Thu Jan 02 2020

Materials you might need for your fantasy cartography

What do you need to start creating your own fantasy map? Doesn't matter if regional maps, battlemaps towns or street closeups. Basically you can start with just a pen or pencil and a sheet of paper in whatever size you prefer. I saw a really nice map once made on a napkin with some sort of felt marker. But I want to tell you about my favourite tools.

The Pens and Pencil

I pre-draw my maps with a standard Faber Castell 2B Pencil. I tried a few (not too many though) different ones and this one stuck with me since it has a nice shape and grip. I might consider trying out other pencils with a different hardness. And since not all mistakes are just happy little accidents I use my mechanical rubber pencil quite a bit.

Then I ink my maps with Pigma Micron Pens. Mostly I use the 005 and 01 thickness. For stronger contours (on the shadow side) I then use the 08 thickness. I tried various other (cheaper) options but ended up with more bleeding or smudging. Or the ink was not really black but more grayish. So I decided to rather invest a few Euros more and can count on reliable quality.


I can't really give a recommendation here since my artist girlfriend provided me with a huge stock of leftover paper I am using. Personally I like thicker paper (28lb and up) with a tiny bit of structure. I want to try out field notes with dotted paper for dungeon maps sometime in the future. But for now I am good with the pile of paper I have lying around.

Other Tools

Sometimes I use a compass if circles are needed. Especially for ornamental stuff like compass roses. I guess any should do here. Personally I use a no-name compass I still own from my school days. A ruler is also always helpful.

And then I like to use everything lying around in case I need a special shape. Rulers, dice, boxes, pencil sharpener, etc... Sometimes I cut out shapes of cardboard for repeating shapes such as tables and chairs. Just get creative to make your map making life a bit easier.

Your Turn

Do you have special materials you use for map making? Let me know over on Twitter! I am always happy to try out new things.

printable street map cards sheet
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