This is the second part in my overland mapping tutorial. If you want to read the first part before continuing you can find it here. As usual this is my view of mapping and you might agree to it all or just parts of it. The important thing to remember is that this is one view of mapping, and not the only one.
Ok back to the map. We have some landmass, islands and seas so what’s next. At this stage I always try to place mountains and hills. If you desire you can try to work out where you would have tectonic plates and from that information decide where to put the mountains. I never do that, I’m more going for the “if it looks good it looks correct” path here.
First of all I often try to use my mountains to divide the landmass into different areas. It is an easy way of making natural borders in the map that you later can use when it is time to decide where to put the borders between different countries.
Secondly I try to make my mountain chains curved. If you make them straight the map will, in my opinion, look a bit stiff, which will give you a less good looking end result. When I say curved I don’t mean that they should look like circles. Curved mountain chains will give more life to the map, it will get more fun to look at.
Also try to break up the mountain chains at some points. It will give you some interesting valleys and passes that can trigger the beholders imagination in a good way. Is there really a more interesting place for a campaign then a mountain valley full of orcs or strange creatures, maybe a deserted watch tower or an old haunted burial ground.
Around the mountains I place some hills to make the transition from mountain to field look more natural. A good idea might also be to put some hills between two mountain areas that are quite close to each other. It will connect them in a nice way.
When you’re done with your mountains it is time to start on the rivers. The basics when it comes to rivers are that they flow from high ground downwards, they don’t split downwards, but they can have more than one starting point. Usually they also try to get to the sea the shortest downhill way. If you try to follow those two rules the rivers will look more naturally.
Another thing to think of is that the straighter the river is the faster the flow of the river will be. Most rivers tend to be straighter and faster in the beginning and closer to the sea they usually will slow down, which means more curves. When I put rivers in my maps I tend to do them quite curvy. It will usually look better, straight rivers just don’t get the right feeling, at least that’s my opinion.
Originally posted on mappingworlds.wordpress.com
This time I thought it was time to make a tutorial on how you can make a convincing overland map. This will be more of an overview tutorial on how I think and plan when I make a map, so it won’t be very technical. This means that you can use this tutorial regardless what program you use when you map, even though I in the tutorial will use a map made in CC3 as a reference and example.
The first thing to take into account when you start an overland map is the landmass. How much of the map will be water and how much will be actual land? This is probably the most important step in your map because it will set the boundaries for what the end result will be. So already here I’m having a quite clear view of where I want to go with the map, shall the map be land based, island based or something in between.
Below you see my map “Sagorike”, that I’m using as an example in this tutorial, with only the landmass viewable. I’ve also written some things on the map that you can have in mind while drawing the coastline.
A good thing to do before starting on your landmass is to look at the real world (Google earth is great for this). If you want a lot of fjords, have a look at Norway, Island based, look at area outside Stockholm for example, and so on. It is always good to find inspiration in the real world. It will make your map look more believable, and believable maps tend to look good.
However when I make maps of worlds the most important thing for me is that they look good and in some part convincing. It doesn’t matter if the world doesn’t work geologically or physically, as long as it looks convincing. To make it look convincing you have to get the things right that the majority of people can spot, like rivers, they will NEVER split downwards, lakes, there is always only ONE outflow, or deserts, make sure that you place them in a way that it looks probable that no rain will get there, and so on. If those small details are correct it is more likely that the viewer will believe in the whole map, regardless if everything in it is possible according to our physical laws or not.
That is all for now, in the next post we will start by placing the mountains in the map.
(Originally posted on mappingworlds.wordpress.com)
[Editor's note: Forum member Mateus Buffone posts about his excellent Panorica map]
Some days ago Simon Rogers asked me if he could use my map as “The Map of The Month”. When I read it, I could not believe it. I started the hobby last year and I am still learning the tricks of the trade, so it’s an honor to have a map that I made posted.
