Drawing Maps

Drawing maps can be a lot of fun. They look neat and complicated when you are done, but they are really pretty simple, the two biggest problems are keeping the symbols the same and making sure the geology is somewhat logical. Here is how I do mine.

First, I figure out what the land will look like. Will it be a big continent? Part of a continent? Large islands? A tiny archipelago? Sometimes I use real world places for inspiration, or just draw a loose squiggle and refine that.

Then, I look at where the mountains will be. I usually put mine toward the middle of continents, or toward one side, and usually in rough lines. I try to imitate how real mountain ranges grow. I pencil them in lightly at first so I can move them around. When I ink them in, I use a fairly simple upside down v shape with a little shadowing on one side.

I look at the relationship between the mountains and the sea. Using them as a guide, I start to trace where rivers will go, flowing from the peaks down to the sea. I remind myself that streams converge as they flow, instead of branching out. I might put in a lake or two just for fun.

At this point I know where the cities and towns might be – usually along rivers or near bays. After all, people need to get places easily, right? There might be a town near the mountains too, for mining, but usually it will also be near a river. People tend to live near water, not just for travel, but for drinking and crops.

Then you know where the roads are – between cities, or between cities and resources.

And now you know where the forests are too, usually they are thicker the nearer you are to the mountains and the farther you are from people.

You can have fun putting in caves, mineral deposits, castles, swamps and old lonely towers. Don’t forget hills, dry patches, marshland, lighthouses, beaches, rediculously huge cacti, or other embellishments.

The other secret to drawing a good map is this: keep the symbols very simple. That way you can draw a million of them with no strain.

Have fun drawing your map!

Nezumi and the Box

Today, I was packing holiday gifts.  I needed a box to put them in so I bought a new one, still folded flat.

When I brought the cardboard in, my calico began investigating, of course.  First she rubbed her cheek on it.  Then she knocked it down and pushed it around.  Then she tried to unfold the box… I saw what she was doing and opened it for her.  Nezumi loved her new kitty tunnel and had fun walking through it and sitting in it.

The really amusing part (at least to me) was when she then went into her old kitty cave, another cardboard box she’s had for quite some time.  Now I heard her scrabbling around in the back.  It was obvious what was going on.  Having learned about how boxes could be unfolded, and how the flaps came open in the back, she was looking to see if her kitty cave opened that way too!

I love my neko.