I can never predict my next client – something that came very true when I was approached by Inkshares to create a map for Gary Whitta’s debut novel Abomination. Now Gary has an interesting background: writer for Star Wars, Book of Eli, and – of course – After Earth, for which I did the expanded universe maps. Though we both have 1 degree of Will Smith, it turned out that it was pure chance that Inkshares came to me for a map of Danelaw Britain.
I’ve been building a web based hex mapper for a few months, and I thought it would be fun to put it through it’s paces mapping Slaver’s Bay (the official map is here for comparison). If this catches your interest and you’d like to be an alpha tester – here’s the sign up form.
Here’s the result:
A few observations for next steps for the tool:
- I need blasted wasteland – hills+volcanoes don’t do Valyria justice
- Pins with titles aren’t enough to label regions, like Slaver’s Bay or the Gulf of Grief
- I need better deserts, and cliffs
- Roads don’t show up well enough on deserts.
Other than those notes, this went surprisingly well. I may well continue to expand out this map with more of Essos. Of course, if you want a big map, you can always grab the huge poster maps I drew for Lands of Ice and Fire :).
Dorne lies at the southern end of Westeros, towards the eastern end. It shares the south coast with Old Town. As you can see from the map, the bulk of Dorne lies south of Kings Landing, and southeast of Highgarden.
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.
It’s often easier to show how to illustrate a feature on a map, rather than describe it, so here’s how I illustrate a mountain range for fantasy maps:
I hope that sheds some light on the process!
I’ve written up a couple of tutorials before on drawing isometric mountain ranges for fantasy maps – but never more than the pen and ink stage. I’ve had a few requests for how to take this to the next step and colour the mountain ranges.
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.
I’ve realised I have a particular workflow for drawing coastlines in my maps. Here’s a quick walkthrough.
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.
Today, a quick one on isometric pen and ink mountain ranges. Continue reading