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Thread: World Map WIP in GIMP

  1. #1
      Karro is offline
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    Post World Map WIP in GIMP + Bonus Special: Climates & Wind Currents!

    Well... so a couple weeks ago I lost my job, and the following week began the process of moving into a new house where eventually I will be living with my fiancee/wife. So... the past couple weeks I've been relatively incommunicado (sans internet ).

    But I got a moment here on some borrowed wi-fi, and thought I'd take advantage of some of the learning on GIMP I've been doing and have another go at my world map.

    Yeah, like roughly 50% of all readers of fantasy stories and novels, I'm in the process of writing just such a novel (have been for years). And like roughly 50% of those writing fantasy novels, I made my own map. Only recently, in an attempt to actually improve my writing, I restarted the whole thing from scratch, and consequently started mapping from scratch.

    So here, using the early stages of RobA's GIMP tutorial for regional maps is an attempt at a world map (roughly mercator projection-ish). The sea and base land are from those early steps of the tutorial. The mountains, forests, jungles, deserts, and arctic tundras are just blobs of color thrown on to start getting a feel for it.

    I started this map by trying to consider the underlying tectonics and the effects it would have on geography (this required me to move some continents around to fit the tectonics). The first map shows as a red line the tectonic boundaries with color-coded plate movements. The second is without the tectonics.

    The gray blobs are mountains and hills. The green blobs are forests, while the gray-green blobs are rainforests and swamp/wetlands. The yellow-ish blobs are deserts, and the white-ish blobs are tundra and frozen arctic ice.

    World Map WIP in GIMP-sample-world-map-w-tectonics.jpg

    World Map WIP in GIMP-sample-world-map-wout-tects.jpg

    The images are reduced in size by 50% from the originals, then you have the jpeg artifacts.

    My current thoughts: I like how varied and interesting the north-western continent is. I'm not completely sure that the southern continents, in particular, have as much variety in coastline and appearance as perhaps they ought. I'm open to suggestions on improvements or thoughts. I tried to place the different zones in logical places (deserts on the leeward side of mountains or along the equator, rainforests along the tropics and in places with abundant rainfall, etc.), but I'm not 100% sure I got it all right. I'm guessing the leeward side of mountains are on the western side rather than the eastern side in the southern hemisphere, assuming the trade winds blow in the opposite direction down there (east-to-west instead of west-to-east).

    Anyway... comments and critiques are most welcome.
    Last edited by Karro; 07-14-2008 at 02:01 AM.

  2. #2
    Guild Master Gracious Donor Midgardsormr's Avatar
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    I'm not sure if the winds would be reversed in the southern hemisphere. The coriolis force is, but that governs only cyclonic patterns. The planet is still moving beneath the air, so wind should still generally blow from the west, even in the other hemisphere.

    I'm no meteorologist, though, or even a hydraulic engineer, so I could be entirely wrong.
    Bryan Ray, visual effects artist
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      su_liam is offline
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    For climate help try The Climate Cookbook. While your at it look over Creating an Earthlike World on the same site. Very informative, fairly simple.

    Hint: The equator isn't so hot a place for deserts. Well... it's hot, but not very dry.

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      Karro is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Midgardsormr View Post
    I'm not sure if the winds would be reversed in the southern hemisphere. The coriolis force is, but that governs only cyclonic patterns. The planet is still moving beneath the air, so wind should still generally blow from the west, even in the other hemisphere.

    I'm no meteorologist, though, or even a hydraulic engineer, so I could be entirely wrong.
    Yeah, I couldn't remember for certain, but I seem to think I recall maybe from middle school science classes a map of earthly trade winds that showed them reversed in the southern hemisphere. I could very easily be misremembering that. I will need to look it up, I suppose.

    Quote Originally Posted by su_liam View Post
    For climate help try The Climate Cookbook. While your at it look over Creating an Earthlike World on the same site. Very informative, fairly simple.

    Hint: The equator isn't so hot a place for deserts. Well... it's hot, but not very dry.
    Thanks for the links. I'll definitely give them a look. (I've also read a great PDF from a few years back - a freely distributed section of a larger for-sale e-book - about the basics of developing a realistic geography for a fantasy world. Alas, it is one of many things lost when my harddrive crashed a couple years back, and my google-fu is too weak to find it again.)

    Though I don't mean to disagree with you too much, a quick study of earth-environments shows that most of the worlds major deserts appear to be near the tropics or the equator (the Sahara, Middle East/Arabian Peninsula, American Southwest). The rest appear to be very far inland away from major water sources or the results of some sort of rainshadow effect. Obviously, of course, I'm not fully versed in climatology and what all influences it, so I'm hoping to learn more.

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      su_liam is offline
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    Pretty much near the tropics. I think, with the exception of a big area of northeast Africa and a long thin bit of western South America, our "equatorial"-band of deserts is between the 10th and 30th parallels.

