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Fiender
05-07-2012, 03:50 AM
So, I'm making a high-fantasy story and I was thinking of making a map so I can make the traveling distances consistent. Now, I don't want to make a map that will make any of my future readers who happen to be well informed go crazy about how inaccurately shaped the landmasses are, so is there a guide somewhere?

This probably sounds weird, me worrying that my readers will not like the inaccuracy of the shape of my map. What I mean is, putting river deltas where there wouldn't be one, mountains and deserts where geology dictates none would exist, etc.

PPartisan
05-07-2012, 04:18 AM
I follow a blog on Wordpress that has a tutorial which may be of use to you. Here's the link (http://fantasyinmotion.wordpress.com/2012/04/10/here-be-dragons-mapping-your-fantasy-world-part-one/) . Could be a good place to start - I certainly got a cool effect from it :D

P.s. Here (http://i44.tinypic.com/15pgwzr.jpg)'s my phase 1 effort.

thothguard51
05-07-2012, 04:27 AM
Nice link PPartisan...

Fiender
05-07-2012, 05:07 AM
I follow a blog on Wordpress that has a tutorial which may be of use to you. Here's the link (http://fantasyinmotion.wordpress.com/2012/04/10/here-be-dragons-mapping-your-fantasy-world-part-one/) . Could be a good place to start - I certainly got a cool effect from it :D

P.s. Here (http://i44.tinypic.com/15pgwzr.jpg)'s my phase 1 effort.

Thank you, now experimenting with it :)

Once!
05-07-2012, 12:24 PM
I must admit that I struggle a little with the geography of some fantasy novels. How come the quest object is nearly always in a distant land that is guarded on all sides by mountains?

lbender
05-07-2012, 06:37 PM
I must admit that I struggle a little with the geography of some fantasy novels. How come the quest object is nearly always in a distant land that is guarded on all sides by mountains?

I never have a problem with a quest object in a difficult to get to place. If it weren't, anybody could get it. Besides, if you were to hide an object for someone to quest after, would you put it next door?

As an aside, I'd love to see a quest where they did put it next door - along the lines of a hide-in-plain-sight thing.

I've had plenty of other problems with quest stories, but that wasn't one of them.

Drachen Jager
05-07-2012, 08:31 PM
Get your rivers right. There are two major series that have river geography completely inconsistent with any known physics (and without magical explanation).

In Lord Valentine's Castle there is a continent with a river spanning right from one coast across the continent to another coast, bisecting the continent. Dude! Water flows DOWN to the ocean. In the Krondor series of books there's a river that diverges into two paths hundreds of miles from the coast. This one is a bit more forgivable, but you can't find a mountainous region anywhere in the world where a river diverges like that. They only diverge on floodplains, or around islands to re-form on the other side. The erosion of one channel will always be stronger and the river will eventually abandon the secondary path as the primary becomes stronger.

AVS
05-07-2012, 08:41 PM
I've always loved maps. The maps in LotR were magical to me as a teenager. Older (17th century) European maps are pretty interesting and can inspire good ideas.

areteus
05-07-2012, 10:40 PM
Modify real world maps for quick and simple veracity. Start with what you know works and then do lots of changes to 'hide the serial number'. I'm fairly sure Martin based Westeros on a massively overscaled map of Great Britain (imagine Great Britain but the size of America with 'The Wall' being Hadrian's wall, Kings Landing being London...) and I think other authors (or the artists they use) do the same.

Look at a lot of other fantasy maps and gain ideas from them - what works for you, what doesn't?

Alessandra Kelley
05-07-2012, 10:54 PM
I got into making fantasy maps after reading The Hobbit and it colliding in my head with social studies natural resources and biomes maps (I loved drawing those). I loved playing with elevations, wind currents, rainfall, drainage, in order to figure out what must go where. Fractal coastlines were awesome when they came out.

MttStrn
05-08-2012, 06:17 AM
http://afniel.blogspot.com/2011/10/babys-first-geography.html

I have played extensively with the technique talked about at the link and it's great.

eggs
05-08-2012, 02:25 PM
What areteus said.

