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Thread: WIP: unnamed Earh-like planet

  1. #1
      groovey is offline
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    Help WIP: unnamed Earh-like planet

    EDIT: 10/06/14

    Since the little bits of talk here and there about tectonics might be of interest to other people (look for Pixie's posts and the links to Pixie's, akubra's and ascanius' WIP), BUT since my ineptitude to get the tectonic map right means there are full pages of multiple edited versions of the same map with a lot of little variations that I figure are not of much interest, I thought making a little index of my thread might be useful for those who might be more interested in different things (tectonics, terrain, etc), especially since the thread started being about terrain and then became about tectonics, but after that I'll be back to terrain and beyond, I hope.

    INDEX:
    - Page 1: intro and very first and horrible version of the map and the tectonics. Terrain and tectonics.
    - Page 2: second version of the map. Land masses and tectonics.
    - Page 3: more tectonics and a bit of terrain experimentation.
    - Pages 4-10: lots of tectonic (a bit more complex) maps versions with small but constant variations, but with very interesting and helping suggestions here and there about tectonics from my Godfather Pixie.
    - Page 11. At least a final version of the tectonic map.
    - Pages 11-12: some whining + the continental shelves added.
    - Pages 13-14: height-map.

    CURRENT STATE: active. Polishing the height-map.
    ______________________________
    -ORIGINAL POST WITH SOME EDITS-

    Hello everyone! Thanks for stopping by.


    - World name: Fedgëa.

    That would be the name of the planet in the novel's protagonist political power's language: ground = fedgëa (pronounced 'fedgia'). It's not a very attractive name I guess, but at least it's consistent with the con language and for the people using that language it would sound ok I guess. Don't know, might try to come up with a "sexier" name.

    - Type: earthlike.
    - Equatorial radius: 40.000Km.
    - Tilt: just like Earth, I'm not trying to be original really.
    - Resolution and size: 60x30cm, 300pxi.
    - Realism: I just need it to be loosely based on scientific concepts and knowledge, but I don't have the capacity or the time to become a pro to get an ultra realistic planet.


    A few weeks ago I started working on this world map project after many past failures to finish previous maps. I really like this project more than my previous attempts, but as with those, I got stuck on the terrain part, so I can't really go on, since I need the map mostly for world building for a novel. For now I just need a decent world map to get me the essential visual information I need of each continent, but that doesn't make me cry over how much it looks like a map a creative little child would make on Paint in 30 mins.

    I made a very BASIC outline of the current tectonic plates and their overall direction, because for now I only got a grasp of the basics of it. I only needed to know the hotspots for volcanic activity and earthquakes, and also to explain the mountain range that "separates" the main central continents (which are 2 but look like 1), because it's important to the background of the story. You'll see a few mountain spots not explained by the current tectonic tendencies, but I needed them there, so the cheap explanation I got is they are the result of previous tectonics tendencies and configurations. Warning, it will make any Geologist or Geology connoisseur's eyes bleed because there must be thousands of things wrong in it.

    WIP: unnamed Earh-like planet-02.-plates-movement-22-04-14-.jpg
    EDIT: I'm on the process of re-doing the tectonics.

    For now I'm trying to get a basic visual "outline" of the terrain I want, with simple color layers for each type of terrain. The result is very naïve, and quite plain, especially when I add the main rivers, as simple lines (probably rivers wouldn't even be visible like this, but I need to see them for world building purposes).

    WIP: unnamed Earh-like planet-06c.-geography-rivers-28-04-14-50x30-300dpi.jpg

    So, right now what I need is opinions and/or advice on:

    1. Scale and resolution: Is it too big? I suppose for terrain only it might be, but then I'll have to make political versions of it, so I need a bit of margin to zoom in a few times before starting to see the pixels.

    2. Big mountain ranges (Like the Alpes, the Andes, the Himalayas, etc, those clearly defined on satellite views):

    - In the map they're obviously the brown spots, and I'm aware of how specially horrendous the big one on the north of the central continent looks; it looks very awkward, specially at the "cross" section where the two continental plates meet to create the big mountain range that kind of isolates the two sides of the continent.

    - Do they look too scarce?

    - Are they too big in scale?

    - I'd love for them to be explained by the current tectonic tendencies, but they are not, only the one placed where the 2 central continents meet. As I said, I did the tectonic outline to know about volcanic and earthquake hot spots, I'd love to do outlines of different periods to explain those mountains, but it gets too complex for me and at some point it stops making sense. So considering this, would you place the brown areas somewhere else with the cheap excuse that they were formed during previous tectonic configurations, but still making geological sense?

    - Please ignore the brown spots on the volcanic islands on the east of the map, they shouldn't be there at all (considering brown spots are only high altitude areas and on those islands I guess medium/low altitude would be more fitting, though I still haven't got a system to indicate such altitudes) and will delete them when I work on the map again.

