16 June, 2017

A LARP Map (Part 2)

It's been more than a day, but here's part 2 of this series of map tutorials.

We left with the part where the ripples were drawn around the coastlines.

Since my process basically follows geographic elements, the brings me in two ways to waterways and rivers. (1. Following the coastline water theme and leading inland... 2. Using the placement of mountain ranges on the map to determine where streams and rivers flow from, and leading them toward bays and bayou areas on the coastline).

Zooming in on a sample set of rivers along the eastern coastline, you can see where I have a few streams starting in each mountain range, using jagged lines to show how they twist and turn through hills that are too small or not strategic enough to appear on the map. Pairs of creeks join up, then these larger streams join up into rivers as they approach the coast. Where a river might reach a depth where sea-going vessels are capable of travelling, I split the river from a single line, to a pair of close lines to indicate a difference in the waterway.

In the middle of the map (the left side as indicated on the image above) the focal area for the LARP is indicated. A part of the LARP lore indicates that there is a river used by traders who take timber and game meats and other trade commodities on barges to settlements downstream. The river flows off to the west, but little more was detailed about that river beyond a few miles, so the larger scale map sees this river system bend southward.
With mountain ranges showing terrain that is obviously difficult to pass, and rivers showing natural borders and potential trading paths, we can start to see natural locations for settlements to appear.

The rough map indicated a few settlements, but these are all subject to change especially as we move further from the established areas at the centre of the continent. Four distinct settlement types are indicated. The largest and most notable towns and cities are drawn with a solid circle surrounded by a faint circle. Smaller villages (such as the town of Nexus where our LARP is based) are drawn with a air of concentric outlined circles. The small villages that are still capable of being seen on this map are marked with a single outlined circle (we have two of those in the LARP area). The last type of settlements indicated are ruins, mostly seen in the northern wilderness and on the island to the south of the main continent.

There's a few ways I could have gone with the map next, but I decided that I'd move toward notable forested areas. These mostly sit to the east of mountain ranges, because air currents often blow from east to west, and when they hit mountain ranges, they drop any moisture in the air as rains. This isn't always the case, but it's a good rule of thumb to place most of the fertile lands of the continent. This also means that open spaces to the west of the continent are natural desert regions. Deep in the south-west of the continent, I've added a few forests perhaps indicating manipulated air flow due to the curvature of the mountain range in that part of the world. The central region has a few forested and fertile areas for similar reasons, justifying the central river systems. No forests are indicated in the northern wasteland, or on the southern island, but this is more a factor of these regions being unexplored than anything else.  

Then I indicate roadways and trade routes between the various towns and cities. At this scale of map I've just used simple dashed lines for the overland trade routes, and dotted lines across the water to indicate common voyages of trade ships between nearby coastal settlements.

The last thing I've drawn on this map is some of the major swamps, wetlands, and bogs. I don't seem to have taken a photo of this stage, but you'll seem them in later parts of the tutorial.

This has basically completed the analog art of the map making process for me. The next step involves scanning the page, then digitally manipulating the image until I'm happy with it.
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