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  1. #1

    Post My Very First Attempt

    This is my first attempt at a map of one of my world's continents. I made it with Adobe Photoshop Elements. This is a map of Gedrin. Red dots are settlements, black dots are ruins, and purple dots are special, magical areas. The lighter green are forests, and the darker are swamps. The orange is a corrupted forest.

    Any and all criticism is welcome, as are suggestions on how to make this map better.
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  2. #2
    Guild Journeyer philipstephen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Vancouver, BC, Canada


    The colours are good, and the cloudy textures are a nice touch.

    I use Photoshop Elements myself and it has taken a bit of time for me to grasp what is possible with that software.

    I think you could have lots of good gameplay with a map like this.

    My only immediate critique is about the rivers. They interconnect like a web - joining up and splitting off in a way they would not do with real-world physics.

    You do not have to change them to enjoy them in a game, but you might want to if real world physics is important to you.

    Rivers start as streams in high elevations like mountains. Streams take the path of least resistance, heading downhill. They join together to make larger rivers which wind their way to the Ocean - occasionally forming Lakes in areas that they pool, before pouring out again at the lowest elevation point.

    When a river joins another river, it does not usually split up again (except sometimes in deltas, right near the ocean.)

    Someone else wrote a great description of what a river system looks like - comparing it to a tree with branches that are thick near the trunk, and thin out near the tips.

    If you picture the trunk as emerging from the sea and the branches pointing towards the high elevation mountains - you will have a good image of what rivers look like. On a fantasy map, it does not need to have too many branches though... just enough to get the idea.

    Good luck and have fun with your map!


  3. #3
    Guild Adept Alfar's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2009


    Not bad for a first shot. I think your way of representing forests is interesting, gives a different style than what we're used to seeing here.

    I'm afraid that pretty much all your rivers are acting oddly. I'd suggest looking over the river threads:

    The basic rules are that rivers start as thin streams; always flow downhill; join up as they go; and very rarely split. Lakes have one or more input streams, and only one output stream.

    Other than that, you may want to make the clouds effect more subtle. For the sea, you can try making it darker the deeper the water (ie. the farther away from shore.)

    The coastline is rather straight in places, where I'd expect someting a bit more jagged. Especially at the top where you have a long stretch of clean horisontal coast.

    And what's with the ridge around the whole continent? For a moment I thought it was a road, but it's not really connecting the cities.

    I don't know anything about Photoshop Elements, so not sure how to fix the things I mentioned above. If you have your different elements on different layers (and you should), you may be able to use filters to muck up the coast line, I think. Also, noise could be your friend, and depending on the style you're going for, the bump map filter.

    Edit: Heh... ninja'ed. I type too slowly. What he said.
    Last edited by Alfar; 09-17-2009 at 04:01 AM.

  4. #4


    hey, nice first try.
    But honestly you have a lot of room to improve the image.
    I agree with the river suggestions, I find looking at first draft confusing;
    Enormous canals are possible, especially in a fantasy realm, but not realistic in a mountain/hill area.
    I would start with making clear mountain ranges, and foothill areas.
    (if anything is going to have a shaded side it will be a mountain.)
    The larger the valley, the more water the valley will funnel or collect.
    Also, keep in mind that plateau elevations can make for different levels on the continent,
    and therefore, a variety of waterfall options.
    Take a look at a map of YOHO National park, Takkakaw falls start with a mountain top glacier...
    the satellite view is best but look that the terrain view:

    The tree branch analogy is a great one, but keep in mind most deciduous trees don't normally have to grow around rocks, in the sky.
    The Assiniboine River goes around Riding Mountain National Park on its way Southeast, and then turns North to lake Winnipeg

    you might enjoy these maps, and/or they may be inspirational:
    This map in particular shows a gradual change from high mountains to foothills to prairie.

    On other aspects of your map.
    I didn't mistake your coastline border as a road,but I did feel it was contradictory from your green areas of realistic forest.
    coastlines can have a variety of aspects, the ocean for example can wear away at the land and break down the rocks into sand
    and leave more sand and you end up with beaches, and in other areas the rocks are younger and it is very rocky, even with cliffs.
    It is possible to have a coastline that is the same all the way around, but that's not very likely or realistic.

    Here is an odd river delta that opens into a lake:

    There are a variety of coastal features on just this one island:

    This sample image has a template at the bottom that suggests a variety of colors for different climates and terrains.

    "These desert climates are found in low-latitude deserts approximately between 18° to 28° in both hemispheres.
    these latitude belts are centered on the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, which lie just north and south of the equator."
    Climatology scientist suggest that deserts will form in these specific latitudes,
    (you might want to add reference latitudes, on the oceans),
    but these two (north and south) latitude bands are directly related to the Axial Tilt of the planet.
    The sun is right overhead in shining full heat straight down at 23.5° latitude at the middle of summer.
    If your world has a differnet tilt that may be elsewhere, but a 90° tilt will make the equator a frozen wasteland.
    This is a partial quote:
    Axial Heat
    What would have happened if Earth had an extreme spin-axis tilt relative to the Sun? Very strange -- and very bad -- things. Twice during each orbit, it would have been side-on to the Sun just as it now is -- but at other points during each year, either the North or South Poles would have pointed straight toward the Sun.
    It's been known for a long time that this would do utterly grotesque things to its climate. In 1997, climatologist James Kasting carried out detailed computer analyses and discovered just how bad it could get.
    If Earth were tilted 85 degrees today, each of its hemispheres would be permanently shrouded in night for six months at a time -- but the other pole would undergo a six-month-long day, during most of which the Sun would be blazing down on it from as high an angle as it blazes down on our own tropics for the few hours around noon each day.
    The natural result would be that the temperature at that pole would climb to very high levels. The temperature at the North Pole might climb as high as 50 deg C (over 120 deg Fahrenheit). And because the South Pole is located in the middle of Antarctica, away from the temperature-moderating effects of the ocean, its temperature could climb as high as 80 deg C (176 deg F).
    If Earth's continents were all lumped together into a single big continent (as may very well be the case on many other Earth-type worlds), and that continent were centered around one of the poles, its temperatures inland would peak at even more savage levels -- possibly approaching the boiling point of water. And the only known living things that can endure temperatures over about 60 deg C are some kinds of bacteria.
    The strangest thing of all would be the fate of Earth's equatorial region. Instead of being the steaming tropics that we know, it would be below freezing -- and covered in ice -- all year round."

    You don't have to have an obvious reason for ruins, but it's nice to have a hint.
    This area is known to have the largest concentration of old castles,
    and it likely has something to do with the mountains.

    This is a city next to a gigantic wall of mountains, and each spring millions of tons of snow melts off.

    If I'm not mistaken the Tunisia Desert was where the shot Tatooine, for Star Wars IV.

    And HOTH supposedly in this area of Norway.

    Last resources I just found now:
    Shaded Relief - Interactive World Map
    Last edited by Gabe69velasquez; 06-11-2014 at 02:37 PM.

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