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Thread: HUGE map project, seeking advice

  1. #1

    Default HUGE map project, seeking advice

    Howdy all!

    I'm creating a world for a browser based game. The project is pretty much completely over my head, and I'm trying to break it down into elements i can tackle, one at a time. I'm a complete newbie in world creation, and have pretty much no artistic talents. I have taken some college geology, so I have a basic understanding of how terrain forms and smooths.

    What I need:
    -Realistic looking world map (this is really the only part that must be realistic)
    -Continent, country, and region views (would be best if that could simply be the same map as above, but in higher detail)
    -Town/location views - these will be individual maps loaded when a person goes to a given town, dungeon, or some other area. I may generate these with code rather than hand create each one, but either way they will be separate from the main map, and probably in a more cartoon style.

    What I have:
    -the Adobe CS4 programs (yes, these are legitimate registered copies).
    -Bamboo pen and touch (by coincidence).
    -Mac and PC platforms, I'm willing to work from either one.
    -A few coins I'm willing to toss towards a program if there's a better option than what I have.

    What I'm looking for is a recommendations for someone with no artistic talent (I mean NO talent, lol), but time and willingness to learn. I'm willing to try free or paid programs (though free is always preferable), and I'm fine with using more than one for different parts.
    Suggestions for software?
    Suggestions for tutorials or other things to read?

  2. #2


    Take a look at the forums here, there is a section devoted to tutorials and software. I'm sure you will find plenty of info to get started!
    Adam Schmidt
    Illustration and Cartography

  3. #3
    Guild Member ExMachina's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    White Post, VA


    With Adobe Photoshop CS4 and the tutorials on this site you can create pretty much anything, so I really wouldn't worry about software (most tutorials here are for Photoshop as well).

    The best thing you can do is go to the Tutorials/How-To section of the forums and browse, browse, browse; read anything and everything that has a title that grabs you. There are plenty of tutorials covering a whole range of map styles (from a real-world atlas to an antique map) that will cover pretty much all the basics. There are also plenty of "mini tutorials" that will not be as all encompassing but important none the less, synthesizing all these resources together is the key to developing beautiful and unique maps.

    For example, I stumbled upon this site one day and spent hours reading through tutorial after tutorial gaining inspiration and knowledge and then just took the plunge and started making a map. Don't be daunted by what you see others have accomplished, when it comes down to the bare bones of it almost everyone started their map with difference clouds and a threshold adjustment layer.

    I would also recommend that you don't dive right into your HUGE project, begin with a smaller map to get your feet wet and start learning the tools of the trade. Also, open up a thread in the Regional/World Mapping section when you have a work in progress and get criticism from fellow members.

    Hope all that helps! I'm eager to see what you come up with.

  4. #4
    Guild Adept Facebook Connected Daelin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2009


    Well, if want you want is basically several maps of both world, regions and cities, you'll probably have to look into a few tutorials. But for world and regions maps, I'd recommend Tear's "Saderan" tutorial. It's really easy to follow and is capable of producing some ultra sweet-looking realistic maps, if you practice a bit.
    For city maps, it also depends on whether you want realistic or a hand-drawn look. Browse around a bit, I bet there are a handful useful tutorials on how to do a city.

  5. #5


    So it sounds like you guys are saying that even though I don't have a lot of artsy skill, photoshop is still going to be my best bet then?

    I'll trust you guys then, he he. Thanks for the advice.

  6. #6
    Guild Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    San Diego, CA


    Good luck with your project. I would be greatly interested in following your work as you acheive milestones. I am also working on a huge project for a D&D campaign of mine and I absolutely have NO talent! I know in advance that I am not going to create an uber cool final map but I am ok with it cause it will be my creation (with a big help from PS 7 and CC3). This site is such a gemstone of a find too! It has already helped me develop new skills.

  7. #7


    You definitely do not need to be an artist to draw many styles of map, including a sattelite style. If you want to draw a map (like Djspeck) which has a lot of beautifully crafted handmade elements (usually these maps are perspective view maps), then yes, you'll need artsy skills. Other than that I can't really add to the good advice you've already been given. Best of luck!

    when it comes down to the bare bones of it almost everyone started their map with difference clouds and a threshold adjustment layer.
    Ah so true!!!

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