I'm going to show you how to make a cool looking fantasy map.
What you will need:
- a graphics editing program (I used Photoshop.) There is also a free program called GIMP.
- a public domain image of an old map. Some good sources for public domain images are: Public Domain Sherpa and NOAA's Office of Coast Survey Historical Map & Chart Collection. The NOAA site is a gold mine. It takes some searching, but you can even find maps of old west towns, forts, and battles!
What we are going to do:
We are going to take an existing public domain map and modify it to look like the imaginary world we have in our head.
First, here is the public domain map we'll use for this tutorial:
|Public Domain Map|
Next, we'll make an outline of our world:
Now we'll overlay the guide over the map and see if we can move and/or resize things a bit to match any of the coastlines with the outline guide:
|Select the Marquee Tool|
|Select the part of the map we want to modify.|
|Right (or Control) click and select "Layer via Copy."|
|Move the new layer into position and rotate.|
|Use the erase tool with a big brush.|
|Then use a much finer brush to erase the new layer along the coast.|
|Then just carefully continue erasing.|
|Merge the new layer with the background, and keep erasing.|
|Then erase, merge, and keep erasing.|
|Our world is starting to take shape!|
Normally, we'd just rinse and repeat until we'd filled in all of our coast lines. (Remember to Select Layer via Copy from the original map layer to get new coast line material.) But for now, I'm just going to skip ahead to the background step:
|I found the background from the NOAA web site above.|
|I add a semi transparent color layer between the map and the background.|
Play around with layer composite settings and filters and effects.
|So here's what we have created so far.|
It is still very much a work in progress and needs to be broken up a bit (looks too rectangular right now,) but you can see how this technique can be used to create just about any map shape you want. Then it's just a matter of tweaking it and adding rivers, lakes, mountains etc. You can add sea monsters, "Here Be Dragons," mermaids, sailing ships etc. Karen's Whimsy has a lot of good public domain images for that kind of stuff.
Now what are you waiting for? Go create some worlds!
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Please find me on line to say hi, talk about SF & Fantasy, or whatever :)
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Thanks for reading!