Populating your world map.

So, you created a map of the world.

But, it looks a little.. empty, doesn’t it?

Well, have no fear!
I, your ultimate hero, have the answer to your question!

I will show you how to populate your maps and explain the simple drawing techniques I’ve learned to be able to fill it up with trees, hills, mountains, and the like:

What you’ll need:
– Map of the world
Autodesk Sketchbook (It’s free!)

You won’t need any special touch screen pens. I populated my map using my mouse.

For the purpose of this guide, I won’t be using my own map.

Where to start… Let’s play with a blank slate island! I just moved my mouse while the Predictive Stroke option is on. Predictive stroke is your best friend, here. When in doubt, Predictive Stroke!

I mostly enjoy using the Chisel Tip pen in the Brush Palette to draw with, but you could draw with anything, I suppose.

So, what do we start with…? Let’s go with mountains. Let’s put a large mountain range at the center of the island.
Basically, you draw some upside down V-s. Small ones at the bottoms and bigger ones as you go up. Make sure you use a brush size of.. 4.3.
To change your brush size, click the top left button in your Brush Palette. You will need to remember this for later.
You can also add snow to your mountain by drawing a horizontal-ish line slightly lower than the peak, with streams of water going down.

Here’s what you end up with:

So, you now have a mountain range with snow that is melting, creating… Rivers!
Next up, time to make some rivers which lead into the sea, as well as form lakes!

Remember: Predictive Stroke is your best friend. Also, make sure to use a larger brush size when having a large river and smaller sizes if it splits into two, and so on.

Now that we have rivers and lakes, what are we missing?
Forests, of course!

How do you go about making a forest? I’m sure, as you’ve noticed in my earlier photos, I use quite a number of forest types. Let’s go over them, one by one.

The simplest forest: you simply draw very short vertical lines in a forest-like grouping. I will show you by drawing them next to one of the lakes.
Make sure to have your brush size a little smaller here.
You should end up with something like this.

Pretty simple, right? It’s easy, you don’t have to go through any order. You can make the trees as tall as you want. The chaotic nature of it adds to the realism, as trees come in all heights depending on how good the soil is.

Here is another kind of treeβ€” my own personal favorite.
First, you draw the canopy. Set your brush to a size of 1.5:

Pretty basic shapes. Bonus points if you go around the lake, or over a river. The next step is to give this forest its “legs”. At the underside of the forest, draw vertical lines, like so:

Now, for the tree tops! You’re going to laugh at how simple this is, you simply draw sideways-C; like this:

Then you simply build off of each row until you have this:

You could alternatively choose to have your treetops be pointier. So, what’s left? We’ve drawn a mountain range, rivers, lakes and a few forests!

Hills! Let’s put them between our two forests. Hills are quite easy. They’re like mountains, but you have to give it an altitude only slightly higher than the surface:

Of course, don’t forget to make some grasslands! I’ll put some between the two rivers on the right. Simply draw dots!

Make sure to fill your map with these! I am only doing them once to show you the tools you’ll have at hand.

We’ve covered mountains, rivers, lakes, trees, hills and grassland. Next up, cities and roads! Let’s have us a few cities south of the mountain, and have roads between them!

Switch to the felt tip pen! I want to put three cities. The felt tip pen will simply put a nice big circle on the map to signify each city:

Now that we have a few cities, we’ll need to make a few roads. It’s not too hard, but certainly not making direct lines between each city. Roads are long and winding.

Here’s what you have to do. Switch to your Chisel Tip pen. Open up your Brush Properties and change the opacity to about… 40%.

Then, choose the option Steady Stroke in your toolbar, it’s to the left of Predictive Stroke. As its name implies, it will allow to draw steady lines, despite having them weaving around places.

I ended up adding a 4th city north of the hills to demonstrate my roads better!

So, I’d say that’s about it! If you like, you could have little stations and inns on the road and whatnot, to give life to your surroundings.

It’s all little things. Eventually, you’ll end up with a map like this:

For information on how to give the map a parchment background, I’ve covered that in a previous guide! Go check it out!

Anyway, that’s it for how to populate your world map! If you liked the look of my map, maybe you’ll enjoy my book, The Dreg of Bellmead!

If you have any questions, comment below! I’d love to hear from you all.

Have a good one!


Published by ZeroRewind

I am an author, aspiring web developer and a freelance editor. It's nice to meet you all! I've published my book! It's called "The Dreg of Bellmead", a dark fantasy taking place in the fictional world of Ard. Buy it here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1692456148 Visit my website: https://samirka.xyz/

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