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!

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