I do maps for my own purposes when writing imaginary/futuristic stories. I have a large quantity of plastic raised relief maps in my house because I am married to a weirdo. I am currently using one that depicts a section of NJ as the basis of my world. It cost about USD$15 ten years ago. Dunno what they sell for today.

I stick to the real topography of the map. This way I never get confused or lost. If I absolutely must have features that do not occur naturally on the map, I find a white board marker and a quantity of blue-tac are all that are needed to make the adjustments without permanently disfiguring the map (for which I would be divorced).

Scott Kaelen
05-09-2012, 11:35 PM
I did a lot of painstaking research into creating maps for my epic fantasy. After everything I realised that all these programs are no better than good old-fashioned pencil and paper. Have a look at Google maps for ideas on how to get the geography consistent, and check out maps of the Earth throughout the eras as the land masses drifted over hundreds of millions of years. It's a fascinating thing.
Here is what I created, purely hand-drawn (except for the text) as the main continent in my story. Those with a keen eye might find the layout slightly familiar . . .
http://i64.photobucket.com/albums/h170/scottm666/sosarra.jpg

Richard White
05-10-2012, 07:35 AM
I'm doing a world building series for Penumbra Magazine. (http://penumbra.musapublishing.com/)

Definitely looking forward to the July column. I'm going to be interviewing Tracy Hickman on how he does world building for both his Dragonlance books as well as his original stuff.

Friendly Frog
05-10-2012, 03:31 PM
Get your rivers right.
Very good advice. The only fantasy world I ever made a map of, was one that was deliberatedly created by spirits. So I could fudge on the placement of mountains, but water flows down to the lowest point no matter how much mountains have been tossed around.

Fiender
05-11-2012, 03:00 AM
Alright, I followed the "here be dragons" guide and came up with this:

http://img860.imageshack.us/img860/2804/mantlemap1.jpg

It's got... mountains and lakes and rivers and... and settlements and a road system... Let me know what you think!

FYI, the gray lines are road, the black in-land lines are supposed to be rivers *shrug*.

PPartisan
05-11-2012, 12:11 PM
That looks great mate :D, you should put it up on James' blog. He'll appreciate it! (Maybe tell him that Tom at http://werdpressed.wordpress.com recommend you too ;))

Kenn
05-11-2012, 08:24 PM
In Lord Valentine's Castle there is a continent with a river spanning right from one coast across the continent to another coast, bisecting the continent. Dude! Water flows DOWN to the ocean. In the Krondor series of books there's a river that diverges into two paths hundreds of miles from the coast. This one is a bit more forgivable, but you can't find a mountainous region anywhere in the world where a river diverges like that. They only diverge on floodplains, or around islands to re-form on the other side. The erosion of one channel will always be stronger and the river will eventually abandon the secondary path as the primary becomes stronger.
The process is known as bifurcation and the two streams are distributaries. North America is, in fact, split this way and in a mountainous region (Google 'Two Ocean Pass').

Never say 'Never' ;)

Fiender
05-18-2012, 05:40 PM
How do the roads look? I'm not sure I got those right :/

Dancre
05-18-2012, 06:35 PM
Here's a link http://kimkouski.com/the-princes-secret/map-of-ezasu to my map. I had my friend's husband make it for me inexchange for free advertisment. As long as it's in 'your' world, you should be ok. I just saw mine in my mind, make a really rough draft and then he took over. I love my map!! He drew the whole thing, no computers. He's very talented and he's looking for new clients. His face book addy is there also.


So, I'm making a high-fantasy story and I was thinking of making a map so I can make the traveling distances consistent. Now, I don't want to make a map that will make any of my future readers who happen to be well informed go crazy about how inaccurately shaped the landmasses are, so is there a guide somewhere?

This probably sounds weird, me worrying that my readers will not like the inaccuracy of the shape of my map. What I mean is, putting river deltas where there wouldn't be one, mountains and deserts where geology dictates none would exist, etc.

eablevins
05-18-2012, 06:58 PM
Here's something I've done:

[overview (http://i84.photobucket.com/albums/k24/iryl/FantasyMap-South.jpg)] [closeup (http://i84.photobucket.com/albums/k24/iryl/Edited-Fantasy20Map20-20South.jpg)]
Sorry they're so small, Photobucket shrunk them.

