Fantasy Cartography

The conference, oh unconference, had sessions on diverse topics such as “Phone nerding”, “Death CafĂ©” and “Coastal preservation”. These were proposed during an agenda session, placed in a matrix on the wall, and ta-da, that’s our schedule.

The second day (today, Saturday) will have the DO theme. In a spirit of sharing, and stressing the importance of having fun, I proposed to lead a session on how to make fantasy maps. So, that was put on the schedule, and I’m preparing links to show people. If you missed the session, or are curious, here are some things online which inspire me.

People sitting in a circle, looking at Peter Rukavina organising a wall-mounted conference schedule in real-time. Ton Zylstra facilitates.
Unconference prep day 2. Theme “DO”.

Dyson does maps with felt-tip markers. Beautiful monochrome maps. Crosshatch! Here’s a printable sheet of dungeon map tutorials.

The Cartographers’ Guild is an online forum where people who make fantasy maps share techniques and tool tips. Technical, computer-oriented. More “Gimp or Photoshop?” than “Which watercolor brush?”.

The Fantastic Maps website’s Category of tutorials were good at showing individual drawing techniques.

And in the joyous spirit of DM Scotty, the video-series maker and crafter of roleplaying game materials (made from scraps and quite quickly): be sure to express your exuberance and joy of having created. Praise your own work.


Output, after-the-fact

Some snapshot photos of the thing I made during the workshop:

First, an outline, with pencil, then watercolor pencil, then a waterline using a felt-tip pen.
Lots of things added.
Pulled the watercolor of the edges into the map picture.

A bonus session

I was inspired to run the event again, after a bibimbap lunch, and was joined by seven-eight other mappers. The mountain range above came from someone asking how to draw a mountain range. “Let’s find out!”

Also, during the session, the mappers began telling stories about their different maps’ dragons, actually a pack of five wild dragons, fiercely whipped by their pirate riders, hungry for gold. The dragons were addicted to razing castles, souring the pirates’ relationships to royalty.

Here’s the latest version of the Plugh map.

Published by olleolleolle

Olle is a programmer, enjoying sunny Malmö in Sweden.

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