Thursday, July 19, 2012

Maps of Ancient Greece

When I make maps for my epic fantasies, I usually use the Tolkienesque toolkit in Campaign Cartographer 3. I can hand-draw any symbols they down have, import into the program, and it looks great. However, "Contagion" is based in the real world, Golden-Age Greece. Most of the maps available on the web are for tourism and have too much modern information on them. I don't want the Crete airports labeled for my mythic era heroes, nor the modern names for countries. The maps old enough to be public domain are usually too cluttered to read well on Kindle. So I compromised.
  • I found an excellent public-domain, vectorized graphic of the area with NO labels.
  • Cropped it to be just the immediate area of the Aegean where my characters sail.
  • Bleached all the color out of it except the land borders.
  • Labeled the important areas by hand in Paint.
  • Colored land/water to add contrast, filling in the holes in the o's and e's a pixel at a time.
  • Someone suggested a hand-written font, but I couldn't get Paint to cooperate without starting from the original blank map.
Here are the results. I did one set with dark sea and the other with lightly shaded islands. I had friends and beta-readers vote of which one they liked best. Since it was tied, my vote counted twice and I'm using the dark background version for now.

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