Friday, March 30, 2012

Map Creation II

I scan the maps in two pieces each and puzzle them together in Photoshop. Taking a moment to set the scanner up correctly will save you a lot of work later; I only need to regulate the contrast a little and have nice outlines. Still, I go over every line zoomed in closely to fix up all errors, like smudges and grey areas.
For a first printable version, I put all maps on the same format, add a border and name - and look, a previously mediocre scribble looks totally professional all of a sudden ;)

If you are happy with the map like this, think about using different font-styles for the features, like italic for mountains. Let the names follow the direction of the map feature, but don't put them in too wildly or the map will be hard to read.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Genius Loci: Concerning wempons

The beasts called wempons were among the first concepts I stuck with when I began developing Genius Loci years ago, and their design has never changed much. My main inspirations were anteaters, watussi cattle, and pangolins, but there's a bit of elephant and camel in it too, the latter mainly in their behaviour.
Wempons have large burrowing claws they can also use for climbing (yes, there are trees on Kitas that can carry a beast of almost four tons). Their muscular tails can grab, although they are not very dextrous. They are mostly vegetarian, preferring leaves, fruit, and roots, but also eat bugs and the likes. Thick scales protect their upsides, long thick fur the underside, their horns are enormously long - riders climb their mount holding on to them or stepping on a bent leg.
They are great mounts if one can get along with them. Wempons are picky about riders and hard to get used to being rented; usually they belong to a single rider. They need additional training to serve as packing animals, but can then carry great loads. Some nomad peoples have herds of them packed with the contents of an entire village worth of belongings. Wempons don't like having things dangle over their legs, so the riders' legs have to be out of the way and are pulled up on the saddle.
Being sent to herd the wempons is among the least favourite jobs for youngsters; the beasties will push them around and be hard to look after. On the other hand, it's a good way to become friends with one that will be a loyal mount later.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Map Creation I

I wanted to share some of the things I thought you might find useful for the creation of fantasy maps. The examples are from my own fantasy world "Genius Loci".

First things first: Decide how the world will look, and how big the map will be, geographically. If you are creating an entire world like I am, start with the continents. The very first layout can be however messy you want, but then get some large paper (the line sketch is on A3. I already marked some major topographical landmarks).

Mark the general shape of the continent lightly with a pencil, then draw the land. Just wiggle your pen while you make your way around the landmass. Don't forget interesting shapes, like bays, islands, peninsulas, and so forth. It doesn't have to work all at once; you can go over the outlines as many times as you need until you're satisfied. I imagine there to be a much larger amount of islands later, but these are as small as I want to see on this scale.

I trace the contours of the continent with a .3 pigmented pen and add the inner borders with a .1 pen, on architect's vellum. I already know the states and lands with name and position from an earlier map. But, the continent is also very dry and covered in deserts. So, I rip off another piece of vellum, and using a blue marker lay down the rivers and water bodies. Around these, I arrange the states. Now everyone has access to water, which is one of the most important factors for settlements.

Write down a list of your states. Learn a little geology - how do mountains affect vegetation, which path do weather phenomena take and such. It will probably influence your world.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Introducing Genius Loci

Over the last decade I have been thinking about my own world, but never took a longer time period to work on it seriously. That time has come now. Prepare to enter a world filled with mysteries.

Genius Loci is a setting spanning an entire planet. From the endless forests of the contintent Gdera to Sawa's volcanic wastelands to the vast deserts of Lozir, mysteries from ages past lay scattered in lands that have not been traveled since the ancient times. Places of magical puzzles are populated by spirits of nature or those of the dead; ghostly figures roam their former homes, while the most powerful spirits' domains cannot be entered without protection. The mages and wizards, while hunting the same goal, will wage war on each other at even a slight provocation.
It is a place where strange customs await the traveler. Never be too sure what to expect around the corner.

Some of the races and landscapes of Genius Loci will be familiar, while others are entirely new. I have a lot of fun inventing cultures and places of power, just as I love coming up with epic landscapes and striking portraits, and I expect this project will keep me busy for quite some time. Most things will be published on my website, but in this blog I'll make room for explanations, descriptions, and background, so check in regularly.