Fantasy Maps in Photoshop Part III: Icons and Labels | Daniel Hasenbos | Skillshare

Fantasy Maps in Photoshop Part III: Icons and Labels

Daniel Hasenbos, Freelance Illustrator

Fantasy Maps in Photoshop Part III: Icons and Labels

Daniel Hasenbos, Freelance Illustrator

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7 Lessons (37m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Rules for Labels

    • 3. Creating & Placing Icons

    • 4. Label Hierarchy

    • 5. Placing Labels

    • 6. Making Labels Readable

    • 7. Final Thoughts

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About This Class

Learn to draw Fantasy Maps in Adobe Photoshop with Daniel Hasenbos from Daniels Maps.

Do you want to improve your Fantasy Cartography skills, or not sure how to get started? In this 38 minute class we are going to explore how to use the basic tools of Adobe Photoshop to add labels to your Fantasy Map! Make sure you've also watched Part I and Part II of this series!


In this class we continue working on the map that we started in my first class: Fantasy Maps in Photoshop Part I: Coastlines and my second class: Fantasy Maps in Photoshop Part II: Terrain Features I'll assume that you know your away around the basics of Adobe Photoshop and you can follow along with most of the tools without in depth explanations of how they work. Are you not comfortable enough with Adobe Photoshop yet? There's a lot of classes on Skillshare that'll help you familiarize yourself with the program!

What Will You Learn?

  • Rules about Labeling: In this lesson we'll go over some important rules to keep in mind when placing your labels on your map. This covers different type- and style sizes, but also where to position your labels.
  • Creating Icons: We'll go over the process of creating icon sets for your maps. We'll go from basic sketches to finished designs. When the labels are done we'll go over to our map and put them in place.
  • Label Hierarchy: Determining the hierarchy for your labels is a very important step. This includes type style and size.
  • Placing Labels: Finally it's time to start putting the labels in our map. In this lesson we'll apply all the rules and elements that we've learned in the previous lessons. We'll also see how some rules might contradict each other and learn what to keep in mind when making compromises.
  • Making Labels Readable: When all the labels are places you'll see that most of them are not perfectly readable. Most labels will be obstructed by terrain features or coastlines. In this lesson we'll go over some techniques to make sure your labels are readable. 

Whether you are an illustrator or simply want to create a fantasy map out of personal interest, this class will get you ready to pick up your idea and turn it into something great!

