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Thread: Questions about size, rivers and a swamp.

  1. #1

    Wip Questions about size, rivers and a swamp.

    Hi everyon! I'm not very experienced in map making, but I am eager to learn. So I have some questions and I really hope you can help me out a bit.

    Here's the outlines of my map, and a quick sketch of the mountains and rivers:
    Click image for larger version. 

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    First I'd like to ask you about the size. How big do you think this should be? (like how many km/miles long from the top to the end?)
    Would it be possible to put at least 4 kingdoms in this piece of land?
    What I think myself, is that my mountains are perhaps too big, and that will make the land look smaller.
    Do you think, if I would make the mountains smaller, that his piece of land could be a continent?

    Second, I'm note sure about the rivers. Besides mountains, what can be a source for rivers? And if you let a river come from a mountain, does it have to be a snowy mountain?
    I'm not sure if my rivers are realistic enough...

    Last but not least: I want a swamp.
    The kind of swamp as in, for example, "Pirates of the Caribbean 2" where Tia Dalma lives.
    But where can you place a swamp? Must it be near the ocean, or not, or must it be near a river. Can it be in the middle of the land, or does it need to be surrounded by water? I tried to google it, but I couldn't get a clear answer. (Perhaps it's my english, idk)

    Hope you guys can help me out. And feel free to give critiques, I need them!

    oh, here's btw a picture of my map's "climate":
    Click image for larger version. 

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    The yellow is like desert, the green is with grass and woods, and the top is a bit emptier.. I'm not sure how to call it, it's like dead land..

    Greetings,

    Xeziares. (Just call me X if that's easier, haha)
    Last edited by Xeziares; 03-19-2014 at 02:34 PM.

  2. #2
    Guild Journeyer Raptori's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xeziares View Post
    First I'd like to ask you about the size. How big do you think this should be? (like how many km/miles long from the top to the end?)
    In terms of the shape and also positioning of the mountains, it could actually be any size. I'd work out what the scale is by deciding how wide those rivers are. If you decide they're a mile wide, and you know they're 2px wide on the image, then you can easily work out the overall scale of the area.

    Quote Originally Posted by Xeziares View Post
    Would it be possible to put at least 4 kingdoms in this piece of land?
    Most likely. It depends on the dimensions of the land, but to be honest it looks big enough for a fair few kingdoms. People usually diverge into separate kingdoms/cultures based on geographical limitations, such as mountains, wide rivers and oceans, or climate boundaries, so it'd be a good idea to adjust the geography to fit the kingdom sizes you want.

    Quote Originally Posted by Xeziares View Post
    What I think myself, is that my mountains are perhaps too big, and that will make the land look smaller.
    Do you think, if I would make the mountains smaller, that his piece of land could be a continent?
    Yeah the mountains do look pretty big, but then again they're using the style that generally just shows "mountains are here" rather than actual scale, so it could still work either way.

    Quote Originally Posted by Xeziares View Post
    Second, I'm note sure about the rivers. Besides mountains, what can be a source for rivers? And if you let a river come from a mountain, does it have to be a snowy mountain?
    I guess you could have rivers originating from a marsh on a plateau (which would be a very interesting ecosystem actually), but it'd still be roughly the same process as mountains. Generally speaking, rivers are most often caused by rain or snow on the sides of mountains. In most cases the rain/snow is caused by moisture being condensed out of the air, which is caused by the air's temperature decreasing as it gains altitude. Rivers therefore generally flow down the windward side of a mountain range.

    Quote Originally Posted by Xeziares View Post
    I'm not sure if my rivers are realistic enough...
    They're a little bit off - rivers don't split as they flow towards the ocean, they converge (except right at the end where deltas occasionally form). The general structure can be visualised as similar to the structure of a tree. The trunk is the main river, and is rooted in the ocean, while the branches are tributaries and twigs are smaller streams. Starting at the top, the streams and tributaries (or twigs and branches) converge as they go downhill (since they take the lowest available route), until they're one big trunk of a river that eventually goes to the sea. That's not a complete picture obviously, but it works as a general principle.

    Quote Originally Posted by Xeziares View Post
    But where can you place a swamp? Must it be near the ocean, or not, or must it be near a river. Can it be in the middle of the land, or does it need to be surrounded by water? I tried to google it, but I couldn't get a clear answer. (Perhaps it's my english, idk)
    This page should help a lot! So in short, places such as shallow river and lake shores. Basically you can think of them as exceptionally shallow and incredibly slow moving sections of a river - you could even have a river that transitions into a huge swamp which would contain slight, slow moving currents, and then drains out at the other and and continues onwards. Lots of interesting things to do with swamps

    Hope that helps, don't hesitate to ask more questions
    Last edited by Raptori; 03-19-2014 at 03:07 PM.

