Malmö after the war

malmö zon

Sometimes you just have to make a map, the inspiration just demands that you have to do it. You can’t really wait for the next day, you can’t even go to bed until it is finished.

I got that feeling today, and I have to blame the Swedish RPG Mutant year 0 (Mutant år 0).

Last year I backed the re-release of the Swedish game Mutant. I used to play the game when I grew up and I really loved it. It is a game about the world after a big catastrophe, a nuclear war. Or at least that was the story back then in the late 80’s. By then it didn’t feel like an absolutely unrealistic future.

Anyway today I got the PDF’s of the new game in my mail box, the printed game will be released in April this year, and it looks absolutely fantastic. I haven’t read all the rules but the ones I’ve looked at looks very solid and good.

With the game there were also two really nice maps of the Stockholm area after the catastrophe. I really liked the feeling of the maps and just felt that I had to try to make one myself. Also it felt like a shame if you could only play the game in Stockholm, so I made a map of Malmö.

The map is completely made in Photoshop on my Wacom Cintiq. Not much more to say, hope you like it.

Cleaning an old book

book 01
The last couple of weeks I’ve found out that the British library have started to share scans of old manuscripts. First of all this is great from a historical point of view, but secondly it is a gold mine for me as a cartographer. A lot of those scans are absolutely perfect to use as backgrounds for maps. And they are all free to use.

However all of the pages are covered with more or less areas of text. So to be able to use them as a background for a map I first had to clean the book pages so that they appeared to be blank.

I located a scan that wasn’t too covered in text (see picture at the top of this post), so I could start cleaning it. The easiest way of removing the text is to use the patch tool in Photoshop.

To do that, do as follows. First open your picture of the scan and select the patch tool. With the Patch tool you mark out an area with text, not too big. Find a place on the page where there is no text and drag the selection you just made with the patch tool to the empty area and release the left mouse button. The area with the text will now be blank. Continue in this way until the whole page is blank.

The end result will look like the picture below.
book 01 cleaned

Now when you have one side of the book you might also want two sides next to each other, so it looks like an open book. To do this you extend the canvas (image\Canvas size) so it is twice as wide as before. Then copy the layer with the book page and flip the new page horizontally (Edit\Transform\Flip horizontal). Then it is just a matter of making the two pages fit next to each other. It can be a bit fiddly and you have to erase some areas. When you are satisfied with the result just flatten the image. If some areas still look strange or if the pages look too similar next to each other, just use the patch tool again to remove those areas.

When the pages are done it will look something like the picture below.
book 01 cleaned full

Feel free to use the images attached in this post however you wish, after all they are not really mine. Or head over to the British library and get some scans of your own.

Stealing is good!

When you make a map one of the hardest, and most important things, is to get a good coastline. If the coastline isn’t believable the map wont be that either. So how do you get a good coastline. I know for sure that it is hard because this is one of the things I’ve been struggling a lot with since I started to make maps.

Well not anymore, not since I started to steal them. I mean why should I create something that I can steal? Now you might start to consider my moral judgement here, I mean you are not supposed to steal, right? But when it comes to the coastline I think we can make an exception. Of course you don’t do it from other peoples work you do it from maps of the earth.

Earth has so many coastlines and I can assure you that no one will ever see that you stole it in the first place. Just stealing a part of earth, lets say the coastline of Denmark wont work, because then everyone will recognise it, and  the magic of the map will disappear, it will just be an alternative map of Denmark and not your new fancy fantasy region.

To avoid getting caught, getting caught is bad due to the reason mentioned above, this is how I do it.

First of all I’m deciding on what type of map I want to do, for this little tutorial I’ll make a map of a coastal area with some Islands. Lets continue using Denmark as an example, the country has some really nice looking coastal areas that can be used.

Zoom in a bit on the map, I’m typically using Google maps for this, and start looking for some nice areas. When you find one make a screen capture of it and paste it in a new document in Photoshop. Continue in this way until you have a couple of different regions. Cut away all the uninteresting bits, the bits you don’t want to use. Paste all the parts you are going to use into a new document. In the picture below you can see the four different regions I’ve picked for my map.


Now when you have all your pieces in the same file it is time to arrange them together. Do this by rotating them, flipping them and so on until you get a structure that you like. At this stage you might also find out that you need an extra piece or that you have one that don’t work. I for example felt that I needed one more piece of coastline to get it right, so I stole another part of Denmark and added it in. When you are done you will have something that looks like the picture below.


Now it is time for the next step in the process, drawing.The first thing to do is to merge all the layers with maps from Google earth, then I change the opacity of the layer to 50%. Add a new layer and select the brush tool. Now it is time to sketch the actual coastline, I usually do this with a blue colour, that will make it easier to draw in the lines for real later, in black.

I try to just follow the coastline that I see in the merged map pictures, sometimes I do some small free hand changes, but most of the time I follow the real coast line. When you are done it is always good to hide the Google maps layer and look at the coast line you just made. Sometimes you now see things that looks strange, erase those and draw some new lines. I also like to add a pale blue colour to the sea/ocean, so I clearly can see what is land and what is sea in the map. Below you can see my coast line.


Well that is about it. Now it is time to maybe add in some mountains, rivers, forest, cities or what ever you want to fill your world with. When the sketch is done just select the brush you want, change colour to black and start drawing on a new layer.