How to Draw a Map


Brari Hollow generously shared her tips on Facebook and now I’m sharing it with you all. All instructions and pictures are hers, and you can find her here.


“Eraser, pencil (mechanical is best), a fine-point but inky pen. For color, I would personally only add blue. I used a highlighter and a blue pen with a similar shade ink.”


“Don’t overthink it! Look at these shapes. There’s no sense to it. I just liked the way it ended up looking all put together. This was very literally a random sketch.”


“The trick is to make fidgety lines. Not sketchy. See below.”


“Don’t make it wavy. Don’t make it zig zaggy. Just make it fidgety. I don’t know how else to describe it.
1. Don’t look at it directly. Use peripheral.
2. Use your less dominant hand or hold the pen differently than you normally would.”


“Avoid following the exact pencil lines you made.”


“Instead, let the pen make up its own mind about how to get the shapes you made.”


“Even after following the lines in some spots, though, it still looks pretty cool.”


“Don’t have to do them first, but in my brain I imagine mountains coming around before anything else. (Aside from water, but the whole paper is the ocean, so…)”


“Some options to how to draw them. I prefer the top down version.”


“For top down, you’re drawing a line for, essentially, all the highest points in the mountain. I know mountains don’t do this, but it looks good on paper. Also, I personally like to try to make them somehow complimentary to the shoreline.”


“Add the “peaks.” You’re essentially making squiggly X’s, and then alternating squiggly lines between.”


“Here are some side view mountains.”


“Water comes next!”


“Draw in some lakes. Remember, fidgeting lines. I like to outline in blue, fill with highlighter. You could do a black outline and wave lines inside.”


“Rivers. Fidget. Fidget. Typically, rivers start somewhere in mountains, and end at bodies of water. They also break off, and take the path of least resistance. They are constantly moving towards lower ground, so if it helps, they’re telling you that they couldn’t go another way because it was higher.”


“At such a “zoomed” out view, I don’t like drawing trees on the map. It makes it too crowded. So…”


“I do slightly thinner lines. They go around the base of the mountain, and then go wherever they damn well please.”


“Shaded it in to distinguish it. (Also, at one point I added shading to the mountains, too.)”


“Cities come after nature, not the other way around.”


“Outline with city name.”


“Little skylines.”


“Horizontal lines. I like using blue highlighter (because ocean) and then horizontal lines on only one border (I favor the east borders). You could use other colors (green for forests, brown for deserts, grey for mountains) if the land you’re drawing is within a continent.”


“Use the pointier side of the highlighter (or marker) to trace closely to the shape you made.”


“Overall. Boom diggity.”


“Here are those horizontal lines.”


“Other things, like names.”


“Add a compass. Big names should be all in caps. (Oceans, lakes, lands). Smaller names should have some lowercase (forests, cities, etc). Borders between countrie/territories could be dotted lines. I got a bit silly with it.”


My attempt:


I hope you guys enjoyed this and had better luck than I did :p

4 thoughts on “How to Draw a Map

  1. Reblogged this on Interpreter of Inspiration and commented:
    I love this tutorial in huge, happy ways. It takes me back to my teen and college years, and makes me want to play table-top role playing games for hours on end. It also makes me want to go home and finish the world-building exercise that is a required precursor to starting my next novel.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on One Word More and commented:
    A great tutorial and definitely the formula I will use for future maps, although I’ll probably finish my maps in photoshop for clean, professional lines and readable writing 😉


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