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:http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=5016)
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.
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'.