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How to Draw Fantasy Art and RPG Maps: Step by Step Cartography for Gamers and Fans

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The power of creation is at your fingertips!Orcs prepare for battle against high Elves, Dwarves retreat to the mountains and men march to the sea to reclaim crumbling fortresses. Fortunes are decided. Kingdoms are lost. Entire worlds are created. This book will teach you to bring your fictional realm to life with simple step-by-step instructions on how to draw authentic fa The power of creation is at your fingertips!Orcs prepare for battle against high Elves, Dwarves retreat to the mountains and men march to the sea to reclaim crumbling fortresses. Fortunes are decided. Kingdoms are lost. Entire worlds are created. This book will teach you to bring your fictional realm to life with simple step-by-step instructions on how to draw authentic fantasy maps. Set the stage for adventure by illustrating domains, castles and battle lines, mountains, forests and sea monsters! Learn to create completely unique and fully functional RPG maps time and time again on which your world can unfold.All the skills necessary to create awe-inspiring maps are covered! Landscapes. Add depth, balance and plausibility with rocky coastlines, towering mountains, dark forests and rolling plains. Iconography. Mark important places--towns and cities, fortresses and bridges--with symbolic iconography for easy-to-understand maps. Typography. Learn how to place readable text and the basics of decorative script. Bonus instruction teaches you to create fonts for Orcs, Elves, Vikings and dragons. Heraldry and shield design. Depict cultural and political boundaries with shields and colors. Advanced cartography. Includes how to draw landmarks, country boundaries and political lines. Build roads to connect merchants and troops, troll cairns and dragon lairs. And complete your maps with creative backgrounds, elaborate compasses and thematic legends. 30+ step-by-step demonstrations illustrate how to construct an entire fantasy world map from start to finish--both digitally and by hand!


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The power of creation is at your fingertips!Orcs prepare for battle against high Elves, Dwarves retreat to the mountains and men march to the sea to reclaim crumbling fortresses. Fortunes are decided. Kingdoms are lost. Entire worlds are created. This book will teach you to bring your fictional realm to life with simple step-by-step instructions on how to draw authentic fa The power of creation is at your fingertips!Orcs prepare for battle against high Elves, Dwarves retreat to the mountains and men march to the sea to reclaim crumbling fortresses. Fortunes are decided. Kingdoms are lost. Entire worlds are created. This book will teach you to bring your fictional realm to life with simple step-by-step instructions on how to draw authentic fantasy maps. Set the stage for adventure by illustrating domains, castles and battle lines, mountains, forests and sea monsters! Learn to create completely unique and fully functional RPG maps time and time again on which your world can unfold.All the skills necessary to create awe-inspiring maps are covered! Landscapes. Add depth, balance and plausibility with rocky coastlines, towering mountains, dark forests and rolling plains. Iconography. Mark important places--towns and cities, fortresses and bridges--with symbolic iconography for easy-to-understand maps. Typography. Learn how to place readable text and the basics of decorative script. Bonus instruction teaches you to create fonts for Orcs, Elves, Vikings and dragons. Heraldry and shield design. Depict cultural and political boundaries with shields and colors. Advanced cartography. Includes how to draw landmarks, country boundaries and political lines. Build roads to connect merchants and troops, troll cairns and dragon lairs. And complete your maps with creative backgrounds, elaborate compasses and thematic legends. 30+ step-by-step demonstrations illustrate how to construct an entire fantasy world map from start to finish--both digitally and by hand!

