News: My thoughts are clouds I cannot fathom into pastries.

--1 June 2018--

Quote: Words are pale shadows of forgotten names. As names have power, words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest of hearts. --Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind

The Fellowship

September 13, 2010

Map Making

From Celestial Maritime Maps
I've officially begun to draw my map for the land of my book Children of the Song. Originally I named my world Eafwe, but the name just sounded clumsy and big...not graceful. So I changed it (the name is still undergoing reno, but at least it is a bit better); I think I'm heading for Aeil although I might put an ending on like: Aeilbro or Aeileneth.

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.




  1. I am a no-good artist--but I love making maps. I would've posted them on my blog, but our printer's scanner isn't working right. :P

    But I have strived to make them Tolkienish--and I think I might've done a good job. At any rate, I put detail into the maps until the burst and there's no more room. I have half a dozen 'downs', lakes, moutains, kingdoms, little kingdoms, roads, huge roads, rivers, seas, plains, rocks, forests, little forests, lake forests, mines, tundra, icelands, etc. I love making maps, in short. XD lol.

    I wish I had made a map before I wrote my first novel, however--I have a bunch of names and places, and I'm still trying to fit together a map for it.

  2. This is great I have thought about doing this but have never really done it. But with all of your wisdom maybe I shall try. Thank you Squeaks!


  3. Nice post. Ya I know what you mean when you say "The scaling" for I have been trying to make a map for my fantasy novel and it is much harder then expected!
    Anyway... where was i going with this?

    But anyways your map sounds like it could be really good and creative (meant that in a good way).

    Oh, and I really like your background with the castle and a sea behind it! Keep up the good work.

    God Bless~
    Isaac Permann of
    The Land of Natac

  4. Thanks, all of you, for the excellent comments! I really appreciate it :)

    @Jake, I'd love to see your maps someday; I hope your scanner gets up and working soon XD

    @Jessica; BAH! My wisdom XD I don't have much of it, but I'm glad this post was enjoyable for you :)

    @Isaac, good to see you back! I'm looking forward to reading your blog again! (How's your story coming? Have you got it published yet?)


  5. I love making maps too! The one for "Eldrie" his HUGE... (I mean like, four by four pages of 18 - 24 ft pages taped together... HUGE!) And it's hand drawn.

    But I went online and found a freeware called "Autorealms", and I used that to make the map for "Song of the Daystar"

    I like both of my maps, and I love making more of them. There's an intimate feeling to drawing out your map by hand, but now I've put a picture of the map for "Eldrei" into the computer and I'm editing it in there. Hopefully the finished project will look good.

    Ok, I really have no idea where I was going with that. But yeah, :D

  6. Oh yeah, and I didn't have a map until I was half-way through my novels. I had names and directions in the writing, and I used those to help me flesh out the world on paper. Then I went in and added any extra details I thought it needed, and added other places and such.

    I love to make things look detailed too. The map for "Eldrei" is, by far, the most complicated. And I tend to give each place a kind of history, so that I could point out somewhere on the map and tell you a story about it. That just proves what sort of crazy writer person I am. :D

  7. Thanks, well I have almost finished revising it but then comes the next stage I use; proofreading. Writing takes a lot more time than imagined, and I have been very busy lately so have not had an abundance.

    But, Lord willing, I will have it published in the near future :P

    Oh, and another thing, I will not be posting yet on my blog, dew to some unwanted but appreciated circumstances. (part of the reason being my computer)

  8. Hey Squeaks! I really enjoyed your writing about you fantasy map-making! I love making my on maps favorite one is one that I made on rice paper (so it looks like parchment) with brown calligraphy ink so it looks old!
    BTW, thanks for stopping by and becoming a follower on my blog.


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