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Discussing All Things Indie > The Art of Making Maps

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message 1: by Crystal Dawn (last edited Mar 25, 2018 06:21AM) (new)

Crystal Dawn (crystal_dawn) | 55 comments I wanted to open a discussion on the process of making maps for our books.

Our own story started because my husband's first book convention was decided upon last year, and to proceed with such we had to invest in hard copies of his books for the first time. Being an anthology based in a high fantasy world, the obvious choice of creating maps for each book was inevitable (after all, every great fantasy book needs an equally great map). An artist wasn't at the top of our priorities financially, so we decided to create them ourselves. It was a long process, as my husband chose to proceed with traditional hand-drawn maps, similar to Tolkien, and having not focused on his art skills for many years, there was a stressful period of much trial and error.

He cataloged his entire process for his current three books. I think seeing the journey might prove helpful for other authors who may be considering similar avenues. The first link is to imgur, where he collected all of his images and explained the journey; the second link is to a YouTube video with an abridged account of a single map's process. The third is to his website, where under appendices you can find the finalized versions (the same models we'll be making his promotional posters from).

Images and Descriptions: https://imgur.com/a/7DP9c
Video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XT8Pl...
Website: https://www.miragestories.com/

We really would love to hear any positive or constructive feedback, and of course questions, so hopefully we can all help each other achieve our desired outcomes! If you've made maps for your books, what did you do? :)

I'm happy to give free copies of any of the three books in the series to anyone who would like one in exchange for an honest review. They don't need to be read in order, or altogether as each is a standalone, with themes that cross between the books. Just let me know if you would like them. :) (Strife, The Voice of the Wild, The Sound of Thunder)

Happy Reading!
Crystal


message 2: by Karen (new)

Karen Eisenbrey | 18 comments Crystal Dawn wrote: "I wanted to open a discussion on the process of making maps for our books.

Our own story started because my husband's first book convention was decided upon last year, and to proceed with such we..."


Thank you for sharing this! It is encouraging to see the various drafts, as I am in the middle of a similar process myself. I have been writing in the setting for 18 years but avoided making the map until now, when one book is finally coming out. It was an ordeal just to make a passable sketch I could pass on to a more skilled artist. I'm hoping I'll get more than one book's use out of the map.

Nice looking website, too. I'd be interested to read and review the books.


message 3: by Crystal Dawn (new)

Crystal Dawn (crystal_dawn) | 55 comments Karen wrote: "Thank you for sharing this! It is encouraging to see the various drafts, as I am in the middle of a similar process myself. I have been writing in the setting for 18 years but avoided making the map until now, when one book is finally coming out. It was an ordeal just to make a passable sketch I could pass on to a more skilled artist. I'm hoping I'll get more than one book's use out of the map.

Nice looking website, too. I'd be interested to read and review the books. "


Hi Karen, you're very welcome, and thank you for the kind words! It's fantastic to hear (even if it's not the best of situations) that this was helpful, and that someone understands where our new grey hairs have come from. We completely emphathise with your 18 year investment into a single universe, as this is my husband's 12th year now, and your plan to try and reuse each map, under the circumstances, is a completely sane idea! Haha. We would have loved to have been able to do the same thing, if the stories weren't told so far away from one another.

We'd both love to have have a look at your story when it's ready. I'll add you as a friend and send you a message. :)


message 4: by Josh (new)

Josh K (jk61) | 10 comments I picked up "How to Draw Fantasy Art & RPG Maps" by Jared Blando to help me along.

Currently, I am sketching a 'logical map' which connects the different events.
I am including the time of travel (walking vs airship) between each event location. Eventually this will develop into a physical world map, but probably not drawn by me! :)


message 5: by Crystal Dawn (new)

Crystal Dawn (crystal_dawn) | 55 comments Joshua wrote: "I picked up "How to Draw Fantasy Art & RPG Maps" by Jared Blando to help me along.

Currently, I am sketching a 'logical map' which connects the different events.
I am including the time of travel..."


That's actually very interesting that you mentioned that. Eons ago, we purchased a RPG map-making program called 'Campaign Cartographer' (for both personal and professional reasons), and gave that a go briefly. While we still use it for games, I've since noticed a lot of people actually use it in their books, in both professional and indie fields. I'd never heard of that specific book before, but I'll definitely have a look into it.

I do like your idea about including travel time in your maps. The one I sketched for my husband (at the tender age of sixteen/seventeen, notably) attempted to include a similar feature. Basically 1cm was the equivalent of his own miles/kms. He has maps covering many different areas across the world, and they vary from being zoomed in, to spread out. That particular one in comparison, even though it was one of his first maps, was very zoomed in, and when I added the scale I found it made the world feel rather small. The book noted a man travelling from (on the map) The ruins of Greenwich to New Atherton, and from memory, I think it took him three days, but I still remember feeling weird about it because the scale to time ratio just felt unbelievable. He was on horseback, but unless the horse was constantly stalling, and taking his good ol' time, it should not have taken him that long. We no longer use the exact scale idea. Are you noticing similar issues? I'd honestly be very interested to know your experiences.


message 6: by Erica (new)

Erica Graham (erica_graham) | 1490 comments Mod
This is a great idea for a thread and the maps look awesome! I have not personally made maps, but was just talking to an author who is starting the process for one of his upcoming books. I will be sure to mention this discussion and your links above. Thanks!


message 7: by Josh (new)

Josh K (jk61) | 10 comments The sketch that I'm using for my book is just a logical map. Meaning, from this town name to that dwarf fortress takes 3 days walking. From here to there takes 1 1/2 days air travel. And so forth.

I am also marking the major chapters in the travel path that they are taking. So now I can look at my map and see that chapters 3 - 6 are all in the same area. If I invest time creating descriptions and detail for that area, then I get a better return on investment.

I have also used Illwinter's Floor Plan Generator (http://www.illwinter.com/floorplan/) purchased via Steam. It's not perfect, but for a quick sketch, it isn't bad. It's also rather cheap. It's designed for table top RPG. This means if you print out the map, each grid will be 1 inch by 1 inch. Good for being on screen, not so good for printing.

Also check out (https://topps.diku.dk/torbenm/maps.msp). Free fractal planet generator. Oceans and landmasses. If you need a quick planet map, this is a good place to start.

Technical note, distance between towns is dependent on the technology used. Example: Europe and the eastern part of the US, each town is about one good horse day's ride apart. That's why there are some really small towns that just had a stage coach in and that was it. As we moved westwards, the technology impacted the distance - but not the time. One day's railroad ride was a different distance. A car with paved roads could travel longer as well. Now that we have interstate highways and the internet, the distance is increasing yet again. Just a thought.

I have a number of web links which I can post if anyone is interested.


message 8: by Josh (new)

Josh K (jk61) | 10 comments Rats. I can't find it in my Yojimbo database.

Okay, so there is this article somewhere on the web. What the fellow does is draw some circles on a page. Then he labels each circle with an entity: dwarf, giants, human settlements, etc. Then between these circles he creates a boundary: mountains, swamp, maybe an ocean, and so forth.

It was a really neat idea. If I find the original article, I'll post the link.


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