Results 1 to 7 of 7

Thread: How do I start working on a map?

  1. #1

    Default How do I start working on a map?

    I've been lurking for the past few weeks, and I just need to ask you guys something. A bunch of you have drawn maps, how do you get started?

    I've been trying to make a map for the past six months, but none of them have been good enough. I've gone throughI've tried using the cloud feature on photoshop, but the shapes looked too unrealistic. I can't get myself to just draw anything because I keep worrying that the shape of the continent will not look realistic enough. Fractal maps don't look at all like the real life continents. I've tried starting with drawing simple shapes and gradually making them more complex, but I keep worrying that the shape isn't good enough. I've tried starting with tectonic plates, but I keep worrying that the plates are too unrealistic.

    I've done research on climates, astronomy, and geology, nothing seems to work. I've even tried using maps from Civilization 5 but none of them seem good enough to me.

    I was making some progress on a coastline, but then I saw the Gotha map and realized just how dull it looked in comparison. I don't know how to start again.

    What should I do? I can't just draw anything up, it needs to look realistic and plausible, but nothing looks realistic or plausible enough.
    Last edited by Erik Tiber; 06-27-2013 at 04:58 PM.

  2. #2
    Guild Journeyer Obbehobbe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Helsingborg - Sweden
    Posts
    103

    Default

    I can not tell you what -you-shall do, but I can tell you what -I- do!

    I always draw the coastline first in photoshop. If I want an old-looking map I draw a simple line with an ordinary small brush and try to variate the coastline. If I want a more rough, realistic looking coastline, I usually draw the continents as I just described, but then I work the coastline once more with the eraser and a scatter-brush. Tweaking the settings to get that random jagged coast. Make sure you fill the "land" first before working on the coastline this way.

    I wouldn't worry much about climate, astronony and geology. I'd say - let those features adapt to the map instead of the reverse. If you decide to put a mountainrange "right there", then there is probably two plates just under.
    "That sounds... incredibly complicated, but there's no doubt the result is fantastic." /Diamond

  3. #3
    Guild Master Gracious Donor Midgardsormr's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Los Angeles, CA
    Posts
    2,481

    Default

    By far, the most effective thing you can do to improve your map is to stop the lurking and post a work-in-progress thread here.

    Now for some more specific advice. If you're concerned with your coastline looking sufficiently realistic, why not stitch together a few real-world coasts? Get your general shape, then find some actual coastline that roughly fits and use it as a template to guide your coastline building.

    Try not to get too discouraged when you see the breathtaking art that others create. It's unreasonable to compare your first piece to someone else's 100th or 1000th. I do the same thing, and it's a huge block to my creativity. Those masterpieces are the destination, not the starting line!
    Bryan Ray, visual effects artist
    http://www.bryanray.name

  4. #4
    Guild Apprentice Gracious Donor
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Hemel Hempstead UK
    Posts
    35

    Default

    I would suggest figure out what scale of map you want to try first. Global, continental, country, island, isle, county, town , street, campsite. The list is endless.
    You starting well by hovering, but like previously said jump in the waters lovely.

    Having checked out a lot of the threads your see there's some awesome mapmakers. Maybe try and figure out what you like that they have done, then incorporate it into your map.

    look forward to seeing your first steps.

  5. #5
    Software Dev/Rep Gracious Donor waldronate's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    The High Desert
    Posts
    1,736

    Default

    You said that you were worried that your map wasn't good enough. You said that you worried that your maps wouldn't be real enough. Then you compared your first work to the completed work of someone who did lots and lots of maps and spent many hours to get to that final product.

    Short answer: Don't Do That!

    The only way you get better is to practice. And that means that your first few products are likely to be less (finished, polished, sparkling with perfection) than you would like. The first time you sat down at a keyboard, did you type 220 words a minute? Probably not. When you first picked up a pencil, did a beautiful sketch of exactly what was in front of you come out? Probably not. The hardest part of any new skill is to be willing to fail and having others see the failure. You'll learn a whole lot more from discussions of your failures than you will from just looking at your successes.

    As a lot of folks have pointed out, feedback is essential to get somewhere. That means that you have to provide something for others to provide feedback to. Even if you don't like it, post it. Point out elements that you think are problematic and see if others have suggestions about ways to improve. It's tough, but it can be done.

  6. #6

    Default

    Thanks for the welcome guys
    Quote Originally Posted by Obbehobbe View Post
    I can not tell you what -you-shall do, but I can tell you what -I- do!

    I always draw the coastline first in photoshop. If I want an old-looking map I draw a simple line with an ordinary small brush and try to variate the coastline. If I want a more rough, realistic looking coastline, I usually draw the continents as I just described, but then I work the coastline once more with the eraser and a scatter-brush. Tweaking the settings to get that random jagged coast. Make sure you fill the "land" first before working on the coastline this way.