Google Documents has a feature that lets you Create>Drawing. I use thick lines to outline the continents, dotted lines to trace countries, blue lines for rivers, thinner blue lines for streams, brown triangles for mountains, and dots for towns. I name the towns and move things around as needed. The only thing I can't do is fill the continents or ocean with color, but I make do but putting their names on them.

If you need more room for your map, you just click and drag the bottom right corner of the background layer.

You can also resize, move, and tweak all your elements very easily. The ability to change things up so easily is why I went with this after trying pen and paper. I'll probably try a more artistic rendering once I get my map worked out, but right now this is the best tool for a map that's still in flux.

I designed my map based on the geography I described in one of my stories. I wrote first, then did the map after.

Peter Graham
05-18-2012, 10:12 PM
How do the roads look? I'm not sure I got those right
It depends on your political backdrop.

Roads tend to be formed in one of two ways. Some are deliberately laid out for reasons of trade, social control or whatever. Such roads require a strong government and a surplus of resources - including manpower. Examples in Britain include the main Roman roads, which were deliberately laid out to ease conquest and thereafter to ease the introduction of the Pax Romana. The motorways are a more recent example of the same phenomenon.

Other roads are more parochial in nature and come about as local routes - village to market, farm to church etc. Over time, these routes got linked up and were used for purposes for which the constituent parts were not originally intended. Some exist as modern, metalled roads whereas others are now bridleways, footpaths or field lanes. They are classically winding and rambling and were celebrated by G K Chesterton in his fine poem, The Rolling English Road.

Geographical factors play a part in both types of road, but the minor routes also have to respect property rights.

Regards,

Peter

Jay Jennings
06-05-2012, 11:39 AM
Interesting thread -- lots of good links.

I played around with some map-making tools today and realized I could spend days/weeks/months playing around to get things just right...

...and then decided NOT to become a cartographer because I just don't have that much time.

Instead, I'm going to take a map of the state I'm in, turn it sideways or upside down, blur out half of it and mark it "unexplored" or something, and go with that.

I'll have geological things in the right spots, I'll have roads between towns, etc.

That's my plan today, anyway, but I think it will be a good compromise between "no map" and "perfect map." :)

Jay

DavidZahir
06-07-2012, 01:12 AM
I think maps are cool, but for writing you don't need a pretty or cool one--just accurate for your purposes.

So start with distances and scales you can pin down. If it helps, go to the real world and look at some real places that make sense. The length of Long Island versus the size of San Francisco Bay. How big a distance between Rome and Alexandria? Constantinople and Jerusalem? Athens and Sparta?

Piece it together so it makes sense, then fiddle with details fill plot holes or explain stuff. Extend a mountain range a little bit here, shift the course of a river there, stick an extra island between those two places, etc.

The sort of thing you really need to know is how much time do certain forms of transportation take?

Jay Jennings
06-07-2012, 02:13 AM
The sort of thing you really need to know is how much time do certain forms of transportation take?

Yeah, that. The world of then (no mass transit) was SO much larger than the world of today. Or, you could argue that it was so much smaller, depending on how you look at it, because most people never went very far from where they were born.

Horse-drawn wagons typically do about 20 miles a day -- I base that on stories my Dad told us about when his family moved from North Dakota to Nebraska -- in a horse-drawn wagon (1920s).

I think walking a long day typically gets you about 20 miles, too. Unless you have mechanized transportation your world can be really small to us, but be huge to your in-world characters. We might think a kingdom the size of Idaho would be "small" but it would take 14 days to walk/ride across it (in square miles, not that skinny little piece up by Canada).

Jay

CDancourt
06-29-2012, 02:27 AM
The blog is awesome, thanks for the link!

Spy_on_the_Inside
06-29-2012, 05:59 AM
The most important thing I have to say about maps is don't underestimate the power rivers have over human development. Anthropologically speaking, human settlements and towns are near rivers, which provided them with water, a place where game was likely to gather, and a ready-made system of transportation back in the day before planes, trains, and automobiles.

Just keep that in mind.