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In the Works

I am still working on drawing fantasy cartography maps (is cartography and maps redundant?), but not as diligently as earlier this year. I’ve been distracted with traveling and running D&D games and all the other stuff that takes up one’s day. And there’s this game on my phone … man, is it a time sink!

But to prove that I’ve been doing something, even if I have been ignoring my blog, I’m including a couple of in-progress sketches in the early stages of creation.

The nameless ones

These map doodles are currently without names. Ideas are welcome.

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Ruins of Amara

My first effort drawing a town.

I think I ruined it!

[pause a beat] … cause the town is in ruins! [insert polite laughter].

As my first sketching of a town map, I think it works pretty well. It’s really clear that the town was destroyed quite a while ago, right. Do you agree?

Are you reading this?

I hope none of my players actually visit my blog, since the group hasn’t been here yet. I’m reasonably sure they don’t. Maybe I should sneak some important clue on this posts just to find out!

Cause this is in-game stuff

The Ruins of Amara is a key location in finishing a big story arch the players have been working on in my current Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) campaign. The current arc takes place in the same world as the Dreadstorms Lost campaign and is actually like a Part 2 continuation.  This is a large part of why I’m having a hard time finishing the Dreadstorm Lost campaign on this blog. My brain has moved along to where we are currently in the game. The end of the Dreadstorms Lost happened in real life a couple of years ago now. Trying to drag my head back there is challenging. Especially when I’m trying to plan what might happen next in the current story.

The history of Amara

The citizens of Amara had been harrased by a decidely evil dragon that was destroying their crops and livestock and demanding they pay tribute. Even giving into the extorsion, the dragon continued to pillage the town and the surrounding area. The townsfolk went to a nice, friendly elder dragon and asked if it would be so kind as to remove the dragon from their lives. The nice dragon was welcome to all the treasure that the evil dragon had extorted from them.

There was an epic battle between the two dragons. Magic flew. Breathes of fire and acid spewed. Buildings were hurled at the enemy. By the time the battle was done, the village was in ruins and the entire poplulation was dead. The spirits of these dead villagers haunt the ruins to this day, demanding to know why their savior failed them.

Hand drawn color fantasy town map
The Ruins of Amara on the NE Coast of Briarstone

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Luapi

The continent of Luapi is a hand-drawn fantasy map with towns and topography. No labels. Some buildings turned out better than others.

How would you use the word cartography in a sentence in this instance? Because Google isn’t happy that I’m not using the key words (tags/categories) in the body of my blogs.

Why yes, this doodle is an example of my attempts at hand drawn cartography.  This map includes mountains, lakes, forests, and other examples of topography. I’ve also included sketches of towns, villages, huts, towers, and docks.

This map and all the others are the sort I would use in a Dungeons and Dragons campaign. You too are welcome to use them in your campaign (D&D or otherwise) as long as you don’t claim you drew it yourself or make a profit from the sketch.


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Xarundran – X marks the spot in color

Colored pencil sketch of a fantasy continent for use in a role playing game like Dungeons & Dragons. No labels on this one!

Decided to skip the towns and labels on this one. I just wanted the topography without the civilized bits.


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Yewnaria Revisited

I originally posted the black & whitish pencil sketch of Yewnaria here. Below are descriptions of the areas of interest on the continent of Yewnaria.

Continent of Yewnaria (Mainland)

Kalenar

  • Largest settlement on the mainland of Yewnaria
  • The recognized seat of power for the mainland
  • Sits at the mouth of the Kale River
  • Often battered by brutal coastal waves that floods the lower areas
  • The wealthier live in communities built upon elaborate, multi-level platforms perched on stilts

Goya

  • Nearest neighbor to Kalenar
  • Sits between the Kale River and the base of Orgool Hills
  • The Kale River widens and slows down at this point, making it feasible for larger ships to sail from Kalenar up to Goya

Anika

  • Coastal town
  • Next closes territory to Kalenar
  • Has a large wall around the city which helps brunt the worst of the coastal batterings as well as keep out unfriendlies
  • Between Anika and Happychance are rich, fertile farmlands
  • The eastern mountain range of Yewnaria are riddled with tunnels and passageways to the other side of the range. Many of the passageways are controlled by various clans of trolls, kobolds, dwarves, humans and the like that charge tolls and/or offer protection for travelors

Happychance

  • Upriver from the violent coastal tides
  • Happychance straddles the water where three rivers merge

Psíanth

  • Northern most settlement in the Valley of Lakes
  • Large bridge over the Al’alwan River leads into Psíanth from the east

Mawgenta

  • In the center of the Valley Loslagos
  • On the banks of Kershmire Lake

Aberdine

  • Lake side

Cadeem

  • Lake side

Bonhaven

  • Does a lot of trading with Xan and Zemr
  • South eastern coast is primarily dry, arrid steppe land

