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Thread: Unconventional Map Orientation?

  1. #1
    Guild Apprentice
    Join Date
    Nov 2009

    Post Unconventional Map Orientation?

    Hey Guys,

    I'm working on a map using isometric mountains, forests, etc.

    There is a mountain range running along the southern border of the region I'm working on, which means that the Iso mountains will take up extra space on my map. I would like to use that space for more rivers, structures, and population centers.

    Would it be completely taboo to have South be towards the top of my map so that I will be able to have a better view of the region I'm working on?

    Or, perhaps, since I'm using Iso mountains, it would look best to have South be to the right or left.

    What I'm worried about is whether or not this would be too disconcerting for the map reader. For instance, the mountains would be pointing down if the map was held with north "up".

    I'd love to have some input from the more experienced guys.


  2. #2

    Post Hmmm

    While I'll use ISO symbols in my maps sometimes, I only do so when issues of things hidden behind the mountains does not apply. If this is an issue, I never use ISO, rather sticking with top down only. If you have to do something odd so your map readers can understand, then don't do it. Make it obvious using the right style. You never want to confuse your reader... my 2 cents.

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  3. #3
    Software Dev/Rep Guild Sponsor waldronate's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    The High Desert


    Different cultures put different direction as "up". If there's a large waste to the north of your culture and lots of nice areas to the south then it's perfectly reasonable to have south as "up". Or East might work better if your culture is relatively equatorial and oriented toward sunrise. Perhaps convention requires that all maps have a fixed location as top center (or at least up) on all maps.

    After determining the correct world-based orientation for the top edge of the drawing surface then it's just a matter of making the artwork align with it. Highly-directional artwork such as isometric mountains are an artifact of the cartographer for the enjoyment of the user. Folks attempting to use such things for more than concepts and general overview will understand that things look odd when they turn it a different way in eaxactly the same manner that a painting of a horse looks odd when turned upside down.

  4. #4


    There are many historical maps that have North pointing to the right side of the page instead of to the top. That convention would put your mountains on the left of the page and give you ample space for rivers and population centers.

    If you want to go with south on top, it is not unprecedented...

    For our Austrailian friends:

  5. #5
    Guild Journeyer Vorhees's Avatar
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    Nov 2009
    Adelaide, Australia


    Quote Originally Posted by Map Vandal View Post

    For our Austrailian friends:
    LMAO - were on top off the World

  6. #6
    Administrator Redrobes's Avatar
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    Dec 2007
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    There was a big road map guide of the UK printed where it was all upside down too cos when you are on the road traveling south you can orientate the map along the direction the car is going and things on the left on map are out of left window instead of having to swap it over in your mind. So when your co-driver navigator is there looking at the map and says take next left they really meant take next Easterly junction exit but if they are a bit slow then they probably would mean take next Westerly exit.

    Of course with GPS that all went into the shredder and there are no more navigator rows from taking the wrong exit, you now just have to wait until a crane comes to pull out the articulated lorry in front of you from the low arch bridge cos he was using his GPS instead of a map.

  7. #7
    Professional Artist Facebook Connected Coyotemax's Avatar
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    Jul 2009


    the GPS thing reminds me of something we ran into while driving in Mexico- the gps maps did actually have most of the small town streets in it as well, which was nice - but it did NOT take into account the hand-painted One Way arrows on the street signs There were a few adrenaline filled moments until we started noticing those, and I'm pretty sure the gps voice took on a frustrated tone as we apparently continually ignored it's instructions to turn left on a one way street going right

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    "...sometimes the most efficient way to make something look drawn by hand is to simply draw it by hand..."

  8. #8

  9. #9
    Community Leader Facebook Connected Ascension's Avatar
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    Jun 2008
    St. Charles, Missouri, United States


    That's be funny to hear the gps voice going "Turn left ahead dummy, come on, what are you doing?"
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