Creating a Fantasy Map: the Details in Seven Steps (Part II)

So, in my last post, I got you started on creating a fantasy world map for writers and Dungeon Masters. Today: we’re going to start detailing that map. Again, I’m going to continue using the campaign map I used in my last game in Mondiir from the Adobe Draw app on iPad.

This map is very zoomed in so that I can add the details I need. 

Step one: in a new layer, draw your mountains. 

I am going to create the Heartland Valley, the center of the Red Empire (the Roman Empire of Mondiir). I didn’t want it to be in the Italy of my world, but more central so that it would butt up against other lands easier. But, I wanted to be fortified. The actual land itself is a fortress. So, I needed mountains. 

You can us the standard triangles, but its best if you try to alter them as much as possible. I outlined the land with the mountains and then filled in the mountain range how I wanted. 


Step Two: create a new layer for mountain shading 

There is one mountain that became important to the campaign called the Black Mountain. I turn down the opacity of my brushes to create the shading effects and go over parts for the shadows. 

Though I would skip over this step for a little bit for the rest of the mountains, I came back to it. The lower mountains I wanted to be kinda deserts and the northern ones to be rocky and cold. You’ll see. 

Step three: in a new layer, create the rivers and lakes

Using a lower opacity brush and a light blue, I created the series of rivers and lakes. 

Rivers often start up in the mountains and find their way down to the sea. 

Step four: in a new layer, color the plains

Using a nice green color, I filled in the plains of the Heartland Valley. 

(This is where I shaded the mountains.)

Step five: using two layers, create the forests

Use one layer and a dark green, draw the outer edges of the forests and then in the second layer, use a lighter green to fill it in. 

You can draw individual trees, but that will take a long time. (Worth it for a novel, not worth it to me for my DnD map.) 


Step Six: select shapes for civilization 

I  use the following shapes for my civilization: 

  • Dot with a brush: village
  • Triangle: town
  • Square: city
  • Star: capital

Which looks like this:

Step Seven: labeling 

Because I work strictly on my iPad, i have to use a different app for my labeling. I take a picture and use Text on Pictures. 

Notice that I don’t label everything. I don’t know everything about it. I just know what I need to know for the campaign. Considering we never went south, I didn’t bother developing that area. I can go back there with other players some time in the future. 


This might look like a big swath of land, but remember that I’m SUPER zoomed in. Zoomed out looks like this:

It’s almost nothing. In my next campaign, I’ll be filling in the “Greece” of my world. 

I hope this post was useful for you!  Please share your own creations below! I would love to see what you create!

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