30 review for How to Draw Fantasy Art and RPG Maps: Step by Step Cartography for Gamers and Fans

  1. 5 out of 5

    Brianna Silva

    I learned a lot from this! ^_^ Now I'm excited to work on my own (official and detailed) fantasy maps very soon! :O I learned a lot from this! ^_^ Now I'm excited to work on my own (official and detailed) fantasy maps very soon! :O

  2. 5 out of 5

    Caroline Berg

    I would have loved to have this book back when I was in art school, for some of the pen, ink, and techniques. This is very much for beginners, though, so it doesn't go into anything in-depth. I do like how it suggests experimenting to find what works best for you. As for the maps themselves, while lovely, they are of the standard western European medieval fantasy type. The elves live in forests, barbarian raiders from the north (always the north) are based on vikings, the ancient civilizations ar I would have loved to have this book back when I was in art school, for some of the pen, ink, and techniques. This is very much for beginners, though, so it doesn't go into anything in-depth. I do like how it suggests experimenting to find what works best for you. As for the maps themselves, while lovely, they are of the standard western European medieval fantasy type. The elves live in forests, barbarian raiders from the north (always the north) are based on vikings, the ancient civilizations are based on Greek and Roman designs, and green-skinned orcs are out for your blood. I understand that is bog-standard fantasy material, but it would have been nice if it gave visual alternatives to tired tropes. Because it is based on western Europe, there aren't sections for how to make interesting deserts, or steppes, or canyons, it basically sticks to mountains, hills, forests, marshes, farmland and seas. There is a nice (though basic) section on heraldry and making shields, banners, and icons for your various cities, holdfasts, and castles. And it covers some interesting border techniques from the 16th century.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sam

    This was a good step by step guide for creating a nice and detailed map, whether for a fantasy book series or an rpg. It was also a quick read because it is around 80% images.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Candice Landau

    You don't even need to be an artist to create amazing fantasy maps. This book will take you through the process, step-by-step. I use it to create maps for the fantasy stories I write. You don't even need to be an artist to create amazing fantasy maps. This book will take you through the process, step-by-step. I use it to create maps for the fantasy stories I write.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Χρύσα Αναστασίου

    Great and detailed instructions about creating an amazing fantasy map! It gave me a lot of ideas and I'll try to implement them on my own map. Great and detailed instructions about creating an amazing fantasy map! It gave me a lot of ideas and I'll try to implement them on my own map.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Shaun Hately

    An excellent resource, but perhaps assumes a little more natural talent than most people have.

  7. 4 out of 5

    R.C.

    A decent survey of how to create your standard speculative fiction map. Blando covers the basics: how rivers and mountains work in tandem, examples of landmark and settlement iconography, how to work in borders and compass roses, etc. As other have noted, however, I don't think this book covers much that you can't find for free online these days; and, furthermore, it falls a bit short in the iconography department in that he only really shows one style for everything. While reading the step-by-s A decent survey of how to create your standard speculative fiction map. Blando covers the basics: how rivers and mountains work in tandem, examples of landmark and settlement iconography, how to work in borders and compass roses, etc. As other have noted, however, I don't think this book covers much that you can't find for free online these days; and, furthermore, it falls a bit short in the iconography department in that he only really shows one style for everything. While reading the step-by-steps I thought that it would've been more helpful to show simple examples of varying designs, rather than in-depth processes of one icon each. I also found it odd that all of the maps used for chapter title page backgrounds were entirely digital (and, I hate to say, visually confusing by the sin of horror vacui). While Blando did say that he primarily works in digital in his professional life, he also almost wholly focuses on pencil/ink/paint in the text, thereby being at odds with all the digital work we see on the pages. What this book got me thinking about is that as-yet unpublished comprehensive guide that novice speculative cartographers are still waiting for. To start with, it would contain: 1) the factors that determine how a landmass comes to look the way it does (plate tectonics, volcanic activity, glaciers, etc.); 2) how landscapes and cityscapes alike exist within their settings (weather patterns, trade routes, naturalistic settlement layouts, etc.); and 3) different iconographic/lettering/decorative styles ranging both in complexity and cultural inspiration. Judging by the many speculative cartographers out there, I'm sure that there are many folks who could write such a guide. Until it manifests, however, Blando's contribution is worth a read in the context of other sources. Of course, I would be remiss to leave out that without his work we would be even more behind than we currently are! While the offerings may be slim, his work is still the best in print today, and I am grateful for its existence.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Steven Lee