Meet Your Teacher

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Daniel Hasenbos

Freelance Illustrator


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1. Introduction: Hello. My name's Daniel from Daniel's Maps. And welcome to this class called Fence. See maps in photo shop, Part three Aikens and labels in this class. We're going to continue working on the map that we've done parts one and two. So if you haven't watched, does yet. I recommend you do that first in this class. We're going to talk about some rules to keep in mind when placing labels on your map. Next on Goto talk you through my process, drawing Feikens for your fence. Next, we're going to create a higher help. People identify the different elements on your map. Finally, we are going to combine all those things together to label your maps. I look forward to getting started, so let's get into the first lesson. 2. Rules for Labels: I don't welcome to dismiss in this lesson really going to talk about some rules to keep in mind when positioning your names. When your map. These rules come with some problems. It's well, because they're actually more like guidelines. You often find that when you apply one rule, you break another one. So in many cases you'll have to look at your names individually and consider what works best for your map. So let's zoom in right now on. Go to the northern part of this map and you'll see that the rage died and Swift Hman labels opposition to the upper right side of the Eiken step. They're connected. This is done deliberately. The most policing position for labels is study upper right side, so whenever possible, you should try and put it there. Also, something to keep in mind is that you should always try good your labels horizontally, never tailed it or even curved unless it's not possible. When you cannot place it horizontally, you have to curve it us well, otherwise they will look out of place as if it's unintentionally put at an angle. Another thing to consider is that your labels should never over level, their features or other labels. When we look at the Belief Foot label, you'll find that this one's contradicting one of the rules, namely, that label should never over lack a lot of features or other labels. In this case, however, it waas almost impossible to put it. A such that it that didn't over and it features tried to move it around a bit. You can see that putting it here, we'll put it in to see which, and it would overlap the coastline, which looks off, closing it right here. Same problem. It goes from the sea to the land to the forest down here, Get lost in the mountains on this side. Uh, it's on hands for us. So then it's best to just put it here where it's overlapping less it would always be, but in the most desirable position. If we moved down to the other and after continent, you'll see that we've got a couple of labels on. There's a couple things going on. Oh, cursed, for example, is positioned in the mountains, but to the upper right side, the most desirable place because any other place would, um, obstruct other labels or other features. No matter where you would put it right here, it would obstruct other features. Harris. Well, so them again. This would be the most desirable position de thrill disposition on the upper left side of the Eiken, because I hear as before it would extra it would go across the coastline here. It would be on the forests or covering hills and forests done hair. It would be going over hills. So this has the most desirable position for proof, and you can apply that to all the labels on the Some exceptions to these rules are regional labels such as mountain Ranges, kingdoms or Continents Oceans as well. And I'll show you this one. To dragon spying Mountains. Dee's go across the mountains and day the curvature off the label off. The name is also suggested to the curvature, and the shape of the mountain range should let it covers the mountain range as much as possible. And when we zoom out a bit further, you'll also see that I have done the same for the continent names. So that's some basic rules to keep him or when labelling your maps, there is a lot more about this. There's an article called Positioning Names on Maps on Discovers a lot of information some of the rules that I explained here on a couple more and it goes in a lot of that. And if you want to read more into this, I really suggest you read it. You can find it online, all opposed to link to this since, well, so that's it for this lesson. 3. Creating & Placing Icons: I'm welcoming this lesson. We're going to talk about drawing Aikens for your fancy maps and also about placing them on your fancy. My mom wrote to use brush sets called diagonals. Maps illustration. I'm also going to attach it to the class project so you can use it yourself. So let's start by sketching out our Aiken somewhat. We're going to do in this lesson is we're going to make an Aiken for a town, a city, a capital and then a castle and a ruin. So that's five Aikens that we're going to use on that, and we're going to start by sketching them out. So what I want to do first is get a sense of how big they won't need to be. So that's had over to our skill share clubs mapped out we've made so far that's create any a new layer. We're going to delete this later on, but I'm just going to leave this like this, and we're going to want I kids to be about this size, so let's select this all right, put hair. So this is the size that we want our likens to be, and that's good to know call this layer sketch excited about 50% opacity. But this and now we go to draw our Aiken sketches. The way I like to do is I like to draw a village Aiken by drawing two houses, for example, and then copy does houses and expand on that same Aiken for city Ike. Copy that. I can again and expand on it for the capital. Like that's how I'm going to do it. And I'm going to start by drawing two houses, but this chimneys doors on. Then we're going to select it by using the last two. That's like