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map design for a historical fantasy book

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#1
Esther Mandeno

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Hello Everyone,

I'm not new here, but have been gone for awhile. Anyway, I had a few questions and thought I'd come bug you all about 'em.

A friend has asked me to put together a simple map for a book she's written. No money involved, just an opportunity for this GIS gal to try her hand at basic, sound cartographic design.

The book is set in Spain, 1492 and takes place in the area between Barcelona, Saragossa, Berga/Baga area up to the mountain peaks.

First off, I have a lot of base data available from ESRI, but I was wondering if there is a better source? Do I need a better source or since this is fantasy, don't sweat it?

Second, I've read a lot of fantasy and know that the maps included can vary widely. I'm not interested in doing anything artistic, but I do want it to look historically authentic. What elements would you include to give a map an historical feel? Particularly, a Spanish feel?

Third, where might I get somewhat accurate maps on the boundary between the Kingdoms of Castille and Aragon for around that time? What about the regions or counties? I've done some searching, and have found a few maps, but wanted to ask here to be sure I wasn't missing the best source of information for political regions for that time.

Thanks for any feedback you all can offer.
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Esther Mandeno
Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving. - Albert Einstein

#2
Michael Schmeling

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For fantasy maps you get a lot of information and examples on the Cartographer's Guild
Michael Schmeling
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Indie Cartographer
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#3
DaveB

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If you want it to look authentic for the time period I would look for examples of maps from that time and place. I have found that a large part of capturing the look of a period map comes down to fonts (which would've been hand-lettered on most maps prior to the 20th century, and even into the 20th century), and decorations, like borders, compass roses, ocean art (ships, sea monsters, etc.), cartouches, and linework/line styles, fills, point symbols, etc. If you can avoid the preciseness (not to be confused with accuracy) of computer drawing and introduce a bit of human/handdrawn irregularity so much the better.

David Rumsey's collection might be a good place to start looking for examples, although I don't know if he has anything from that time or place.
Dave Barnes
Esri
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#4
Dennis McClendon

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First, look at maps of that era. You'll find they have relatively little detail, with complexity introduced by the artisan's hand rather than the underlying knowledge. So GIS is very much the wrong tool, except for an extremely preliminary draft. If you want, you can use it to sketch the coastline and some rivers and boundaries, but a historical atlas is probably much better. Get a calligraphy pen (even if it's a felt-tip one) and some good tracing paper, and work through two or three iterations, tracing the general coastline, sketching in some chevrons for the mountains, and drawing boundary lines for the kingdoms. If you have no experience with or talent for lettering, print out your feature names in an appropriate typeface (Optima is a good start), move your tracing paper to the right place over the label, and carefully track the letterforms with the calligraphy pen. A few minutes of practice will let you letter confidently while the underlying printout takes care of proportions for you. At the coastlines, draw a moderately thick shore and then parallel it with a couple of thin lines in the water. These should track the shoreline generally and smoothly rather than mechanically, so they will actually flatten out as they go across the mouths of small bays. The next one seaward will be a little further from the first than the first is from the shore, and also a little more generalized.

In sum: don't look for datasets. Instead, get a little ink on your fingers and have fun!
Dennis McClendon, Chicago CartoGraphics
chicagocarto.com

#5
Esther Mandeno

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(insert half-hearted, failing laughter) :huh:

Ink? Tracing paper? Calligraphy pen?

Remember, I'm a GIS Specialist - not a cartographer!

Okay, I did some looking around and found this.

There's NO WAY I can do that by hand. So...I will try to emulate with whatever I can come up with. I suspect I will fail miserably, but I'll try. If I come up with anything worth putting up, I'll post it over in the gallery section.

Thank you for the responses! :)
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Esther Mandeno
Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving. - Albert Einstein

#6
Dennis McClendon

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What do you find scary? You know how to trace, right? That you might smudge the ink? You can always scan it and clean up the mistakes in Photoshop.

GIS for a project like this is akin to carving a model ship with a chainsaw.
Dennis McClendon, Chicago CartoGraphics
chicagocarto.com

#7
Esther Mandeno

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What do you find scary? You know how to trace, right? That you might smudge the ink? You can always scan it and clean up the mistakes in Photoshop.

GIS for a project like this is akin to carving a model ship with a chainsaw.


You're right. It is just not the way I approach projects. It's all about data for me, so this is definitely going to be a learning experience.

But you shouldn't have mentioned a chainsaw...

Posted Image

:rolleyes:
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Esther Mandeno
Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving. - Albert Einstein

#8
Dennis McClendon

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Here's a map from a century or so later, but I think it's a good idea of what a map in that period would have looked like (color illustrations in the margins aside)

1571 map of Sicily
Dennis McClendon, Chicago CartoGraphics
chicagocarto.com

#9
DaveB

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But keep in mind that style would be as anachronistic as some of the zombie map stuff Dennis pointed out in another thread. Of course very few people would know or notice that. :P
Dave Barnes
Esri
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