    3.5/5 Compared to previous art books I have read (and reviewed here) this book is far superior. The instructions are simple to follow and the steps are laid out clearly with helpful visuals accompanying them. Jared Blando does a good job laying out the basics of geography as well as the aesthetics of cartography. A lot of what you read in this book can be easily gleaned elsewhere, but its a nice tool to pull together ideas and look at them all together. Another valuable example of what Blando ha 3.5/5 Compared to previous art books I have read (and reviewed here) this book is far superior. The instructions are simple to follow and the steps are laid out clearly with helpful visuals accompanying them. Jared Blando does a good job laying out the basics of geography as well as the aesthetics of cartography. A lot of what you read in this book can be easily gleaned elsewhere, but its a nice tool to pull together ideas and look at them all together. Another valuable example of what Blando has done here is create samples and demonstrations of what the finished product can look like. One criticism I will make about the book is that the maps appear to be in a common style. Blando doesn't really flesh out alternatives, more like variations on a core style. It's more complicated than this, but basically the style looks quite reminiscent of the maps in the Lord of the Rings or A Song of Ice and Fire with greater visual flourish. I think the book may be a useful guide, especially for those who want a solid starting point for their maps and help in how to draw certain features. It would be ideal for perhaps younger artists that need a tool to get started. However, I think anyone who has watched tutorial videos and done a lot of practice will not get very much new here except a convenient resources and source of inspiration.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Seth

    This is a surprisingly readable book about creating maps. The book is pretty dry and procedural, but easy to follow. There is a lot of information, and actually appears to offer advice that just about anyone could execute. There is one problem, the author glosses over details such as shading visual elements. To people who aren't really experienced with drawing, it might seem a bit intimidating to start adding nuance like shading into a drawing/illustration. Regardless, if you're into the fantasy This is a surprisingly readable book about creating maps. The book is pretty dry and procedural, but easy to follow. There is a lot of information, and actually appears to offer advice that just about anyone could execute. There is one problem, the author glosses over details such as shading visual elements. To people who aren't really experienced with drawing, it might seem a bit intimidating to start adding nuance like shading into a drawing/illustration. Regardless, if you're into the fantasy genre, and/or tabletop rpgs, you'll probably going to want this book in your collection.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Nicholas

    Clear, easy to follow and when you add all of the little pieces together you get absolutely incredible results that you can refine and personalise over time to get what you want. Absolutely invaluable!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Nathan

    Great primer for simple map making that is easy to understand and implement. There are references to shading that assume a level of knowledge that is beyond me, but the book still contains a lot of valuable tools even for an untalented artist like me!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Pris

    Good detail One book and the two painting techniques - each step has details with visual example. Drawing a map encompasses not only a lot of "how tos" but also knowing geological aspects of your map, Jared Blanco has done a great job walking you through these details. Good detail One book and the two painting techniques - each step has details with visual example. Drawing a map encompasses not only a lot of "how tos" but also knowing geological aspects of your map, Jared Blanco has done a great job walking you through these details.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Darina

    Good, I just wish there was a little more.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    Excellent guide for making fantasy map. I am ugly at drawing but with this book I got wonderful works

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Linsky

    One of the better art books I've read; it actually lives up to the title. After reading it, I think my game maps and so forth will indeed be higher quality than before. One of the better art books I've read; it actually lives up to the title. After reading it, I think my game maps and so forth will indeed be higher quality than before.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Matt Dyson-Bird

    Good instructive guide A nice step by step exploration of fantasy map design. I’m looking forward to re-drawing a few of my maps with the help of some of the techniques here.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Rafael

    A great instruction and introduction into map making. All you need now is the art supplies, patience and either talent or practice. It's a nice niche hobby I picked up very recently. A great instruction and introduction into map making. All you need now is the art supplies, patience and either talent or practice. It's a nice niche hobby I picked up very recently.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Dave

    Very comprehensive. I was surprised at how much work goes into making generic fantasy maps.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jhan Vienedict

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. nice

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kris Miller

    A nice step-by-step how-to for new mapmakers.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jeff H.

