Sunday, June 22, 2014

Those Low Down Mapping Blues

I love maps. 

I've loved drawing my own imaginary worlds since I was eight years old and started taping pieces of graph paper together so that I could build these massive territory maps and act out my favorite imaginary wars across their surfaces. I would color each sheet of graph paper with crayons, filling in the blocks with specific colors that represented everything from woods and rivers to castles and enemy forces. 

Normally I don't have any troubles designing my own maps but last night was something odd because I drew someone else's map. 

You see for the last couple of months I've been working on a version of the Great Kingdom Map that the Castle and Crusaders used for my own games. I've probably redrawn this map twenty times since I started with each attempt a little bit smoother and cleaner looking than the last.

Great Kingdom Map from Playing at the World
Apparently as I was reworking my version of the Great Kingdom I was training myself to follow their old lines because when I put my pencil down on the page I drew it without thinking about it. So I erased the page and started drawing, doing my best to concentrate on not repeating the Great Kingdom's lines, and drew Oerth instead.

World of Greyhawk Map from Dungeon Magazine
One of my favorite worlds but not what I wanted to draw. I wanted to draw something that was original to me and not just another rehash of an established world. It was incredibly frustrating as I've never had trouble designing my own world map before.  

I kept working, trying to sculpt my own world's lines on the page, without much luck. It wasn't until I decided  to start drawing a map based loosely on my area that things started to loosen up and I was able to get something new on the page. Yesterday was really just a frustrating day all the way around.


11 comments:

  1. I've caught the mapping blues before. Everything looks the same. It's all bland. Draw something completely different to knock off those mapping blues.

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    1. I took your advice to heart and drew horrible things until I was happy with something. I blame you entirely for what's currently my banner. ;P

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  2. I like doing hand-drawn maps too, but I have an idea that might snap you out. You've probably heard of Hexographer. I'm not suggesting to use Hexographer for your next map since you like the adventure of drawing your own... BUT, it might be a cool way to brainstorm ideas. Sketch the basics out in Hexographer (or generate a random) and use that as inspiration for your pencil drawings.

    hexographer.com

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the suggestion Marty! I'll check it out!

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  3. I suggest visiting the Cartographer's Guild website and spending some time looking at the finished maps forum for inspiration (as well as many of the other forums on that site).

    http://www.cartographersguild.com

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Michael! I'd never heard of it before, but man what a great resource!

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  4. Yeah I've been in that same blue mood. It must be why I fight so hard against playing a homebrew world today.

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    1. It's certainly a bitch when moods like that come up.

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  5. this is going to sound stupid but one of the best maps I ever drew cam from me accidentally spilling a cup of coffee on my drawing paper , and deciding to trace the spatters once it dried.. some times inspiration comes in strange forms.

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    1. Jackson Pollack was actually a very frustrated cartographer. ;)

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    2. I also heard that Pollack once killed a man and used his blood spatter to help him detail Nazi Germany. I learned that on Wikipedia, so you know it has to be true. U_U

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