    3. Snow/ice: I suppose I should have more white areas? And yes, as in now, I don't have poles, which I guess is very unrealistic, my question is, SHOULD there be poles? Are they mandatory the way our planet works? Is there any semi plausible explanation my planet wouldn't have them?

    4. Deserts: I know it depends on the winds and other factors I have no idea of how to translate to a map, so superficially speaking, to be more balanced, should there be more desertic areas, or bigger? Only near the tropics?

    Any input on these issues would be greatly appreciated, since right now I'm a bit lost.


    P.S: About the sea I'll worry at the end if I manage to get the terrain done, for now I gratefully tried to replicate the sea in Ilanthar's Eldoran physical map, but I haven't worked on it yet to polish it.
    Last edited by groovey; 07-28-2014 at 10:17 AM.
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  2. #2
      JonPin is offline
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    I think the mountains are a little bit too big on the central continent, and like you said they don't match up with tectonics. Perhaps this might serve to give you some ideas, it helped me a lot. When two plates press together they make many mountain ranges that run somewhat in parallel, like the Alps. Maybe you could model the mountains in the central continent on the Alps. The freezing poles I think are just a fact with an earth-like (same tilt) planet. The poles get very cold, since they don't get as much energy from the sun, and freeze, forming a crust of ice.

    All in all, looks like a good start to me.
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      NedS298 is offline
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    It needs relief. I mean a lot of texture - you need to bring those mountains out.

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      groovey is offline
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    Thanks JonPin. You're right, I had forgotten that the poles are directly related to the tilt of the planet... egh, I really don't care about poles (fictional) at all, but I guess I'll have to add some. I just got NASA's G. Projector, so when I add the poles I'll try them there with different projections to make sure they don't look horribly distorted if I decide to make a globe projection on the map.

    And yes, I reckon I need something like the Alps in that area where the two central continents meet.

    With the projector (using a 60x30cm sized image of the map, so it's equirectangular) I also realized that perhaps I put said central continents too low for the kind of temperatures and climates I'd like then to have, so right now I'm even more lost. But to make it right I'd have to make the two central continents smaller so they fit just above the Equator approximately, which would make necessary reducing the scale of the rest of the continents and thus adding more land masses, if I want to keep the current relative sizes of all the continents to each other. So basically, I'd have to mess up the whole thing... damn reality.

    NedS298. I tried making a height map using the popular technique of white and black difference clouds and then lighten and darkening at will... but I can't get it right because I don't really have the vision of it in my head, since I don't know if what I'd want would be geologically correct or possible, so I'm very insecure about it. For the mountains though, I intend to use a basic height map when I try to make the final version of the terrain, using Tear's tutorial most likely, but before I do that, I need to have this outline ready as a guide, sadly I'm not able to just improvise.
    Last edited by groovey; 05-13-2014 at 07:55 AM.

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      acrsome is offline
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    Don't worry too much about adding random mountain ranges wherever you need them. As long as they are older and lower- i.e. more eroded- then it's easy to explain. Look at the Appalachians or the Anti-Atlas range. Neither is well explained by current plate collisions. That's because in fact they are both remnants of the Central Pangaean Range from almost half a billion years ago. So if you add any random mountains just make them more Appalachian-like and explain them away as remnants of an ancient range. I think that the Urals are also an ancient mountain range remnant.

    That said, I think that there is a problem with your plate tectonics. If that is an equirectangular projection, then the plates don't line up right at any map edges. (I understand from my limited trolling around this forum that this is a common tendency among our peers.) If you have a plate cross an east or west map edge then it must continue on the other map edge- just like if you made a continent that did so. And yours don't.

    Heck, at your south pole you've got one plate bountary reaching the pole- you can't have just one. In fact, it must be zero or an even number, or it would be one heck of a coincidence that there is a three-way plate nexus precisely at your north pole.

    Put your tectonic map into G.Projector and look at it in ortho view to see what I mean. I would imagine that it's easiest (if somewhat contrived) to make both poles their own plate.

    Or is this not meant to be a projection of the whole world?

    Regarding climate/poles/etc.: is this a fantasy map? SciFi? What? Because you can explain away almost anything with "it's magic." And polar sun mirrors help, too.

    If neither of these apply, well, yes even then you can still have a world without icecaps. But there is a price to be paid. The Earth has gone through many periods where it had no permanent icepack- see this Wiki page. In fact, current theory holds that the Earth only hosts a permanent icepack 20% of the time. The Earth goes through periodic greenhouse and icehouse phases on about a million-year timescale- this is different than glacial and interglacial periods, which only happen during icehouse phases (we are currently in an interglacial icehouse). Of course, the average surface temperature is about 10-15C higher during a greenhouse phase- that's the tradeoff. But in any realistic scheme if you want equatorial climates no hotter than modern Earth on an Earth-sized planet with Earth-like axial tilt and rotation and Earth-like weather patterns, then the poles will be cold and probably have an icecap. As we are working on proving it needn't have icecaps year-round, especially if a pole doesn't have land under it, but at least in winter.

