18 January 2016

Pelasgos and Azazem - Atlas Elyden

Here’s some WIPs on the next batch of maps. Since I have the topography for all of the Inner sea ‘done’ (I use the word done loosely as I’m already seeing parts I’m not happy with on the Korachan map – I need more levels of topography, so I’m thinking of 15 total, so I need to make a swatch/palette for the extra levels, but more on that some other time) I can now concentrate on the maps themselves – transplanting details and features from my old Inner Sea Map over to the newer and far more precise atlas maps.

the Inner Sea

So Far I’ve been working on Korachan’s coastal neighbours to the west and east – Azazem and Pelasgos, respectively – as parts of them were already done when I was working on Korachan (though that doesn’t mean I skipped half the work – as I each map is a different scale, I have to re-label them, so that text and icon sizes remain a constant size across maps regardless of scale).

Pelasgos is farther along and is almost done. You might notice a new ‘road’ design which represents umbra pipelines. Umbra in Elyden is a magical substance that takes the place of petroleum and oil in the real world. Most technarcane engines run on processed umbra and it’s a vital resource. I just need to do a bit more tinkering, add a few more labels (like rivers, lakes and geographical features, mostly), before I can call it done.


Azazem is a bit more raw, and so far I’ve just managed to transplant the old labels from the Inner Sea map to it and found encyclopaedia entries for the region and am in the process of fitting them into the new geography I came up with. I love this part as I get to rediscover old features and details I came up with years ago that I had forgotten about, so it’s a bit like a historian/archaeologist, piecing history together, expanding upon it and placing it in the world. Azazem is also the first of this new batch of maps to be displayed in landscape mode, due to its orientation.

Azazem - WIP

I mentioned the topography above, and it’s something I’m not 100% happy with. On face value there’s nothing wrong with it, though it seems a bit off – particularly the mountainous levels. They seem a bit bare, so I want to revisit the individual levels to make them more intricate and ‘realistic’, if that makes any sense. At this point it’s just polish though and I can live without it for now, though I do want to go back and revisit the levels in the future, maybe once I have some more regions finished, particularly around the Inner Sea.

Speaking of the future, I’m looking forward to moveing away from the Inner Sea, and somewhere a bit more virginal. I’m thinking of the continent of Bror, in the southeastern hemisphere. It’s an interesting shape and the only true island-continent in Elyden, so it’s something different to the Inner Sea. Either that of the Surrach, which I’ve touched upon before, though not explored in much detail so far. 

BROR - in the S-E of the map

So many choices!

09 January 2016

Korachan Atlas map 'finished'!

The first map in my Atlas Elyden series is finished! Now to start work on the next...

Korachan - Atlas Elyden 'finished'

I spent far longer on the topography than I was hoping to but, I can justify it by saying I was working on a large area that sees the basis for around 6-8 maps largely done, so that will save me a lot of time in the future.

I updated the colour scheme, and went for a simpler scheme for the water (no wave lines any more), though there’s no topography for the water (yet… not sure if I want to do that for now, but its easily something that can be done at a later time). I still need to add some spot-heights (and depths) but they’re not essential to the map and can wait for later. I also had to go over the roads and paths to make them fit in with the elevation better (no roads in steep inclines, for instance).

I removed the greyed out ‘focus’ area in favour of a washed out near-greyscale background for areas outside the borders of the focus nation (in this case all lands not part of the nation of Korachan).  

Overall, I’m quite pleased with the end result and am already on the Pelasgos map, which shouldn’t take too long now that I have the base ready. If I can keep up the pace I might try make some encyclopaedia entries for the regions I’ve finished. 


01 January 2016

the Path Travelled

part 4 is now available on my Patreon, here. I've added a link in each part linking back to the previous part so readers can start at the beginning. Please check it out at let me know - so far it's a travelogue, though a story is about to unfold.

Remember, if you want to you can support my patreon for excusive goodies for as little as $2 a month,


More Topography

I've continued working on the topographical map over the past few days and, with the help of some comments from fellow cartographers (thanks to AzurePlanet over at the Cartographer's Guild) I've revised the levels of the topography, making the map overall shallower and more realistic.

Inner Sea topography - take 2

I still feel as though there's room for more work - polishing off certain parts of the sections as well as altering the edges to make them more realistic. In general I wasn't to continue making the maps shallower until I only need to add 1 or 2 more level of steepness (level 6 / 7) as I don't want this region to be too high in a global sense. The highest peak in the world is something around 10,000 meters (as a contrast Everest is 8,848 meters), I'd like 10,000 meters to be the 12th height level on the maps.

