Sunday, June 22, 2014

More fun with maps

It's a well-known fact that while world building is essential when one is writing fantasy or science fiction, it can be an addictive time sink that prevents you from ever finishing anything. Still, mapping is so much fun, I've been messing around with my novels' world lately.

I used Campaign Cartographer 3(from ProFantasy Software) to make these maps of Rilinda, the continent where the places in my novel in progress (Umbral Heretic) and its sequel (tentatively titled Umbral Hunter) are located, but I'm still playing around with scale. I want Sa Tarkil, the capital of Vestala to be at about the same latitude as Seattle and to have a similar climate. However, I want Minua in the southwestern part of the continent to be more subtropical/Mediterranean. However, I want things to be close enough together so that sea voyages in pre age of sail ships (more or less equivalent to galleons) to be able to get between the ports in a reasonable amount of time. Naming is still a work in progress, and I've focused mostly on locales that will actually be germane to the stories I'm working on right now. I'm shooting for most of the names in Vestala and Altua to be literal, but with a sprinkling of "Old Empire" and "Tundish" language ones as well.

Rilinda: To the south and below the equator lies the continent of Sunabera, where Yawandi (Akello's home) is located.

Here's a more zoomed in view of northern Rilinda.

And here's a shot of just the northwestern portion--Vestala (where most of Umbral Heretic takes place) and the northern portion of Altua (where Jarrod and Danior are from). Ruu is from Temmevhode originally (a Zeryan city state), and Alana's family is from Minua to the south of Altua.

Father's Port is the capital of Altua, and is where the Luminarium and Citadel of light are located. Jarrod's home village is northeast of this city, near the border with Vestala. Tesk (and Captain Gilson) are from the North Hills.

I haven't filled in the smaller villages and features yet. I'm having a great deal of difficulty parsing the instructions in CC that allow me to capture a small section of my map and paste it into a new map with a smaller scale for more detail. I'm also having trouble figuring out how to do the same in reverse, so I can place my continent on a world map. I don't think there's any way to do create meridians with CC, or to do a projection (Mercator or some such) that takes into account the meridians, unfortunately. It would be really cool to find a SF/F map making program that lets you map your world on an actual globe, but I guess there's not enough demand to make one marketable.

I have the city mapper from CC, though I'm having some difficulty with some of its features, but I'm hoping a map of Sa Tarkil (where much of the novel actually takes place) will be possible in the future.


  1. The maps look great, though I can see how easy it would be to get drawn into the mapping part while the story sits unfinished. I've always been a sucker for maps, real and fictional.

    Regarding the scale, that's always been one of the things that's tough with these kinds of books, is figuring out how big the lands are. Quite often, it seems to be determined by what is narratively convenient, with some things happening way too fast, and others far too slow. Good luck!

  2. That's an impressive map.

    I know what you mean about the globe. I have a world map (drawn by hand) and one of the things I've thought about is trying to get a physical globe and redrawing the map onto that.

  3. There's a scale bar at the bottom, which unfortunately is cut off in these views. I've noticed that fantasy maps in novels rarely have scale bars, though. I'd guess that writers often want things to be somewhat vague, so nit picky readers won't get a ruler out and second guess journey lengths and things like that. It can be frustrating to discover that while your plot *needs* a trip to take ten days to two weeks, the actual distances would make it impossible to do in less than three or four, for instance. And of course, on a flat (mercator) map projection that's intended to represent the world accurately, the horizontal scale shifts more and more the further you are from the equator. I don't worry about that, though, and draw my continents the way the actually are.

  4. Map-making is something I'd never dare tackle and I admire you for having a go. I have no sense of direction at all, and I'm a flat earther when it comes to maps. I must admit though I find it hard to take fantasy novels seriously when they have everything from burning deserts to arctic wastes to tropical rainforest in an area the size of Wales.

  5. Lol, I know what you mean. My favorites are the lush jungles or forests that border on deserts when there's no topography or anything to explain the abrupt cessation of rainfall. My map is larger than Wales, though it's smaller than North America :) I did at least try to take things like prevailing winds (my world is round and spins the same way Earth does), latitude, rain shadow and so on into account with regards to climate.