    But if you are willing to let the tropics fry then you can lack icecaps totally.
    Last edited by acrsome; 05-13-2014 at 12:12 PM.
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      groovey is offline
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    acrsome, very helpfull advice about random mountains palcement, I'll keep that very in mind.

    I hadn't thought about checking the tectonics plates on the projector, great idea, because as I was making the tectonic outline my head hurt a bit when dealing with the edges of the map, so your suggestion is indeed great, tomorrow if I find a moment I'll check it out, but as you say, I'll have to make important amends. And yes, it's supposed to be a projection of the whole world.

    The world is more fantasy than anything else I guess, but no magic or elves, or dwarfs, just boring humans, so it's more a custom historical world than fantasy.

    Um, I think I'd rather keep the Earth temperatures and add some poles.

    Great observations guys, really helpfull. At this point I don't know what to do because before focusing on terrain again, I think I need to add poles, fix the tectonics and perhaps rearrange or add more land masses. Just that might take me a bit because I can't work on the map everyday. So perhaps regarding terrain we could leave it on hold until I fix those things, and then when it's ready I'll keep in mind the climate and temperatures distribution on Earth first and the suggestions about mountains. But if you got any other observations or suggestions regarding the land masses, scale, or other things, I'll appreciate it.

    I might even try to research a bit how complicated and hard would be to try different settings from Earth (like tilt, size of the planet,etc), depending on the implications of the changes (I know it affects night/day, seasons and all that) and my needs, so I could keep the current land masses but have a different climate and temperatures distribution, but it'll probably make my head hurt before I get anything clear of it.

    In any case, I'll keep you updated. Thanks for your input.

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      Pixie is offline
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    I like your land shapes, and I think you do the right thing in not changing those too much. However, they make for a world with even wider expanses of ocean than Earth. Also the huge number of large islands in comparison with the small continents makes harder on the tectonics part...

    Which, by the way, if you want to get right, you better start from scratch, as your fist attempt was messy. I spent some time looking at your plates and couldn't work any advice to make it work as it is.

    Using G.projector (or a couple of oranges / tennis balls / anything round you can draw on) is a very good strategy. Stick to this workflow when at it:
    - one boundary at a time (say you start with a convergent one)
    - draw the boundary as you want it (you don't need to draw the entire plate)
    - mark a big arrow (or a few) on top of each plate showing their movement (since you started with a convergent in this case, movement is towards that)
    - on the opposite side you NEED to have a divergent boundary - either deep ocean ridge or a continent tearing apart (ridges are more common)

    - repeat this a few times and you'll have almost everything covered, then you work out the side boundaries and the details.

    - be sure to do this in a round medium or to check at g.projector a lot of times.

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      Ilanthar is offline
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    I know my geology, but I'm not using tectonics to make my maps, so, I'll say that I like your choice of colours and the general shape of the lands. As NedS298, I would like to see the mountains stands out more.
    And your big river on the north part of the big continent should probably go in the central sea if you're not adding mountains to explain it's current path.

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      groovey is offline
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    Pixie, I'm afraid you're right, I need to re-do the tectonics, hopefully second time around they can also explain at least a few mountain ranges so they can be very high and sharp, not so small and eroded. I'll try to apply your suggestions as best as I can. Also, you made me think about those big islands and yes... I think too their too big to be volcanic islands.

    Ilanthar, I agree my "mountains" are a bummer, but after all, the colors/terrain of the current map are supposed to be just a ready visual guide for when I try to do the final terrain with Tear's tutorial, because I'm terrible at drawing/painting and such, I have no vision for it, so I can't just improvise, I need to have a template before I work on the tutorial to do the real terrain.

    I'm not surprised I messed up with the rivers too, but for now I'll forget about them since first I've got to fix the tectonics and the climate issues. I read a bit about giving the planet a different tilt, but the consequences are too extreme and don't quite fit my story, so I'm still thinking what to do about it.

    Anyway, thanks you two too for your comments.

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      groovey is offline
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    By the way, for global temperatures purposes, does anyone know how to recreate the tropic and subtropics latitudes, in my case in Photoshop? Would a simple grid system work? I mean where to place them with a decent level of accuracy, I've tried finding some answers myself, or a ready-made template, but I think I'm not using the correct keywords because I can't find anything.
    Last edited by groovey; 05-14-2014 at 07:17 AM.

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