I found this forum a few days ago and was thrilled. I've been doing fantasy cartography since I was eight years old, but I've never actually tried to make my maps aesthetically pleasing. Through following the tutorials here I managed to create my first map that wasn't just squiggly lines and painfully bright colors. The map presented here is sadly at half resolution, but full resolution is available here.
I loosely based the land placement off of the incredible Hereford mappa mundi (if you haven't seen it, here's the wikipedia link.) For the most part I followed Gidde's comprehensive Hand-drawn Map tutorial, and for the woodcut ocean I used Coyotemax's tutorial found here.
I welcome comments and suggestions. I'm particularly not happy with:
- Placement of rivers, mountains, and forests.
- Icon placement—in some places too dense, graphically.
- The desert—the waves are too homogeneous and the color doesn't quite fit.
- The roads—I'd probably prefer dotted lines for borders and solid lines for roads.
- The size, which diminished from the graphics as well.
The map is lacking country borders and names. The names are because I take forever to think of them—it will take me months if not years to make enough for this map. The country borders were the last thing that I was going to draw, but at that point I decided that the map wasn't worth the effort and I just wanted to make something like a finished product.
I've been working on this world for years but I've never had any firm opinions about the geography, so I just dove in with very little planning. Probably I should have spent more time looking at other maps, but now I can appreciate and understand them more.
For this map I learned:
- To plan the climate ahead of time. I got halfway through this map when I realized that I wanted a desert and an icy area. I decided to give up on the icy area.
- To plan all the types of terrain I want in advance—cliffs, swamps, grasslands, etc. In this map I had to rearrange some rivers to make the swamps, and I think they were placed somewhat haphazardly.
- That trees and hills do not mix well.
- To make icons more sparse, especially the hills.
- The importance of layering, and making sure that I am editing the appropriate layer. Hah.
- To gather all the icons I need before I start, and then to place them on the appropriate layer. For example, I would have liked to have made a mountain pass or two, but since I can't just draw a road on top of the mountains, it would have been time-consuming.
For my next map, I'll first create the land masses for the entire world (and maybe the terrain as well), but then I'll focus on a smaller region. That should help me a lot with the scale of the map.