Neat post today at tor.com, by Isaac Stewart, who creates some of those maps we find inside the cover of fantasy novels. This is a post about the map he drew for Brian Staveley’s The Emperor’s Blades.
I wanted the final map to:
- Match the design of the book.
- Match the feel of the book.
- Feel like an artifact from the world of The Emperor’s Blades.
Ooh, that is a great way to start. I would love Stewart to do maps for my books.
I almost always run into the same problem each time I try to adapt a real-world cartographic style to a map meant for a novel.
Real world maps are huge and detailed.
A map meant to fit in a hardcover book (and subsequently a paperback) can’t be as detailed as a real-world map and still be legible. Even though I treat the map as a product of its fantasy world, it has to be understandable to modern audiences. Usually this means I can’t copy the exact style of my reference, but I can use it for inspiration. I decided to borrow the style of the mountains, rivers, and ocean.
Then we have a discussion about designing the border of the map, then the delineation of the land versus the water, coastline and biomes, and “texture.” National borders and labels go last.
This is a great post, especially if you enjoy maps and also enjoy a detailed look at the creation of visual art. If you have a minute, click through and read the whole thing.