So I was involved with the creation of the Midgard fantasy setting from Kobold Enterprises. It was really cool to be involved. I'm continuing with the project by making some maps of specific areas and locations in the world. This is the first one, a town called "Maillon".
I wanted to give a brief overview of my process in making a map like this.
First off, I have the source material. In this case, it was a brief written description of the location: a section of a city that was magically transported into a swampish river delta.
My first step in the creation of the map is designing the geography. It always comes first, and informs the rest of the process. So I looked up some river deltas, studied the patterns, and came up with an overall geographic layout.
Next, for this map, was looking up the style of city that the section was torn from. Luckily that city map was completed (and I'd love to give credit to that artist!), and so I could design a section that would fit with that map; this section would have a pretty crisp circular edge where the limits of the spell were reached. Overlaying this on my geography, I could then design how that city would collapse on the loose, changing soils of the delta.
After the inhabitants settled into their new location, docks and other structures would crop up to connect the parts of the old city that were now separated by water.
An important part of this city is the tent market in the middle of town. The description said it was colorful, so I went for it.
Finally comes all the buildings and extras that would naturally spring up around such a settlement -- the houses outside the limits of the old city, a wide dredged part of the delta for sea-based transportation, and roads leading into the city.
And to make it more atmospheric, I usually treat the map with a little distressing. With the title and legend, it's complete.