This article was originally written for Fictorians.com and was pitched at people building their own worlds for novel writing, but the general process should be useful for a broad variety of world builders.
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!
There’s a lot of old-school gaming posts going round today, and I thought this one would fit in. This isn’t really a tutorial, more a set of thoughts on different ways to indicate walls on a line map. Continue reading →
Cities and buildings come up a lot in questions. I’ll put together a software specific tutorial on buildings, but today I’m just going to go through my philosophy when illustrating a featured building like a castle or a temple. The process is the same, regardless of software. In this case – ballpoint pen on sketchbook paper.
Really quick one today – this is an illustration of how to draw old fashioned coastal waters. Lots of historic maps use rippled lines to indicate the sea. Here’s a couple of quick pointers on reproducing the effect.
1. Add your first ripple
First, draw the coastline in a nice dark brush – or press relatively heavily with your pen (this was a ballpoint on sketchbook paper). Then, pressing more lightly to get a fainter line, draw a parallel line to the coast. Where your coastline is ragged and fractal, this line should be smooth and flowing. Follow the edge, but smooth off the sharper edges. Try to keep the same distance from the coast as you draw.
2. Add in the rest
Now repeat this with successive lines. Each time you add another line, increase the spacing slightly. Also, smooth off the sharper corners of the line inside. If you have an inlet (like I’ve got here), don’t cram the lines in to get through – smooth over the inlet, and draw another set of disconnected ripples within.
This looks good with a light blue wash around the coastal edge, so this doesn’t have to be just a black and white map technique.
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.
I’ve been asked a lot about how to depict different scales recently. The question is – how do you tell the viewer of one map that they’re looking at a zoomed in region of a small area, and on another map convince the viewer that they’re looking at a large area, zoomed out. The easiest cue for the viewer is mountain ranges. These are the feature that’s different enough at different scales that they can act as a defacto scale-bar.
Braavos is the second of the two cities to get a full map work up in the Lands of Ice and Fire (the other, of course, being King’s Landing). It’s also a city that was previously uncharted before this map – so I got to play in a wonderful sandbox whilst creating this map.
If you’re following the TV series, don’t worry – Braavos will become a major player in the plot in the future. For now, you can happily ignore much of this, but be warned – there are spoilers (and lots of detail shots of the city) in what follows. Continue reading →