Speaking about height maps I'm still working on the scale for them but will likely settle on something similar to this (though it's far from final):

12  - 10,000 meters
11  - 8,000 meters
10  - 6,000 meters
9    - 4,000 meters
8    - 3,000 meters
7    - 2,000 meters
6    - 1,500 meters
5    - 1,000 meters
4    - 750 meters
3    - 500 meters
2    - 250 meters
1    - 100 meters

I'm now looking to a final map that's hopefully a stylistic cross between this and this (colour of the former and the clarity of the latter), and though my hopes of finishing the map in December have been thwarted I hope to not take too long on it. though I am keeping in mind that the topography above will be useful for quite a few maps, which will save time there (hopefully!) As I work on the topography I notice that some roads and other routes currently pass through very rough and steep terrain - those will need to be revised.

As I said at the onset - this was a 'proof of concept' map showing me what can and cant be done and I've learnt a lot about the order in which things need to be done, so work on the 2nd map (Pelasgos - half of which is already done thanks to the orientation of the Korachan map) will hopefully be completed a lot quicker. I'm tentatively hoping for at least an average of 1 map per month...

We'll see :)

#topography #elyden #fantasycartography

28 December 2015

Korachan Topography

I've been quiet for a while as I work on the Korachan map for the Atlas Elyden

I spent some time deciding whether I wanted to keep a Portrait orientation or whether I wanted to switch to a landscape orientation. The reason for this was largely scale - witching to landscape would have given me a bit more legroom in terms of scale (increasing the map size from 100% to 108%), though this would have been at the cost of having to remove Hoamm from the map. Here's the 2 maps next to each other:  

Korachan - Landscape
Korachan - portrait

I settled on the second of the above maps, as a compromise between the two as the portrait orientation was more pleasant given the vertical shape of Korachan - I kept a portrait orientation, though would not include Hoamm as a 'focus' of the page, which gave me a bit more room in the bottom, at the 'cost ' of making the eastern part of the map stick out of the frame (which is a quirky feature I always liked on atlases).

So that's that. The map itself is largely finished, though I may still add a few labels here and there (largely geographical features once the topography is ready - more on that below) and I need to go over the icons again as the resizing left them somewhat blurry. 

Speaking of topography, that's what's been occupying most of my time lately. Of course, since this is me and I have to complicate things, I had to use a top-down approach, rather than bottom-up (start ith the world and work my way down to regions, rather than the other way round) so had to determine things like highest peak and so on before I could start work on the topographies. So far what I have is this: 

The world map will use a maximum of 10 levels of height, each representing 1-mile (the highest peak on Elyden is just under 8 miles (compared with 5.5 miles for Everest, keeping in mind that Elyden is larger, with slightly less gravity and, well, created by gods), though I may change this. So far the map below has 5 layers of elevation, so there's room for 3 more, though I need to revise the topography to make most of the map 'shallower' as it's turning out too high, given the limitation on height I've set myself - Korachan is not meant to be a particularly high region so I don't all available topographical heights, if any of that makes any sense.

I have no idea how accurate or realistic my topographies are (if you spot anything wrong with them please let me know!), though I have to say I'm really enjoying making them. They are a bit time-consuming, especially as I need to try and make the map fit in with features and regions that are already established, though they're very relaxing to make! If anything I need to try and limit the amount of time I spend on them as I could get carried away, though hopefully, more time spent on the map means a better end product.

A note on the colour - these colours are just a temporary feature while I work on the map, and I have a few options in mind - colour gradient, just the topographical lines, or use the topographical lines to help me make a relief map in greyscale. I'd like to try all 3 options and see which fits in the best.

partial topography map - Korachan

EDIT: the entire N-E part of the map is unfinished as yet - just the 'coastal' regions, so far. Also the attached map is larger than the Korachani maps in previous posts as I figured i might as well work on a larger area, in preparation for the next map.

I also settled on a portrait aspect with inset maps on the right, as shown below:

15 December 2015

Atlas Elyden Key

A quick post to show the Key that I've been working on for the Atlas Elyden. I spent most of the day redoing the key on the Korachan map to match this one (still some work to do on the labels! As long as there's room on the page, there's room for more labels!) and I'm close to finished.

