The best way to travel through a Fantasy world – Fantasy Maps


 You can always find interesting things on The Stranger’s Bookshelf maybe a Grimoire or two, or even a strange curio that came from a  far away land. But what if by chance as you are moving one of the books on the shelf and you come across a dusty piece of parchment paper? And lets say that you lift down the parchment from the shelf and carefully blow the dust off of the faded paper. As you look closer it reveals shapes and letters, may be a landscape or a floor plan and mystery abounds. And then you get that feeling, that tingling in your spine, your heart races and you perspire. you thing what wonders do I behold. Now what if you are in a bookstore looking at that new or obscure fantasy novel and you open the first few pages and hello what is this, ohhh. You found THE MAP. That is what a good fantasy map should do. I mean what is a good fantasy novel with out a good map. Believe me it is the difference between night and day. It’s like the extra doughnut that is slipped in with a nice cup of coffee. I mean  Lord of the Rings or the Chronicles Narnia would still be great books even without fantasy maps, but those beautiful works of art make it that much better seeing the hard traveled path of Froto and Co. I think Fantasy author Sophie E Tallis expressed it best in her blog post For the love of Maps!!!, when she she said in her post “Maps can be the most wondrous of additions to any story! Cartography, and particularly fantasy cartography is the stuff of dreams.” and I wholeheartedly agree with her. Lisa from Read Breath and Relax wrote a blog post about Fantasy map users  and listed three types of map users in her post”cool book maps of the fictional world and how to use them” after reading the post , I figured I am the “Geektastic Globetrotter ” when it comes to using maps which in Lisa’s definition is (Forget about referring back to the map…you’ve printed it out. You’re plotting points and drawing lines. Book maps are kind of your THING. Map art and crafting are definitely on your Pinterest boards).


Let me give you an example, of why I am a Geektastic Globetrotter  when it comes to using maps.  Last year I read Metro 2033 by Dmitry Glukhovsky and was utterly fascinated by his post apocalyptic world built on the Moscow metro line. So much so that not only did I copy the map but I went online to see pictures of the actual  Moscow stations that he used as mini fifes and was visually  linking up the story of the main character to where he was going in his adventures. I was going to do either a print out or power point presentation of the story, with all the pictures linked to the stations but Karen would have none of that as I get a little obsessive compulsive at times.  So here  is a question for you what sort of book map user are you??

Metro-2033-book-cover Metro 2033 by Dmitry Glukhovsky

“Metro 2033 is an excellent read by the way, and I hope to do a review on it soon.”

The Metro 2033 Fantasy map that was in the book.

The Metro 2033 Fantasy map that was in the book.

But what is it that makes a fantasy map so special. Is it because it is a visual representation of what our hero is going through, or is it the fact we can view these strange new lands in the same way a armchair traveler can visit Europe or India using the Rough Guides or Lonely planet books. I believe it is those things and more. It gives you a better representation of what the world is actually like, where the battles took place and where history in that world was made and is being made;  it is like being there in the thick of it. And that is where good cartography skills come in, like a comic book they tell the story in a visual sense. The better the map the more visual experience. Just like in real life, more people are drawn to a topographical map or map with a lot of imagery that a red and blue lined road atlas. Why because they have a better understanding of the landmarks around them they can see these landmarks in pictures, drawings and even  in images that were described in the novel, and put two and two together which creates an interactive experience. That is what makes fantasy maps so special.Link-Holding-Map

 Now lets say that you are a huge fan of a fantasy novel and the book doesn’t have a map, or you are writing your own story and want to add a map,or even if you want to flex your artistic chops, have no fear The Stranger’s Bookshelf is here. I myself am looking to design a map, “for one of my all time favorite epics that deals with the adventures of a certain Monkey King” So I have been scouring the internet for sites, Ideas and tutorials that can help, and I posted a few links on here and hopefully be posting some more. Speaking of which if you have any great fantasy map making sites, links or books please let us know and we will be happy to post them.


In doing some research for my own fantasy map project, I came across tons of websites after doing a search online for tutorials on how to build fantasy maps. But to make your life easier I have added links to a few great tutorials on how to create your own fantasy maps below.

For the inspiring author who is writing their own fantasy novels, and are considering mapping their world,  I would highly recommended checking out the first two links below.  I especially liked Fantasy author Sophie E Tallis blog, as not only is she a author in print, but a huge lover of the fantasy genre as a whole. Sophie loves writing fantasy and also really loves maps, and she has lots of tips for both on her blog so definitely check it out.

Now for the the aspiring cartographer (Map Maker) here is a few links to get you started, either by pen and pencil or by computer with programs like GIMP or Photoshop.

When you are done checking out those links please by all means check out the Cartographers Guild (I love it “a Guild” you know you can’t go wrong) for its forums and more advanced tutorials and works by other fantasy Map makers.

Another thing that I would highly recommend to help you in your quest to fantasy map making, and it is also highly indispensable for the fantasy lover is  The Dictionary of Imaginary Places:The newly updated and expanded classic written by Alberto Manguel and Gianni Guadalupi, it is like the Michelin guide to fantasy worlds.

The Dictionary of Imaginary Places written by Alberto Manguel and Gianni Guadalupi

The Dictionary of Imaginary Places written by Alberto Manguel and Gianni Guadalupi

And for all you students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. here is a link below for a tutorial on how to make your own Marauders Map.

And lastly if you just want to browse at a few wonderful fantasy maps, just check out our Fantasy Maps page which we will be updating periodically. And please  if you have any ideas or good maps that you would like to share please by all means, we would love to know so drop us a line

and Happy Questing




Posted on July 6, 2013, in Articles and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I’m really enjoying the design and layout of your blog. It’s
    a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more pleasant for me to come here and
    visit more often. Did you hire out a developer to create your theme?

    Excellent work!

  2. Nice Post. Its really a very good article. I noticed all your important points. Thanks”

  3. Thank you for providing so much information and sites/blogs where we can search and gather mapping facts/ideas. This is like finding treasure.

  1. Pingback: Maps And Getting There And Back Again: Part 2 – Fictional Modes of Travel « The L. Palmer Chronicles

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: