• On The Map - Interviews with Cartographers 15

    Continuing our series of interviews with cartographers, this month we're talking to Nate Mangion, known to many as Vorropohaiah. Nate is known for being incredibly thorough, detailed, dedicated, knowledgeable, and friendly.
    Did I mention dedicated?
    We asked him 7 questions, as we will in each interview.

    1) Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background...
    My name is Nathan Mangion, though Iím probably better known on the internet as the unpronounceable Vorropohaiah and I live in Malta, Europe. Iím a call centre slave by day (thatís the official term, I believe) and a worldbuilder, cartographer, gardener, writer, terrarium-maker, cheese-maker, animal-lover, gamer, and miniature painter by night.

    2) How did you get into mapping?
    Iíve always loved maps and used to look at atlases and old maps as a kid. When I discovered Warhammer as a child I became obsessed with the Old World map and the later revelations of Middle Earth and Hyboria gave me a great source of well-realised fantasy maps to devour.

    I was always making maps a kid, though they were always functional - something to go with a game I was designing or D&D scenario I was devising to torment my players with! I became more interested in cartography through my worldbuilding. Iíve been working on the world of Elyden on-and-off for the past 12-years and as I started expanding the world history and regions that I needed to somehow show the world, so I started dabbling with Photoshop. I struggled on my own for a few years though started lurking around the Cartographers Guild about 7-8 years ago, reading tutorials. I became a member in early 2010 and took a Photoshop course in 2011 which gave me the confidence to really make maps that I thought were decent. My first cartographers choice map (the High Empire of Korachan) was the result of these first years of learning. I try to forget the maps I created before this one!

    3) Do you create maps professionally, or for fun? If you've sold your work, how did you get started? Any fun/horror stories to share about commissioned work?
    I consider myself semi-professional at best, doing commissions in my spare time to finance my various hobbies and try to divide my time between personal projects and commissions. I never really intended to do commissions though people started sending me emails and messages asking and I just went with the flow, though nowadays I do advertise through my FB page, for instance.

    My personal maps are based in the world of Elyden, and most of them are intended to be in-world pieces (as though they were created by a cartographer within the world itself). Iím currently busy creating an atlas for the region of the Inner Sea and hope to finish off this project this year with a detailed poster-map of the area collecting all details from the previous maps together in one piece.

    4) What kind of computer setup/equipment/software do you have? Any advice or tips for learners?
    I have a basic Wacom Bamboo with no bells or whistles, though if I could afford it Iíd go for a Cintiq, though I canít really justify it unless I become a full-time professional. I've grown so used to the tablet that I use it in place of a mouse for day-today use on the pc. I use Photoshop CS6 and have 32 GB RAM and a struggling graphics card thatís in dire need of an upgrade.

    I canít recommend the tutorials on the Cartographerís Guild website highly enough and the members there are all very skilled and helpful so any questions you might have - just ask away!

    5) What are your favourite kind of maps or favourite map makers from history?
    I love all types of maps, from historical ones [like the Joan Blaeu Atlas Maior of 1665], cutaways (like the work of Stephen Biesty), topographical maps [my favourite being the Pergamon World Atlas, by the Polish Army Topographical Service, 1968] and early 20th century city maps, with everything else in-between.

    One of my favourite maps is A General Map of the World or Terraqueous Globe, published by Sam Dunn, which is a great source of inspiration (directly, in the case of the Globe of Elyden Map). I also love the work of Daniel Reeve who did the maps for the Lord of the Rings and Narnia movies and works in traditional media and is an expert calligrapher.

    6) What do you consider your best piece of work? How about your favourite, if different?
    Iíd like to think that my best piece of work still hasnít been completed, though if I had to choose Iíd have to go for the Globe of Elyden, which was one of the most technically difficult maps Iíve created, with lots of work going into the borders and text boxes. Thereís a feature on the map called the Path of the Nullambit (a series of red dotted circles that are warped due to the projection). These are centred around antipodes though their placing meant I had to struggle with projection software and plugins for Photoshop for around a year on-and-off until I was happy with the result.

    My favourite map would have to be my map of Hololach, which is one of the Atlas Elyden maps. The topography took me ages to complete though I think the southern coast in particular came out nice, evoking Scandinavian fjords quite well. I sometimes find myself looking at that map with a bit of a smile

    One of my more popular maps is probably the City Kingdoms of the Harťshk which uses a heavy paper texture and has a more classical look, with heraldry and Blau-style mountains and forests.

    7) Where can we find you on the web?
    I have a blog, vorropohaiah.blogspot.com, were I share maps and stories Iím working on at the moment (and where you might find out what my screen name means!), and a patreon account and where people can pay for exclusive content if they so wish You can also check out my deviantart gallery or my FB page, nathansmaps, where I post stuff and where I can be contacted.

    Comments 10 Comments
    1. ChickPea's Avatar
      ChickPea -
      Your Elyden modern atlas-style maps are fab, but it's great to see some of your work in other styles showcased too.
    1. vorropohaiah's Avatar
      vorropohaiah -
      thanks for this made my day when I first found out about it
    1. Mouse's Avatar
      Mouse -
      These are great maps, and an interesting history. Thanks for sharing
    1. Diamond's Avatar
      Diamond -
      Great reading about you, Nate! And keep that Patreon stuff coming; I love seeing that in my inbox from time to time.
    1. Ilanthar's Avatar
      Ilanthar -
      Interesting interview! I just love your tenacity and your constant work on your Elyden world. It's quite a model for me .
    1. Lori Vivť the Bardbuckler's Avatar
      Lori Vivť the Bardbuckler -
      Amazing work; as someone who is just starting out on the map-your-entire-setting project, your Elyden maps are so inspiring!
    1. SyvFingre's Avatar
      SyvFingre -
      Really really cool maps.

      That huge amount of work with heraldry, or the time and imagination required to bring to life an entire planet...that's something I find hard to imagine.

      Keep delighting us with that work of yours.
    1. snodsy's Avatar
      snodsy -
      Beautiful work and thanks for sharing your history. Love your maps and the historic slant on them.
    1. AzurePlanet's Avatar
      AzurePlanet -
      Excellent work, Nate! Your dedication in developing your Elyden Planet is really astonishing. And for sure, an inexhaustible source of inspiration for me.
    1. vorropohaiah's Avatar
      vorropohaiah -
      thanks for the comments, everyone!