|From Celestial Maritime Maps|
So what is map making? Well, every fantasy writer should have a map. Not all require one, but most like to have one to keep track of where there characters are and also give them an idea of the surrounding territory. Enemy movements can be plotted in advance, escape routes can be predetermined, and dangers can be added suddenly.
Currently my map has two big lakes and three smaller ones, two forests, two mountain ranges, and two deserts. It also has about 8 peninsulas and 8 major bays. In terms of rivers that meet the sea, well, there are 20 or so *grins*. Making a good looking map is really hard (especially for those of us who are not artistically talented). You want your lines to be clear, but don't push the pencil too hard or you won't be able to erase if you make a mistake.
For making bodies of water (such as lakes), I like to outline the edge in light pencil and then outline again pressing harder (to make a dark outline; the outlines of my lakes are always darker than those of my rivers). After I finish the outlining I gently colour in the body with a light shade of pencil.
Rivers are squiggly lines that meander around the place (but always end up starting near mountains or lakes; you gotta think about water supply). Since river systems look like trees, you want to make sure you have several branches going out from your main body. I tend to outline in light pencil and then go back and press a bit harder to make it sharper (but not as sharp as the lake outline).
For trees, I don't do dramatic drawings with branches and leafs. I simply draw an upside down cone with a stick in the middle (like an ice-cream cone with a straw in it; then turn that upside down). While forests can be on the coast line, they tend to veer more inland.
Finally, for mountains, I draw an upside down "v" and shade one side (usually the left side; make sure you keep this constant because it indicates the sun...that is, unless you have two suns!). Mountains can form natural barriers to protect your cities or they can form barriers to keep your people out of important places. Plot your mountain ranges carefully, and remember, mountains usually don't occur by themselves, they come in groups :-).
The only major major issue I have with drawing maps (aside from the neatness) is the scaling. I can't seem to get the mountains scaled right and the river lengths logical. It's hard to think in levels like that. Ah well, at least hand drawing your maps doesn't cost anything (other than the led and the paper).
That's about all for now; I'll be posting more later (as in maybe tomorrow). And make sure you check out my other blog, if you haven't already: The Minstrel.