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Map of the Month - Pete Fenlon style - Simon J Rogers
ProFantasy Software and Pelgrane Press blog

Date: 2008-05-13 13:49
Subject: Map of the Month - Pete Fenlon style
Security: Public
Tags:annual, map of the month, profantasy, symbols
Many of us remember, and were inspired by Pete Fenlon's wonderful maps for the Middle Earth Roleplaying Game. Today, Pete is Chairman and Studio Director at Mayfair Games. In January, with Pete's permission we released a style pack for making maps in his style as part of the Cartographer's Annual 2008.

Steve Townshend produced this beautiful map in the Pete Fenlon style.

It uses only specially designed vector symbols combined with CC3's effects to get the right look.

Style packs are preconfigured so that if you select a tool (for example, rivers, roads and terrain), it looks right for the map style. To create a forest, you just select the forest draw tool, click points for the border, and it does this, adding random tree tops and edge trees.

You building up mountain ranges by selecting a symbol, then placing. They are selected randomly from a collection of symbols. So this was one click per mountain, and the mess at the bottom is a mountain cursor. You can tab through random styles if you don't like the current mountain at the cursor.

The distinctive ridges are also built up of symbols. On the left, with CC3 effects off, on the right, with them on.

Although the styles definitely make it easier to create maps such as these, Steve Townshend demonstrates that the human touch is still required to get an aesthetically pleasing map - style packs just make it easier to get the desired effect.

You can download the map in CC3 format here.
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User: warforged_hero
Date: 2008-06-05 16:11 (UTC)
Subject: Hey, that's my map! Sweet!
Thanks for the good words, Simon!

Since '93 in the very beginnings of my campaign world, I had known about the fallen aelf empires in lands far away. It just wasn't for another 15 years that I bothered to map them out and let players run around there.

I had a general idea of a dusty, desolate landscape, so I started off last November (the same month the "Desert of Desolation" miniatures were released from WotC) using the hand-drawn style. But there was something about it that didn't work, and didn't evoke the mystery the land ought to have had.

When the Fenlon style came out in January, my mind was taken back to those little maps in the front of my first copy of The Hobbit. I remember being completely swept away by the words "The Desolation of Smaug." All those strange lands east of Mirkwood that you never learn about in Tolkien (maybe they're in the Silmarillion). At any rate, I knew it would be a great choice for this old, old, desolate place.

When I transcribed the idea from the hand-drawn style to Fenlon, it still looked rather empty. Too desolate. A bit boring. So I began adding other features to the map to spice it up some, and this only took my imagination in new directions. I decided that much of the land was desolate and empty, rugged in places -- but even in that, there were pockets of beautiful landscape, forest, etc. I remembered my tour with the Utah Shakespearean Festival when we traveled around Nevada, Idaho, Utah, and Arizona, and how much that arid landscape changed from place to place (we left hot Tucson, Arizona one morning, and five hours later we were in Flagstaff, where it was snowing).

This one took me a lot longer than I had expected. The Fenlon style seems pretty simple at first glance, but I found I had to take a lot of care to add details to make the map pop. I think my favorite thing about it is the forests to the east, beneath the ridges. The city of Haldmoor which sits on the ridges above this forest was once a city by the sea. The deep river valley beneath the ridges once was filled with water; the mountain town was an island.

I picked the font from dafont.com: http://www.dafont.com/hobbiton-brush-hand.font?text=middle+earth

I'm very happy with the Profantasy Annuals. The Mercator, John Speed, and Fenlon styles have simply blown my players away.

-Steve Townshend
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November 2011