Just a month shy of a couple years ago, I posted a WIP of one of my first mapping attempts, the Continent of Narridia. Since then, I've taken a few design classes in which I learned the basics of Photoshop and Illustrator. Today, bored out of my mind, so I decided to reconceptualize Narridia from the ground up.
Phase 1: The Concept Sketch
I grabbed up my 11x17 vellum pad, and with a 0.7mm pencil, I lightly dragged an outline of a couple continents. I ended up not liking part of it, so I took my trusty x-acto knife and sliced that badboy in two. Now armed with a smaller 8.5x11 piece of vellum, I scanned that puppy into my computer, at 300ppi. The result of which you can see below:
Phase 2: Outlining in Illustrator
From there, I opened up illustrator and placed that image onto my artboard, and went to work. I first grabbed the pen tool, set it's width initially to 2pt, and started tracing the outline of the contienent. Once that was done, I traced the rivers and the mountains with the same tool, this time at 1pt width. I noticed that it was really hard to differentiate the rivers, so I made them thinner, down to .5pt, and widened my mountain lines to 1.5pt.
After all that was done, I drew a compass rose with the line tool, and the circle tool. I then trimmed the overlapping lines with the scissors, and after that I used the live paint bucket and filled in the alternating triangles on the compass rose. Long story short, I ended up with what you see below:
I like using Illustrator for this part, because I can then resize my image however large I want to, and I don't have to worry about line degradation or pixelation. Figuring out how to color everything might prove more difficult than I anticipate, however.
Satisfied with how my map was turning out, I decided to try out some simple coloring. I figured a modern-style map was simplest, so I found a map of Australia and used it's colors as a guide. As an aside, I chose Australia because I was originally thinking that I wanted this map to be roughly the same size. Now, I'm not sure. If I make the whole continent similar in size, I feel like it's too small. Selecting both the full continent and the smaller island, I made them a complex path so that they'd get colored at the same time. Then I simple changed the fill and stroke colors to match the reference. Et voila: