I have a world I've been building for about 15 years, and naturally mapping has been a big part of that (I love maps), but I wouldn't call myself a particularly talented mapper. However, my knowledge of photoshop has slowly improved, as has my grasp of geography, and after reading some of the exceptional tutorials on these forums I've set to work on building my "best map ever". I need a highly accurate regional map of this land-bridge continent mostly as a reference tool, and for me realism is the key.
I am pretty happy with a coastline, but I've been giving more thought to terrain, which has led me to attempt a version of the map based on a height map. The only issue for me is the best way to go about creating a realistic height map. Most of the tutorials I've found seem to be based on randomly generated maps, which won't work in this instance as I'm dealing with a specific map layout.
I've included a picture of the map as it currently stands, to show you what I am currently working on. I've created this map using the burn and dodge tools in Photoshop, entirely by hand, using a "ridgeline" layer as a guide. My intention is to move the map into Wilbur for additional erosion and establishing river tracks once the map is done (experiments suggest I'll need to do this in pieces as the map is so big).
My initial question, I suppose, as a newbie mapper, is whether this hand-drawn method for the height map is sensible. Are there easier ways of achieving the same or more realistic results? It took me a couple of hours to do just the little section I'm currently happy with (the bit slightly NW of centre), so to complete just the height map will be an enormous undertaking.
The map is about 7,600 x 5,300, and the scale is 1px to 1km.
I've attached a slightly reduced version as it exceeds the maximum image size for the forums.