Tag Archives: how to

How to draw a horizontal mountain range

How to draw a horizontal mountain range

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

How to draw forested hills on fantasy maps

How to Draw Forested Hills on a Top Down Map

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.

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How to draw featured buiildings

Highlighting Featured Buildings – Shape, Detail and Contrast

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.

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Using Mountains to Define the Scale

Defining Scale using Mountains

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.

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Mapping tips on how to draw hills on a map

How to draw hills on a top down map

Today – how to draw simple hills with photoshop or Gimp. This works best for large scale maps, like world maps or regional maps, where you have a lot of terrain to cover.

  1. Lay in the shadows with a large fuzzy brush. In photoshop or the Gimp I’d suggest doing this on a layer with the blend mode set to overlay.
  2. Lay in the highlights with a slightly smaller fuzzy brush. Avoid sharp edges. You want hills to be rolling, and in contrast to the sharp peaks of a mountain range. Again, here I’ve done this on an overlay layer.
  3. Add colour (here I’m a layer with the blend mode set to colour) and leave the hills slightly browner than the flat plains. That helps to differentiate them – and means that even with subtle light and shade they’ll be easy to read at a glance.

A couple of other things to keep in mind:

  • Lay in the rivers first. As rivers drain the water out of hills, they will determine where the hills should go.
  • Less is more when it comes to shadows and highlights here. Your mountains should have the darkest shadows. Make sure that your hill shadows are quite a bit more subtle.

I hope that’s useful, chip in if there’s a particular topic you’d like to see covered!