Map Progress

Posted: June 20th, 2010 under artwork, the writing life.
Tags: , , ,

Here’s the current state of the map.   I’m about ready to pull the undersheets of details to be transferred and continue with the empty spots.

Those elongate bits in the “empty corner” are salt lake remnants that will be flanked by ranges of mountains eventually.   Kolobia is off the map to the left.   Eventually I’ll do another map of the “in between” but not anytime soon.

I had the chance this week to initiate another person into the wonders of Rapidograph pens…we’ll see how he does.   Young artists learn all sorts of bad  habits (including  an inflexible grip) from using ballpoints and rollerballs and whatever else they have for school.   Whereas, once you’ve become proficient with a Rapidograph, most other technical and art pens are easy (leaving aside pure old-fashioned engineering-drafting pens like ruling pens…my mother insisted that I do all my borders with ruling pens, not Rapidographs, for the discipline of it.

Yikes in a bucket.  I don’t know how many circles I drew with the compass fitted with ruling pens before I got one that was “right.”   How many corners I had to practice before my corners looked like her corners: crisp, perfect meetings of the lines with no little blips needing to be erased.   (She had an electric eraser that could, if you were very careful, lift off the (ink.  It would also eat right through drafting vellum, treated linen, or any other surface if you weren’t careful.)   But if you learn that way, there are advantages.   If only I could think of some!  Now I can tell the computer to draw a straight line any width I want, and there it is.

Some years back, I was talking to a friend of my mother’s (then in her eighties) who had also been a professional draftsman about the advances in computer-assisted drafting.   She said (correctly) that CAD has no character–that before, she could spot the work of individuals in minute differences in style…that tiny differences in the width of lines, the crispness of corners, the lettering, gave the work an artist’s touch.  It was called “mechanical drawing” but it wasn’t entirely mechanical.  And now it is.

When I was designing the header art for the Paksworld website, I ran into this–in order to have it scalable in digital form, I could not do some of the things I had wanted to do.   But I can do the maps as real maps, hand-drawn, and though parts of it are tedious, it’s a lot of fun to see my vision of the maps, not limited by some map-drawing-software’s ideas of what’s needed.   The imperfections are part of the charm (to me, anyway.)


  • Comment by Kip Colegrove — June 20, 2010 @ 4:25 pm


    My father made me learn how to keep the nibs of a ruling pen appropriately clean and sharp. Bet your mother taught you that, too. And then there was the technique for getting ink off the surface of bristol board, which involved a very sharp knife of a special shape (also carefully maintained) and a burnisher. These gadgets were all made to give decades of satisfaction in constant use. So they’re still around…if anyone remembers how to use them.

    There will always be people around who have the desire to make things using tools and techniques from the pre-cybernetic age; it gives an inimitable satisfaction, and it allows for that personal touch you mentioned that others acquainted with the craft can spot right away

  • Comment by Robert Conley — June 20, 2010 @ 11:16 pm


    If you interested in the current state of the art I recommend looking at this site.

    Some nice maps in there. And there are tutorials as well.

  • Comment by green_knight — June 21, 2010 @ 3:18 am


    I draft maps on the computer – and while each individual line might not have the individuality of a handdrawn line, they are every bit as individual as maps ever were.

    I love handdrawn maps, I just cannot produce one. Computers give me freedom to be creative in a way that I could never relying on pen and paper, so for me, computers mean a net gain in creativity. And many of the maps I admire are _printed_ and no less beautiful for it.

  • Comment by Kathleen — June 22, 2010 @ 7:03 am


    Appologies if you asked and asnwered, but will we see this new map in “Kings of the North”?

  • Comment by elizabeth — June 22, 2010 @ 7:16 am


    That’s the intention. You won’t see the master map, but you will see maps relevant to that book, and with the map in “Oath of Fealty” that should hold for awhile.

  • Comment by Kathleen — June 23, 2010 @ 5:43 am


    Thanks look forward to seeing it. And you bringing back memories. I’ve been old fashioned draftsman with a set rapiograph pens and the ability to tell who did what drawing by looking at them.

  • Comment by elizabeth — June 23, 2010 @ 8:12 am


    One of my big decisions–not yet made–is whether to keep the master map largely open, and only put trails, roads, etc. on the detailed maps for each book.

    As for tradition…I not only have Rapidograph pens and my mother’s ruling pens…I have a copy of French’s book, which you probably learned from as well.

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