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Thread: Mapping Element Chart: Mountains

  1. #1
    Guild Expert Wingshaw's Avatar
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    Aug 2012
    Usually Denmark

    Default Mapping Element Chart: Mountains

    Hi all,

    I have just gotten a new commission, to make a regional map for the same client that commissioned me to draw Brightwater. In the process of working on this commission, I thought it would be interesting to compare and contrast some of the different styles of mountain that I have seen on maps here on the guild.

    Allow me to present, therefore, a compilation of mountain styles and approaches that have been used previously.

    Here’s how I chose which pictures to include:
    • I wanted a diverse range of styles (figurative, satellite, caterpillar, modern, painted etc.)
    • I wanted excellent examples of those styles, and so I chose the ones which I like. Therefore the mountains shown reflect only my preferences or what, in my opinion, is a good example of a style.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    1: a satellite image of the Alps in Europe. I don’t know the origin of the image, but I figured it would be useful to have a reference for what mountains look like in the real world. Of course, there are other types of mountains in the world, but this was only meant to be a quick comparison, after all.

    2. Blaeu’s map of Scotland from 1654. Many of the mapmakers on the Guild reference Blaeu’s maps, so I thought it would be handy to include this picture, too.

    3: J. Edward’s Harlasea. I think the style of mountains that J. Edward depicted in this map is quite unique; I certainly don’t recall seeing anyone else draw mountains in this rugged, rocky, detailed style before.

    4: Caenwyr’s Dragon’s Backbone. Caenwyr posted this map very recently, but I think it stood out immediately for the style of the mountains. The dark linework doesn’t overpower the image, but gives it a somewhat cartoonish look (which I think suits the strong colouring).

    5: Chickpea’s Northley Island. These mountains are less detailed than some of the others, but they work well with the subtle colouring and give an authentic aged-map feel.

    6: Tainotim’s Draisor. This style is I think one of the closest to the Blaeu style of any of the maps I have seen on the Cartographer’s Guild. Like ChickPea’s map, I think Tainotim’s also has a very authentic antique style (which is suitable, since his work is drawn in traditional methods/media).

    7—11: Max’s maps. With the exception of Arathem (which has a distinctly Japanese look) and Royaume (which is quite simplistically drawn and shaded), I think Max’s maps serve as good examples of the classic figurative mountain.

    12: Schwarzkreuz’ graphic novel map. These mountains are distinct because of their blocky and rather unrealistic appearance, which gives the map a very different look to any of the others in this compilation. The effect is well-suited to a graphic novel.

    13: Sapiento’s Briandoland. I think that these mountains are the best that Sapiento has done. The colours are subtle, but I like the painterly style that they give the map.
    EDIT: it should be Briandolond, not Briandoland.

    14: Land of Gold and Silver Apples by yours truly. I drew these mountains in a very detailed style, and I like it. However I learned that this style is not good for having a highly detailed map, as the mountains take so much space on the page, there isn’t really space for anything else. I think they lean more towards an illustrated story-map (like some of J. Edward’s recent work, too) than the classic fantasy regional map.

    15: Carbus’ Kazad Dwavi Realms. The map that Carbus recently created for the monthly challenge stood out in particular for the mountains. I think these mountains serve as a good example of how different colour schemes can be applied to create a very particular mood for a piece.

    16: TheRedEpic’s Hyranden. TheRedEpic’s mountains are a lot less rugged-looking and craggy than many of the others on this list.

    17: Sapiento’s City of Ashes. This is, I think, the first example to be included of a clear mountain range.

    18: Viking’s Arinthia. I have a confession to make: Viking’s style is the best I have ever seen in fantasy maps. The mountains on Arinthia exemplify the painterly style, but the entire work is a masterpiece.

    19: Oakfall by Obliro. Obliro’s mountains almost look like they are made of plastic. I think that this image demonstrates that long brush strokes and high contrast can work well, especially, I suspect, for mountain ranges (rather than individual mountains).

    20: Lingon’s Regio Silvestri. I think the style in these mountains works well. The linework and colouring are both more subtle than Sapiento’s City of Ashes, and the level of detail (eg. ridge lines, valleys, mountain spurs etc.) is quite high.

    21: Lingon’s Kolmara. Gotta love the Japanese style. A difficult style to pull off, I suspect, but it looks great when it is done right.

    22: Diamond’s Hallavahakas. This map was recently entered into a monthly challenge. I like the fact that the mountains are not given careful colouring, but rather a simple yet effective contrast of light and dark sides.

    23: Warlin’s Atlantide. Warlin hs not even finished this map yet, but it is the best example I have seen of caterpillar track mountain ranges to date. The detail is high, but the linework is very clean.

    24: Diamond’s Lotus Coast. I remember that there was a time when Diamond really enjoyed playing with this style. The caterpillar mountains look good, although I think they look a little too mechancial for an aged map style; more suitable, perhaps, to a map depicting a futuristic planet.

    25: Schley’s Shamutanti Hills. Schley’s style is very distinct. He uses strong sharp lines, and strong colours, but I think it is the subtle blending between colours that make his work so unique.

    26: Daelin’s Central Alemnia. This is the first example of a satellite style, which works especially for modern maps.

    27: Diamond’s Lands of the Line. The satellite mountains that Diamond has created tend to work very well with the strong rusty colours he uses and the post-apocalyptic vibe that his worlds give off.

    28: J. Edward’s Thendrais. I included this primarily because I like the experimental white chalk highlights that have been used (also, there are many more J. Edward mountains that I could include, but, sadly, I have to limit myself to only 31 images in total)

    29: Vorropohaiah’s Atlas Elyden. This is the only example I could find of modern atlas style mountains. The thumbnail I have included doesn’t do justice to the amount of detail that has been included in his mountains.

    30: Chashio’s Cladonia cristatella. This map recently won the monthly challenge. They sacrifice detail for the painterly style (but clearly it’s a winning formula).

    31: I need your help. A while back (I think in the last few years) I saw a map created in a Japanese style. I wanted to include it here, because it was beautiful as well as depicting a very attractive and different style. Unfortunately, I cannot remember the name of the map or the mapmaker. If any of you have some idea what it could be, I’d like to know. I’m keen to track that map down again. I think it was originally a challenge map, too.

    I quite liked making this chart of mountains. I might make more in the future (eg. city icons, forests, coastlines, hills etc.). What do you guys think? Is this useful at all? Also, if you know of any other exemplary mountains in maps, maybe point them out; I could possibly make a second of these charts, if other people find it useful.

    Last edited by Wingshaw; 10-19-2016 at 06:10 AM.

    Formerly TheHoarseWhisperer

  2. #2
    Guild Adept Obbehobbe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Helsingborg - Sweden


    I have been thinking about something like this for a while, and now you did it! Well done! It's great to show a client what kind if style he want on a map. Would love to see one for the oher features aswell. When it comes to other styles of mountains I think you have nailed the most common ones.

    Here are some others that might be different than the others - your call.

    "That sounds... incredibly complicated, but there's no doubt the result is fantastic." /Diamond

  3. #3
    Guild Adept Elterio Delgard's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2016


    I could share with you my style of mountain drawing, even though it may not be the best.Click image for larger version. 

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    We all wish to create, but do we really create?
    What we draw and what we write is part of us.
    No we do not create, we simply discover who we are.
    **My maps have copyrights**

  4. #4


    Here are names and links to all those maps [except first two]
    01: a satellite image of the Alps in Europe.
    02. Blaeu’s map of Scotland from 1654
    03: J. Edward’s Harlasea
    04: Caenwyr’s Dragon’s Backbone
    05: Chickpea’s Northley Island
    06: Tainotim’s Draisor
    07: Max’s Selvarin
    08: Max’s Nehwon
    09: Max’s Kingdom of Royaume
    10: Max’s Oraven, Lands of Arathem
    11: Max’s Gnosis Map
    12: Schwarzkreuz’ graphic novel map
    13: Sapiento’s Briandoland
    14: Land of Gold and Silver Apples by THW
    15: Carbus’ Kazad Dwavi Realms
    16: TheRedEpic’s Hyranden
    17: Sapiento’s City of Ashes
    18: Viking’s Arinthia
    19: Oakfall by Obliro
    20: Lingon’s Regio Silvestri
    21: Lingon’s Kolmara
    22: Diamond’s Hallavahakas
    23: Warlin’s Atlantide
    24: Diamond’s Lotus Coast
    25: Schley’s Shamutanti Hills
    26: Daelin’s Central Alemnia
    27: Diamond’s Lands of the Line
    28: J. Edward’s Thendrais
    29: Vorropohaiah’s Atlas Elyden
    30: Chashio’s Cladonia cristatella

  5. #5
    Community Leader Jaxilon's Avatar
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    Nov 2009
    A beach in Ecuador


    You might want to check out some of Djekspek (here's one for example) and Ascension's maps. Back in the day they cleaned house with their styles and I'm pretty sure influenced a ton of folks.

    Unfortunately, I haven't been able to share anything I've done on my last couple maps but maybe I'm doing it wrong since I don't think mine look like many of these

    Here's a little piece of my current commission:
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Eventually, soon, I hope to be able to share the whole thing.
    Last edited by Jaxilon; 10-18-2016 at 11:32 PM.
    “When it’s over and you look in the mirror, did you do the best that you were capable of? If so, the score does not matter. But if you find that you did your best you were capable of, you will find it to your liking.” -John Wooden

    * Rivengard * My Finished Maps * My Challenge Maps * My deviantArt

  6. #6
    Guild Expert Wingshaw's Avatar
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    Aug 2012
    Usually Denmark


    Hmm, those are some good suggestions for other mountain maps there. I might have to do a follow-up or update this one at some point to include them all.

    Thanks for the feedback. Glad you guys like it. At this rate, I'll definitely be doing a forest/cities/hills chart too, so keep an eye out for that (although it may not be for a while...)

    Incidentally, does anybody know about the mysterious Japanese map in picture 31?

    @J. Edward: thanks for adding those links. I meant to do so myself, but forgot as I posted the thread. It is very useful having all of those maps available to study in full at the click of a button.


    Formerly TheHoarseWhisperer

  7. #7
    Guild Journeyer
    Join Date
    Jan 2015


    THW - I had one japanese map in my inspiration folder. Could you mean this?

    Click image for larger version. 

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  8. #8

  9. #9
    Guild Expert Wingshaw's Avatar
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    Aug 2012
    Usually Denmark


    Hmm, sadly no, it wasn't one of those ones. I'll keep looking.


    Formerly TheHoarseWhisperer

  10. #10
    Guild Master Chashio's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Maine, USA


    This one maybe, by Schwarzkreuz?
    I know there are a few others around.

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