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World-building posted 13 Mar 2004, 03:03 by Wil, Head Moderator

I am working on building a world for a story idea. But I have no idea where to start. Does anyone have a good suggestion for creating maps? Is it best to hand draw them or is there a cartography program that works? What about the laws of geography. Any suggestions would be great! view post

posted 13 Mar 2004, 12:03 by Kellais, Commoner

First off, thanks guys for doing this! Concerning maps: I really love maps. I draw a lot of maps and if I do, I draw it with my own hands. There is at least one decent tool to draw maps IMO. The tool's name is Campaign Cartographer and is from ProFantasy software. For a look, go to this adress . On laws of geography: If you want to make a map based on real geographical influences that is much more work and is connected to a lot of research... What I DO look for is that at least the climatic-zones are not too ridiculously set. I don't want to have rainforest and 2 miles to the east a huge desert, that just doesn't make sense IMO. Ok, that's it for now... Kellais view post

posted 14 Mar 2004, 23:03 by Malarion, Candidate

I think the only way to get the right map is to draw one, work on it, think about your story, and decide where this map works against it. Once you have done this, redraw it, go through the same procedure and keep repeating it. Its unlikely you'll get it right first time (or second etc), but its necessary. Also, before your start right down all the conditions you require for your map (key cities, countires, areas for potential battles etc). This will help guide you. And never complete it entirely. Allow blanks. You'll need the freedom to expand when you get writing. As for getting the geography right... Thats a hard one. How hard depends on the scale of your map. If you're drawing the whole world then its a difficult problem. If its just an area then the task is a little easier. Perhaps the best start is to work out the direction of the prevailing rains. From there you should be able to work out what areas are wet and what are dry etc. Hope this helps. view post

posted 25 Mar 2004, 18:03 by Ilnaulro, Commoner

I prefer to hand-draw my maps too, but whatever works for you. What I would say, is to take your time and really work at the map and enjoy it, because, just like in RL, the actual geography shapes the lives of those who live there. Also, it IS a plot device. Anyway, there are stacks of websites out there you can find easily with all sorts of builders, from characters, taverns and names to whole worlds (and all of these can give you ideas and plots) Enjoy. view post

posted 07 Jul 2004, 23:07 by drosdelnoch, Subdidact

Map wise I tend to draw them on the computer using photoshop, then I sketch in the basics such as mountains and rivers, lakes etc. From that you can generally figure out where to place settlements and forrests and carry on the planning. Other than that I then start to build the world by asking simple questions : 1) Climate 2) Are the religious or have they done away with it? 3) What sort of ruling system do they have are they like Rome and have a senate or do they have Royalty 4) How advanced are they? What sort of technology is available 5) Is there a feudal system with people curently warring on another or do they all live in relative peace? After that you can develop the individual peoples and then look to the principle character. Hope this helps Gareth view post

posted 07 Jul 2004, 23:07 by Sovin Nai, Site Administrator

I tried something new for the world I am currently working on, and I like it. Prior, here was my problem: I liked the look of hand-drawn maps, but hated how hard they were to edit and reproduce, where the Photoshop wins. So, I sketched my coastline and scanned it into a layer. Then I printed it and traced on the back of the paper adding much more detail, but following the main line. This keeps the shape, but allows for a 'rugged' coastline. I did that again, and it was now flipped correctly. Then I started drawing mountains/rivers/lakes/what-have-you on printed copies of the coastline, scanning them, and putting just that feature in its own layer. I went through the same detailing process, which is very cool at a high res, because you can actually do enlargements of certain regions and put in details unseen in the large image. It looks really great, but is a lot of labor. view post

posted 08 Jul 2004, 19:07 by drosdelnoch, Subdidact

You hit the nail on the head there Sovin, yes it is time consuming but think about how easy it is to edit and your not left with masses of rubber marks, I have used the letter V in the Vivaldi font (which can be found on a vast amount of free font sites) and then inverted to make mountains, works quite well, gives a sort of tolkien style to it. Cant remember if it was a capital or lower case but if you do it you'll see what I mean. view post

