It’s always fun to try something new, but in this case the something new was a sci fi galaxy map, and the client was Overbrook Entertainment, and Will Smith. The brief was to create 4 maps for the expanded universe around the movie After Earth. There are a bunch of books and graphic novels associated with the film. Those stories had been written in parallel with the movie development and each had added something to the geography of the universe.
One of the writers on the expanded universe material was an old RPG hand, and noticed that what the worldbuilding needed was reference maps – of the universe, solar system, world, and key city. And so I got a call.
Note that I use a graphics tablet. You can do this with a mouse and low opacity brushes, but tablets are getting good and relatively cheap. I’d recommend picking up something like the Bamboo Splash if you’re going to be playing around with illustrating maps.
Here’s a quick walkthrough of the four steps I take in my mountain ranges. Continue reading →
Often hills are indicated on a map by drawing an outline, but when you have forest on top, that outline gets obscured. So how do you draw forested hills? The trick is to use the detail of the forest to indicate the hills, rather than obscure them.
Eric Quigley asked about labeling recently and that prompted me to think a little about how I actually go about labeling a map. Often it’s the last thing to get done, but it’s also the most important. A map without labels is just a pretty picture, it’s not useful. So, it’s worth taking some care getting labels right.
This is a photoshop tutorial, but these techniques are almost identical in Gimp.
It’s always a little daunting to take on a brand new style of map. When Steve Russell asked for an map inspired by the Orient for Heroes of the Jade Oath I took it on with some trepidation. After a ton of experimenting with textures, brushes and line-styles I came up with a version I was happy with, and this is the result!
The last map from the Lands of Ice and Fire is the map of Journeys – all the paths taken by the characters in the novels of A Song of Ice and Fire (up to the end of Dances with Dragons). This map contains spoilers, so don’t look too carefully if you’ve not read to the end of A Dance With Dragons.