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Thread: My Map and need advice

  1. #1
    Guild Adept Yandor's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007

    Help My Map and need advice

    Well hello, and thanks for having such an awesome community, I am new as this is my first post, I've actually been here for a few weeks (maybe months now) but needless to say I never joined just looked, got ideas and information on things.

    I've been drawning maps for a few years, nothing big just a thing here and there and making entire worlds out of them. I plan on writting novels and what not around them, I figure its easier to make a world and its background history then it is to create a story in the middle of an imaginary world.

    This is the latest world I've been working on, its very simple and well I didn't know if I wanted to make it complicated by adding in a lot of islands (good bad?) Anyways I've never been good at placing things where they are suppose to, a lot of mountains where there should be grasslands, rivers when there should be deserts (hope you get the idea)

    The first image is the entire Northern half of the world (plan on making a southern half some day) So The island arch next to Islands (below Isania)and Cairan's islands and the penisula of Cairan's mainland are part of the Tropical climate(Cairan has the jungle to help show, Lime Green) and the polar is from the Isania's top left penisula reaching up into the middle of Maug and through the middle of Sinala. The inbetween is temperate, so you can get the idea of what I'm trying to accomplish and maybe help those trying to help me.

    The second image is Cairan, detailed out to what I just randomly threw in, I put some thought into it but once things got down I kind of just altered never fixed

    Red - Region/Kingdom lines (each area is a providence belonging to a nation)
    Green - Grassland
    Dark green - Forest
    Lime green - Jungle
    Blue Green - Swamp
    Blue - Water
    Grey - Mountains
    Hope thats all of them

    Well in all I was hoping you guys could help me fix my map to make it more realistic or just simply better. Cairan is the most detailed part of the map I've done, and was wondering if its ok or if things could be fix, most of all I was hoping maybe some help on placing lakes and rivers on it.

    Well I think thats what I wanted, haha I am sure I'll read this again and realize I was missing a few things but any help would be great, and any advice would be probably used or put into great deal of thought

    P.S. The world is based on a medieval/ancient setting, so no nuclear, or sci-fi stuff =D, its magical and had gods nuture the land along for awhile, and then were killed off
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    Last edited by Yandor; 10-28-2007 at 10:19 PM.

  2. #2


    Wow, very nice! The only minor "criticism" that I have is that, if that's basically the "known world," the whole thing is a bit too square. Now I have the same problem, so it's a minor quibble- it's easy to create the world within the framwork of the 8.5x11" mindset of a peice of paper or computer screen. I've been using Fractal Mapper v8.0 and one neat feature it has is Globe View. Your map can be displayed on a spinning gloe; this really helps visualize it in terms of being on a real planet. Not useful if your world isn't round, of course.

    Overall a very fine set of maps.

  3. #3
    Community Leader Torq's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Cape Town, South Africa


    Welcome Yandor. I believe this community is one of the friendliest, helpful and useful out there. I'm sure you'll get all the help you need, to take your maps to the next level.

    I agree with Beowulf's comments. In order to give better advice it would be useful to know what program you used to create the maps. On your Cairan map I would start by suggesting that the scale of the map means the lines marking the borders should be thinner. Also the effect of only drawing some of the borders can be quite confusing, I would suggest completing them, even though the terrain features might be natural borders themselves. Also I think the map could do with more contrast between land and sea. The dark blue of the sea and the dark green of the land are IMO a littel too close. Maybe you should try experimenting with more colour contrast there.

    The internet! It\'ll never catch on.

    Software Used: Terranoise, Wilbur, Terragen, The Gimp, Inkscape, Mojoworld

  4. #4


    Just as an example of what I'm talking about, Yandor, here's an old campaign map (hand drawn, obviously) that displays my "inside the box/paper-shape" thinking.

    My creativity got constricted by the shape of the page. Easy to do. Obviously your map is much better and more refined than my 15 year old hand drawn one, but you get my meaning.

  5. #5


    But let me backpeddle a bit...depending upon your purpose it may not matter. Many of us here are preoccupied with creating plausible, Earth-like worlds that "obey the rules." I recall that you plan to base fantasy novels upon your creation. I think of the maps of many very popular fantasy novels and they don't make a lick of sense when viewed from the standpoint of geology or plate techtonics. But in fantasy the sun may be a portal to the Elemental Plane of Fire and the stars may be pinholes in the curtain of night. Who's to say your map won't serve your purpose? It's a fine looking effort in any event.

  6. #6


    Welcome Yandor! I do like the internal waterways in Insania - interesting patterns. Is there a particular type of 'look' that you're going for? What would be helpful is if you could post a map from a book or the web showing the sort of style you had in mind, and as Torq asked told us a bit more about what sort of software you were using. We could then make suggestions as to how to achieve that style. Very often the act of just observing carefully the map style you want to emulate will be enought to give you a sense of direction.



  7. #7
    Community Leader RobA's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Toronto, Canada


    Hi Yandor!

    Nice start on that map.

    One thing I like to do (that might help, or not is to throw some contour lines on a map, to help decide where things should go (i.e it will be wetter on the windward side of an ocean mountain range, more desert like on the leeward side, different elevations have different types of forest/jungle, water flows downhill, etc.)

    Here is a quick (possible) sketch of terrain contours on the main island:
    Attachment 1266

    This should give some idea on how to run rivers, etc.

