Why Do I Need A Map?
Maps provide a solid, visual way to show people your world.
In the quick glance of a map your readers will have taken in more of your world than you could show them in a full chapter of your novel. If you’re not a fully trained copywriter then you’ll find getting your local postman to read the first line of your story almost impossible; even if he does smile and say hello every time you see him in the morning.
However, it only takes a few seconds for a map of your world to draw attention – there is less commitment for someone to view a piece of artwork than to read a story (even a short one). That’s why writers have the hardest job out of all of the artists – we have to work harder to get our fans.
Secondly, maps help people to navigate. How would you feel being thrown into outer Mongolia (assuming you don’t live there) with no iPhone, map or directions of any kind? Lost… confused… scared? So imagine how your reader feels when you throw them straight into your novel with no guiding map to help them find their bearings.
Be kind, give them a map.
The Authors Guide To Drawing Maps
This is The Worldbuilding School’s guide to drawing maps. It’s simple, fun and can be achieved by any writer – professional or amateur. The best part is it’s FREE!
Basics Of Maps
Basic Skills and Science for
Building A “Realistic World”
The articles included in this part of the guide will teach you basic principles about how our world works and show you how to implement these principles into your own world. If your world doesn’t operate exactly the same way as our own then these articles can provide a good understanding to deviate from.
Knowing how to draw land is the first technique you’ll learn as part of the authors guide to drawing maps. It is simple yet critical skill that anyone who can pick up a pencil will be able to do.
Just as our real world requires dry land for land dwellers to live so too do our fantasy worlds. Though dry land is not something a fictional world must have, as films like Waterworld prove, for about 95% of the fantasy worlds out there dry land is a major component.
Tectonic Plates are sections of a planet’s lithosphere (the crust and mantle of a planet) that your world continent will then sit upon. They are what separate the land from the molten lava below.
In the second part of “The Authors Guide To Drawing Maps” you’ll be taught about tectonic plates, the different types of movement they can do and also how to add them to your world map.
Continuing on from the previous article on tectonic plates you’ll learn how the plates affect the landscape of your world and so the environment your characters will see and experience.
By this point in the guide you will have the main islands of your world drawn along with the tectonic plates of your world and the directions that they move.
The worlds weather is driven by both the Earth’s rotation and the seasonal variation in solar energy that each hemisphere absorbs. However patterns do form in the weather and they will play an important role for your civilisations, characters lives and the stories you write.
In this part of the guide you will learn a very simple rule that when followed provides realistic prevailing winds and oceanic currents for your world.
Drawing Maps In Photoshop
Learn to Draw a Stunning Map Using Photoshop
The article’s below will teach you how to draw a map in the same style as the one below:
This is the first part of the tutorial and as the name suggests it focuses on a simple technique for randomly generating terrain in Photoshop. If you haven’t drawn the outline of your map by hand or you’d prefer to have a random terrain generated for you then this is a great tutorial to start with.
However, if you have the outline of your map already drawn and in Photoshop then you may want to move onto the 2nd article in this tutorial.
Once you have the outline of your map drawn and ready the next step is to texture both the ocean and the land. It’s a simple process that requires a little bit of brush work.
The sea layer is where you start adding more colour to the map. Up until now your map has consisted of green and white gradients but with the sea and coastline you’ll now add a fresh blue into the mix.
Finally no map is complete without the names of regions, cities and locations for your heroes to adventure in and your baddies to scheme over. By following this final part in the series you’ll learn the exact settings to use for the typography on your map. I’ll also teach you an effective way to add a border around the map.
The Map Generator For Photoshop
Are you interested in drawing a stunning map for your world but after reading through this tutorial you’d rather there was a simpler way to do it? Well, to make drawing stunning maps even simpler I’ve created “The Map Generator For Photoshop”. This generator consists of 6 Photoshop Actions that will allow you to create this map style along with 2 others in just a few clicks. It also includes “The Random Terrain Generator” for an unlimited number of maps at any canvas size you want.
Visit The World Building Store to buy “The Map Generator For Photoshop” here. It’s mapping made easy.
Weekly World Building Updates
Weekly World Building Articles
Would you like to receive more great world building articles like this on a weekly basis? Then simply subscribe to The World Building School below.
I will NEVER share your email address with anyone.