Map (Click to enlarge)
Created in: Photoshop
This map of Manthria is a shining example of stylization and artistic talent rolled into one fantastic piece of cartography. The grayscale coloring gives the map a very otherworldly feel and the quality of the hand-drawn and hand-placed map symbology stands out as a complete piece of artwork. Be sure to check out the rest of this artists work!
The map shows a small piece of the United Kingdom of Santharia, namely the province of Manthria (here shown without the borderlines). It is home of the seafaring tribe of the Avennorian men, harbouring elves in the Auturian Woods and dwarves at the Mithral Mountains to the east. The map was drawn for the Santharian Dream, the project I've started back in 1998 and has developed (and hopefully improved a good deal) every since. If you want to be part of a cooperative world building project of the grand scale, following the traces of Tolkien, feel free to check it out at www.santharia.com.
The map was drawn with a mouse in grayscale with Adobe Photoshop 7 with the intention to go into a lot more detail than in the previous Santharian maps, where I basically only defined what should be where to have a rough overview. I'm somewhat red/green colourblind and couldn't do any colour stuff properly, so and I thought a grayscale map should do the job nicely anyway, giving it some sort of antique touch.
As my Santharian duties as webmaster, Forum admin, mentor, developer and what not didn't allow me a lot of time to spare for long term projects, this one literally took months to get it finished. Aside from the technical aspects this is a map that had to reflect lots of things that had already been developed in detail on the site, which proved to turn out as the hardest part. There were for example the multiple waterfall steps described in the Marcogg entry (the Manthrian capital), and an artist had drawn the precise outlines of the Mithral Mountains as seen from the small fishing village of Nepris (see example here). If you compare picture and map you will see that it also fits together. Well, these are just a few examples, but you'll get the idea that it is much more difficult to draw something after detailed development than prior to it.
I tried to put as much of my already acquired knowledge of Photoshop into this one - drawing realistic looking mountains, adding in trees, houses and structures with shadows, I also made roads and bridges so that the main connections between towns became evident. Some basic objects are now based on 3d generated stuff, like various houses. These were first rather simple 3d objects initially done for a map editor, but were repainted in more detail to fit to the rest of the maps's design. Also I used textures for the very first time to improve the look of the empty spaces between placed objects, lending the landscape character and meaning. Effort was also put into the coastlines to make them much more interesting with a bunch of isles added in and shallow water of varying depth around. Important was also to get the transitions right so that mountains and uneven spots flow with the rest of the map - in general I rarely just put an object somewhere and leave it there as is, but try to embed it in the surroundings. Personally I don't like generic maps, just as I don't like genric world building - everything in an epic fantasy setting should have history, individuality and depth, and I hope this shows at the map I make.
Well, so much about that. Tutorials on how I started with map making can be found on santharia.com, so have a look around there in the Workshop section if you're interested. Though I haven't made one yet for such a detailed map, this should follow sooner or latter. - At any rate: Happy map making to everyone!
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