Your adventure awaits...
This post is Part 2 of a series to augment The Worldbuilder's Handbook available for free download. Start with Part 1 here.
This and other mapping resources are gathered in my Map-Making Directory for you to explore.
After planning out the maps for my first book in Part 1 of this series, I chose an old-world style of mapping that resembles antique watercolor. However, this style uses topography symbols for mountains and forests, and I had to plan for the limitations of this cartography style.
On my maps, all mountain symbols are the same size, no matter the variations in altitude. In addition, the mountain symbols are roughly the same size as the treetop symbols for my forested areas. But I decided my audience would still read the landscape correctly, despite how the style compromised the literal accuracy of the maps.
However, my mapping style is also ill-suited to showing transitions. A topography symbol is either present or absent, whereas real land can transition gradually over huge areas. In order to define the topography borders in my maps, I had to decide what thresholds the land must reach in order to be marked with a symbol.
Check out The Worldbuilder's Handbook for more free resources!
For my forests, I marked dense vegetation but did not mark the scraggly areas where trees give way to open sky. For my mountain symbols, I chose to mark all areas of stony elevation. Then I used small mountain peaks to denote lower-lying stony areas. By deciding these thresholds ahead of time, I stayed consistent throughout my whole atlas.
My cartography style uses more symbols to depict towns and landmarks, none of which can be drawn to scale. These discrepancies cause exact placement to be vague, especially when I map a zoomed-in portion of a previous map. For the first book in my Tales of the Known World saga, I decided to use the base of each symbol for vertical placement, and to center each symbol horizontally.
By considering the inaccuracies of my mapping style, I achieved a map aesthetic that captures the spirit of the Known World. I defined the symbols I planned to use and guidelines about their placement, representing my world without falling prey to inconsistencies between maps.
That's it for this post! Up Next: The apprentice cartographer's story... on 4/19.
Download The Worldbuilder's Handbook here, or start your adventure below.