Anvil Islands (first map, work in progress)

Well it's not quite my first map, but it's my first past the tutorial. It's a variation on the Mercator style from issue 1 of the annuals.

The geography is intentionally fantastical, with a strong south-to-north ocean current. The islands are protected from the heavy current by a massive mountain-range at the southern coast, spanning the two largest islands. This map goes along with a story I've been working on for some time now.

(Click the image for larger sizes)

There are a lot of sparse areas still and I've gotten a little stuck on adding rivers so there are none yet on this version. I'll add more trees / forests after the rivers are placed. It also needs an index panel for the marked faction areas (in orange, blue, green and black).

I'd really appreciate comments, criticism and advice (especially for river placement).


  • On rivers: Simply they start where the rain falls, flow following the steepest contour or slope, and don't end until they hit the sea. Along the way they will fill up depressions to form lakes. In really flat areas they will form swamps. Where the land is moderately flat and the river is old, they will have lots of bends back and forth.

    So you need to know/decide how the land overall lays. From that you can create rivers.

    On the large south-east island, I'd have a couple (more or less depending on rainfall) of rivers arise in the southern mountains. It looks like there is higher land on the east end of the island (I'm guessing it's higher between the two north-south mountain ranges). So I'd have the rivers squiggle back and forth to reach the channel between the east and west island. I'm guessing that a lot of the island is flat, so I'd probably have the two rivers join at some point (but that's not necessarily so). Maybe I'd add another river that arose in the upper moutain range and ran either to the sea or the gap between the east & west island.

    Most of the other rivers are likely to be short.

    One other tricky point -- the southern mountains on the south west island. I'm guessing those rivers would run sort-of west. I'm basing that on how the ocean is cutting into the coast, looking to me like the large geographic structure runs mostly east-west. But frankly, you could probably explain almost anything else too.

    Hope that gets you a start.

  • RalfRalf Administrator, ProFantasy 🖼️ 18 images Mapmaker
    There's one thing I'd like to suggest: Enlarge your map a little and try to give the island(s) a shape that does not fit into the map border so neatly. The area looks like it got boxed in by the constraints of the map, and that looks unnatural. An alternative is to draw part of the islands against the border, so that it is clear they extend further.

    Otherwise good work for a starting map. Nice to see the Mercator style in action.
  • edited March 2010
    @sdavies2720: Thanks for the advice on the river placement, I've started following it and will post an update soon. The terrain is in fact higher on the east end of the Meglis island and I think I'll add some shading to indicate that.

    @Ralf: Yeah the boxed shape has been concerning me. I was sort of hoping others wouldn't see it, but it's something I need to fix especially if you're noticing it right away. I've been reluctant to have any elements against the border and indicate off-screen because this geography is intended to be isolated (the earlier mentioned strong ocean currents) and self-contained. I'll fiddle with it more, but I think by its nature my solution may be more about reducing shapes than increasing them to the edge. Or maybe I'll just take some of the smaller islands closer to the edge without overlap. I suspect it's gonna be trial and error to fix.

    I'll post an update soon, thanks for the advice.
  • edited March 2010
    Okay here's the promised update.

    I've now added the rivers and moved the political borders to match the new natural boundaries. I've also placed some additional contours to indicate higher land and add some depth to the map overall.

    To address the constrained box problem, I've grown the Meglis island downward a bit, plus moved two of the top-right islands closer to the edge of the map.

    (Click the image for larger sizes)

    The scroll for the index / legend was inspired by art from the Vintage Collective @ Flickr. Although it wasn't traced or copied, I figured I'd give credit to the inspiration and there's a fair bit of art in that collection someone else may find useful:

    This map has a fair bit more for me to add. In particular, I've just added a swamp in the lower southeast corner to get myself started on filling the blank parts of the map.

    I'd be happy to get more feedback and criticism.
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