Mike Schley Dungeon SmallTo celebrate the release of The Dungeons of Schley, we’ve devised a competition. Create a small underground lair – a bandit hide out, a cave taken over by a dragon, a mine used as a cultist HQ. The whole area the map covers including map embelishments should be no more than about 100 m / 300 ft square. The best will win an unlimited patron license to all our cartography software forever; two runners up will receive vouchers.

  1. It can be in any style, past, modern or future.
  2. You have to create it with CC3, and any other ProFantasy map-making software you wish to use – annuals, symbols sets, whatever you like,
  3. It can include third-party art as symbols or fill styles long as that art is available for commercial use by anyone.
  4. You grant us permission to post the map online, though you retain all other rights.
  5. Only one entry per person
  6. The main prize is an unlimited patron license, and the two runners up will receive $100 vouchers.
  7. To submit, post your entry on this forum thread.
  8. Competition closes on 14th May 2014.

Island of Ruins Example Map
Following our map-making competition, we asked the winner Christian, whether he would allow us to transform his beautiful island map into a new style for the Annual. He happily obliged us, and the April issue is the result of that. Titled “Volcanic Islands” in honour of the competition, the style of course allows to draw all kinds of islands or regions and especially suited for small to mid-sized areas. Check out the example map on the right (click for an enlarged version).

The April Annual is now available from the registration page for current subscribers. If you haven’t subscribed yet, you’ll find more information on the Annual 2014 product page.


We’ve asked Christian, the winner of our map-making competition, to share a few words on his map and the competition and he was so kind to oblige. Here’s what he has to say.

* * * * *

A few weeks ago I was searching online for fantasy map-making contests. I wanted an assigned theme and a real deadline—something that would challenge my skills and help me generate another piece of work I could be proud of. That’s when I came across ProFantasy.com. I’d been interested in their software before, but hadn’t had a chance to use it. Now I had a chance to win it in a competition.

Make an island, they said, about three miles across. Something like a medieval treasure map. The contest had been open for months, but was closing in just a few days. I took a look at the submissions that had been sent in thus far, decided I had a shot at winning, and threw myself into it.

I worked feverishly, right up to the deadline, and actually ran out of time to put absolutely everything I wanted into the map. That’s why there’s no border around it, and no compass rose… But what I did manage to produce followed my vision. As a novelist and dungeon master, I knew I could create some storytelling elements that would hook into the drawing. Some secrets and clues that would only be available to those who looked closely, and a narrative that would marry the image to the text. I had an aesthetic that I’d been developing for maps for my novels, inspired by some of the top fantasy cartographers online. I’m passionate about making beautiful illustrations, and I’m excited to be learning new techniques every day.

Winning Map* * * * *

As for the hands-on process itself, virtually all of this map was hand-drawn in ProCreate on an iPad 3 using an Adonit Touch stylus. There are a few “pattern brushes” in that app which help with things like the the jungle trees and the ocean waves, but everything else was the result of pushing pixels manually. The shape of the island and mountains isn’t based on anything other than doodling with the idea of a vaguely volcanic tropical island in mind.

The cloister overhead plan was laid out in Adobe Illustrator. It’s far larger, sharper, and more detailed in the original file, with many upper floors and basement dungeon levels. The “3D” isometric extrusion of the cloister is actually just faux-3D, a technique I use in Illustrator where I take the overhead plan and rotate, squash, duplicate and move by a certain amount, and then blend. I took a screen shot of that and traced over it in ProCreate.

The last step was to bring it all into Adobe Photoshop. I had created a “parchment background” from some rendered clouds and a bunch of filters, so I laid out the various pieces on that background and added the text elements. Then I did save-for-web and picked settings that looked good but kept the resulting file under 2 MB.

The cloister itself is about 300 feet on one axis, making the hypotenuse around 500 feet. Since you can line up 30 of the little cloister images end to end and have them stretch from one side of the island to the other, the island winds up being about 3 miles across.

