Hi there! A few days ago I discovered the Cartographer's Guild, and being a map enthusiast (just to avoid the term map freak ), I thought "Why not join?" So I did and started reading this extremely interesting forum.
Quite some years ago I created an imaginary Australia-sized continent somewhere in the Pacific Ocean (actually it resided somewhere in my head, but you get the point). This was before computers became mainstream devices. I remember buying large A1 sheets of thick paper to pencil in sections of this continent, named Taboran (the etymology of that name is lost in the mists of my youth). Things evolved and one continent became too restricting. Much later another idea arose: at some point in the future Earth became inhabitable and if our species wanted to live on we had to search for another Earth-like planet. Several huge, autonomous spaceships were built, capable of transporting thousands of people, together with myriads of animal and plant species. Generations came and went and at some point the fleet encountered an exoplanet that looked almost exactly like Earth. After the necessary scientific tests to see if the planet was habitable the first humans set foot on Rautah.
Rautah has almost the same dimensions as Earth and orbits a star comparable to the sun. There are continents and oceans, just like we know them here. My work on it is quite limited, in fact the only thing I have is a general equirectangular map showing the sizes and positions of the continents:
Here's an adaptation of the same map, done with NASA's G.Projector (Winkel Tripel overlaid with Earth's continents):
And this is a series of hemispheres (azimuthal equal-area projection, East - West - North - South):
I am hoping to create a series of atlas/topographic-style maps (or one huge map) keeping up with the discoveries of the future space travellers exploring the planet. In time, they will build cities to live in and some sort of communication system (probably more advanced than roads, railways and airports). They might create administrative/political divisions, protected areas, etc.
Starting from what I have now I'd like to set up a topography of the landmasses, and see how the ocean currents flow. I think that is needed to determine a rough layout of the climate zones.
But first a few questions:
1. Any comments on the size, shape and position of the continents? What about the coastlines? I've managed to fit all the land in one supersized pan-Rautah continent (like Pangaea on Earth), so that the current shapes can be attributed to plate tectonics. Looking at the southern hemisphere however, I'm not sure about the southern part of Ghaon jutting out straight towards the South Pole. And the northern tip of Eneaga looks a bit too pointy too (see northern hemisphere map).
2. What would be a good way to add a (random?) plausible topography? The idea is to make a general map with land coloured according to height (like <100m - <200m - <500m - <1000m - <2000m - <5000m - >5000m).
3. Until now I used Inkscape because I like working with scalable vectors. My original map measures 10000 x 5000px (3.65 MB). Adding more information will make it too big to handle. I would like to have a general map where I could zoom in to areas with more detail. I read about Viewing Dale in this forum. Would that be a good choice to use for this project? Does it work with layers too? (So that I could use the same map to show natural features and political divisions by switching on/off the appropriate layers.)
4. Any ideas how I could calculate each continent's area?
This has already become a very long first post, so I'll leave it at that for the moment. Thanks for having read this far!