So I finally decided to start work on the actual map for my novel(s). But I need a bit of help with it! As it's for my own use, I've decided I can get a bit more detailed with it, so I made it a lot bigger and with a better resolution than the samples i made for the NaNo requests.
I'm having trouble with the scale... How do you guys keep the scaling in mind while you work? I have to zoom in a lot, and I have the full map in view when I'm working on the big sections (like the ocean) but then I forget just how big it is. I have a general notion of how big it is, but it's not specific enough to help me keep mountain ranges the right size etc.
it's 5000x2500, and isn't showing some of the ocean, nor the poles. There's only the one bit of land (and islands), the rest is water (or ice, in the case of the poles), and the planet itself is rather small. Half the size of earth, maybe? I'm terrible with scaling things...
Any feedback or suggestions would be great!
Scale has always been an issue for me as well. A good rule of thumb is to keep a map of the earth on hand and use it as a reference. By familiarizing yourself with the geography of an actual planet it will help you become more proficient at creating whole new planets. Also, is this a Pangea like planet? Does that single land mass represent several separate plates? If so, you should have mountain ranges in areas where the various plates bump up against each other.
oh yes! i could sketch out the plates on a layer on top of everything else, and then hide or un-hide it to figure out mountain ranges and even hills! it never even occurred to me! thanks!
I really recommend doing a first map at a smaller size to get things where you'd like them. Then take a copy of that map and scale it up to your final size. Use that as a background image in your paint program and draw the detailed information on layers above that (at least one layer per type of terrain). Having the rough cartoon in the background helps a lot in keeping things consistent, I find. Working with the smaller scale and simpler map also allows you to iterate quickly to forms that you really like.
yeah, i'll probably be doing that in the future XD. i've scaled this one down to a much more manageable size, but as for the "inches to miles" type scale, i'm still a bit at a loss! now that i've gotten so much done with this one, i'd rather not start over. should i just find an arbitrary spot (like one of those lakes) and say "hey, this is the size of (insert an easy reference)! so act accordingly." ? i'd really like to not scrap all i've gotten. i really wanted to get this done (i'd say i can finish it tomorrow easily) before the first, so i've just been sort of doing what i know and hoping it scales right. it doesn't need to be perfect at all right now, as i'm using it as a general guide when telling about travelling and what have you.
all of my work is done with layers for every different type of thing, both because it's how i learned to do it, and because i'm clumsy when it comes to moving my mouse. i can't afford a tablet any time soon, so i just work with what i've got! and layers means i can easily see if i like something one way or not, just by viewing or hiding the respective layers. i really really love layers XD.
and i decided before i forgot to throw on the plates layer, and redo the mountains. i only did the bottom layer of the new mountains as a place holder, because it's pretty much time for bed! it definitely looks a lot better, though. it looks less artificial, to me at least.
this is before the clarification of plates. i felt sort of lost with where to put the stupid mountains.
this is after the plates, with placeholder hills, and TBH, placeholder forests. i never know where i want those, so i just erase them and put them somewhere else until it looks nice :P.
If you're working by comparison, I would do some maths and have a "scale bar" in mind. If your world is half the size of Earth, then your map is about 20 thousands kilometers wide at the equator. So, it means that you get an equivalence of 1 pixel = 4 km ; or maybe 1 pixel = 3 km if you want to add some waters on each side.
Knowing this, you could overla/compare with a map of Earth putted to the same scale. That the way I've worked some of my maps for other planets (Mars, Venus, etc...).
Also decide what you mean by "size." Most times when talking about planets this refers to mass or radius. If you mean half the surface area (something potentially more appropriate for mapping) that will mean something different, since sa is a function of the square of radius. Thus a planet with half the radius of earth will have a quarter the surface area to map and play with.
Is gravity substantially lower as well? This will affect mountain height and the amount of particulate suspended in the atmosphere (which may affect weather and erosion). It also tremendously affects the amount of atmosphere retained and the atmospheric pressure. This has an enormous impact on weather. A thinner atmosphere means crazy high winds potentially. It also has the unfortunate effect of limiting which volatiles the planet can retain. Water vapor could be escaping into space, resulting in shrinking - more likely - nonexistent surface water. It will also limit habitability.
Just some things to consider. Also remember, when considering the star orbited that uv light breaks down water, so high uv emitters like A class stars won't be very conducive to water bearing planets (this is not to mention their ephemeral lifespans).
This isn't intended to burst your bubble. I find that trying to abide by current planetological knowledge makes for more fascinating and alien worlds than just inventing things on the fly. Do some research and you might catch the bug too :)