**And then the trees came**
Make a blobby little brush. That's what I did. What is important to take from this brush is that you want a lot of variation for quickly laying down crazy shapes. Why? This will make our forests!
Note that the brush has no opacity or fill settings applied - just a simple angle jitter. On top of that, looking at the below image, you'll notice I just used a simple mossy green color to map out the forests. When placing paint down in tight spots, feel free to use the free-lasso and polygonal-lasso tools to prevent overflow into hard-to-fix spots, and remember to keep pushing and pulling using the eraser and brush tools together with this tree brush.
Now to make it blend into the map! Set your forest layer to overlay, and apply the following outer and inner glow settings to bring out the silhouette.
You'll notice that it may have difficulty blending into certain spots. This is not a problem. In order to remedy this, what I did was ctrl-click the forest layer, create a new layer below this forest overlay, and paint in detail with the dirty-brush from before to make it pop more. Play around with it, see what works for you.
Additionally, you'll notice that my swamps are marked in a blue color. I achieved this using the forest brush and some toned down layer effects. I set the layer to Linear Light to achieve the illumination I wanted.
** MOUNTAINS! YES!!! **
Ah boy. The mountains. This part was a fun experiment, but a long one. I tried everything I knew in attempt to make something that didn't suck, but I was just drawing a blank. But then I discovered this:
Yep. A simple bevel and emboss with a gritty texture applied. Once I got that down, I just made another small grit brush with pen-pressure sensitive opacity. It's all down to push-and-pull with the brush and eraser again. Simple.
** Final Notes **
Well, I could go over the rest in obscene detail but I feel the rest is mostly just typology and color balancing. I believe you all understand how to handle composting tools . I notice on a lot of maps not designed for illustration (such as a typographical map), consistency comes before readability. Because I was going for more of an artistic piece, composition, color, and typology came before some of the core principles in cartography. With that said, here's my final advice on anyone working on a map for illustration:
-Use a good and clean font. If possible, do not use any drop shadows or strokes. These are only necessary if the detail in the illustration is conflicting with the text.
-When making legend elements, they don't necessarily have to be symbolic, but merely have a good, readable shape that the reader can easily associate to what is defined in the legend.
-Standardize your colors and sizes based upon your different legend elements.
-Have fun while doing it!
Questions, comments, critiques, suggestions, and general feedback is welcome, and I hope you found this tutorial helpful!