the move tool my president feet and drag it to the left. All right, whatever works best for you. And now we're going to expand on this Aiken by drawing another house. Um, one of her hair from from the side on here's a bigger one in the back. On another one right here. Get rid of the lines that we don't need. We're going slightly outside the box, but this is just he guides on a copy it again, Drink it to the side, saying would semisweet before and expand on it a bit more by adding a tower Ah church. And again, let's get rid of the lines that we don't need. Finally, let's create a sketch for our castle. I can like this. We're going to select it to use the tower that withdrawn. It's, uh it's just our Bring it down to about here and I expend on it a bit more. Something about this. All right, so this this is our sketch layer. We're now going to work this out into proper Aikens Celestri. Add a new layer called Arkan's Andi. That's just draw over what we've just done this time. Make sure everything looks a bit a bit prettier, more defined, and you can just use the same technique for this. You can use the village that you've drawn to create the city and then use that base to draw capital. OK, so that's our our Kinston on a renowned going to remove the sketch layer. We don't need that anymore, and this is what our I can slip like. Um, what I like to do is a finishing touch is to add a picker outline studio. I can select big a bigger brush, refused a great big still brush for that's now use a five pixel brush and just trace the outline like this. This will make it easier. Teoh read the Aiken's wonder, placed on the map. I forgot to add a line here, said Now, Um, and that's basically our Aikens done. We forget one last one to do, and that's to ruin. You can actually do that very easily at the end. That stake our castle, I can drag it to decide. Grab the eraser to and just break it down. What, this this tower and go and now use dis brush to show that this is old ruined can at some background details with a thinner brush. Here is your ruin. Drag it to the center a bit more, and these are the Americans that we're going to use our map. So that's now copied these Aiken's Come on, see and bring them to arm up. We can delete this layer now, credit new group and call it Aiken's credit New Layer called Aiken's. We're going to face our Aiken. It seems to slightly on the big sign, so that scaled on down to about 75%. Yeah, we're bigger than I expected. So these are the I construct we're going to use and how I like to place them on my maps is by selecting the Ike another one. So, in this case, the capital. I pressed the move button fee and then press, then present Hold old and you make track a a copy without creating new layers every time. So you keep it very clear. Andi, you can just plays Aikens around like this on. And I wanted to be there and now picked a lesser to again select the town. This time it's like to move to again. Old old too duplicates what the selection on. We can place a town here between two rivers. Now I want to take the villages and to religious around in northern coast, at a castle to this forest area. Hair on a place to ruin. Right there, De select to see what we've got. For now on at the moment, we've got the terrain feature showing through. Don't let that distract you too much. We're going to get rid of that in a second for now, ongoing to populate my map with Americans on going to speed this up a bit so you don't have to watch Pruitt, and that's all the icons placed on our map. Final thing that we need to do now is to build them, to add a background to them so that we don't have the terrain features showing fruit. So let's start by picking up the magic wands tool clicking anywhere outside our Aiken's like this. Now we can expend our selection by one big soul on in first our selection by pressing. Come on, shift. I create a new layer. Come on, shoot and and call it, uh, color later on, worker like a core on this leg layer. Uh, make sure the layers below Aikens and fill it with what de select Ondas you can see now we've got a nice set of Aikens scattered around or a map on its already looking for a nice and you can you can tweet. I consider it to make them more unique. You can flip them horizontally. You can you can really create as many as you like. Perhaps you want each capital to be represented by a unique I can, or you want every single icon on your map to be unique, and then you can just draw them try to do that in the same fashion as before. Like to draw two houses for Village Central group of houses for cities and make sure there's towers to show capitals on. Then you draw each capital in each city and each down on its own, so there's really a lot that you can do with, and for now, that's this is done. So that's it for this lesson. 4. Label Hierarchy: everyone welcome in this lesson. We're going to determine the hierarchy off our labels, so we're going to assign certain types, styles and type sizes to our labels. Let's start by creating a new group called Labels on Selected Title by clicking here or pressing the tea key. Now let's start by creating our ocean layer, and we want this one to be very big, and I like to do it all caps as well. I've said it to 20 points, and I used these settings for my potion label. Next one would be countries, um, let's make that all cups a swell but slightly smaller 15 points on. Besides that, we're going to use the same settings, so we're going to leave it like this next one would be regions on this one is actually going to be all small cups. Using this phone on all, said it 12. I'm also going to remove the spacing between the letters, so this is our region type style. Next will be capitals, which is all set then on. This is small caps, but we're also going to be used regular caps, whereas the region labels or go to be written in all small cups, finally with God, cities at castles. But we're going to label with this same formed, and I'm going to sell it to 10 on Select a different