After grilling myself learning some new techniques in GIMP, Photoshop, and other programs, and going through countless practice maps, I have finally managed to make this map...
It is of the continent Tlaocazotl in my fantasy/science fiction world known as Nacaotl, Tsirnor, Nakevton, Tielleia, and Montres by the worlds major civilizations (Tlantec, Tsirat, Czor, Barsillic, and Arrhenian, respectively), standardized to Nacaotl as Tlantec becomes the dominant language in the civilized world. The world is only populated by human beings with thirteen major ethnic groups:
Tsiarah - People from western Nts`enbker
Tlantec - People from Tlaocazotl
Arrhenian - People from the Arrhenian Archipelago
Czor - People from the region around the Ahto Bay region in Vunthier
Ehranic - People from eastern Vunthier
Barsillic - People from southwestern Vunthier
Obosen - People from eastern Obosein (mostly extinct)
Mortean - People from Terrarka
Eximese - People from northwestern Obosein
Mangate - People from southwestern Obosein
Syangese - People from southeastern Vunthier
Purgan - People from northeastern Vunthier
Goenrican - People from eastern Nts'enbker
Magic does exist in this world, and is split into two sects, manipulative magic and cognitive magic. Manipulative magic is by far the most common, dealing with five elements (Fire, Air, Electricity, Earth, Water). These elements can be physically manipulated and there is no set of 'spells' to cast. It is not always considered 'real' magic by civilizations. One in three people is born with ability in a single elemental branch (inheritance is not genetic), and approximately one in one thousand is born with ability in more than one element.
Cognitive magic involves life, light, the senses, kinesis, and time. Time is the least common cognitive branch - only a few people in the world can manipulate time and only one single person at a time is able to do it effectively. The other four are more common, with one in two hundred being born with ability in one.
Magic is drawn from the 'dreamworld' plane, where other beings take residence. Most inhabitants of the dreamworld are eidolons, or a person's ghost-double. A person's soul occupies the eidolon's body while the person is asleep, appearing physically in the dreamworld. When a person dies, he/she permanently inhabits the body of the eidolon, with the eidolon's soul becoming a sub-sentient reaver. An eidolon that lives for one thousand years (the only way an eidolon can die is to self-terminate/choose to die) becomes a rider, a powerful being that is guaranteed magical ability in one of the more common four branches of cognitive magic. Riders can exit into the physical plane from certain points in the dreamworld, but can only stay outside for three full days. A rider that lives for ten thousand years becomes a specter, the closest thing to gods that the physical world has. Specters are present in the physical plane and the dreamworld at the same time, and have supreme power over one element of both cognitive and manipulative magic. Most specters existed before a sentient species evolved on the planet, suggesting a separate origin than that of eidolons and riders.
The outer planes are home to extraordinarily powerful inhabitants - beyond human comprehension. Denizens include Lost Ones, Ancient Ones, and Shadowed Ones, celestial beings that are apathetic towards humanity (most do not even regard/know of its existance). The Ancient Ones and the Shadowed Ones have been at war for all eternity, the Lost Ones having either withdrawn from the war or come into being separately. Some Lost Ones take interest in humanity, protecting it from the war between the Ancient Ones and the Shadowed Ones. One of these Lost Ones is the Vaettir, a 'Time God' that channels itself through one chosen mortal human for his lifetime, giving this human the Vaettir's guidance in his mind, as well as the responsibility of keeping the dreamworld, the outer planes, and the physical plane in balance. The specters are subjects of Lost Ones, and work all over the universe as agents of protection for sentient life evolved on planets.
(NOT THAT ANY OF THAT MATTERS FOR THIS MAP, LOL)
Anyways, this map is supposed to be a piece of the Tlantec agent Coatl Aquintlec's map of the world. When this map is being used, the world is undergoing the industrial revolution, originating in the Kerankh Empire (a mostly Tsiarah empire). The Kerankh Empire is at war with the Arrhenian Empire, the most magically-in-tune known country in the world. The Tlantec are hesitant to become involved due to the fact that they have not been at all-out war for more than 200 years (when they conquered most of their continent). Agents such as Coatl Aquintlec are sent to both empires to gather information and push the agenda of the Tlantec government, and Coatl's map falls into possession of the Kerankhi thief Worm, the protagonist of the novel that I'm writing based around this world.
The map is a work in progress (obviously since this is only one continent), and is split into scrolls of each known continent and island group. Both Coatl, Worm, and previous owners have scrawled notes and general locations on the maps, which will be added (along with physical features, scales, etc) when the map is done.
Attached are a world map with continent names and the map of Tlaocazotl I've been working on (still a WIP). The world map is for personal reference, so it isn't pretty.
Environments of Tlaocazotl - mostly savanna in the center, with tropical rain forests in most river basins and some fog deserts. Less common environments are temperate grasslands, alpine tundra, and pine forests/taiga.
No school tomorrow so I'm going to add the physical features and words, hopefully.
Programs used: Photoshop, GIMP, Paint, my hands
Also, the river tutorials and Jeremy Elford's tutorials helped me a LOT, as well as RobA's 'not so random coastlines' and 'artistic regional map' tutorials.
Also, river policing would be awesome, as well as any tips to make the rivers seem less huge.
That's some great worldbuilding, and the maps are looking good so far :)
I have a quick comment on your background: you say that certain people are born with abilities, but that inheritance is not genetic. You'll need some sort of magical mechanism if that's the case, because without magic anything that you are born with is in fact genetic.
As far as your rivers go, I don't think they look huge, and they look good to my eye ... you just have one spot I would tweak. There's a loop (see my cropped version of your pic) where two spots are so close that actual water probably would just cut a path straight through instead of going the long way around.
Edit: Rereading that, my second paragraph sounded really harsh, but it's so early in the morning I'm not sure how to reword it. Please know I didn't mean it harshly :)
lol no, that's fine. You're right, thanks for the tips, both for the river and the genetics.
It's a nice start (and some interesting info/background) - looking forward to seeing more.
First of all: I like the map. The paper style is great.
Here are my River Nitpicks:
The delta in the river North East of the Main Continent... the branch I surrounded in red is looking odd... either the whole peninsula is marshland, then there should be at least one branch straight to the north or, more likely, the peninsula is stony and the river is sourcing east of it.
Second nitpick: The river far northeast doesn't soruce into the sea (on a very close look, I know...)
Here are the pictures of evidence ;)
Finally finished with the mountains... I tried to draw them on the computer forever and eventually said 'screw that I'm drawing this on paper' and I did... this is the result. Also adjusted the contrast so it doesn't look so dull.
I'll work on all of the river nitpicks right now.
Killer mtns...doing it by hand always seems to produce a better end result; nice job.
Hmm, the mountains do look great. I am a bit worried about the scale though. I would prefer the mountains to be smaller.
Um ... this assumes a certain amount of talent with a pencil, hehe. I find just about anything I do looks much better if I run it through the computer somehow ;)
Originally Posted by Ascension
Although, I do concur in this case. The mountains look fantastic.
Repped... I'm speechless about the mountains.
Although Gandwarf is right, they are a little too big given the complexity of the coastline.
But still... impressive work.