of what I'd expect to see here, although there's no second mountain range for them to go through so they wouldn't necessarily converge like that before hitting the ocean.
And if the eastern end of that continent is so green, shouldn't there be at least one good-sized river going through there?
Excellent thoughts! There are lots of rivers on the eastern side, just not put in yet, on the higher res map here. And not all terrain is as finished as need be to really show what I am envisioning, but getting there!
The wiggly rivers on the north side of the mountain... what I am thinking for that area is to imagine the mountains (see the overview of the world, where you see the two mirrored ranges) as the edges of a massive crater, where the floor flattens faster than is natural while still be jagged from recent upheaval, and the rivers get a bit more meandering... this might change over time, but this is a first pass. I would appreciate further thoughts on this after my explanation, as rivers are easy enough to change.
The long relatively straight river is (as I see it) the result of two major events, one being tectonic and the second planular plate driven. The planular force that created the curved mountain range also lifted that NW region while at the same time there is an Oceanic-Continental Plate Convergence on the west coast, which is also raising the west, creating a really long river valley down from an area where the ITCZ will bring rain 150+ days of the year down through a desert that was (during the Age of God Wars) a fertile land of lakes. The planular phenomena is only about 500 years old (real time) so it is a geological infant.
A giant crater...means coastline should follow a circle concentric with the ring of mountains...hm, I guess it kind of does that. Sweet. I like it!
So the NW corner is much higher elevation than the rest of the northern coastline? Maybe you could pick that up visually in some way. Like, a little bit of obvious relief on the coast such that it looks a little more obviously like a tilted plateau. I figured that was what was going on there because of the river, but it'd be nice to see it more clearly. The convergent margin on the west coast needs no explanation, though you could probably make the mountain range a little bit wider and more Southern-Andes-like if you wanted to. :)