Creating Fantasy Maps for Your Fantasy Novel

small map

This week, I’ve been getting closer to finishing the editing on my novel, and as a consequence got rather excited about the idea of publishing it.  So I naturally started thinking about layout, and the possibility of including a map.

If you’re anything like me, when you’re writing about fantasy places, you’ll find it’s really useful to draw out the key locations on paper.  Then come several hours of asking yourself questions that sound like maths homework from hell: e.g. ‘how long does it take for a man with one eye to ride three hundred miles over mountainous terrain?’; or’ how long does it take a coracle to navigate six miles of shark-infested coastline?’.

When you’ve put in the requisite time to work these things out, and drawn yourself several scribbly, hand-written maps, you might find -as I did – it’s time to create some real maps.  You can do this with Photoshop or another image editing programme if you have the time, skills and inclination.  However, there are a number of programmes out there built for making just these sorts of maps.

So this week, I got myself a copy of Campaign Cartographer by ProFantasy Software.

Having already played around with Autorealm (which is pretty damn cool for free software), I had an idea what to expect.  The interface is very CAD-based, but quite intuitive once you’ve run through the quick-start tutorials, and after about 4 false starts, I was on my way to making a map of my fantasy land.

It seems like a really decent programme for the price tag (£30); there are a ton of expansions, a thriving online community, and new content coming out all the time.

I played around with the basic black and white vector map, and then with the standard ‘filled’ map, and I thought I’d share my first few maps below.  These aren’t real.  That is to say, they’re not based on any story or place I’ve invented.  These are literally ‘throw things onto the map and add some made-up names’.  Click on the maps below for full view.

Morcan fantasy map

Black and white vector

deedeeland fantasy map

Filled, full colour

I have to say, I’ve had tons of fun playing with this programme today, and shall probably be making random maps for the foreseeable!

What’s your experience in creating maps for your work?  I’d love to hear your thoughts below.

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One thought on “Creating Fantasy Maps for Your Fantasy Novel

  1. Good post. I’ve done hand drawn maps with colored pencils for my work. I didn’t include them in the book, because I wanted readers to focus on the characters. The maps were mainly so I could keep a sense of consistency with the world. Then I had some readers tell me that a map of the area would have been helpful. I’m not very good with visual design software; I mainly a words person; but I’m giving serious consideration for adding some maps for the sequel.

    Like

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