creating fantasy maps

Work in Progress: Fantasy Map-Making

Sorin, the dead land. The province no one visits unless their desperate or corrupt.

Years ago, I created 7 maps for my Merging Worlds series. In Book 2: Chains of the Sciell, characters started mentioning places in overseas lands. It was time to include a world map in the book.


I created each land in a separate document and then added them to the world map once they were finished. It was probably the harder way to go about things but it was a fun project. I’m glad I designed it that way now.

Most of the Merging Worlds series has taken place on Jael. I will admit, I didn’t put as much effort into designing other lands and I did with Jael. Characters simply mentioned other places. They never went there.

Book 4: The Sciell’s Legacy deals with other lands. Some characters grew up overseas. Other’s are spending a great deal of story-time in other provinces. It’s time to update the maps.

I talked about creating Cayden in another post.

Sorin is next. I haven’t decided yet if characters are going to spend some time there but they might. It’ll make the story longer, though. One character, Danyal, is actually from Sorin and he’s quite happy to never return.

Here’s the original:

I noticed something off right away as I was zooming in to fix the rivers. The edges look like something took a bite out of Sorin.  Land edges are more sharp than round. I experimented with different brushes in Photoshop to fix Sorin.

One of the main reasons I love Photoshop, there’s more than one way to get a result. You’re really only limited by your creativity. I have a lot of map brushes loaded into the program. They make it easier to add things like mountains, forests, cities… Mountains have sharp points, so I used a mountain brush to fix the edges of my map.

Next are the land textures.

At this point, I’m not creating textures from scratch. I’m just copying and pasting them from one map to the other and then tweaking it to fit the land’s personality. This time I’m using Cayden as a reference.

Then I was reminded of Sorin’s history.

It’s known for weapons manufacturing. That’s not the only thing it does but most of Sorin’s money comes from the creation and exporting of weapons. They don’t glorify in war but they obviously aren’t upset when one breaks out.

At the end of Book 1: The Sceill, walls of Darkness rose all over the world. Everyone blamed Sorin.  Even cities in Sorin blamed each other, which caused a civil war to break out. When no one admitted to creating the walls, every other province in the world attacked Sorin. They devastated almost every part of the land, destroying every warehouse, every manufacturing plant. Some even killed the people responsible for making weapons.

This did nothing except turn Sorin almost unlivable. The land never recovered. By Book 2, people only travel to Sorin for parts that they can sell in other places for a high price. Not a lot of people make this trip because sane people avoid the land. If you’re taking the trip, you have to know how to defend yourself.

When it comes to design, Sorin’s colors aren’t going to be as pretty as Cayden’s. Simply copying and pasting the land texture won’t work. I did a Google image search for war-torn lands to get some ideas and added a little brown to the forest area.

Most fantasy maps don’t show devastation by battle but I wanted to see if this one could, just for fun. A lot of images I found on my Google search showed a lot of craters. I searched Shutterstock for stock images of craters and found this one.

It became this on the map:

I don’t hate but…I don’t know. I tried these:


But I didn’t like the results any better. Then I found this one:

It became this on the map:

Okay. We’re getting somewhere. I’m still on the fence about it because I don’t care for the white spots in it.

I wanted some other damaged textures so, I found this:

Which became this:


I’m still experimenting. This is what I have so far.

I’m getting close. It might just be a matter of a few small tweaks. I don’t know what, though. I’m letting it sit for a bit.

I think my hang-up is that this isn’t pretty like Cayden but Sorin is not supposed to be pretty.

I kind of love it in black and white, though.