    Great for beginner map drawing and ideas.

  22. 4 out of 5

    intrepideddie

    Bottom Line Up Front A great introductory how-to for drawing overland maps. It's just the basics, but that's all you need to get started. Sadly, it's just overland maps. The Review This book is a basic introductory how-to for drawing overland maps of a traditional fantasy flavour. The tutorials in the book are organized into chapters, ostensibly in the order you'd draw them on a map. The book is a nicely presented softcover with every page in full colour. There are many excellent illustrations throu Bottom Line Up Front A great introductory how-to for drawing overland maps. It's just the basics, but that's all you need to get started. Sadly, it's just overland maps. The Review This book is a basic introductory how-to for drawing overland maps of a traditional fantasy flavour. The tutorials in the book are organized into chapters, ostensibly in the order you'd draw them on a map. The book is a nicely presented softcover with every page in full colour. There are many excellent illustrations throughout. The layout, while nice, is a bit expansive. The use of space isn't very good and there's relatively little actual instruction on most pages (though there are lots of illustrations). There just wasn't as much actual writing or content as I expected. I can't say I wholly approve of the title; it's misleading (or, at best, too encompassing). This book covers how to draw overland maps and that's it. No dungeons. No cities. No castles. I was quite disappointed by that. Anyway, here's a chapter-by-chapter summary and review of the book: Introduction The introduction can go f**k itself. It's a photographic list of things you need to draw maps. Some people genuinely appreciate them, but these types of "here's what you need to do this" lists have always come across to me as somewhat pretentious. I only draw on canvas made from the stretched skin of an albino wombat that was hit by a road train with 10 trailers of pink diamonds and then passed through the digestive tract of a wedge-tailed eagle. Oh, and use this $500 pencil with a special core made of ground unicorn shit or you might as well not bother drawing. Rubbish. Grab a freaking pencil and a sheet of paper and draw. (Fortunately, this is limited to only two pages, and is by no means as egregious as others I've seen.) Chapter 1: Building Your World Could be summed up with "draw a shape for the main area you're mapping". This is probably the one chapter where there are too many steps; felt like it was padded to get another couple pages. Chapter 2: Mountains, Forests, Rivers and Water (Yes, the lack of Oxford comma annoys the sh!t out of me.) To me, this chapter was just about right. Shows ways of drawing the various features without overwhelming you with different styles. Perfect for beginning fantasy cartographers. Chapter 3: Town and City Icons Not a terribly detailed chapter, but as the intent is only to draw icons or representations of cities/towns/castles on a map, it's perfectly fine. Chapter 4: Typography Hoooo, boy. Typographers everywhere are cringing. Well, f**k them. This isn't a comprehensive treatise on use-cases for fonts in cartography; it's just to throw some ideas out there for putting text on the map -- font and style, placement, etc. There's some good (if perhaps obvious) tips, but it only scratches the surface of the topic and doesn't really get into font design or even provide a full sample alphabet. Chapter 5: Landmarks Roads, caves, ruins, towers... this chapter is really a continuation of Chapter 3. The tutorials are a bit less detailed here. They all consist of three steps: draw the thing, add details, final details. I shit you not. It's basically eight pages of this. Chapter 6: Iconography Map symbols. There are some ideas for alternative visuals for those items covered in Chapters 3 and 5. Chapter 7: Heraldry and Shields Nothing in-depth, but some potential inspiration for political designations on a map. I can see putting this information to good use on a battlefield type of map. Chapter 8: Political Boundaries Nutshell: Use different types of dashed lines and different colours. Why did this take more than one page? Chapter 9: Backgrounds Weird title for this chapter. It covers adding decorative borders, corners, compasses, legends, and other flourishes to make it prettier. This and Chapter 2 are my favourites. Chapter 10: Painting Techniques Provides very brief tips for inking, shading, painting, and using digital media (PhotoShop, GIMP, etc). I suspect few people will find much of value in this chapter. Chapter 11: Putting It All Together An entire chapter of unnecessary fluff. Steps through all (well, most) of the previous tutorials to create a map. It's of practically zero value. A better idea would have been to include a sampling of completed maps showcasing various of the previously-discussed techniques. So, what's my opinion of this book? I like it. I have a lot of issues with it that are more personal taste than anything, but my map drawing has significantly improved thanks to this book. I even intend to try my hand at drawing a full-on properly decorated map. Inked, painted, the whole bit. Might take me a while to work up to that.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Luke

