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.

key so far

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

04 December 2015

The Observatory of Deochan

Yesterday I completed an atlas entry that’s been waiting to escape the confines of my mind for quite some years. I’m busy adding labels and the key to the map of Korachan and Hoamm that is a test for the Atlas Elyden finally added the Observatory of Deochan.

Why the fuss? It all has something to do with the so-called Prime Meridian.

Um, no... wrong Prime

In a nutshell the prime meridian is the longitude known as having a property of 0o. In the real world this happens to be Greenwich and is ultimately an arbitrary number. In Elyden 0o longitude passes through the Observatory of Deochan. Originally, when icreated the first map of Korachan some 5-year ago the prime meridian passed right through the city of Deochan, though in digital iterations of the map the graticules got somehow shifted a bit, leaving the prime meridian about  7-miles west of the city. Even though it's an arbitrarily assigned value i wanted the point to be marked by something pertinent soi decided to create a college of cartography and astronomy on the point of the prime meridian.

And so was born the Observatory of Deochan. It's nice to have something that you've been wanting to include in the world finally appear somewhere. I can imagine it as a place of higher learning where the sons (and possibly daughters) of patricians and others (perhaps wealthy journeymen and their children) can come to learn their trade, specifically cartography and astronomy. So it's home to explorers and scientists. I imagine buildings not dissimilar to Oxford university - with Oxford limestone and verdigris-encrusted domes dotting the campus.

minus the bikes... perhaps

 #elyden #fantasycartography #deochan #primemeridian