How to draw city maps for your fantasy story

Written by lauren vork
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The art of writing a fantasy story often includes the creation of entire new worlds with their own geography and civilisations. Sometimes, it's useful for both author and reader to have a map to serve as a visual guide to understanding the story. As an author, you may not consider yourself a visual artist, but it's still possible to create a useful and attractive map with only rudimentary drawing skills.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Pencil and eraser
  • Notepaper
  • Sketch paper
  • Fine-tipped, black-ink pen

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  1. 1

    Make a list of the locations your map needs to include. Go through your finished story or outline and write down every location that plays a major part, is the site of a scene or is mentioned by the characters. Decide if you want to include all of the locations or just the ones whose positions you or the readers really need. If you haven't named any of the locations, do it now so you can include them in the map.

  2. 2

    Figure out where the locations are in relation to one another, observing factors such as geographical features, the distance needed between locations to accommodate characters' travel time, and any references to locations and distances, such as being able to see parts of a city from certain spots.

  3. 3

    Sketch the graphics for each location, with their names, drawn to the rough scale, and cut them out. Put them on a blank piece of paper and experiment with the layout until you find positions you outlined in Step 2. You don't need a perfectly accurate map scale.

  4. 4

    Make a pencil sketch of your map. Draw the central locations as you've laid them out, then fill in the rest of the map with sketches of the city's layout: streets, alleyways, etc.

  5. 5

    Retrace the completed lines in black marker. Let the ink fully dry, then erase all of the pencil, leaving the clear and bold ink lines of your finished map.

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