Southeastern Yewnaria

Xan

  • TBD

Zemr

  • TBD

Northern Yewnaria

Baitan

  • Snobs
  • Hate Kalenar and deny that Kalenar has any sovereignty over them

Brakenridge

  • Isolated
  • Cold

Rodeego

  • Bay harbor
  • Cold

Monokron Isle (Between Northern Yewnaria and the Mainland)

  • This once beautiful isle changed … elementals battle … death … dispair …

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Anzorae – fantasy map

Color sketch of a fantasy map
The delightful continent of Anzorae has towns, hamlets, castles, and more! That’s right, I’ve even put in some hand typography to label locations, rivers and a mountain range.

Anzorae

Brief overview

  • The entire continent of Anzorea is controlled by the monarchy, currently lead by Queen Kezarrae (Razorclawed lineage)
  • The northwest coastline is a barren, desert wasteland called “the Sacred Lands” due to the twisted, ruined landscape caused by past battles between powerful gods
  • Taxes for cities/towns/villages range from 10% – 25% depending on the level of favor the royal has with the crown
  • Adventuring Tax
    • Any found magical items must be presented to the court and can be gifted to the royals or be assessed a stiff tariff if the person wants to keep their spoils; sometimes the royals will claim the item for themselves and the “good of the nation” regardless of the presenters wishes.
    • 30% of any coins gathered in the act of adventuring shall be paid to the crown
    • Individuals who cannot prove ownership of a magical item (provenance documents, bill of sale, etc) or who show signs of gaining unexplained wealth not reported to the court are dealt with harshly

Points of interest in Anzorae


Saleece

Saleece
Saleece – Capital of Anzorae
  • Large, walled city
  • Capital of Anzorae
  • Home of the royals and Queen Kezarrae
  • Nezor Harbor protects the city from the harsh northern seas
  • Wardrum Forest –Home to a large tribe of druids who react violently to intruders
    • it’s often difficult to tell the druids from the animals
    • the wiser citizens of Saleece avoid this forest
  • Vargox Mountains – Mined for the wide range of precious metals and gems
    • Full of angry monsters and the corpses of would-be adventurers

Hargth

Hargth
Hargth – lawless port town
  • Primarily a fishing and trade town
  • Started off as a small fishing village, but has grown as a popular destination for smugglers and others who want trade outside the eyes of the law and avoid imperial taxes
    • Forgery is a popular sport here
  • An embarrassing thorn in the royals’ pristine ideals for their nation, especially since it’s so close to the capital
  • Queen Kezarrae’s army often runs raids on the town, but have little success due to the many secret doors and hidden tunnels running beneath the Hargth
  • Hargth Harbor and the surrounding lands are riddled with underwater passageways, which connect to the land tunnels under Hargth
  • It is not common knowledge that within the harbor and water tunnels is the sub-town of Hargthsdowns that is inhabited by merfolk and the like

Sakura

Sakura+Lake Drom
Sakura – on the edge of civilization
  • Lakeside castle
  • Fairly autonomous and isolated from the politics of Anzorae
  • Being on the edge of the Sacred Lands they get the occasional wave of strange mutated creatures that attack the walled town with mindless rage
  • Adventurers that survive the Sacred Lands will often go to Sakura to trade found magical items to avoid the high crown tariffs
    • Forgery is a popular sport here as well
  • Lake Drom – as long as you stay near the banks, you’ll be fine

Ellim

Color Sketch: Hand lettered
Ellim – home of the crazies
  • Medium size city
  • At the mouth of the Joramara River
  • The land to the north of the Joramara River is lush, fertile farmland
  • A lot of small homestead dot the lands north of Ellim and are technically considered under Ellim’s protection
  • Known for the inexperienced mages drawn there for the Wizard College
  • Home of a wide range of eccentric artisan types
  • Moordrae Forest – rangers like it here; no crazy druid tribes

Zomarra

Zomarra
Zamarra – Where you go to get away from the crazies
  • Keep
  • Surrounding land to the North is mostly swamp and the Hargrove River
  • Home of the coldly logical schools of thought
  • Several monastic and scholarly temples call Zomarra their home

Tansy

Tansy
Tansy – Simple Farmers, Right?
  • Farming community
  • Absolutely no hidden prince or princess wishing for a more exciting life here, just boring laborers.
  • Magic users? Bah! No use for that sort here. Go to Ellim if you want to play with the arcane. (Caves in the mountains have several thriving businesses run by clever wizards, sorcerers, witches, warlocks)

Goldspar

Color sketch: Hand lettered
Goldspar – Thinks it should be the capital
  • Large coastal town
  • Rivals Saleece in population, though more of residents live outside the city walls
  • The royals here are secretly plotting to place the crown on their heads

Domaar

Sketch-Hand lettered
Domaar
  • Small village on the largest of the Western Golsmar Islands

General Artist Notes

This was my first try at adding buildings and labels to a map. I can’t draw consistent, level squiggly horizontal water lines, but otherwise I think it’s coming along nicely.

