Heyo, it's been about a week+ since I signed up here on the forums. Since then I've been doing a ton of research, a lot of experimentation, and a lot of pipeline building to create this map. And being my first map, I am happy with it.
If I had only one thing to say about the cartography and the processes behind creating maps (which I don't!), I must say that after doing it, my respect for everyone in this field has shot up by a large exponential factor. This stuff is hard. But I must say, it is also very rewarding. I busted out every chop I know that was relevant to an illustration like this, and more.
To give a brief summary of this map, this took me around six days to complete. I used Photoshop CS4, and my Wacom tablet to paint this. Most of my research came from the forums, local cartography archives (aka town hall), people in the field, and a lot of peer review with my fellow friends and classmates here in Burlington, VT. I wanted a direction I felt was functional as well as aesthetically pleasing. Readability was a big concern of mine, and this became a halting point when applying typography since I refused to relinquish my color pallet. Thanks to a constant critique process, I was able fix a lot of my issues and to finally get a result I was happy with. Also, this map is based on a DnD campaign I am running for my friends. My naming conventions are lacking any level of caring for fantasy names in general (and I am horrible at thinking of names to begin with), so I simply wrote down the first thing that came to mind when creating this land. Have fun picking out my jokes!
I can go on for hours... and I will! I am writing a tutorial for how I made this map. But for the sake of brevity, I will cut this post here and attach the link to the tutorial later. Taking the time to sit back and record a process is a great form of reflection, and is something I feel all designers and artists should try out - it is very beneficial to improving one's work flow, I believe. And finally, I want to thank CG for being a great inspiration. This process was so fun, I can't wait to start up another (bigger) project!