How to Draw Original Fantasy Maps for Your Fiction


When drawing original fantasy maps for fiction, remember that rivers come from the mountains and lead toward the sea. Draw original fantasy maps with tips from a professional illustrator and graphic artist in this free video on drawing.

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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Jay French from and today I'm going to teach you how to draw fantasy maps for your fiction. Now, the first things that'll, you know, thousands of writers are writing fantasy novels now a days and so they often have a need for a map of their land. Sometimes you just need a free roam reference so you can tell if your characters are going to take days or merely hours to get from one location to another. If travel by horse or on foot is going to take months. You want to know what terrain they're going to cross, where the orcs can set up a trap, that type of thing. But, often, in those fantasy novels they actually include the map for the readers references as well to make it easier for everyone. So, a generally good way to start out is, of course you'll have your own written material to work from, so you'll know what things you'll need, what you need nearest the water. One of the first mistakes is not to make land very rectangular. You want it to be very random. We're going to do a coastline here, and remember that your rivers come from your mountains towards the sea. That's one of your first features. So, generally, know where your mountains are going to be. We'll go ahead and put some mountains in up here. Mountains, iconically, are done in ancient and medieval style is just some squiggly triangles. Or then can be done more jagged. Depending on the type of mountains you want to be depicting. These are some scary mountains up here where the evil overlord lives, yeah, maybe we want them more spiky. Or maybe they're just newer mountains, which in reality they are, harder edged, a lot taller and steeper. Here we have some older mountains are a little more hill like. They still have a pointed tip, but that's a good way to depict those. Those realities or just those feels that you want in your story, or that you already have in your story. So, we've got a few mountains, we're going to stop there. Your rivers will flow down from there. We have a main river, here, we're going to probably do it a little wider. This is where you want to start in pencil because you're going to have to show where the mouth of the river enters the sea. The tributaries. Remember that you have, sometimes, short rivers that just come from very near the coast. You want lots of waterways that goes, in reality, near the coast. You always have this. That's something good to know about geography is that you have an equatorial line. Deserts are not right up against your equatorial line, you want rain forests. And those jungles and that type of thing can sometimes just be shown little old squiggly edging, you don't want to draw individual trees. You do want to draw individual trees for forests, or at least you can, but it generally gives you a better feel. Some rough ovals. Again, you have your water ways coming through them. Sometime you should finish drawing all your waterways first probably. And start putting in things like how to cross waterways, you'll want bridges in certain places in major towns. You have a little fishing village down here. And that's how that generally works. Now, a good thing, this is a great way to do a fantasy map for a novel for writing purposes either for your own reference or for your readers enjoyment. Don't forget to add in a compass, make it good and fancy you can have several shade spikes. We're not going to do the whole thing. Now, if you're using a fantasy map for say an RPG or just you want to make it something presentable that you can not only look at for your own reference but have as actual presentation piece that I have a way where I'll actually draw it on parchment paper and once I've drawn it all, done it all in colored pencils, because I've got the softer look and makes it almost look like the page itself is older. Then get some wet tea bags, put them on it. Crumble the whole thing up, get it as tight as you can, maybe put a small, not a strong, but a small rubber band on it because you don't want to smear out what you have written. And, save it that way for a few hours, maybe overnight. Come the next day, unwrap it. You're feeling really brave, light a candle and put it in your bathroom sink and burn the edges very controlled, because you have to be careful or it might destroy what you've done. And that's a fun way to make fantasy maps for your fiction.

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