As with the map of Bealdunagaen, I used a combination of pencils, gel pens, crayons, eyeliner, eyeshadow, and a wee bit o blush in the creation of this map.


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Mountains and Buildings

Pencil sketches of mountains ranges and hills

Mountains are hard

Continuing in my exploration of cartography and topography, I’m finding that with mountains, it’s hard to not get them too large and take over the whole map. My second map effort end up with huge mountains and awkward buildings.  I didn’t have the book in front of me to follow along with, so it’s not quite as put-together looking as the first effort.

2nd Map effort - Big mountains, weird towns
My second effort at a map didn’t go quite as nicely as the first one.

Also those buildings are just killing me. They need to be tiny to fit proportionately on these 8-1/2″ x 11″ sheets, but I haven’t mastered that sort of fine detail with the pencils I’m using. Truth be told, I’ve abandoned this sad effort.

Practice! Practice!

So some practice sketching mountains, trying to follow predetermined paths

Still haven’t quite gotten the hang of mountains in proportion to the rest of the maps, but that’s what practice is for, right?

Pencil sketches of mountains ranges and hills


 

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Map Sketching First Effort

Final version of 1st Map with signature & date 1/26/2018

Taking a short (indeterminent) break from the Dreadstorm Campaign and indulging in hand-drawn map making fun. I’ve really been enjoying learning how to draw the classic style of land maps with tutoring from Mr. Blando’s book, How to Draw Fantasy Art & RPG Maps. This is the same book I mentioned in my prior post, Castle with “Moat Dragon”.

When I started the map I felt pretty silly and thought it would look pretty dumb, but was pleasantly surprised by the final outcome.

Map Sketch Process

Map Sketch Pic #1 – Establishing the continent shape and islands

Step 1 in drawing a fantasy map - outlining the continent, islands, and lakes
After doodling a rough blob of a shape, I went back and added some interesting coastline bits, islands, and lakes.

Map Sketch Pic #2 – Penciling in some mountains.

Map1-Step2
Added Mountains. Mountains were surprising difficult. A lot of erasing and redrawing here.

Map Sketch Pic #3 – Mountain details

Map1-Step3
Added those funny lines to mountains. Huh. They do look more mountain-ee. Might need to do less inner lines next time.

Map Sketch Pic #4 – Let there be hills to hug those mountains

Map1-Step4
Added hills around my mountains. I might have gotten a little carried away with mountains and hills.

Map Sketch Pic #5 – Adding in some rivers and coastline

Map1-Step5
Rivers! Rivers are cool. Added rivers and outlined the land masses.

Map Sketch Pic #6 – Forests

Map1-Step6
Trees! There must be forests, right? With all those hills and mountains, I didn’t leave a lot of room for forests and fields.

Map Sketch Pic #7 – Final-ish version

Final version of 1st Map with signature & date 1/26/2018
Went back and shaded in the trees. Tried to erase the smudge in mountain tops and other pencil smears to make it look like I meant to do that … cause, yeah, totally planned it that way!

I wasn’t brave enough to try adding cities and lettering to this one. I felt this was a good place to stop. For a first effort, I thought it turned out kinda cool.

Things I learned

  1. Mountains are hard
  2. Leave room for more than just mountains
  3. I drag my hand all of the page, making a smeary mess
  4. I need to do a better job of erasing lines
  5. Maybe trees in a forest don’t need to be quite so compressed together
  6. I should probably try to plan the whole map out ahead of time. But who am I kidding. I’m not a planner. I like to do things organically and see where they end up!

Coloring Digitally

I downloaded GIMP, a free & open source image editor, so I can work on coloring maps, and probably the lettering. I’m still figuring out how to deprogram my brain from thinking in Photoshop terms and learn how things work there. My muscle memory is surprisingly strong from all my many past years of using Photoshop. I find my self doing keyboard and mouse shortcuts that don’t really work with GIMP. I can’t tell you how many times I hit CTRL+D to unselect and got a duplicate file instead.

I like the idea of being able to use layers. With pencil sketching, drawing something on top of something else, like trees over a river, that erased bit is gone for good. Not just masked out. Huh. I think working digitally has gotten me a bit lazy and spoiled.

The above images were in no way modified in GIMP or Photoshop.


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