How to draw isometric hand drawn mountains

Today’s tutorial is a quick walkthrough for isometric or forced perspective mountains. This is entirely software agnostic, and is the starting point for maps like this or this.

A tutorial on how to draw isometric mountains for fantasy maps

This sketch was drawn with a pen, but can equally be done in Gimp with a mouse, or Photoshop with a tablet.

  1. Define the silhouettes for your mountains. They can be jagged, they can be smooth. Allow your hand to wander and create different shapes. It helps to start with the closest mountain (bottom of the page) and work to the farthest (top of the page)
  2. Draw the ridge line. Start at the highest point on a mountain and draw a ridge line to the next in the line of mountains. Don’t draw directly to the next peak, offset the end of the line. That will make it look like the ridge drops down and then comes up the far side where it’s hidden from the viewer.
  3. Add in the details. Here I’ve taken lines from all of the mini-peaks and drawn flowing lines down the sides of the mountains. Add in a few secondary ridge lines running off down to ground level (like the second mountain from the top on the left hand side)

At this point you have your mountain range. Any more detail added with colour or tone will add to the effect, but you can leave it at this and it’ll read just fine as a mountain range. This tip originally appeared on G+ and on facebook.

9 thoughts on “How to draw isometric hand drawn mountains”

  1. If It warent for the fact that I draw like shit. I would so try this out xD impressive any how =) and you got a very intressting site too 🙂

  2. I’ve been reading through your tutorial posts, and I have to say I appreciate someone of your talent being willing to show how you get the great look of your maps. So many artists, especially professional illustrators, are very guarded about how they achieve certain effects. It’s nice to get some tips from someone who has the professional chops and isn’t afraid of spreading around a little knowledge.

    You’ve inspired me to dust off my Wacom and try out a few of these tutorials.

    1. You certainly should! It’s definitely worth playing with the tablet.

      I’ve had so much help from other illustrators so I’m very happy to pass on my own advice in turn. Illustration style is as personal as a signature. You can teach people to write, but your signature will alway be your own 🙂

  3. I agree with the Frog – thank you so much for taking the time to granularize how you are approaching elements like this!

  4. Awesome tutorial. I’m terrible at freehand and it make me feel like even I can draw decent mountains with minimal time or effort. How would you adjust this for mountain ranges that you wanted to be wider? Or run east/west instead of north/south?

  5. What is very cool is that I saw this technique way back in Runequest Red Cover (Reston Edition), and from there, the rest of my career as fantasy rpg mapping is history. Thanks always for doing brushes for Profantasy, people always say Wow! But I let them know, Jon Roberts did these brushes… and the Maps of Westeros.


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