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Thread: Drawing town/city maps by hand(Help Needed)

  1. #1
    Guild Applicant EvilXidMonkey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Belleville Il

    Help Drawing town/city maps by hand(Help Needed)

    Greetings everyone, Im generally just a lurker here(always forget to log in) and am having quite the predicament. I cannot for the life of me draw sutable town maps. I have no problem drawing dungeons,world, and or area maps by hand but when it comes to towns in cannot be done. My primary medium for mapping is graph paper(4 squares to the inch), but whenever I attempt a town map they end up looking to uniform and blocky(akin to old simcity towns). I would like to be able to draw towns that look natural, that is with curving streets and haphazard sprawling city blocks ect.

    It has gotten bad enough that in past games I dont even bother with a map and or urban exploration, instead run with sparse notes on the village in question(locales, npc ect). The thing is I want to have town maps and it makes me frustrated at times that I have such issues drawing them. Anyone who is skilled in the art of town mapping have any advice or a link to a "had drawn" tutorial, or anything? Whatever assisstance that can be provided will be much appreciated.

  2. #2


    Cities are more tricky and there are a variety of approaches, but villages are easier. My approach is to start with the main road (or roads if there's more than one). If there is more than one have them meet and make that your "village square". The typical village will generally be near a water source, either a spring, well or river generally. If there's a river it will have a ford, bridge or ferry (which might give your village its name).

    Keep in mind your basic professions (smith, carpenter/cooper, etc) when you place the buildings. If it's on a well traveled route it might have an inn and tavern. And there may be a town headman or mayor or whatever. Then simply dot your buildings along the road. It's a village so it'll be fairly organic. Commoner houses will probably have small fenced plots behind them. And then beyond will be fields for farming. There may or may not be a mill in the village. There will probably be a religious building or shrine of some kind and possibly a graveyard (depending on how your dead and laid to rest).

    If it gets bigger, side streets might spring up. If it's on the frontier, it may have a palisade or bank and ditch defence surrounding it. If it is the only crossing for miles around, it may charge a toll.

  3. #3


    I did a few quick and simple examples of what I mean.

    Keep in mind the village will expand to a certain point before it starts getting more dense as there is likely to be less desire to encroach too much on surrounding vineyards and fields. At that point the street plan also starts to try and make more efficient use of available space. So the buildings get more packed together, taller and such.

    Transport also affects the size of villages and towns. If the only way to get around is on foot, then your towns (and eventually cities) are not going to be all that spread out.
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  4. #4
    Guild Adept Facebook Connected Blaidd Drwg's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Weert, Netherlands


    Larb is perfectly right.
    I (used to) have the same problem. It always helps me to come up with some sort of story on how the hamlet/village/town/city came to be, how it has grown, how the landscape affects its layout. And then, just start with a few sketches focussing on the main roads and where they're going. Fiddle with them until they feel right.

    Have you seen Ravells' tutorial on city maps? It's been a great source of information (not to mention inspiration) to me and I think it's a must-read for everyone who likes to draw cities
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