Most of the maps I create are for commissions. However, every now and again, I get the chance to create a map for my own use. These maps tend to be tests of new styles, or ideas I have for a new layout. This was one of the first tests I created for an isometric map style (used at a much larger scale in the map of Rhune). It worked out well, and forms the basis of one of my core styles to this day.
This tutorial covers my entire process for how to draw a map – from start to finish. In this case I’m illustrating a simple town map, but the steps apply to any map. Continue reading
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.
This is definitely the week of mountain ranges. I had a question on reddit on how to draw mountain ranges that go east-to-west rather than north to south. Here’s a very quick tutorial on the difference. If you want to go deeper into the north-south version, check out this earlier tutorial on mountain ranges.
The hotizontal version is very similar – with a few tweaks. Continue reading
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.
I’ve been working more on my hex mapping project. One of the requests was to have random terrain placement. So, rather than picking a terrain element, placing it, and then changing to a new one – instead pick a terrain type, and place a load of terrain with the tool taking care of variation. That took a bit of coding, and threw up a nasty bug. Every 7 or 8 times you clicked the base of the tile would place, but not the terrain on top. I tried everything to figure out why – the data was there, when you refreshed the map, the terrain turned up, but it wouldn’t load on click.
It turns out it’s an image load problem. Continue reading