I’m sure you’ve googled a few things at this point: how to draw a map, map generator, artists map pricing, etc.
Point is: you want to make a map.
If you’re willing to pull a little legwork, you can make one yourself! It’s really simple. Even if you’re the worst artist you know, with a little bit of practice, you can make a map of your own!
First things first!
I’ll tell you what you need before even starting this:
– Microsoft Paint (maybe).
– Paper, pencil and pen. (You can skip the pencil if you’re confident in your drawing. I wasn’t.)
– A scanner. I suppose you could snap an image with your phone if your camera is steady enough, but a scanner is a lot less fuss.
– Autodesk Sketchbook. (It’s free software!)
– Adobe Photoshop (this, you might not have— however, you will already have a working map by the time I start talking about photoshop!)
Are you ready?
Step 1: Drawing the map.
I’m guessing you have something of an idea of what you want your map to look like, but you can’t put it into a good enough drawing by letting your hand flow over the paper.
What I personally did was find a map generator (https://azgaar.github.io/Fantasy-Map-Generator/), and continuously generated maps until I found landmasses I liked, before using a mishmash of them in my own design.
You can tweak the generator’s parameters however you like!
However, you’re here to make a proper, respectable map. So here’s what to do after you find whatever landmasses look good enough for you to use in your own.
This involves a lot of screenshots and MS Paint to just crudely move them all together in a way that you like.
Here’s what mine looked like:
As you may or may not be able to tell, I used MS Paint to draw crude bridges and assigned various points on which cities will stand.
This served as the template for my own creation.
I’m sure your own template will look different, but the principle still applies.
So, stick around for step 2!
Step 2: Hand-drawing
This is the hard part for most— myself included: physically drawing the map.
Now, as I said before, if you’re confident with your drawing skills, you can skip using your pencil.
For everyone else, it’s pencil time.
Get yourself a sheet of paper, something to draw on, and simply try your best to draw the map you put together earlier. It doesn’t have to be perfect, and you might scrap your work twice or more.
I personally scrapped my work three times before drawing something which I liked. However, there was something off about it.
Apparently, pencils aren’t very good when it comes to scanning, as you can tell from how faint the lines are, instead of the sturdy darker ones I could physically see on my paper.
And so, I simply traced the maps with a black pen before scanning the paper again.
Much better. You can tell it’s more defined.
Of course, don’t forget to crop it properly, since the scanner always has more area than the actual paper you put into it.
Now, it’s time for the fun part. You have your map, and you have Autodesk Sketchbook.
Step 3: Autodesk Sketchbook
You actually might be able to complete this step using Photoshop, but I prefer using Sketchbook for the quick edits, since it’s perfect for something like this.
You don’t even need a touch screen or a special pen. I did this using my mouse.
How convenient is that?
First things first, I erased all of the city and country names.
Then, I added all the necessary text, moving them to where they need to be, and rotating them to look a little more bombastic! My personal choice of font is Luminari.
You might find that you’re now unable to make any changes. That’s because you’re currently on the many text layers you’ve used to put the names of everything everywhere!
The fix is simple, click on Window > Layer Editor. A small window will appear, showing all the layers on your project. Choose the layer with your drawing in it. Usually, it’s “Layer 1”.
Now that you’re back on track, it’s time to make banners around the country names!
I picked the Chisel Tip Pen from the Brush Palette on the left side, as well as the Predictive Stroke on the Toolbar. Both of these can be found under Window, in case you don’t have them activated.
Then, simply draw the banners! I did a few wavy ones.
The result of all your efforts so far should be something like this:
Make sure to keep your map when you reach this stage. It will be the basis for all further changes.
Personally, I plan to add some mountains, sea currents, forests and the like. But, if this is all you want from a map, then you can stop here, or go a little bit further and give the background some texture.
Perhaps make it look like parchment? (That’s what I did)
Step 5 (Optional): Create a texture background using Photoshop!
It doesn’t have to be parchment, by the way. You can use any texture you like as long as it’s bright enough.
Assuming you want parchment, however…
So, the first thing you do is hop on textures.com and search for “parchment”.
I personally chose this:
It’s a 1024×1024 seamless texture. Seamless means that, if you put a copy of this on its side, it will fit seamlessly. This is important, because your map’s size is probably not 1024×1024.
You’ll have to check to see what the size and width of your map are; mine was 3276 pixels in width, and 2548 pixels in height!
And so, using the wondrous MS Paint, I painstakingly copy pasted the same small block of parchment and made an image the exact same size as my map.
I think I used over 9 blocks.
Anyway, it’s time for some Photoshop!
So, you take the parchment background and launch it through photoshop.
Then, open your map with Photoshop, as well. You should now have two tabs.
All right, what you do now is: you select the entire map with Ctrl + A, copy it with Ctrl + C, and paste it into the other tab with Ctrl + V.
You’ll end up with this:
Looks no different, right? Wrong. Check the layer window. One layer says Background, and another says Layer 1. Two layers!
Currently, your map is on top of the background.
But, how do you blend them together? Easy.
Right click on where it says “Layer 1”, and choose “Blending Options” from the long list you get. It’s the first thing on the list, so it’s hard to miss!
It should open the following window:
Now, for the last part. Do you see where it says “Blend Mode”, with the option of “Normal?”
Change the option to “Multiply”.
And, just like that, your map now has a neat little parchment background!
Great job, if you’ve made it this far! I’m proud of you.
Make sure to save it as a photoshop project. If you want a ready-to-use jpeg file, go on File > Save As and then choose what extension file you wish to see.
And, that’s it! That’s how to make a fully fledged map.
If you’d like to draw forests, rivers and such, you can simply go back to the previous black and white image you had and add them, before going through the exact same process of blending.
Anyway, this concludes the guide on how to make your very own world map! If you liked this post, please share it with others and let me know in the comments!
If you have any further questions, I’d be happy to answer them!
Until then, take care!