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Thread: Map Scales

  1. #1
    Guild Applicant KagePen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    South Africa

    Default Map Scales

    I've been wondering how to best make use of scales to help me determine the size of maps I want to make, I'd be very grateful if someone could give me advice on this matter.

    Thank you.

  2. #2
    Guild Expert Azelor's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2008


    It depends what you want to map. If it's something small like a village: large scale. If it's a world map: small scale because objects are smaller.

  3. #3
    Professional Artist Cunning Cartographer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2012


    With scale you need to factor in three things:

    1) Is this going to be designed digitally? If the answer is yes then the larger your map (scale or otherwise) the more intensive it is going to be on your system. If you have lots of layers and effects it's quite possible to hit a point where it is VERY difficult to work on very large maps unless your computer is very high spec.

    2) What is the required finish size? If it's for print then you need to determine what size the print is going to be. If it's going to be printed A4 then there's no point in doing a map with lots of details because they will just be lost when printed. So if you have fixed "It needs to be poster size" then this will pretty much determine what your scale is going to be anyway.

    3) Do you want it to be detailed? If you want to just show the main features of a world/region map eg. the main cities and big points of interest, then you don't need to have a large scaled map, if you want to include every village, road, river, roadside tavern and the rest then you're going to be working toward a larger scale just to get it all in.

    So that's pretty much all it comes down to, you are limited to your computer, the final size and the level of detail you desire in your map, after that it's all personal preference.

  4. #4
    Guild Applicant
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Mansfield, MA


    Hi Yospek,

    What type of program will I need to produce a printable topographic map of the USA at a scale of 1:2,000,000? I just want rivers, mountains and the large cities.

  5. #5
    Guild Member Facebook Connected Thorf's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Akita, Japan


    I don't know if it's directly relevant to what you're asking, but I recently wrote an article about the issue of scale with digital maps.

    The Cartography of Thorfinn Tait: World-building Techniques: Scale

    There might be something in there to help answer your question. Having said that, Yospeck's comment above is definitely something to keep in mind, too.
    Last edited by Thorf; 01-23-2014 at 05:41 AM.

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