Cartography Links

A collection of useful links for cartographers and map enthusiasts. Some of these are real world GIS links, while others are more explicitly fantasy-oriented.  Every one of these links is to a page I have found to be useful or interesting reference for mapmaking.

Tutorials by Topic
Tutorials by Software
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Fractal Terrains
    • Tutorial for Cartographer's Guild — a walk through all the major functions of Fractal Terrains by its programmer, Joe Slayton.  Includes height map creation and editing, erosion, generating rivers, climate shading, and projection.
  • Wilbur
    • Brief outline — a short but useful outline of the steps to take a map through Wilbur.
  • The Cartographer's Guild — the forum for fantasy cartographers of every kind.  Filled with amazing maps, as well as a friendly and helpful community of fellow mappers.
  • CartoTalk — one of the main discussion forums for real world cartographers.  This is another friendly and helpful community, with a wide range of topics related to making maps of the real world and all that involves.
  • The Piazza — a wonderful place devoted to the discussion of roleplaying game settings.  It is the main gathering place for the Mystara community.  There is a sub forum at The Piazza dedicated to my Mystara projects, the most active of which is the Geographical Mapping board, which is not limited to my own efforts.  The Piazza also hosts the main discussion board for Calidar.
Geographic Reference
Online Tools
  • Map Projection Selection Tool — an interactive tool for choosing map projections based on distortion property and map extent.  Designed for the real world, but you can also use it for your fantasy world by ignoring the real world map and inputting the map extent in lat/lon coordinates.
  • World file calculator — a form for generating world files, small sidecar text files that define the geographic extent of their companion image file.  This is a quick way to georeference a world map generated in graphic programs, without having to do it manually in a GIS program.  I use it to prepare Equirectangular Projection world maps for use in Manifold.
  • Mapping Scale Convertor — a handy tool for converting lexical scales such as 1:50,000 into fractional scales/ratios such as 1 inch = 1 mile.  Includes both Imperial and Metric.
  • Regular Polygon Calculator — for calculating the dimensions of polygons such as hexes.
  • TypeBrewer — an set of templates for choosing appropriate fonts to use in maps.
Other Sites of Interest
  • Jonathan Crowe's Fantasy Maps Project — a look at the wider topic of fantasy mapping, from an academic/critical perspective.  Lots of interesting articles on the meta side of fantasy cartography.  He also reviews books related to his project, which is very useful for expanding your reading list.
  • Here Be Cartographers: Reading the Fantasy Map — examining maps of fictional places as part of their literary texts.  The focus is on fantasy novels, with little or no mention of roleplaying games.  The writer makes some interesting points; I can't say I agree with everything he says, but it's definitely worth reading as criticism of the genre of fantasy cartography.

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