One of the tools I have been using to get my head into the proper space for mapping out my first novel is putting some thought into worldbuilding. Little did I know that there are very dedicated groups of people out there that take it VERY seriously. I stumbled upon the /r/worldbuilding subreddit a month or so ago, and some of the posts inspired me to dig into my archives for the map I had created almost two years ago that became a catalyst for what I have dubbed The Long View Trilogy, the first book of which is tentatively called Damaged.
After several hours of plugging and unplugging old hard drives, I finally found it buried in the OS of an old desktop. Back your shit up – god knows how many times I’ve had to remind myself.
This is one of those rare cases where my many years of experience futzing with photoshop and maps has come in useful.
I started out using elevation maps download (screen shots) from NationalAtlas.gov. The color legend on the maps were used to select color ranges that fit the elevations I wanted to put under water (roughly 75 meters) and then masked it off and cleaned it up a bit. Then, I added some land mass back using some artistic license and gussied it up a bit with some texture and color in the oceans and a new compass rose north arrow in the corner. Lastly, I added some major cities that would survive (or be reborn) in my initial storyline and added major connections and trade routes based on the existing interstate system.
There is more storyline underlining some of the elements on the map, but at this point it wouldn’t be overly useful to go into it as the concept and premise have evolved. Digging this up has inspired me to put together a worldbuilding guide that I can share with others. Some of the topics I want to cover are:
– Map projections and types that can be used to map out the surface of a globe, then be rendered in photoshop using some of the newer 3D tools (or in other 3D modelling programs that can utilize skinning).
– A basic plate tectonic primer and how to think about the underlying geology and it’s effect on landform
– Climatic zones and the long-term impact on landform and habitat (think desert vs. rainforest)
– The formation of rivers and coastlines
– The process of creating the maps, from hand drawing to digital content
It won’t be designed to be a perfect representation of hard core science on the formation of worlds. The idea is to put some simple tools, links, and resources in the hands of people that want to do this relatively quickly to help them support storylines, or just for fun.