I’ve had a writing project on the back-burner for a while now. Essentially, I’ve been trying to write a fun little fantasy novel for my wife. A major part of this process, though, is in creating the world her story is set in, including the geographic regions. The characters, after all, have to travel from one place to another, and it’s usually a good idea for the author to know ahead of time where things are located and how they relate to one another when writing the events in the story, right?
I’d created a very simplistic map using a less-than-ideal mapping program. I wasn’t very happy with the result, even though it did give me enough of a visual representation of the land to work with. So, I’ve started trying to re-create my map by drawing it. I’ve always enjoyed working with a pencil, so it’s been kind of fun to just spend some time with a sketch pad, an eraser, and a pencil and work for a little bit. Trouble is, I’m not always sure how to represent certain features. And wouldn’t you know it, there’s not a single adequate tutorial online on how to actually _draw_ a fantasy map. Every single one I’ve come across is a tutorial on how to use one software package or another. This is all well and good – if I was going to use software for this project. But I’m not, at least I don’t _want to have to_. But I can’t find anyone who can gives good tips on how to draw decent looking mountain ranges or forests (the latter of which is especially hard for me because trees are not simple geometric images). It’s kind of frustrating, really.
My solution for the time being is to print out a couple of decent fantasy maps that others have created and try to replicate some of the features on those maps. Ultimately, I may resort to software, after all – I just hate the cookie-cutter look that most of these packages are limited to and I don’t really have the spare cash lying around to buy a decent program.
Maybe when I’m all done with this, if I’ve learned enough and created a map that actually looks half-decent, I’ll put together a tutorial geared specifically at hand-drawing fantasy maps, since there seems to be such a dearth of such things out there right now. It’s a shame, really – we’ve almost become _too_ dependent on technology in some ways. Of course, the irony is that I’ve been looking on the Web to find help on how to perform a more ‘primitive’ task.