Thursday, April 19, 2012

Fantasy Cartography

As I’m getting my second Enchanted Bookstore Legend, Heritage Avenged, ready for publication, I’ve been considering adding a map. My world is becoming more complex and a map would be useful. However, some of the roads or trails in my fantasy world are magical, shortening the distance between locations. That makes map creation a challenge I’m still puzzling over. But, I thought I’d share my research on this project—some handy references for fantasy cartographers.

This software lets you generate random worlds and fine-tune many details to create a realistic and professional map. Their FT3 program gives you control of: coloration, meteor craters, sea level, land-mass size, height range, world circumference, water courses, and much more. You can import and modify real Earth data, generate spectacular new worlds at random, or build your own from the ground up, then just sculpt the land and add water.

For the fastest world generation, the software has an instant icon. When clicked, you are delivered an entire world - complete with climate, rainfall and temperature zones. Not the world you imagined? Just click the icon again, and again, and again for more sample worlds.

But with FT3 you can be even more god-like. Starting from a random world, real-Earth data, or a flat plain if you prefer, you can "paint" altitude or climate adjustments to suit your whim. You can raise mountains from nothing and consign entire continents to the deep. You can even create scripts to automate your tasks.

There are also editing tools to adjust coloration, percentage water, land sizes, maximum and minimum heights, world circumference, axis inclination, roughness, and more. You can add background images, even transparencies to create cloud cover and other effects. The system has good control, able rotate to any point and zoom in to any level of detail

If software automation is not the direction you wish to go, then this was a wonderful reference for hand map-makers, filled with instructions and tips.

Some of their most helpful ideas included references to these tutorial videos for hand cartographers:
Photoshop mapping for beginers
Fantasy Cartography with Butch Curry
Making a Continent in Photoshop
Gullside Tutorial (for photoshop / Gimp)

Other step by step mapping tutorials that demonstrate map-making software are:
Atlas Walkthough (requires Fractal Terrains)
Creating Cities with City Designer (requires City Designer by Profantasy)
Walkthough for overland maps in CC3 (requires CC3 by Profantasy)
Photoshop mapping with Chuck (requires Wilbur - free download)

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Marsha A. Moore is a writer of fantasy romance. The magic of art and nature spark life into her writing. The first of her epic fantasy romance series, ENCHANTED BOOKSTORE LEGENDS, is now available--SEEKING A SCRIBE. She has also authored the Ciel's Legacy series, fantasy romance with fast action mermaid/pirate storylines: TEARS ON A TRANQUIL LAKE and TORTUGA TREASURE.  For a FREE ebook download, read her historic fantasy, LE CIRQUE DE MAGIE, available at Amazon and Smashwords.


Ella Gray said...

This is so cool! Thanks for sharing all these links, Marsha. I've never needed to make a map before, but now I might do it just for fun, LOL.

Marilyn Muñiz said...

My favorite thing to do when I don't want to write. Thanks for the links! I'm always looking out for more map making programs.

Cirias said...

Nice advice on here. I do all my mapmaking in GIMP and have a website for anyone interested.

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