Valcia: A Regional Map
Attached is a map I've created for an novel series currently being worked on. I am pretty proud of how it has turned out thus far, but my main concern is that I like it from a graphic design viewpoint, and not a cartographic viewpoint. What I mean by this is that I am a graphic design hobbyist, but this is my first attempt at a fantasy map.
Obviously, there's a HUGE difference between being a decent graphic designer and a good map-maker, and since this is my first real map project, I wanted to get some good & honest critique, pointers, and opinions from those who know cartography best - you all here at the Cartographer's Guild. :)
So without further rambling, here's the skinny on what this map represents and how it was made.
This is the map of Valcia, the land in an upcoming novel series I've been working off/on for the past 5 or so years. I tend to be a very visual person, and wanted to make a detailed visual representation of the land in the novels to make it easier to gauge distances, travel times, etc. My sharing of this map isn't so much a ploy to garner interest in the novels (it is still a long, long ways off from being anywhere close to complete), but rather to gain insights as to how I could make the map itself better.
This map took me 15 days to create in Illustrator and Photoshop, working everyday anywhere from 4-10 hours/day. The entire map was originally sketched out with pencil & paper and scanned onto my PC some time ago, but it wasn't until recently that I decided to go all out with it.
I had tried to make a decent depiction of Valcia before by purchasing and using Fractal Mapper 8.0, but was displeased with the results (most likely due to my own inexperience with the program itself). I since decided that if I wanted this done right, I wasn't going to be able to take any shortcuts and needed to do it myself - by 'hand'.
I started by tracing over the sketch in Illustrator and 'hand-drew' (pencil tool & brush effects) all the lines, outlines, and details - rivers, lakes coastlines, islands, forest, and yes - even the mountains (very tedious). Once I completed all the outlines in Illustrator, I ported the data over to Photoshop to fill in the color and visual effects, and added in all the labels.
Every detail in the map is unique - meaning that every river, forest, lake, mountain, etc was individually drawn in and detailed. Also, every element in the map is original content created specifically for the map (IE no generic elements were used, such as symbols, trees, towns, etc) except for the fonts, of course.
Overall Design Goal:
The look I am trying to go for is a map that has been painted onto sandstone, but is heavily detailed. It tends to be my style to blend opposites - so hence I tried to blend a traditional, de-saturated (sepia-esque) painted map with crisp, somewhat modern lines, fonts, and effects - but at the same time causing it all to flow together very nicely for its own unique, intriguing style.
So once again, here it is: the map of Valcia. Thanks in advance for any input, and I will take every criticism with the utmost regard.
Fabulous map. The colors are just what I like. From a graphic design standpoint the fonts work but from a theme standpoint they don't...the hand-drawn style sort of needs a hand-drawn font. I understand that this, then, makes the outer glow look silly on a hand-written font so the paradox arises...theme font or legible labels? I haven't got my brain wrapped around this either so if you like it then keep it that way :) The only thing I will say is that some of the more scripty fonts are hard to read. The main thing distracting me is that the sandstone might be too heavy...if you could lessen the effect on the ocean it might go a long way. Lastly, I think the rivers are too dark blue, maybe something more like the ocean color would be nice...that light steel blue with a touch of green. These are very minor things on what is an absolutely fantastic artistic map so take them with a pinch of salt and please do more...many more :) I certainly learned a thing or two by looking at it and I enjoyed it as well. Very nice job, A+.
I agree about the sandstone/paper texture, and you may consider adjusting the scale of the texture itself; consider how big your map would be on the wall, and adjust to match that ideal.
The overall texture is too much. Use an old parchment texture as an overlay. Not as busy. The text could use some size modifications. They're too fancy and small to be easily readable.
Originally Posted by guyanonymous
Great work though overall:)
Thanks for the quick feedback!
Unfortunately, to make the smaller fonts more legible would require me to make the map even larger than it is to fit the larger sized fonts... which I can do but the map is already pretty huge. Perhaps I can take out the smaller river names altogether, since they are the smallest text on the map, and really aren't as important as cities and landmarks. Thoughts?
And in regards to the extent of the sandstone overlay, I can definitely tone it down - thanks for the feedback! I think I'll stay with the sandstone effect (as opposed to parchment) though, since it has been my intention all along to make this a sandstone relief.
And in regards to the uniform fonts currently in place... does anyone have any 'hand-writing' styled fonts they would recommend for me to replace the current fonts with? I don't currently have any in my personal collection.
So yeah! Any other pointers? :)
Excellent map, and I like the personal mountains. I agree, though, about the scraggly pattern, you should really tone it down. It makes the map difficult to read, even.
That's a lovely looking map. I have used mountains like that in the past and always struggled to color them but i will definitely be trying the method you have used.
I think from a realistic rivers point of view you have a couple of minor inconsistencies.
Fort Mirance and Weret Bay you have rivers that fork a long way from the coast. Rivers with two outlets are very unusual. Look forward to seeing the ext version :)
This is a great looking map and I have given you some reputation for it.
Like the others I do feel the sandstone texture is too much. Way too much at the moment, actually. I would consider dropping it entirely or at least tone it down a lot. You have some great looking hills and mountains for example, but the sandstone texture distracts me!
Oh, and as always, what kind of story are you writing? I am writing some novels myself, so always interested to hear about other worlds :)
Very nice work... my nit-picks are pretty much the same as those already mentioned; tone down the ocean texture a bit, try and make the fonts more legible.
Have some 'rep' *bonk*