posted 08 Jul 2004, 22:07 by Ilnaulro, Commoner

How's that coming along now, Wil? I drew my maps by hand, scanned them and let Malarion had a look and they were fairly impressive. How is it going for you? view post

posted 26 Jul 2004, 02:07 by Orion_metalhead, Auditor

i usually just create the maps to fit the story. but when i need a little boost to what i may want to write about i just draw on and on. i use flash 5 for my maps when i work on my computer but other than that i draw them on notebook paper or in a sketch pad. im currently writing a story. its gonna be about a race of druids or something. idk. i had written about 20 pages for another story but it never went anywhere. maybee ill post it for you to read it you dont mind. its kinda long and i dont know the rules for how long a post can be. view post

posted 26 Jul 2004, 05:07 by Wil, Head Moderator

Welcome Orion Feel free to post your story in the "member written works" section. I would love to read it. However, you may want to post it as an attachment, prolly as a .doc file. Then people who want to read it can download it. view post

posted 26 Jul 2004, 19:07 by Sovin Nai, Site Administrator

You use flash? That doesn't seem very suited to mapping. view post

posted 26 Jul 2004, 22:07 by Grantaire, Moderator

Is it just me, or do others have this problem too? I can create incredible, indepth worlds, with eons of history, geography, cultures, etc...then I'm not good with making an actual story in it. view post

posted 26 Jul 2004, 23:07 by Orion_metalhead, Auditor

[quote="Sovin Nai":1s76mley]You use flash? That doesn't seem very suited to mapping.[/quote:1s76mley] well, i use different layers. one for the names, one for the color and one for the outlines. but i also like the whole artistic aspect of adding color and stuff. idk. i hand draw them too. but on the computer i use flash, i can also do animations. plus when i learn how to use the scripting part i will be able to make it so when i click on a particular area it actually shows an even more in depth map of say a town or city or a forest or whatever. view post

posted 27 Jul 2004, 20:07 by Sovin Nai, Site Administrator

Very gppd point. Interactive maps. I still don't understand how you design them though, because in my experience flash isn't very good with art. Grantaire, I have that exact problem. I it more enjotable to do the world and plot then write. view post

posted 01 Aug 2004, 21:08 by Orion_metalhead, Auditor

flash itself is more of a cartooning program that actuall art program such as photoshop. but i find it pretty simple to use. maybee when i figure it out ill let you know how i did it. view post

posted 03 Aug 2004, 05:08 by Sovin Nai, Site Administrator

I'd love to know. view post

posted 22 Jun 2006, 23:06 by Sephiroth, Commoner

As a final year student of Geography at University, i find it extremely hard to draw maps...Why does a Geographer find it hard to draw maps? It's because I know too much about geography thats why, and I always find my maps becoming jumbled to the point where most people will find them to be nothing more than a big mess, because I find myself wondering where the plate boundaries are, is it a constructive or destructive margin? are these fold mountains? why is that island there? what kind of rock is the parent material under the soil? and loads of other questions that no one else actually gives a hoot about. I know this defeats the whole purpose of making a 'fantasy' world, and I suppose its ok if your world was created by Gods and magic and so forth, but some authors dont have a damn clue what their doing. Eddings' 'the Dreamers' series shows how stupid some maps are; there's an ice shelf on what would seem to be the equator of the world! My point is, it helps to think scientifically to make a good map. (in my opinion) My rant is now officially over. view post

posted 07 Dec 2006, 19:12 by Naz, Commoner

Sep, I share your pain. I'm a first year geographer and whenever it seems you have everything where it should be you learn something else that brings your 'world' tumbling down! I've found it helpful to look at the good 'ol Earth itself and work from the key plate boundaries and general orography that is all around us and then add a little twist... I think a lot of the worry is from the paranoia that there's an established geographer who will read the book, look at the map, and laugh! But hey, we're good writers and the geographical inadequacies of the world isn't what the readers should be worrying themselves with! It's the story, the characters, that are key. As long as they're believable... view post


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