Fantastic Maps & How to Make Them: Naming

Published:   November 11th   Category:Maps , RPG Content

Fantastic Maps & How to Make Them: Naming

An instructional, in-depth look into the worlds of fantasy cartography.
By Craig Simpson    Twitter WordPress


Hello and welcome back to another article on how to make fantasy maps. I hope that you all learnt a lot from last week’s article which covered how to connect your settlements and what to think about while doing so. In this week’s article I will be showing you how to put the names of your settlements onto your map.

Hopefully, after reading some of my previous articles, you’ll be aware that writing a breakdown of your campaign can help with your fantasy maps. What I mean by this is that by taking the time to write about the realm in which your campaign takes place before drawing a map can and will give you a better understanding of how you are going to shape your map. By this point, you should have some town names etc that you have written in this document. Now you are able to apply this to your map, it’ll be a great reference tool for your players when they are working out where they need to go and how far it will take.

When it comes to writing names onto your maps, there are a couple of things that you should consider:
• What font should you use?

• How big should the font be?

Picking a font can be relatively easy, I would suggest looking at a site like – They have a ton of amazing font designs. As mentioned previously in ‘Goofy vs Gritty’, how you design your map will have a huge impact on how your players will perceive your campaign. So when you come to picking a design, make sure it is still reflecting the overall theme.

It obviously depends on how dense you have designed your map, but as long as the name of the settlements is eligible, the font size is up to you. Personally, I would make the island/continent name slightly larger than the rest, it might even be worth writing it in capital letters. Again, with the capital, I would also consider drawing it’s name larger than the towns/cities. The reason for this is that it makes the capital stand out more. It is also important to remember to leave enough space for your settlement names while you’re making your map, you may even wish to hold off on drawing your roads until you have put the names in. If you do not have enough room, you can number the villages/towns/cities and have a legend to the side with the names for each corresponding number.

In this first image, I have shown you how to make guidelines for your lettering. As long as you draw these lightly, with a 2H pencil, you’ll be able to erase these once you have finished writing the letters.

The next step is to start putting the letters in the guidelines with a 2H pencil. Once you are
happy with the results, you can then trace over them with a HB pencil. At this point, if you are happy with the results, you can erase the guidelines. Try to avoid erasing the letters by lightly erasing as the 2H guidelines will be easy to remove.

As you can see, in this final image I have actually numbered the various settlements, this was due to the fact that there was not enough room to write each one. I also used a bold font for the island name, this was to make the name stand out. If I were to write the town names onto the map, I would have used a thinner font to differentiate between locations.

I hope you enjoy experimenting with the various fonts that are available, feel free to show of any of your designs to me on twitter or discord. I’d love to see what you guys are coming up with.

I will not be doing next week’s article on Fantastic Maps, I have the wonderful Summer showing you something different! So until then, carpe geekum my friends.

– Craig

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