I draw maps of fantastical places. My tools are typically a pencil, pen, ink, and watercolor pencils, though I sometimes branch out into markers and Photoshop.
I may be available for commissions and some of the original pieces may be available for sale.
For inquiries, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cathedral Galaxy Region Maps
Digital composite and detail maps from the Cathedral Galaxy (below).
East Wickham, Maine
Winner of the March 2021 Cartographers’ Guild Challenge! The task was to map an alien invasion.
It’s a road/tourist map of a fictional town in coastal Maine. After alien craft burst down through the atmosphere and cracked into the ground, disgorging troops near major cities, blasting out EMPs to disrupt communications and computing, and exoforming the landscape around them, the people in this area dug out the old map to coordinate their resistance activity. They’ve had some failures…and some successes.
The map font (not the bits in my handwriting with a ballpoint) is BellTopo Sans by Sarah Bell.
Oghura is a desert land populated by a nomadic, lizardlike people. For the Cartographers’ Guild February 2021 challenge, I re-envisioned an older map with a new (and much more proficient!) style.
The border includes an inscription in a constructed language for the native peoples of this desert.
The Cathedral Galaxy
The Cathedral Galaxy: so named to evoke an awe-inspiring structure; something built over generations. Eons before the advent of starflight, the Ancients constructed a galaxy-spanning civilization. They built a network of wormhole passages across the galaxy before vanishing.
It is a galaxy of both promise and stillness at this moment in time. After eons, what is an extra nova in the uninhabited core? What is a rumor of new Anchors opening, or existing Anchors closing, but a rumor? And what is an archaic megastructure activating instruments, seeming to seek for something outside the confines of the galaxy, but a relic…?
For many more details, see this post.
This map is in honor of the launch of NASA’s Mars 2020 “Perseverance” rover, and all my friends and colleagues working that mission.
I re-imagined the landing site of the mission, Jezero Crater, as a fantastical pulp sci-fi realm hosting red deserts, isolated forests, and a decaying civilization of lizard-riders and airship-flyers. The names of settlements are drawn from pulp sci-fi having to do with Mars – including Bradbury, Brackett, Burroughs, and other authors – with a few in-jokes hiding here and there. See if you can spot the Perseverance logo hiding in the border!
The Cartomancer’s Map
This is the map Austable du lo Vellumi, Master Cartomancer of the Barony of Hocaute, uses to practice his magical art.
Cartomancy is a tricky but powerful magic: the cartomancer must first construct an accurate representation of the land as it is, and then alter the map to realistically capture changes to the land. The invocation incorporated into the border – translating to “let the map show the land, and [let] the land be [so]” – and the use of specially treated cartomantic inks, along with the mapmaking rituals conducted by the cartomancer himself, create the magic and alter the lands depicted.
Austable changes landforms by pasting fresh paper over the features to be changed, and then drawing new features upon the fresh material. A wise cartomancer cuts the blank material to limit the scope of the changes they have to implement as much as possible. Finally, one invokes the changes by adding cartomantic symbols around them. Usually these include a border, to constrain the magic to a particular region. Scale bars indicate changes in topography. Windroses help invoke changes to fluid flows, including wind and water. The more dramatic the changes, the more painstakingly accurate the maps must be, which typically limits the ability of a cartomancer to alter the world with a simple flourish of the pen.
A series of three maps of Mondvert, a human colony established on a new world around a distant star, 315 years after the first human arrival in the system. Over this time, the people of Mondvert explored, settled, fought, reconciled, and advanced.
This set of maps is the product of behind-the-scenes population models and some imagined history. There is some obvious inspiration from the US National Park Service map style.
The Riverlands map is an attempt to depict a small area with a highly detailed pictorial style that effectively covers the page in pen textures. Wooded areas are inspired by the Mary Jane ski area at Winter Park, and there’s a lot of experimentation with color effects.
Look for the krummholz, smoke, and transluscent waterfalls.
Rekhan is a reclusive inventor who lives and works out of the building on the upper promontory of the map. A cart track gives him easy access to other parts of the island, including a fertile lagoon, storage caverns inside the island’s central hill, and the domed optical devices that form part of his mysterious experiments.
A close runner-up in a Cartographers’ Guild challenge to create 2 maps showing the same place in different seasons, Rekhan’s Workshop is heavily inspired by the Myst series of games. In addition, I drew inspiration for some of the physical features from Roxborough State Park near my home in Colorado. The most exciting thing for me about this map was depicting the winter scene, with sea ice, footprints, and windblown snow drifts.
The Maucland Confederacy
The Maucland Confederacy is my contribution to the Cartographers’ Guild 10th anniversary project, a collaborative world in which each participant mapped a country in a style of their choosing. Maucland is a New-England-inspired island nation consisting of four independent states. The names around the border are neighboring countries, with divisions representing the directions to those countries from the highest point in the center of Maucland.
I used the opportunity to experiment a bit with map features I haven’t used much before, like the border, legend, and bearing lines to my neighbors. Roads are new to my maps, as are state borders. As usual, I went for very vibrant colors.
The composite map, including all Guild participants’ countries, is here. I consider myself fortunate to have placed a map in the same world as many of these Guilders!
The People of Gliese 581g
Following up my original map of Zarmina, this piece depicts regions of a habitable exoplanet in a fantasy map style, with places labeled according to their native names. There are four distinct constructed languages represented on this map.
The map depicts the state of the planet with cultures roughly equivalent to those on Earth in 1300-1600 CE. For many more details on the world, its nations, and their peoples, I have supplied some background here.
People associate events, histories, and mythology with places. So, this is a map with no place names. Instead, it marks locations with historical events or local legends.
The legends and histories mix together, capturing many aspects of the local cultures: science, art, medicine, military campaigns, celebrities, religion, and journeys. Some of the labels chronicle series of events, while others are isolated.
The map of Legends contains minute details as icons. They are some of the smallest features I’ve attempted so far – all inked by hand, with a superfine dip pen. When I finished with the ink, I wanted to give this map the impression of long use. So I soaked it, stained it, and folded it.
What might an alien world look like, really? The answer to this question may be surprising, even without straying too far from science to science fiction.
Zarmina is a name purportedly given to the exoplanet Gliese 581g, a world located in an orbit that can sustain liquid surface water. And yet, Gliese 581g is decidely un-Earthlike: the star is a red dwarf, the planet is tidally locked to its sun, and potentially the only climate in which liquid oceans could be present is one that would limit the oceans to a circular area directly underneath the red sun.
This is a map of that circular world, with massive volcanoes and deep rift fissures driving its surface processes. To create the map, I determined a short list of geologic processes which could plausibly be active on Zarmina, then simulated those processes over two epochs. As a result, I was somewhat “hands-off” for the creative process. I think the result is both fantastical – and potentially realizable. This world might exist.
Read my full write-up about the map of Zarmina here.