The Arcanist’s Mill – A Wizard’s Tower Map with a Twist

I wanted to map a wizard’s tower with a twist – somewhere a mage with a little bit of a steampunk leaning could hide out and experiment. What would such a mage need? A good cover story, and a source of power. Well, mills are the heavy industry of the medieval era – and if you’re milling flour you have power to spare.

So – the hook of the map was a wizard’s tower in a water powered mill. Continue reading “The Arcanist’s Mill – A Wizard’s Tower Map with a Twist”

Where is Valyria?

Valyria is southwest of Slaver's Bay, ad southeast of Westeros. Click for a larger view. ©George RR MArtin 2012, used with permission
Valyria is southwest of Slaver’s Bay, and southeast of Westeros. Click for larger view. ©George RR Martin 2012

In Season 5 Episode 5, Tyrion and Jorah Mormont are heading to Meereen by boat. That’s a careful choice on Jorah’s part, but it goes horribly wrong when they detour through Valyria, in the shadow of the Doom.

So, why go through Valyria? And where is Valyria in context to the rest of Essos?

Continue reading “Where is Valyria?”

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 a horizontal mountain range”

Some Sketches and Screenshots from a Work in Progress

A web based fantasy hex mapper
Fantastic Mapper – current status

If you’ve been following along on Google+ you’ve likely seen some notes on a hex mapping project in the works. This hex mapper started as a challenge to myself over the summer when I took a holiday back to visit my parents on Skye:

Can I code a hex mapper web app during a holiday?

Continue reading “Some Sketches and Screenshots from a Work in Progress”

Mapping Napa Vineyards

Tricycle Wine Partners final map of Obsidian Ridge and Poseidon Vineyards

Not all my maps are  of fantasy lands – every now and again, one comes along from the real world. Before Christmas I was asked to map the Mayacamas mountain range for Tricycle Wine Partners, a vineyard in California.

Continue reading “Mapping Napa Vineyards”

Of Turnovers and Cities

Snapshot of a city map

It’s good to hand over final pieces. This one went out the door today – a city map for a client. The combination of detailed line art featured locations and more anonymous shadowed buildings seems to work well.

The featured locations were all drawn at many times their final size. You lose the precise detail when the locations are shrunk down, but the combination of the details provide a sense of the structure.

Heroes of the Jade Oath

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!

Lands of the Jade Oath map

Continue reading “Heroes of the Jade Oath”

Drawing Old-fashioned Coastal Waters

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.