My (very) first ever map :)

Decided to redraw the map for a story i'm writing - Check.
Went to where I left my hand drawn map - Check.
Couldn't find it - Check.
Had a smallish emotional breakdown - Check.
After *much* consternation, decided my hand-drawn map was crap anyway - Check.
Finally bought CC3 - Check.

Well, just completeted a rough draft of the aforementioned map (see attached image). Its far from complete, but it also seems as complete as i can make this draft with my current skill level. Chalk it off to a learning experience! I'd really value people's feedback and tips. I also have a few specific questions.

1. This map is way cluttered, and half the place names arn't even there! Am i niggling to much on details (less is more?), or should i try to make this map on a bigger size next time?
2. Mountains, mountains, mountains. I can't even decide if i've done a halfway decent job with them. The way i doodled it focused more on the "spine" of each range and it made them seem less... dominating? Also, there's one particular peak wthat i'd like to highlight but i'm not sure how to even begin going about that in a decent way based off what i've already done. Am i approaching mountain ranged "wrong"? The same goes for the forests.
3. Does anyone know how i can make dots for towns, this is what i was doing when i was hand drawing and i kind of like it more than the detailed little pictures CC3 is serving me.
4. I picked this template cause it was the most minimal one available too me. Can anyone recommend any good minimalistic templates?

Other than that i'd love to hear any tips, pointers, encouragement and thoughts. I figure asking open ended now will let me get into good habits early.
Cheers all!


  • GatharGathar Traveler
    Not at all an expert, but I love giving my opinion anyway :)

    First, I like this map, it seem to go right to the point. Some other minimalistic templates I likes include Pär Lindström BW

    I do find the mountain ranges too thick (I'm fine with the forest). And some mountain overlap the sea, maybe you could remove those? Another suggestion would be to play with the size of the symbols to have bigger mountains in the middle (and therefore less crowded).

    I don't understand the gap in the mountain range. What created it? It looks brutal and not natural to me. Maybe at least one river going in there somewhere would help?

    Of course you can draw a circle instead of using a symbol for the city, the button is on the right of the screen.

    Did you put your text on the text sheet and activate the sheet effects? If so, there should be a white halo that makes the text much more readable.
  • I think it's a great start. I agree with Gathar's comments in general.

    For the mountains, I would suggest setting them out in a more realistic fashion. If you go on to Google maps and look at a real mountain range in satellite view, you'll be able to get a sense of how mountains actually look. They tend to form in ridges and chains, with valleys, glaciers, lakes, and rivers between. When I do an overland map I start off by tracing where the mountain ridges will be using a contour line, then I go over that with the actual mountain symbols. It helps ensure I leave space for valleys and so forth, rather than crowding the map with nothing but peaks.
  • Cheers for the thoughts. On my hand drawns one had contours that showed it was more of an elivated mountain pass down there in the bottom left. Still pretty hilly but not as elevated/inhospitable. The kind of thing a party could travel down easily but an army would be very slowed up by. That at least made it less brutal looking lol. The spines of the range on either side lined up with the highest point on the pass too (and there was a small fort here). As for what created it i'd struggle to answer that, as i say it seemed to ask less of a question in the hand drawn versions.

    So what created them... probably natural forces. They do have some connection to the Fenris wolf of norse mythology (he's barely alive in that crack on the bottom left of Fenrir's Range).

    I'll have a look for that button next time i fire up CC3 too :). Thatll be once i've psyched up for draft 2 :P
  • 1 month later
  • Hey all, I've had a second crack at the map and i think there are some improvements. I'm still not satisfied with my mountain ranges and the pass to the canninid plane still looks wrong (though perhaps a little less brutal?). Would like to get more input and feedback if possible? :)

    thanks again folks!
  • oopse, didn't save my last few edits. here's the actual draft :
  • This is quite an improvement --well done. :)

    The one part that strikes me as odd is the mountain range north of "Fenderren Glen," which feels like it should be an arm of the Fenris range, but instead seems "out there" on its own, not an organic part of the map. Is the area from "Iron Mine" to "Twixton" meant to be an upland valley? If so, I might remove what looks like a marsh east of Twixton and replace it with mountains/hills connecting the isolated range to the Fenris. The Twixton-Twin Forts road could then become a pass descending from the uplands to the plain, following the course of the river. That's just a mild suggestion, however; this is a map I'd happily lay in front of a gaming group as-is.
  • You'd named Red Marsh in the first map so I assume it's an important land feature. Following Barliman's suggestion, some hills to the west of the marsh forming a pass between Fenrir's Range and the mountains north of Fenderren Glen would create a recognizable valley between Twixton and Iron Mine. And you could keep the marsh nestled against the hills.

    I like watching maps transform and yours went from a Tolkienesque bare-bones black-and-white with colored lettering into more of an old world sepia-tone ink drawing. It's pleasing to the eye and much easier to "read". By varying the mountain sizes, you created a sense of 3D without using shadows which is really nice.

    Well done!
  • Barliman - yes you've hit on what i was trying to do in a nutshell. Fenderren glen is supposed to be an upland valley - very astute as i have been struggling to make it clear.

    The red marsh is quite important and as it's genesis is perhaps somewhat fantastical then perhaps i can get away with its slightly odd placement. The story goes that several hundred years before the drawing of this map there was a great battle there, one that raged on and off for months with neither side ever wresting victory from the other. The battle churned up so much earth around a major river that it was over the months turned into a marsh. I know thats not exactly realistic - but i think its good enough for fantasy? Also the mud/soil has a orange/red hue for which the marsh is named. I was planning to have the legends say its red because of the "rivers of blood" that the land drank in, but a particularly learned character would mention at somepoint that its got somthing to d with the minerals in the soil (or somthing?). I think it shows that i've not got any real geology/geographic knowledge beyond highschool level and hobby orienteering ;).

    Aeiou - I like your suggestion. If i'm grasping what your suggesting correctly then the eastern end of fenderren should be given a more "pinched off" look by nearly clossing it off with foothills (but leaving enough space for the road to form a pass). is that correct?

    Cheers for your encouragement peeps, i shall do a third draft soon :).
  • Yes, how you're thinking would work well.

    I'd actually close off the valley from the marsh with solid hills connecting the two ranges, but make them "thinner" or less dense along the road. When you play, describe it as the road running through the least rugged terrain.

    Another way to define the valley would be to add a solid brown-ish color over the valley area. Then add sheet effects to that layer to give it high transparency and an edge fade so it blends into the the map where it tapers off. Many maps use this method under forests and mountains to give depth and definition.
  • "I'd actually close off the valley from the marsh with solid hills connecting the two ranges, but make them "thinner" or less dense along the road. When you play, describe it as the road running through the least rugged terrain."

    This is pretty much what I had in mind. And AEIOU's suggestion to keep the marsh along the edge of the hills is a good one. Perhaps, in the marsh's creation legend, one army was trapped against the hills and couldn't escape.
  • more good thoughts, thanks guys. I'm actually not prepping this for an RPG but for some writing... and maybe an rpg sometime down the road lol.
  • I love the sepia edging for the shoreline! It makes me want to see more of it. Perhaps you could place some oval contours underneath the rock formations in the water with the same effect. Maybe even the river and the small lake as well... basically where ever there is land touching water.

    Heck you may want to try adding it to the inner map border edge? I say experiment with it and find that balance between the sepia and the B&W.
  • 21 days later
  • Do you mean the spelling Fridgid Sea, or Frigid Sea. Normally, Frigid is spelled as I have just done.
  • Also, Plane is spelled Plain if it refers to a flat geographical feature.
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