fictional satellite map-making tutorial
note: this is an old tutorial that i pulled off my website for tumblr
A while ago I posted the WIP map of the Haliyzin wasteland I’ve been working on to /r/worldbuilding, and it got a hugely positive response as well as a couple requests for a tutorial! And because it makes me very excited when people want to learn how to do what I spend my free time doing, here it is.
As a forenote: I usually use a Wacom Intuos 4 tablet for all my digital painting, but because I want this to be accessible to the largest amount of people, everything done in this tutorial will be done with a crappy LED mouse.
First, I opened up a new canvas (it can be any size, but a smaller one — 600×600-800×800 might be easier for a trial run) and filled it with an eyeburning-in-hindsight shade of turquoise. It’s water, so change it depending on the mineral content of your fictional world’s oceans and the colour of its atmosphere.
The landmass is made with Photoshop’s default chalk brushes. I took a fairly large size, opened up brush properties (folder-with-brushes icon next to the brush picker) and set size jitter and angle jitter to their max; and turned on a moderate amount of scattering. This is good for quickly laying out the shape of your land and giving its coastline an irregular shape.
I encourage you to play around with everything in brush properties — the more times you alter your brush, the more diverse and interesting your landscape will be.