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  1. #1

    Default World Building random map or hand drawn?

    I've been working on a world for hopefully a novel for around four months now. So far works been pretty slow because I've been doing a lot of study on history to just build on my knowledge and what I can add into the world.

    I've made maps in the past but they have only been simple region maps or island maps but never have I attempted a continent map. That's exactly what I'm looking to do now.

    What I'm wondering is if it would be best to hand draw it or to "randomly generate" a map through photoshop. (Note, I don't know for sure if that's the only way to make maps through photoshop but because I don't own an "art pad" for the pc I can't hand draw it through that method).

    Doing it through photoshop gives me the ability to make a decent looking map with relative ease but hand drawing a map just feels more natural to me.

    I know it's just my opinion but I'm curious what others prefer, making maps on their own or basically letting the cloud render method make one for them.

  2. #2
    Guild Artisan eViLe_eAgLe's Avatar
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    Feb 2011
    Washington State


    You could use your mouse instead? I do everything with my mouse.

  3. #3
    Professional Artist Djekspek's Avatar
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    Aug 2009


    Hi, I don't think there is a 'best' in this. Personally for my atlas style maps, I prefer handdrawing (or sometimes generating and then manually tuning) as the generated things are a little too random for me, and I like to have some control over the landmass (as it's rather important for a good composition). But that's just me, as I've seen very impressive randomly generated landmasses. cheers, DJ
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  4. #4
    Community Leader Facebook Connected Ascension's Avatar
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    Jun 2008
    St. Charles, Missouri, United States


    I use sort of a hybrid method, using clouds as a base I then airbrush some very slight black and white into the mix (with my mouse) to influence the final shape. Once I have a shape that I like I then go back and hand draw the coastlines (with my pad) if I want a hand-drawn map. On the other topic you could just draw your map on paper and then scan it in.
    If the radiance of a thousand suns was to burst at once into the sky, that would be like the splendor of the Mighty One...I am become Death, the Shatterer of worlds.
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  5. #5
    Guild Artisan Clercon's Avatar
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    Feb 2008
    Eslöv, Sweden


    I make all my coastline by hand (with my tablet). I prefer to have full control of how it ends up. But if you have a look at
    Tears Saderan tutorial he has a good way of creating the coastline in a hybrid way where you both generate the coastline but can draw/change it as you prefer. And it works great with only a mouse. My Drakonia map is done following his tutorial.
    My finished maps

    Mapping Worlds (My blog about mapping)

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  6. #6

  7. #7
    Guild Member LS-Jebus's Avatar
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    Aug 2009
    A hill north of Toronto


    Since the worlds I create are based on ideas I have of prior to construction, I have a vision of roughly how the world should look. I draw the visible continent(s) manually with a mouse, then apply filters and brushes to mess up the coasts, and create lakes and additional islands. Another way is drawing an outline of the world, then generating random shapes with the cloud method in Photoshop and stitching them together to roughly follow the coastlines, removing and adding where necessary. With those methods, the world has a varied, detailed, less round appearance but fits the initial vision closely.
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  8. #8


    Thank you guys.

    I think my biggest problem is that I really like the maps to look good and when I hand draw them they just don't turn out looking right to me. When I made them solely on photoshop they looked a lot better but I messed up following a tutorial and it ended up having to be scrapped. I think my thing is the coastlines though and I didn't think about being able to make my lines look more wrinkled so that should help. I'll take a look at some more of the tutorials.


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