This map is named Continent of Panorica and I did the first version of it in less than an hour for a RPG game that I would begin on the next day. The first thing that I neded was a style that would fit well in a continet map and that have a “fantasy” feel, as what I wanted was a fast and “cliché” map for a fast and “cliché” world. So I choosed the CA51 Jon Roberts Overland Style that is part of the 2011 Annual.
I generated landmasses in Fractal Terrians 3 until I saw one that would fit my needs. Than I exported it to CC3 and fractalized a little more. After that I used the Land Default tool from the style and drew the islands, then used Fractalize on them to achieve a nmore natural feel. The next step was to place the mountains ranges. I was not concerned very much with realistic geology but I did not want to explain all my world with “magic!”, so I placed them first near the coast where I thought others continents would exist if I some day did the whole world. Then I placed the central chains as I needed a desert for my game. For the first version I only needed the central region so I placed some of the major rivers of the continent and dotted some settlements near the desert to form a pseudo-Arabian/tuareg region and called it a day.
But at that point I was in love with the project and wanted to transform it in my fixed fantasy map for the kind of game that I was running (a GURPS Dungeon Fantasy campaign). So I needed other regions and more details. So I begin to really think about the whole image: what cultures lived there, their society and political organizations. I decided to made the banners of the diferent kingdoms and others political organizations. For it I used the CA15 “Heraldry” from Annual 2008 and exported then as FCW entities to my continent map. I used some symbols found on the Map & Catalog Library in the ProFantasy home page. First I had a lot of dificults to implement the shields because messing with sheets is not very easy, but when you learned what to put where they are a big time saver! For the desert, florest, farmland and scrubland terrain to work on this map I had to rescale then for just 50% of their original size (this tip was gave to me by Simon himself).
[To rescale a bitmap fill style:
1. Click on the Fill Styles Indicator, the Bitmap Fills tab, and find the texture on the Fill Style Name pulldown.
2. Reduce the Scale Width and Height (maybe to 50%) and OK.
3. Try again until it looks right.]
Another point of interest was the underwater setlements (Forte do Sino inside Terras Alagadas and the whole southeast region). I spend a big time with then and in the final I only neded of an Transparency effect. And I think that this is one of the most import aspects of CC3. When you find good effects and know how to create and manage sheets for each of your maps you can achieve very good results.
I hope that you like my map and if have any suggestion talk with me on the community.
We’ve just made the April issue of the Cartographer’s Annual 2012 available. Enjoy a beautiful new overland style created by Herwin Wielink. It’s the first time you see his art in the Annual, but it won’t be the last!
If you haven’t subscribed to the Annual 2012 yet, check out more information on this issue on the Annual website.
Here’s a preview for Sunday’s upcoming Annual issue. Herwin Wielink‘s beautiful overland style:
A little peek at the work-in-progress on one example map for the March Annual:
Also, a little sneak peek at the April issue:
While creating an example pdf for the February Annual issue, I accidentally printed it in grayscale. I thought the result has quite a charm of its own:
The February issue of the Annual 2012 elaborates on a style introduced in Cosmographer 3: The satellite view overland map. This large-scale, straight overhead style evokes the view a satellite might have on the landscape below. Seamlessly-tiling textures are smoothed together through sheet effects to create the image of an unbroken, natural landscape.
The source for the textures is taken from public domain images made available by NASA through their Visible Earth website. The texture are carefully crafted from these originals and made into CC3 bitmap fill styles.
While it served as an inspiration, Cosmographer 3 is not required to make full use of this style. See the Annual 2012 site for more information on this style.
Check out this large-scale (A2) example map created in the Annual Overland Satellite style.
The February issue is available for subscribers now!
The final Annual issue for 2011 is here: A combined texture pack for Fractal Terrains 3 and Campaign Cartographer 3. Give your FT world a new look with the textured climate shader or draw climate maps of your regions in CC3.
Stay tuned for the Cartographer’s Annual 2012!