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Thread: Valcia - 'Hand Painted' Regional Relief on Aged, Cracked Sandstone

  1. #1
    Guild Apprentice Auth's Avatar
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    Apr 2009
    WA State - USA

    Map Valcia - 'Hand Painted' Regional Relief on Aged, Cracked Sandstone


    First of all, I want to say a huge 'thank you' to the Cartographers' Guild and especially those who gave me critique and pointers along the way for this project. You've helped turn a good map into a great map, and I am indebted to you all. (The original WIP/Critique thread can be found here:

    Map Background:

    This is the map of Valcia, the land in an upcoming novel series I've been working off/on for the past 5 or so years. I tend to be a very visual person, and wanted to make a detailed visual representation of the land in the novels to make it easier to gauge distances, travel times, etc. My sharing of this map wasn't so much a ploy to garner interest in the novels (it is still a long, long ways off from being anywhere close to complete), but rather to gain insights as to how I could make the map itself better. I had worked on the map on my own and liked how it looked from a graphic design standpoint (I'm a graphic design hobbyist), but then I found the Cartographers' Guild and thought I'd get some input from those who know map-making best, especially since this was my first cartographic project (wish I would have found this place before I started though, haha).

    At any rate, it quickly became apparent that my 'finished' map still needed some work. By following the graciously provided tips and pointers given to me, the map of Valcia has turned from a decent, almost 'video game-esque' map into something truly stunning and perfectly at home in an ancient fantasy setting.

    Map Details:

    The original version took me 15 days to create in Illustrator and Photoshop, working everyday anywhere from 4-10 hours/day. The entire map was originally sketched out with pencil & paper and scanned onto my PC some time ago, but it wasn't until recently that I decided to go all out with it.

    I had tried to make a decent depiction of Valcia before by purchasing and using Fractal Mapper 8.0, but was displeased with the results (most likely due to my own inexperience with the program itself). I since decided that if I wanted this done right, I wasn't going to be able to take any shortcuts and needed to do it myself - by 'hand'.

    I started by tracing over the sketch in Illustrator and 'hand-drew' (pencil tool & brush effects) all the lines, outlines, and details - rivers, lakes coastlines, islands, forest, and yes - even the mountains (very tedious). Once I completed all the outlines in Illustrator, I ported the data over to Photoshop to fill in the color and visual effects, and added in all the labels.

    Every detail in the map is unique - meaning that every river, forest, lake, mountain, etc was individually drawn in and detailed. Also, every element in the map is original content created specifically for the map (IE no generic elements were used, such as symbols, trees, towns, etc) except for the fonts, of course.

    It then took another few days of tinkering with it to get it where it is now, once again thanks to the pointers I received from this community. I added in a gritty sepia overlay to make it feel more aged, changed all the fonts to more 'hand-written' styles, added a crack for realism, and rendered some lighting effects which produced the result attached below.

    Feel free to use this map for whatever personal uses you like. If the novels don't take off, at least the map will get some use this way, haha. And if the novels do get published, I guess you all can say 'I knew him when'.


    - Auth
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  2. #2
    Professional Artist Turgenev's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Toronto, Canada


    That is a work of beauty! What a lovely map. Wow! That definitely deserves some rep!

    Paratime Design Cartography

    "Do infants have as much fun in infancy as adults do in adultery?" - Groucho Marx

  3. #3
    Guild Apprentice shpena's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2009


    Very sexy map! Love the soft look to it. Gonna have to rep this one!
    "Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils."
    - Louis-Hector Berlioz

    All my work is released under the Creative Commons 3 license. Feel free to use and copy, but please give credit where it's due

  4. #4


    Absolutely stunning! Congratulations, and thank you for sharing.

  5. #5


    Very nicely done, when I read how you did it I expected it to look more illustratorish, but it's got a very nice natural feel to it.


  6. #6
    Guild Adept Naeddyr's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008


    As repeated, it is a very nice map. Good luck with writing your novel!

  7. #7


    That's one of the better maps I have seen in some time. Have you ever heard of Painter XI? It simulates natural media like watercolors, etc... plus heavy relies on using a Wacom Tablet to do that with... consider it, I think it is more you style then JUST Photoshop and Illustrator.

    Wow, again thats a great map. I made it my Desktop Wallpaper to help inspire me... thanks

  8. #8
    Community Leader Facebook Connected Steel General's Avatar
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    Jun 2008
    Ft. Wayne, IN


    My Finished Maps | My Challenge Maps | Ghoraja Juun, my largely stagnated campaign setting.

    Unless otherwise stated by me in the post, all work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

  9. #9
    Guild Artisan Facebook Connected
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Atlanta, Georgia, United States


    The map is beautiful, and the publisher won't even have to hire an artist to do a map for you!

    Seriously, if you do get published, put in a good word for me, eh?
    I think, therefore I am a nerd.
    Cogito, ergo sum nerdem.

    Check out my blog: "The Undiscovered Author"
    It's the story of a writer... follow me in my simple quest to get published, and share your own writing stories, adventures and writerly tips.

    Pimping my worldmap here. Still WIP... long way to go, but I'm pretty proud of what I've done so far...

  10. #10
    Guild Journeyer woekan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    The Netherlands


    nice map! repped

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