    I wouldn't worry much about climate, astronony and geology. I'd say - let those features adapt to the map instead of the reverse. If you decide to put a mountainrange "right there", then there is probably two plates just under.
    Thanks for the advice, though what do you mean by a scatter-brush? I only have Photoshop CS2.

    The climate, astronomy, and geology interest me, though there's a good chance that I won't bother with the tectonic plates.

    As for the climate, I'll cross that bridge when I get there, but hopefully I will be able to work it out correctly. I'm just going to use the Climate Cookbook webpage as a guide for that, that seems adequate enough for me.

    Quote Originally Posted by Midgardsormr View Post
    By far, the most effective thing you can do to improve your map is to stop the lurking and post a work-in-progress thread here.

    Now for some more specific advice. If you're concerned with your coastline looking sufficiently realistic, why not stitch together a few real-world coasts? Get your general shape, then find some actual coastline that roughly fits and use it as a template to guide your coastline building.

    Try not to get too discouraged when you see the breathtaking art that others create. It's unreasonable to compare your first piece to someone else's 100th or 1000th. I do the same thing, and it's a huge block to my creativity. Those masterpieces are the destination, not the starting line!
    I'll post a work in progress once I make appreciable progress on the coastline, though so far I'm unsure what exactly I want to do with it.

    I think I might start with some tectonic plates just so I can have something to work with.
    Quote Originally Posted by Londonsmee View Post
    I would suggest figure out what scale of map you want to try first. Global, continental, country, island, isle, county, town , street, campsite. The list is endless.
    You starting well by hovering, but like previously said jump in the waters lovely.

    Having checked out a lot of the threads your see there's some awesome mapmakers. Maybe try and figure out what you like that they have done, then incorporate it into your map.

    look forward to seeing your first steps.
    I'm going for a global scale. The problem is that I have no good idea of what I want the map to look like. I know that I want a region similar to the Aegean sea and vaguely reminiscent of the Mediterranean, with a grassy steppe bordering it, on a continent about as large as Eurasia,though I'm not sure what else would go on the world map.

    I guess my real problem is that I want a map with some similarities to Earth, but I don't want it to look like a modified clone of the Earth.

    Quote Originally Posted by Midgardsormr View Post
    By far, the most effective thing you can do to improve your map is to stop the lurking and post a work-in-progress thread here.

    Now for some more specific advice. If you're concerned with your coastline looking sufficiently realistic, why not stitch together a few real-world coasts? Get your general shape, then find some actual coastline that roughly fits and use it as a template to guide your coastline building.

    Try not to get too discouraged when you see the breathtaking art that others create. It's unreasonable to compare your first piece to someone else's 100th or 1000th. I do the same thing, and it's a huge block to my creativity. Those masterpieces are the destination, not the starting line!
    That's a good idea, I'll try that out, though I'll probably do the climate first so I know which forces will be shaping the coastlines.
    Quote Originally Posted by waldronate View Post
    You said that you were worried that your map wasn't good enough. You said that you worried that your maps wouldn't be real enough. Then you compared your first work to the completed work of someone who did lots and lots of maps and spent many hours to get to that final product.

    Short answer: Don't Do That!

    The only way you get better is to practice. And that means that your first few products are likely to be less (finished, polished, sparkling with perfection) than you would like. The first time you sat down at a keyboard, did you type 220 words a minute? Probably not. When you first picked up a pencil, did a beautiful sketch of exactly what was in front of you come out? Probably not. The hardest part of any new skill is to be willing to fail and having others see the failure. You'll learn a whole lot more from discussions of your failures than you will from just looking at your successes.

    As a lot of folks have pointed out, feedback is essential to get somewhere. That means that you have to provide something for others to provide feedback to. Even if you don't like it, post it. Point out elements that you think are problematic and see if others have suggestions about ways to improve. It's tough, but it can be done.
    Thanks for all the advice.That certainly seems like a good idea, I think I'll do some practice before seriously working on a project this large.

  7. #7
    Guild Master Gracious Donor Midgardsormr's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Los Angeles, CA
    Posts
    2,481

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Erik Tiber View Post
    Thanks for the welcome guys

    Thanks for the advice, though what do you mean by a scatter-brush? I only have Photoshop CS2.
    It's been a while since I looked at CS2, but I don't think this information has changed much since then: Select the Brush tool (or I guess the Eraser in this case), and call up the Brushes window (Windows > Brushes or F5). There should be a list of settings categories on the left, and the second should be Scattering. Select that, and the checkbox should automatically tick. In the properties that appear, you'll have controls for Scatter, Count, and Count Jitter. Play with all of the controls there and see how they affect the brush shape. Scatter will give you a brush that creates randomly broken lines, and it can be useful to brush the edges of a mask or alpha with a scattered brush to create some breakup in it. I like it for the fringes of forests.
    Bryan Ray, visual effects artist
    http://www.bryanray.name

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •