I have been making maps for as long as I remember. I think my interest in maps started when I discovered the maps in The Lord of the rings. I remember how I used to sneak in to my uncles room together with my cousin to look at the maps in the book. I thought they were amazing.
When I got a bit older I started to play role playing games and making my own adventures and maps came naturally. Making the maps for my worlds was usually where my adventures ended so after a while I only made more maps for adventures that I bought.
In those days all maps were made with pen and paper,this was long before you had any powerful computers at home. But as usually happens the people you play with grow up and start moving around for studies or work so my gaming group kind of disappeared. After that I mainly made maps for myself, sometimes sharing them with friends.
But in 2008 those things were about to change. That was when I discovered the Cartographers guild on the Internet and suddenly I realized that there were a lot of people like me out there. People who sat at home making maps.
The first map I completely made in a digital format was my Etrakien map, a map that also got the Cartographers choice award on the Cartographers guild site. Something I never expected but was deeply honoured by. After some time i started to get asked if I could do commissions but most of the times I turned them down due to lack of time. When having small children it is always hard to find time for other projects then family.
But for some reason this spring the number of people asking for commissioned work has increased a lot. With my kids now being older and also due to some encouragement from my wife I’ve decided to go pro. So from this May I’m running a small one man company doing maps for the ones in need.
My main tools of trade are Photoshop, Art rage 4, Campaign Cartographer 3 with addons and not to forget my Wacom Cintiq 13hd that I’ve now invested in.
So have a look at my blog in the near future for a new page called commissions, where you will be able to find some more information about how to contact me if you like to have a map done.
One of the most important things to remember when you make maps is that it should be fun. If you don’t have fun, well you won’t continue doing it. One of things I like the most is to make maps for my kids. It doesn’t matter if it is for a RPG session or for an imaginary world they want to play in. If they ask for a map I always try to make one for them.
This spring my oldest daughter turned six and she wanted to invite all her friends for a pirate party. At the moment Jake and the Never land pirates are her favorite show on TV, and of course if you have a pirate party you have to have a treasure hunt.
My kids loves to have treasure hunts and I have made maps of our house that I use when we go treasure hunting. Sometimes I include a riddle to make it a bit harder for them to find the treasure. Because the truth is that they nowadays are so good at reading the maps of our house that they find the treasures in no time. So I have to make it a bit harder for them.
But this time I decided to make something completely different that I hadn’t done before. Jake and his pirates are living in never land, but it is quite hard to get there for a party, so I decided to make a map where I turned our house into Never land. To do this I used Profantasy’s Dungeon Designer 3 program and the Jon Roberts Dungeon style from the 2011 annual (It is free to download by the way). I really like that style and it is very easy to use.
Do I need to say that the map was a real success. The kids loved it and they really played it out well, as if they were in Never land. The treasure was easily found after some exciting adventures and everyone enjoyed the booty, golden coins with chocolate inside. What more can you ask for if your six years old
Lately I’ve been working hard on a new style for Profantasy. As you can see in the test map of the style it is a black and white style that hopefully will work very well in print.
I have always been very fond of the old fantasy maps like the ones you found in the hobbit and the lord of the rings, black and white and very clean looking. Recently I’ve also made some old school dungeon maps so I thought that I’d like to have a black and white style that would work with these.
First I only had some mountains, forest and rivers and simple icons for cities/towns but when I was asked by Profantasy if I could turn it into a style for them I decided I had to expand the number of symbols and textures that could be used. I’m still convinced that you should keep things as simple as possible with this kind of maps, this is really a style where less can be more. Let the negative space in the map do its job. But now this one won’t be just for me, and there might be a million reasons why someone wants to include some symbols that I wouldn’t. So I decided to work through the list of symbols that are the most common in the styles released by Profantasy. Then everyone can decide for them self what to include.
The first map I made in the style had quite a lot of water in it, and while looking at the map I felt that the water area of the map was a bit empty compared to the land area with all its symbols of trees, mountains and hills. So I decided that I would add in some monsters like you have in old maps. The inspiration to the included monsters is from an old Swedish map called the Carta Marina. In this map the sea is full of strange and scary monsters and snakes. Of course there had to be a ship or two as well that fearlessly sails through these dangerous waters.
Making these monsters and ships has been a great challenge for me, I haven’t done anything like it before and I really had to push myself to the next step to make them. But it has been great fun and I must say that the monsters are probably the symbols I’ve enjoyed the most to make in this style. They’ve also inspired me to some more ideas for future maps, but more of that in a later blog post.
The style is not completely done yet, I still have some small things to finish up and I need to make a compass and a scale bar. But you should all be able to see the finished result this summer, if you subscribe to the Annuals.
Quite recently I made two maps for a Swedish RPG called Fantasy! It is an old school game that goes back to the roots of the RPG hobby. This means maps in black and white. I found it very enjoyable to make those maps. It is something special to just use black and white while making maps. You just have those two colours nothing else. No grey areas just those two opposite colours, it is a bit like working with negative and positive spaces and try to make it look as good as possible.
After finishing the maps, which I had to do in a very short space of time due to a deadline coming up, and I came in rather late in the project, I felt that I wanted to push this style a bit further. I felt that I could make much more of it, that there were a lot more boundaries to explore here.
The map in this post is a very early version of the more developed style I’m now working on. It is of a dragon that has moved in to the entrance of a Dwarven underground kingdom. A perfect place for a short evening scenario where the players have to rid the entrance of the dragon, so that the Dwarves can start using it again.