    It looks like Somalia is in the rainshadow of the Ethiopian mountains. Western South Africa confuses me, but it seems to have something to do with cold ocean currents not adding enough moisture to the air in the first place. I also wonder if the Andes are tall enough to turn global wind patterns aside? Time for some reading!

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    Guild Master Gracious Donor Midgardsormr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Karro View Post
    (I've also read a great PDF from a few years back - a freely distributed section of a larger for-sale e-book - about the basics of developing a realistic geography for a fantasy world. Alas, it is one of many things lost when my harddrive crashed a couple years back, and my google-fu is too weak to find it again.)
    You have come to the right place. The pdf you seek is here: http://e23.sjgames.com/credits.html?...etreat%20Press

    Scroll down to A Magical Society: Guide to Mapping.
    Bryan Ray, visual effects artist
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      Ascension is offline
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    Awesome link Mid, wish I knew about it last week so I could have that week back spent on research and brainstorming shop ideas Well worth a read.

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      Karro is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Midgardsormr View Post
    You have come to the right place. The pdf you seek is here: http://e23.sjgames.com/credits.html?...etreat%20Press

    Scroll down to A Magical Society: Guide to Mapping.
    That's the very thing! Thanks! I think I might love you

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      Karro is offline
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    Post Bonus Special: Climates & Wind Currents

    Okay, I've been doing some cursory studying of the climate data and info, done some quick research on wind and ocean currents, and have a couple maps to show the results of that on this world.

    The first shows the basic wind currents (the whitish arrows) assuming a world with a roughly similar axial tilt to that of Earth. In the faint blue arrows on the oceans, we see a general look at ocean currents. Warm water flowing away from the equator, cold water flowing back toward it.

    World Map WIP in GIMP-sample-world-map-w-currents.jpg

    This second map now shows, based on this data, where the wet and dry regions ought to appear, roughly. Toward the equator is the wetest region, as two wet warm-air currents merge together. Above (and below) that we have the driest regions, where air is being pulled away from this by the divergent warm air currents. Then a big swath of transitional area mid between cool wet and warm dry. Above that is a cool wet area (which will eventually be arboreal forest, primarily), and above that the arctic (tundra and arctic) regions which are also cold and dry.

    World Map WIP in GIMP-sample-world-map-w-simple-climate.jpg

    These should help me place my actual biomes and climates... if I can understand what it all means.

    It does suggest that where I placed deserts and some rainforests previously is somewhat incorrect. This will also all be influenced by rivers and lakes, which have yet to be placed. I'm anticipating a few large lakes to shake things up a bit and provide some needed wetness in a few areas.

    The major problems for me are that on the western continent pair, I had anticipated a very large sahara-like region on the isthmus and most of the norther part of the southern continent and had thoughts in my head for the development of desert-centric civilizations in that region. Expecting much of this to suddenly become tropical rainforest changes things up a bit. I don't know if this will require me to redo the continents a little bit in order to get things in the zones I want them, and how much time that will take, considering it took me forever to get this far...

    Additionally, I intentionally have a desert on the northern region of the center-right continent north of the large range there. Most of that should be tundra and some arctic, but the desert is (or will be, since I hid all the deserts and forests on this version) an intentional abberation.

    So... any thoughts or suggestions as I progress on these maps? My goal is to make these as believable as possible before I'm done, given a few excpected caveats.

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      Karro is offline
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    Okay...

    Given what the last post seemed to indicate about the layout of the world, I have made a few changes. There are no fancy artistic GIMP effects in these yet... It took me forever just to make these few changes.

    First... I shifted the left/western two continents northward a little, and had to redraw the plate boundaries as a result:

    World Map WIP in GIMP-new-sample-world-map-tects.jpg

    Now, here's the new world with wind and ocean currents. The ocean currents are slightly off because I forgot to redraw them after moving the western continents, but you can probably see where they would actually lie.

    World Map WIP in GIMP-new-sample-world-map-w-currents-slightly-off.jpg

    Next, the bands of alternating wet, dry, and moderate climate zones (with the air currents turned on). I'm also showing the mountains and my new Lakes & Rivers, because these things will all interact to influence the local climate patterns.

    World Map WIP in GIMP-new-sample-world-map-w-biomes.jpg

    This will help me accurately place my deserts, forests, jungles, etc., which we now have on the next map:

    World Map WIP in GIMP-new-sample-world-map-w-features.jpg

    There are still a few climatological anomolies, I think, but by and large I believe this is a believable and relatively realistic world. Most of the anomolies are intentional anyway, typically the result of human influence on the environment and world.

    Next (very big) step is to take this information and GIMP it up with all the pretty bells and whistles... Unless you guys have some major concerns with anything you see here.

    Comments, criticism, feedback most welcome!

    Thanks!

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