Conceptualizing fantasy maps...
I suppose this counts as my first post here...discovered this gem by searching on Google for Photoshop map-making tutorials; I certainly found what I was looking for. ;)
The reason I was searching in the first place is that I'm currently interested in creating a fantasy map for a novel I'm cooking up in my head. However, as a largely visual thinker, having a tangible map with which I can impose the story upon will help my creative process along.
I've reached an impasse though...how does a fantasy world "end"? That is, what lie at the very edges of the map? As I want to create the entire world, I must address this issue. It seems that making the world flat is most in line with the subject matter and is what I want to pursue. A boundless ocean is always possible but then the reason behind it must be explained...a perpetual fog is another possibility. I would really like to have huge waterfalls at every edge where the sea casts off into the abyss, but my abilities with Photoshop don't extend that far to produce it visually.
Of course when you look at someone like Tolkien, his maps look like just a small portion of the world, and the land beyond really has no meaning, but that bugs me. :? I suppose making the world round (talk about boring) will be my last resort.
Any thoughts or ideas? :)
Lots of ways to go, actually...
Welcome to the Guild, Ex Machina!
You should introduce yourself in the Intro Forum.
How to make the world end, interesting question, and I'm surprised no one has ever put that before us, hmmm. I'm content with Tolkiens' method (standard method) to map only those parts of the world that pertain to the storyline.
For instance mapping the Earth for a European based story, no need to anything except Europe - if that is the confines of your story.
Waterfalls at the edge of the world? The River Police would raid you (oh wait I'm a member of the River Police... who seek geologic normality in maps expecially regarding rivers and oceans.) Actually that sounds like a viable idea, if that fits your storyline. I like it. Making waterfalls is a challenge, but its been done.
Here's a link to a map where I placed a waterfall in the ocean, as per a publisher's request - I think it worked well enough, might give you some ideas for waterfalls at the edge of the world.
I suppose doing an entire flat map of your entire world, or cut to fit on a globe, or even placed on a globe are viable options. It really depends on what your goals.
Regarding creating the whole world for a novel that only focuses on one area, I thinking showing the map of the whole world, might confuse the reader. Would it not be better to just map what's in the novel - ie: Tolkien style, as you call it?