As we wanted to be as impartial as possible, we’ve asked fantasy cartographer Mike Schley to be the judge for our January competition. He took his job very seriously and came back to us with the following results:

First, I would like to thank Profantasy for inviting me to serve as judge for this mapping challenge. When approached by Simon to decide the results of this competition I jumped at the chance. Then, upon seeing the work, I realized how difficult the task would be. Assessing each entry in a logical manner and narrowing the field to two pieces would require making tough choices on the narrowest of margins.

My methodology for examining the submissions came directly from my own cartographic practice and relied on the three criteria by which I judge my own work. These measures include aesthetic appeal/creativity, visual readability, and usefulness of the information provided. Given the straightforward parameters set down for the competition, “create a map of an island, less than three miles wide” scoring the entries by these criteria made for a process that, though difficult, was fairly straightforward and analytical.

So without further delay, the winner is… entry #17 Cloister Island, followed closely by the runner up, entry #15 Smugglers’ Island.

Of all the submissions, I felt that the Cloister Island map functioned best as both a visual information system and an inspiring illustration of its setting. Even though the cartographer left off a compass rose and scale bar, the overall work felt the most coherent and provided numerous levels of information. Like an onion, the island and story revealed themselves in layers, giving the reader an opportunity to explore deeper and deeper into an immersive world. On top of this, I’m a sucker for hand drawn isometric maps.

Choosing a runner up was probably the hardest part of the job since there were a number of maps that I felt had quite a lot going for them. I selected Smugglers’ Island mainly because it’s design and presentation of information felt more unified than the other entries. The visual details work well together and the cartographer’s choice of font, embellishments, and patterning add up to a striking, if somewhat cluttered, image.

Finally, I would like to thank everyone that contributed work to the competition and encourage them to keep at it. Designing worlds is something dear to my heart and it was a joy to see so many thoughtful approaches to the assignment.

Sincerely,
Mike Schley

17_CloisterIsland

So the winner of the competition and the new holder a full ProFantasy Patron License is xianpryde. Congratulations!

The runner-up, dfahr, receives a ProFantasy store voucher worth $100. Also congratulations.

And thanks to everybody for their submissions. Your work was all wonderful!

15_SmugglersIsland

These are the entries for the January competition. Scroll down below the gallery for the detail images.

#1 Cinnamon Island
01_CinnamonIsland

#2 Drakken Isle
02_DrakkenIsle

#3 Skull Island
03_SkullIsland

#4 Isle of Breva
04_IsleOfBreva

#5 Fort of the Frost Duke
05_FortOfTheFrostDuke

#6 Hobb Island
06_HobbIsland

#7 Gulguthee Island
07_GulgutheeIsland

#8 Sci-Fi Island
08_SciFIIsland

#9 The Island of Belmore
09_IslandOfBelmore

#10 Harper Island
10_HarperIsland

#11 Chan Turix
11_ChanTurix

#12 Fulger Island
12_FulgerIsle

#13 Griffendon
13_Griffendon

#14 Hand
14_Hand

#15 Smugglers’ Island
15_SmugglersIsland

#16 Last Hope’s Landing
16_LastHopesLanding

#17 Cloister Island
17_CloisterIsland

#18 The Islands of Sorrenport
18_IslandsOfSorrenport

#19 Timecorps: Project Deadalus
19_TimecorpsDaedalus

#20 Hujan Island
20_HujanIsland

#21 The Isle of Quelivos
21_Quelivos

Create a map of an island, less than three miles wide. The prize? The best will win an unlimited patron license to all our cartography software forever.Example Treasure Map

  1. It doesn’t have to feature treasure, and it can be in any style, past, modern or future.
  2. You don’t have to create it with CC3 but it must be originally created for this competition and not posted elsewhere.
  3. You grant us permission to post the map, though you retain all other rights
  4. Only one entry per person
  5. If there are more than three entries, and the winner is not an amateur, then there will be an additional prize (a voucher worth $100) to the best amateur.
  6. To submit, post your entry on this forum thread, or email us a file, no more than 2MB.
  7. Competition closes on 1st March 2014.

Good luck, cartographers!