For the style I’ve also decided that I will make some more monsters, not just having a dragon. This is a way for me to try to develop my drawing skills as I’m not very used of doing monsters or creatures. I used to do a lot of drawing while in school so many years ago. But since then I’ve nearly only done map art, like mountains and trees. So you can say I’m a bit rusty.
I thought it was time to try to push my skills a bit forward and challenge myself with something else then mountains. So at the moment I’m trying to make a list of creatures that might come in handy, except dragons, while making old school maps. I’m trying to focus on larger monsters here not the ordinary orc soldier. The picture below is of a great spider, spiders are always fun to throw at your players. Any suggestions of other large monsters or creatures that like to reside in dark dungeons or catacombs?
I was really looking forward to this month’s annual (April, 2013) by Jonathan Roberts. His earlier ones are two of my absolute favorites. I must say though that at first I was a bit disappointed when I looked at this month’s style. If you look at the earlier overland map annual he made the symbols are in my opinion some of the best ones I’ve seen so far published by Profantasy. Every mountain, city and hill icon are like small pieces of art, and the new symbols in this month’s annual doesn’t really reach the same standard. Still they are looking great and a there are a lot of useful symbols that I missed in the first overland style from Jonathan, like the cliff edges. The thing here is that Jonathan has spoiled us with such great maps and products that the expectations you have on a new style from him are probably impossible to live up to.
Already before I received this month’s style I had decided on making a map in the style to try it out. Some time ago I was asked if I could make a colour map of the campaign world from a Swedish old school RPG called Fantasy! (great game by the way), so I thought it would be a great way trying out the new style. In the end I however used more symbols from the old overland style then the new one, but some crucial pieces in the map are from the new one.
As always it is easy to quickly build up a map in CC3, as long as you do it in the right order. I think that one of the great advantages of CC3 is that it lets me make maps in styles I normally can’t. For me to make a map in the same style as Jonathan Roberts without CC3 would take ages, if it would be possible at all. Now I can accomplish it in about a day’s work, which is absolutely amazing.
As always when I work in CC3 I like to bring up the map in Photoshop to make it more unique and give it a bit of a personal touch. This time I’ve added some colours, especially around the area called Ankhar on the map, and I also painted the rivers in Photoshop. I wanted the rivers to be more irregular in form then what you can get in CC3.
I’m very pleased with the result and now with more symbols to use with the new style from Jonathan I definitely think I will return to this style in a not too distant future.
If you look back in history we have always had systems for how we count time. Days turn to weeks, weeks to months and month to years. When it comes to my Etrakien world I started to think about how they divide the year. An easy way, that many use, is to just convert our calendar to your fantasy setting. Twelve months made up of approximately four weeks.
But I felt I wanted something else, I wanted a system that kind of felt unique for the world, a system that also had some logical connection with the metaphysical universe of the Etrakien world. After some thinking I decided on the following.
The Etrakien universe consists of seven worlds, once created by seven gods called Archonts. These worlds where just bleak copies of the original world, created by the original God. So the numbers seven and eight are very magical for the Etrakien world. Because of this I decided that an Etrakien year consists of seven months that all have seven weeks. Every week has seven days which makes the total number of days per year to 343.
But every seventh year there is an extra week of seven days called the eighth year. Those eight years will together build up what is called a cycle. So when you ask a person in Etrakien what exact day it is he will answer something like this, – It is the fourth day of the third week in the fifth year of the 28th cycle.
When I was thinking of the calendar I also thought about the moon. The moon has always been important and we generally have had a good knowledge of the moons cycle. How many days it is between the full moons and so on. In the Etrakien world there are actually two moons. One moon has a cycle of 28 days between its full moons, the second one can only be seen during the eighth year, and is regarded as a very strong foreteller of how the next cycle of eight years will turn out.
The very few times that the two moons will be full together during the eighth year are regarded as times of great change to come. How often that happens however I still have to count on
The other day I decided to upgrade my version of Artrage from 3.5 to the new 4.0. One of the new features in the program is that you can draw in symmetry, or as it is called in Artrage Paint symmetry.
First when I bought the program I didn’t think much of this feature but after some testing I’ve realized that it really has some great potential. For example I started to experiment doing compass roses, and to my surprise the symmetry paint feature is a big help.
Here is a quick tutorial on how to make a compass rose as the one in the picture at the top of this post.
First of all start up Artrage and click Tools-Paint Symetry-Paint Symmetry, as in the picture below.
This will give you the default symmetry where the picture is divided into four squares. This means that if you draw something in one square the stroke will be repeated in the three others. If you like to have a compass rose that only shows N,S,E and W this will do fine. If you however also want the rose to include NE,SE,NW and SW you have to increase the symmetry segments to eight instead of four.
To do this you do the following. Point with mouse at the circle in the middle of the picture and click with the left mouse button. This will open up a new menu as seen in the picture below. Select Set number of Segments and put in the number you like, the maximum number of segments are twelve, but in this case we only use eight.
The work area will now look like in the picture below and it is time to start drawing. At first do some test strokes that you later delete so you understand the logic behind the symmetry, it’s not that complicated. Making a compass rose shouldn’t be too hard, making a good looking one might be a bit trickier.
I can see a lot of things where the symmetry feature can come into good use. Like when you do simple icons for cities or towns for your map, or making intricate borders. Well I think I have some more experimenting to do