How to Create a Fantasy World Map for Writers and Game Masters in Just 7 Steps

I’ve just completed my first full campaign in Mondiir, the realm I created specifically for my DnD games. Since I wanted to keep using this realm, I knew that I needed a full world to explore. (I also knew that I didn’t have to know EVERYTHING about this world yet. Neither do you. Don’t drive yourself crazy.)

I went through a lot of the available materials for DnD and grouped a lot by cultures/regions familiar to our world. This works for Mondiir, which is based more than vaguely on  our earth and timeline. Here is how I turned that drawing into a world for my players in just seven steps.

1st: add an underlay of your drawing/make a crappy first outline (I did both)

I sketched around the vague collections of names that I had. It looked terrible. It always does. You’ll fix that in step two. 

2nd: On a new layer: draw your real coasts with the thin, black, rounded pen tool (I also added vague politic lines) and hide your old coast lines 

I put the opacity of this new layer down to 76%, but really all of the opacity numbers I give you will depend on what you think looks best for your map.

3rd: on a new layer, above the coasts, color in the land with a brownish color of your choice.

I placed this new layer above the coasts layer, but below the vague political borders layer. I set the land to 79% opacity so I could add a parchment background later.

4th: on a new layer, color in the ocean with a blue of your choice

This layer ought to be above the coasts layer and below the land layer. I set the opacity for the ocean layer down to 83%. 

5th: save the picture (to your camera roll)

6th: in the camera roll, cut out the edges of the picture 

Because the outside edges will always look like a child’s finger painting.

7th: in a text over pictures app (I use Add Words to Pictures), begin to label each country/ region the names you’ve created for them.

I used Don Jon to generate all of the names for Mondiir, based on the different fantasy and real world culture options available there. 

And, with that, you’re done! 
You finished the basic map for your world. It has nearly no detail, besides the names you’ve created, but it is a great start. From here, you can begin to fill in land features, kingdoms, and other aspects. I will show you more about detailing your map in my next post where I show you how I created the Heartland Valley, the original location of the two biggest empires of Mondiir’s ancient world. The goal is to eventually have entire areas that look like this:

And to begin to fill in the map with details as you need them:

Zoomed out from the last photo.

Thank you for reading! If this was helpful to you, please like, share, and check me out on Patreon

Patreon Executive Producer: Cindy Horn


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