Satisfied with the border (for now, anyway), I've moved into the actual map part. Added the graticule and land masses (and colored the sea so I'd stop getting confused at which was which). Next I think I'll tackle the rhumb lines.
Nice progress. Could you tell me how you did the lines for the graticule? I tried for ages to get that faded out effect, but never got it quite right.
The land shapes look very nice, though I am not quite decided on the dropshadow. It looks good... but seems to be a little out of style.
The graticule is laid down with a 2px hard brush (5px for the Equator etc). Then I ran a size-2, smooth-10 spatter filter on it (I'm using Photoshop for this one). It's very similar to a spread-blur process in GIMP with very tiny values for both spread and blur (like spread-2 blur-1). Then I put the layer on Multiply blend mode at <100% opacity (I think it's at 60%).
As for the drop-shadow (It's actually a watercolor-filtered bevel) I agree, but I'm letting it ride for now because I'm still feeling my way into a style. I have a copy saved without it just in case
It looks good. I certainly have to commend you for using a real projection properly.
I think it might look a bit better with the text for the graticule labels a bit smaller, and maybe in a simpler typeface.
The bevel effect doesn't really work for me. Particularly around the edges. It makes some sense around the land, but not at the borders of the map. I used a similar watercolour effect on one of my maps but instead of a bevel along the coast, I just increased the opacity. It was actually done in three stages, first the increased opacity along the coast, then I clipped it to the extent of the map, then I applied the watercolour filter (so I didn't get an artificial looking sharp edge).
Thanks for the detailed feedback, Hai! Most of the stuff you mention is on the list for tweaking already; I'll certainly take your points to heart when I do!
I must say though, when I looked at the beveling and thought "eh ... probably not but I'll leave it for now until the map develops some more", what bothered me was the land and not the outside In any case, it's awfully easy to take out; it was just an inner bevel on the sea coloring before I hit the watercolor filter (and I saved the non-filtered layer in a separate file just for this reason).