  3. #3
    Guild Expert Azelor's Avatar
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    Hi, welcome to the guild!

    When I look at your map, I have to admit that it look more like an island than a continent. Maybe the mountains are too small because the climate zones seems to indicate that it's a much bigger landmass.
    My first thought was about Ireland: yes it could be the home of 4 kingdoms and even more as they are not always powerful as medieval France for example.

    Rivers flow downhill in a drainage basin with sufficient rainfall/melting snow according the the shape of the land. Most of the rivers take a great amount of their flow from the melting snow of surrounding mountains. As for you rivers, I've seen worst but I personally feels that it's not a good idea to map the river at the source. At the base of the mountains, it's still just a little steam of water after all. The other point is that your rivers tend to split before they reach the ocean and that's not very common. When the river does split, it's usually called a river delta, just like the Nile in Egypt.

    About the wetland, wikipedia as a good summary about it : Wetland - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    They tend to form where there is a lot of water and where the ground is almost at the same height as the water. It could be near the ocean (mangrove) or inland drained by river or a delta.
    Of course, other type of wetlands are possible. In Canada, we have a lot of lakes because of past ice ages. Some of these lake will become stagnant, become swamp and eventually, will dry out completely. But that does not make a large wetland like the amazonian delta.

    If you want to put more detail on your climate map you could have a look at this (it might also help you with the wetlands) Köppen climate classification - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

  4. #4
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    Welcome to the guild from me too!

    The guys answered your questions quite detailed already, but I'll throw in my two cents:

    In my opinion, if you wanted to make a continent out of this, the coastline should be more detailed and rugged. The ocean eats away at the coast, and the more coast there is, the more variety there will be when it comes to bays and such. Of course there can be quite large sections that may appear smooth from a distance but are still quite rugged if you take a closer look. Examples would be the Biskaya in Europe or the west coast of South America.
    In my experience, people tend to work into their maps the coastlines they know the most/have seen most often, which is mostly where they're from. In my case that would be Europe, which has a very diverse coast. that's probably why I keep bugging people about their coastlines.

    As for the river sources, I guess that the big rivers mostly originate in mountains. There are a two examples I know of that are a little different. The Elbe in Germany and the Czech Republic has it's source in the Krkonose which is a mountain range, but still not that big.
    The second one would be avery small river, the Schwentine, which is where I live. It's source is merely a hill.

    I hope that helped and wish you all the best in your cartographic endeavours!

  5. #5
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    To me, the overall look strikes as an island, albeit a pretty large one.

    One thing I would suggest is for you to set a size by comparing to someplace on Earth. If you want a linear tall mountainrange in the center, why not looking at Papua, it seems to be to have the right size and a good approximation to what you have here.

    Your rivers needs revising, indeed. It's very infrequent to see a river split (except in maps here at the guild).
    Try this to start fixing that and also to find a good location for the swamp:
    - choose some areas to be roughly higher than others (you don't need to draw spike-high-mountains there, their just somewhat higher)
    - now, from each of this area a stream/small river will flow downwards
    - streams flowing more or less in the same direction will converge
    - the more streams have converged into a larger flow the more this will become a "magnet" for other streams
    - if you have a point/zone where a lot of streams are converging, this might just create a swamp, with one exit only for the overflow - swamps exist where the land is flat, the inflow of water is high but river flow weak/slow and where evaporation is small(ish)
    - you can also have swampy areas where a river meets the sea, if it is running through lowlands (again, you get this in Papua island)

    As for kingdoms, I'd say the main single factor is the technology level you have for your map. Ease of communication makes large kingdoms, poor roads, rugged geography make small kingdoms (magic makes kingdoms any size you wish )

  6. #6
    Software Dev/Rep Gracious Donor waldronate's Avatar
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    I've posted this picture before, but I still like it. It may be helpful to you. The pictured landmass probably covers a little more range than you have here (just about half of the vertical range, in fact).

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  7. #7
    Guild Journeyer gilgamec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by waldronate View Post
    I've posted this picture before, but I still like it. It may be helpful to you.
    That's a great picture, waldronate! Where is it from? (A Google image search turns up only the other posts by you on this forum.)

  8. #8
    Software Dev/Rep Gracious Donor waldronate's Avatar
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    It's from one of Erwin Raisz's books. I don't recall which one at the moment, though.

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