The World of Darha:
So this is the current state of my MIP (map in progress) of the world of Darha. As I have been carrying around an idea for a story I would love to turn into a novel sometime in the future as well as creating my own Pen&Paper RPG playing in the very same world as the novel I thought that drawing a map for the whole of it would be a good starting point.
The name Darha is the current headline of the project though I haven't decided yet whether it's going to stay that way.
As I am a loyal user of Ubuntu (Linux) operating system and the whole idea of open source software I used to do my cartography with open source vector graphics editor Inkscape (http://inkscape.org/). I personally believe that vector based graphics editors are most suitable for cartography (at least for medieval/fantasy-style mapping) as they concentrate on lineart and enable you to make changes to even the tiniest segment of every single line your draw throughout the whole process of the map. (This is my personal opinion about this. Nevertheless I do not deny that many of the most brilliant maps I've ever seen were done with raster graphic editors like PS. This thread, however is not supposed to start discussions on »raster vs. vector«).
As I already mentioned I used to favorise Inkscape for my mapping for the last couple of years (after drawing with real pencils on real paper and proceeding to PS and then to Illustrator). But lately I decided to switch over to Xara LX (http://www.xaraxtreme.org/) for it has the one thing that Inkscape is still lacking and that (which I can't stand any longer): hardware acceleration.
As my maps grew bigger and bigger and evermore detailed Inkscape got so slow that even zooming in and out took partially up to a minute of time.
The Construction of a World:
From the beginning on I wanted to create a world as authentic as possible when it comes to geographical principles and natural laws. So I started with creating tectonic plates and their assumed drift:
After analysing the boundaries of my selfmade tectonic plates I marked the regions in which mountain ranges (brown) and rifts (blue) are most likely to occur:
Before starting with the actual outlines of the continents and isles I thought how I want this world to look like. I wanted nothing too similar to our world. I started drawing rough shapes and absolutely undetailed shapes to the map and then adapted them to the concept of the continental plates. I did so until I reached the point at which I was satisfied with this approximate arrangement (I identified this point when I caught myself deriving new ideas for my story from the map)
Next step was to redraw the coast lines in detail and to add isles to the whole of it and playing around with the Contour Tool which created those nice looking parallels of the coastline:
Of course criticism and any other constructive comments are highly appreciated