    It also give more insight on how to place borders and roads, as they usually follow natural terrain lines (rivers, mountain ranges, etc.)

    You didn't identify brown... I'm assuming an interior desert?

    Check out this thread and possibly Geoff's Climate Cookbook.

    Anyway, hope that was moderately useful.

    -Rob A>

  8. #8


    I hadn't seen the Climate Cookbook before. Good link!

    Another good reference for both climate and geology is Expeditious Retreat Press' A Magical Society: Guide to Mapping, which is a free-to-download chapter from the larger A Magical Society: Ecology and Culture book.

    (And if you like that one, try also A Magical Medieval City Guide.)

    I like the colour of the world map--it's an interesting choice, and it's very striking. And the shapes of the landmasses tell some interesting stories all on their own. The internal seas in Insania, for instance (INSANIA! Come join the MADNESS!): What happened there to rip that entire continent in half? And the islands to the south--is that a meteor impact, or did a volcano shatter that large island? Were these two cataclysms related to one another? And if that island chain was formed by a volcanic hotspot (similar to Hawaii), what caused the tectonic plate to change its direction of motion so radically, such that the two newest islands do not follow the same arc as the older ones?

    Those aren't questions that I want answered, of course. They're just the ones that popped into my mind as I was looking at those land shapes.

    Just for kicks, I looked up the island of Thera, which was mostly destroyed by a volcanic eruption ~1600 BC, on Google Maps. Here's the image:
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    Bryan Ray, visual effects artist

  9. #9
    Guild Adept Yandor's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007


    Wow where to begin haha, Thanks for the welcome and thanks for the quick replys, quite remarkable for any community if you ask me.

    Anyways I'll start from top to bottom.

    Beowulf- I understand completely about the whole wrapping it, and well to be honest I didn't really think about it until like 3 months after I had drawn the map, so when I was "visualizing" it, it was suppose to be set on a globe, and well I don't think it would be too hard to fix, but I don't really know how to fix it with just Photoshop and nother misc programs I've picked up on, but thats the least of my concerns for the moment atleast =D Just want it to be more geologically fit, like volcanos where they should be no random hot spots etc.
    P.s. If I look at my map correctly, and view it like any Earth world map the North pole would be greatly distorted, and so if my north pole is water, I don't think my map really needs to "change" so much other then maybe tilting the continents to fit the natural curve of the world.

    Torq- I pretty much only have Photoshop CS2, CC2 & CC3 don't have a clue how to use them, I live with Photoshop so I know my way around it =D, anyways back to topic I just threw the colored map in to show what I've already thought out, all my handy work with details, cities and everything else is hand drawn on many papers. However I do plan to make a digital map with the mountains, forest etc, and I've already done one map (image one, all in Photoshop) So I was going to do the same, but better formations but still the idea is there. So the scale of lines and things (other then mountains) were extremely rough and not entirely drawn to perfection, actually I made it, while I was making my first post so yeah it only took me a minute or two.

    Ravells- Well as I stated with Torq I live with Photoshop, so whatever style seems to fit my needs at the moment I try to achieve, so pretty much any style will work, expect shadow relief. However thats where my problem comes in, I don't have an exact look I want to achieve, the map I put up was the first initial idea I wanted to go with, but after seeing so many different ways, its hard for me to choose now. But Eric the Red, and his rich colors, simple details is the kind of look I want at this moment I guess I could say. So not a top down view but a diagonal look on it.
    Erics map

    RobA- Ahh the contour lines, never thought of that, nor have I thought of wind direction either. That should help a lot, and might I ask how easy is it to actually make effective contour lines, like do you make them every 100 ft? 5 miles? 200 miles? and generally with mountains how do you determine the grade? Becuase in a tropical island made with an old volcano isn't going to be as tall as like mount everest, so how would to readly determine the high points? not unless its just by random and say well this point is the peak at oh I don't know 15,000 ft? The Brownish orange thing is a desert, and thats my other problem I don't know if that really works, and if it does why? is it a shadow desert (lack of rainfall from mountains) or is it a desert zone made by the latitude and longitude of the map (forgot techincal names) etc

    I love the help and I hope I answered your questions OH! scale haha well its suppose to be around the earth size, maybe a bit bigger, so Cairan from the west side to the farthest Island would be about the USA from California coast to where Maine fits on the same degree on the East side. And Insania kind of like a Euro-Asia continent, not as big or whatever but thats the "Size" which also makes me wonder if the details are to big like Torq was saying, like the mountains should be smaller or what?
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  10. #10
    Guild Adept Yandor's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007


    Wow sorry Midgardsormr I missed you post, but THANK YOU!! haha my ideas were just fullfilled I could tell you exactly how Isania was ripped apart, and yes I could tell you how the Island arch was made, just put it this way Arsegal is to blame! haha that makes me excited, anyways thank you for the link, and for that matter thanks for everone and their links, I've actually read all the posts by Calendril and skimmed the cook book, which I knew would be very helpful when I actually dove into it. Midgar I was wondering though since a chapter is only available for download, what else is actually in that book? do you know? Also thanks for the Thera picture, I just watched a special on Volcanos on the History channel =P talked about a lot of things that I learned in my geology class but with actual video visual aids, so yeah I want to fix my volcano islands and stuff but then I realized I didn't place any calderas or places yet for one, so we'll see.

    Also heres my climate map
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    Last edited by Yandor; 10-29-2007 at 12:09 PM.

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