Vast canyons are awe inspiring. They thwart quests, halt armies, and tell the tale of vast cataclysms from times past. In this quick tutorial I’ll outline how to draw a canyon on your fantasy map. In this case I’ve drawn it in pencil on paper (I was feeling like going old school and tactile for this one) but the same tips apply if you’re using digital techniques. Continue reading “How To Map A Large Canyon”
Drawing hills on a map can be a challenge. Unlike forests and mountains, there aren’t really any hard edges. On a line art map that causes some difficulty. Even when you add in light, shade, and colour, it’s not obvious how best to represent hills. Here’s four different styles that you can use as a basis to draw hills on your map. Continue reading “Four Different Ways To Draw Hills On A Map”
It’s really easy to draw trees on a map and make them look pretty. It’s also really easy to get close, decide they look rubbish, and stop. Here’s a quick method for drawing a Middle Earth style forest on a map. Continue reading “How To Draw Simple Trees On A Map”
I wanted to map a wizard’s tower with a twist – somewhere a mage with a little bit of a steampunk leaning could hide out and experiment. What would such a mage need? A good cover story, and a source of power. Well, mills are the heavy industry of the medieval era – and if you’re milling flour you have power to spare.
So – the hook of the map was a wizard’s tower in a water powered mill. Continue reading “The Arcanist’s Mill – A Wizard’s Tower Map with a Twist”
What would a fantasy world be without castles, turrets, and battlements? Sneaking over the walls in the dark, holding the crenellations from a horde of orcs, or landing on a turret on griffon-back – the castle wall is a staple of fantasy gaming. Here’s the steps I take when drawing a castle wall. Continue reading “How to Draw a Castle Wall”
Sabaa Tahir had a good year. She released her debut novel An Ember in the Ashes, became a New York Times bestselling author, and got the Amazon best YA novel of the year. I had the great pleasure of creating the maps for the novel. I’ve written about the process behind creating the world map. In this article I’m going to cover the process behind illustrating Blackcliff Military Academy.
Blackcliff Academy lies at the crux of the story. It is the training ground of the Masks, a sinister force in the book, and one that must be infiltrated. I won’t go further (so no spoilers), but the different locations in the academy are quite important – as is the secret stairway. Continue reading “Mapping Blackcliff Academy for An Ember in the Ashes”
The key to a good map is the information it presents. As soon as you’ve done the line drawing on a map, it should be perfectly possible to pick it up and use it. Everything after that point is polish to make it pretty. But polish matters, especially when you’re trying to set the scene.
Here’s how to take a simple map on a white background and turn it into an aged paper handout. Continue reading “Turning a map into an aged paper handout”
Mountains are a defining piece of any world map. They are the largest features after the coastlines, they determine the borders of countries, and the obstacles adventurers must overcome. They are the home of lost treasures, dragons, and giants – as far from civilization as its possible to be.
It can be hard to convey the majesty and scale of mountains in a top down map. It’s a little easier if you can use shade, but even with lines alone, you can show the height of a mountain range. Continue reading “How to Draw Top Down Mountains on a Map”
I’ve always wanted a tablet I could use for illustration. I bought the second generation iPad, hoping it would do the trick. I picked up all the art apps, and a range of styluses – from the Adonit Jot Touch Pro (my thoughts here), to 53’s Pencil – with 53’s Paper.
Paper was by far the best app for the iPad, because it threw precision out the window, and accepted what the iPad is – a sketchpad rather than a professional illustration tool. When I saw the iPad Pro come out, I was skeptical.
15 minutes trying it out in the store had me intrigued – so last weekend I picked it up. I was more than a little nervous. At $949 for the 128Gb iPad Pro, and $99 for the Apple Pencil – this could be a very expensive paper weight.
After a week I’m hooked. This, finally, is the device that makes drawing on a tablet painless.