    This exquisitely beautiful book was lacking in substance to me when it came to its utility as an educational tool. Like many "how-to" books, it showcases both the unique talents and style of a gifted artist, but comes up short when it comes to breadth of technique. I was looking for a more advanced fantasy cartography tutorial that communicated a wider variety of techniques and cartographic options, and situated this kind of art a little more closely with the history of the art. The author's map This exquisitely beautiful book was lacking in substance to me when it came to its utility as an educational tool. Like many "how-to" books, it showcases both the unique talents and style of a gifted artist, but comes up short when it comes to breadth of technique. I was looking for a more advanced fantasy cartography tutorial that communicated a wider variety of techniques and cartographic options, and situated this kind of art a little more closely with the history of the art. The author's maps are quite beautiful and the book is full of lovely work, but it works best as an extremely basic guide that essentially teaches the basics of the author's own preferred methods in very broad detail. Anyone who's already working as a professional cartographer might be better off scouring the DeviantArt and YouTube artist communities for free cartography pointers from a variety of artists. The ideal market for this book is young fans of fantasy, YA gamers, and people who are just starting out. I would have LOVED to get this book when I was 11 or 12 years old -- so I guess I'll bump my review from 2 stars up to 3, depending on who the target audience is. It's classier and more attractive than most of the endless how-to-draw books for kids, and more basic & accessible (and cheaper!) than many art textbooks. For better or worse, it's just about the only book in the sub-sub-genre of RPG mapmaking, and so if you are starting from scratch with zero technique at any age, it's pretty indispensable. It just wasn't really for me, and didn't give me much that I wasn't already able to find online from places like the cartogerphersguild.com community; If you absolutely want to have some solid beginner tutorials in an attractive bound volume, you're very likelier to get more use out of this book than I was, and so I can recommend it even if it didn't work for me personally.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Guillermo Rodas

    Excellent and complete guide about to make maps! Very illustrative, what I ome the most is that contains a lot of steps and details about each stage process of create a fantasy map.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Darren

    Less "how to draw fantasy and rpg maps" and more "how to draw two fantasy rpg maps exactly as I drew them." In other words, less of a tutorial than a walkthrough. Less "how to draw fantasy and rpg maps" and more "how to draw two fantasy rpg maps exactly as I drew them." In other words, less of a tutorial than a walkthrough.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Simpson

    Looks fantastic and gives some solid "how to draw " advice. It is nearly worthless in terms of real cartography, though, so you'll learn how to draw pretty maps but you won't really learn anything about how/where/why in terms of locating topographical features (there are reasons that swamps, prairies, and so on form where they do. But to be fair, the title is "How to draw..." and it does deliver on that. Looks fantastic and gives some solid "how to draw " advice. It is nearly worthless in terms of real cartography, though, so you'll learn how to draw pretty maps but you won't really learn anything about how/where/why in terms of locating topographical features (there are reasons that swamps, prairies, and so on form where they do. But to be fair, the title is "How to draw..." and it does deliver on that.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    K says only 4 stars, but he's happily making a new map now, so it's a 5 in my book. ;) K says only 4 stars, but he's happily making a new map now, so it's a 5 in my book. ;)

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    Fun little diversion at the intersection of fantasy and design.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Rob Hester

    Very cool step by step, whether you're a pirate or just play one on tv, or just a mad gamer, this book is cool Very cool step by step, whether you're a pirate or just play one on tv, or just a mad gamer, this book is cool

  30. 4 out of 5

    Vivian

    This was a pretty easy guide to creating maps fit for a fantasy world.

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