Atlas Elyden key (W.I.P)

The majority of this key is dedicated to settled areas. There's 6 generic city keys, depending on the city size, though there are colour variants to denote capitals, as well as fortified variants, for a total of 36 (6 of each city keys).

The rest is dedicated to other labels, routes, physical features as well as political borders. There's room for more, as I'm sure there will be as I progress (I know for sure I will need to add more physical features, such as deserts, badlands, etc. and I'm looking forward to fleshing out the maps to include such features as they can only make them seem more alive).

I;ve also decided to try a greyscale topographical style for depicting mountains and hills. I hope to try them out before the end of the year so I can settle on a style before starting another map - this one was the 'guinea pig' of the Atlas as I've tested and redone labels on it, so the next one should be quicker, though as always, the labels will take some time!  

I;ve also been hard at work preparing the index for the Atlas, so here's a document detailing the Korachani and Hoammi labels on this map (the top half is pg 1 and the bottom half is pg 2)

#Atlaselyden, #Fantasycartography, #Encyclopaediaelyden,

13 December 2015

Korachan Atlas Map

So work on the Korachani map for the Atlas Elyden is close to completion. There’s still work to be done with the mountains and some other physical features, but more on that after the map:

Atlas Elyden - Korachan & Hoamm

I’m quite pleased with the map overall though there’s still work to be done. The labels are clear (though I already notice some labels, like the mountains and larger geographical features are too dark, especially compared with the nations), the colours are what I was aiming for (though the actual printed map in the Atlas Elyden will be missing the weathered look to make printing easier) and the overall style is what I was aiming for. One down, about 100 left to go… To give you an idea of what that means: this map alone ended up with me adding over 150 new entries to the Encyclopaedia Elyden. Imagine what the whole Atlas will add to the Encyclopaedia!

I’ve come up with a symbol-based resource key that’s going to be used across the Atlas, which explains why there isn’t a key in this map – the complete Atlas will have a 2-page spread at the beginning of the Atlas detailing the key, labels and other details so they don’t need repeating across all the maps thereafter. In a nutshell I’ve come up with a few dozen symbols pertaining to resources and industries – pickaxe for mining, fish for fishing, grain for farming, etc.  think most are pretty intuitive, though some, though want of better design, might not be. One particular symbol I’m having trouble with is the symbol for dross (a slurry-like food that’s a staple amongst the lower classes and slaves of most nations, made from everything you can think of – discarded veg & fruit, insects, grizzle & animal fat, human & animal corpses, and other things), which is a bowl. Hopefully its good enough as I really can’t think of anything else to use as a symbol.

Map symbols

There’s various roads and routes – main roads, roads, pilgrimages (the Shadow March) and sea routes. I was thinking of adding distances to the sea routes (which I can’t do with the land routes, due to there being so many labels!), but I’m not sure they’re necessary in this map (other than for my own ease of reference when writing fiction based in those areas)

This particular map will be presented in landscape orientation, with each individual leaf sized at A4 (for a total size of A3). Once all the maps are done I’ll have to add a gutter (3mm per page half) to make it easier to read the map (something I notice most modern atlases seem to ignore), which is why the border on the top and bottom of the page are larger than the left and right.

The page borders have not only the standard graticules and degrees but also an alphanumerical grid (A1, B2, C3 etc.) which will be used for the index in the back of the Atlas, listing every entry alphabetically. I'm going to start work on that now that I've finished this map, to give me an idea of hiw long the index will be. I'll post that once i'm ready with it.

I also added a ‘focus’ the map. In this case the focus is Korachan and Hoamm, so I faded all other territories by greying them out, as well as their labels and keys. I’m not sure if that comes across well in the finished product – any feedback on this, or anything else in general?

Obviously this leaves me with mountains and other geological features (marshlands, deserts, salt pans, reefs etc.). The mountains, as always, are giving me a hassle as I just cannot settle on a style that I like and feel fits in with atlas style & time period I’m aiming for. I like coloured topography maps but fear they are too ‘modern’ for the relative time period I’m aiming for (1880 – 1900), which leaves me with my nemesis – the hairy caterpillar ridges, which are very time-consuming. Though if I spent as much time drawing them as I spent complaining about them I’d probably have done them by now!

#Atlaselyden, #Encyclopaediaelyden, #Korachan, #Fantasy cartography, #Elyden