I know it might sound silly, but in my experience with rivers, getting out the ole pencil brush in PhotoShop and reducing the size to a single pixel can yield a good start to a river. I usually magnify the image to about 300% at that point and then just start to draw something of a random line. You can widen it manually as you go if you so desire.
I'm not going to pretend that the rivers are any good, because mine could sure use some work. If I find a more effective method I'll let you know. Maybe Ascension has some better methods. I always struggled with rivers, so you are certainly not alone.
BTW - I love you too ;-)
I don't have much to offer in the way of science, just my own way of doing it. I start with a general layout with a fat 19 pixel tip and then I just find a deep bay and start a river there. I keep to the the valleys and plains and rough in the main channel and major branches in straight lines. Lower the opacity, make a new layer, zoom in (so that I can see the lay of the land) and grab a 5 pixel tip and then I go back over the layout for a ways (starting at the coast) then switch to a 3 pixel tip and make some branches. I do the smaller rivers in a 1 pixel tip and put a lot of those in. What I end up with looks similar to a tree or lightning bolts, but a lil smoother on the squiggles and less jagged. Finally, I use the smudge tool on the ends to fade them off into the distance.
Every river that I draw gets at least 2 branches or else I'm not drawing it...it will just be one single squiggly line and that looks odd to me. For every major river (5 pixel) I put in at least 4 minor rivers (3 pixel) and 8 small rivers (1 pixel) that connect to the coast...that way they aren't all the same size at the delta. I also make sure that the rivers have a varying width, skinny parts and fat parts...looks a lil more realistic to me and a tablet is a big help there. I'm not afraid to have straight areas so long as I have enough loopy parts (big wide bends) to counter-balance them.
If I feel that there are too many then I go back and start erasing but I tend to not erase enough and always have lots of rivers. My river systems aren't technically correct...just what I think the water will do. For me it's about getting the aesthetics right and not worrying too much about the science.
I think what bugs you with the rivers (lightening look) is caused by their overall and regular shape.
Most of the tributaries are short and straight.
Most of the tributaries are at a fork, where the tributary is in line with the downstream river, and the upstream makes a bend. This gives the river a zig-zag look. I have emphasized this in the drawing with red.
The blue river is what I would suggest, with a less zig-zag look. Note the tributaries are longer, and not straight, and where they join, the main channel is obvious, and the tributary connects.
I plugged in my tablet after Istarted so the pressure sensitivity was whacked up, so no tapers for you. I would suggest that the tributary should be narrower where it meets the main river than the main river is at that point.
Plus the usual, flat areas have slower, curvier rivers, and steep areas have straighter, faster flowing water.
PS. forget the question about River Verde, I hadn't read all the ext at that point... ;)
UPDATE. Check First topic.
I know, I know. Sorry for taking so long, but the update worths the spent effort. At least I hope so.
By jove I think he's got it! :)
Wow, that fast?
But so... you think it now is worth of a Cartographers'-Guild-Thumbs-Up-Seal?
I can't speak for the Guild as a whole, but I can give you this:
Originally Posted by Gus
Hey, thanks. Only four more and I will stamp this map as Complete.
Anyway, there's a new (final?) update. check first topic.