1. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    Fantasy Maps

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Thomas Kitchen, Nov 18, 2013.

    Hi all,

    I'm currently developing a fantasy map for my (duh) fantasy novel, and I'm wondering how many place names, forest names, etc. should go onto the map. It'll need to be seen by readers, so it's not just for my own pleasure or for reference. How many names should I include? If none of my characters go there, does it still need to be mentioned (just on the map) to give it a "lived-in" feel, and to make it look less empty?

    Any other map-making advice is also most welcome. :) I'll be using Gimp.
     
  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Maybe you already saw these, but they were made in GIMP as well. Free is good. ;) Some of the elements are prefab, like the scale doohickie at the bottom and the frame is made from smaller elements I found. I'm happy to give you pointers as to the where and how of things I've done. Feel free to PM me. :)

    I add place names as my story progresses. Right now I have only five place names of geographic importance. Who know how many at the end. The whole reason I made the map is that there is a sea voyage as a large part of the plot. My people only know of a small part of the globe, so there is a whole continent that wouldn't have a name because they don't know it's there until later.

    http://www.writingforums.org/entry/maps.62503/

    Tip #1 - Resist the urge to flatten layers. ;)
     
  3. TessaT
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    TessaT Contributing Member

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    I agree with Wreybies, especially on the 'build as you go' aspect. But once all is said and done, your map should have more than just the places your character visited. This is the world that your character lives in, so you don't really want it to be empty (unless that's how the world actually is). You also have to think about how big cities are, where they get their food from, if they farm VS hunter/gatherer, and depending on which (or both) where do they do it all at?

    Brushes. I love map brushes. I use Photoshop, but I know that brushes can be adapted from Photoshop and used in GIMP. Check out deviantart for their brushes. There are a lot of nice mountains and forests and even buildings. So far I've yet to come across a rainforest/jungle trees (grumble, grumble, grumble) but there's a LOT of things out there that you can use for free!
     
  4. Nilfiry
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    Nilfiry Contributing Member

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    You should make your map only as big and detailed as your story. If your story takes place in only one island, then draw only one island, and if it takes place in one country, draw only that country. It should primarily contain only the places visited or mentioned in your story. Other places irrelevant to the story can clutter your map and be distracting. Once you have all the basis down, you can try to decorate it just a tad bit with some nearby places along the path, but be liberal.
     
  5. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    @Wreybies - my fantasy story also focuses on a sea voyage, but possibly not in the first one. It just depends on how much story I can fit into one book (sounds sloppy, but I know what I mean). And after a bit more thought, I actually realise I have more places that my characters visit than I thought, and so I almost definitely have a fully-fledged map now. :D It's just a matter of loading it into GIMP. I will, however, have to beat your maps hand down. ;)

    @TessaT - Thanks for the tips; I especially thank you for mentioning the brushes. I've already found a really nice set of symbols, but I'm going to looks around a bit longer, just in case I find something more suited to my story. :)

    @Nilfiry - Thanks. As I've said above, I've now managed to remember more places my characters visit, or are important to the story, and so I have a pretty decent map now, at least for me. Cheers. :)
     
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  6. Albirich
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    Albirich Active Member

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    You can name major zones and parts of the world, the biggest cities and ports, the name of the ocean or big seas, names of a famous huge forest or two.

    Flesh out the biggest first, then write, then flesh out more as your character progresses through each place. If not you'll just use all your time on the map and nothing on the writing itself.
     

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