water not small caps, but just a regular form. That's for cities and castles. Um, and finally we've got villages at ruins, and that's going to be Talic. So we're going to use these labels thes styles as the base for all our labels. What I like to do to keep it organized, select each label oceans created group Bush's, then go to countries and create a good group gold currently all nations or kingdoms and for regions as well cities and castles. And each one gets their own group. The reason why I do this is so you can easily selected type silence to keep everything organized their software. If I'm going to add a notion, I'm going to click this label so that I could be all these except settings. I'm going to call this toe more see, it's all contribute North Sea on. It's going to be in the same group as the oceans. So all the ocean labels ago to be grouped together, and if I now want to add capital enables you to select this world so that I've been using these executive setting. Go to here and call it Capital One. And it's now in the capital group. So that's an easy trick to keep your labels or a nice in groups that I would like to use. That's it for this lesson already on. In the next lesson, we're going to be placing our labels for our maps. See you there. 5. Placing Labels: Hi everyone. Welcome with now created a hierarchy for our labels, and now it's time to add the labels to our maps. Basically, how I go about this is I start working with the biggest labels because those would be the hardest deported later on. So I'm going to do country labels first and the way I want to do this. Dude of Norman, part of the map first so labelled the northern country on the capital of the cities and everything and show you how we go about. Then we'll move on to the next regions, and I'll speed us up as usual. So I've prepared a list of the names that I want to add to this map. If you don't have that, you can use fantasy name generators that you can fight on Internet. Maybe you've created your own names for your settings that you've got, or you can just come up with something on the fly, so anything that works for you, so I'm going to work down the list that I've generated already. So I start with in northern Country, and it's called Frame On will have some spacing to it. 500 on also warp it a bit, but this and you don't usually do that for locations such a cities and towns. But you can generally do it to show nations large areas, such US planes or deserts. In this way you can curve. The label is such that it covers the area as much as possible. In this case, it would be better to at even more spacing to it. Andi, you can clearly see that this whole area is called frame. So we're going to leave it like that next we're going to do. I'm just going to work down the list that we've created. So next we're going to do the regions. Um, regions can be all sorts of things. In this case, I would say forests, hills, if you're going to bring your heels, mountain ranges, planes or desserts, Uh, perhaps something specific to your setting. But in this case, it would be would I just mentioned. So we select this label, copy the stabbings were going to call this forest the ice boots. Keep in mind that we're only using small caps here. Number going to have to make sure changes to this. Said it to center text we're going to reduce the leading this march a bit. So no works are closer to each other like this, and these fields here are going to be. I sure everything's smoke us, fring and fields feels. And if you want to rotate your labels like I'm doing now, you can press and hold command on. You can rotating likeness for you can change the size. But we don't want to do that. Work it again like this. The framing in fields next would be the capital. We're going to call that crab. The capital is called growth, and this is where we're going to apply the rules that we've discussed in the first lesson. You should always place your labels such that they don't overlap other elements. And in this case, this would be the ideal position to the right topside. But placing it here would make it very unclear if it belongs to do ruin or the capital that even if you place it as close as possible, you could still intemperate. It s being part of the room in. So when the other site would be possible. Um, and this is notice aesthetically pleasing, as it would be. In some cases, I would choose to place it below, um, the American, but it would be placed off the river. I think in this case, I would position it on top. It would cover a small portion of this hill, but this is acceptable. The next would be cities and castles. So again, select this layer to copy this type style at about city hair, and this city will be called trucked. Um, that's see again, this would be the ideal position, But in this case, I think I'm going to place it more. Let's see if we can place it there and I moved it freeing label slightly to this. So yes, this is Burke. So next we're going to do to cost Well, because there's no other cities in this area and Castle is going to be called Lou are on. This is going to be a tough one, because this label is surrounded by elements and all sites really here. We've got this same problem that you could be part of the village or it could be part of the ruin anywhere that we're going to place it here whenever saw it really is going to overlap elements. It's no all the way under coastline, so placing it in the ocean also be desire. So indication I'm going to place it right at the bottom. And as you may have noticed already know all the labels are perfectly likeable. Song especially lured in this region gets most between all the line work, and that's something that we're going to work on later on. For now, we're just going to place the labels last this villages and ruins. So we've got this village here. Um, we're going to call that Harlan. And since this is a coastal village number going to place the label in the sea on the next villages school bit herb, um, and they get a coastal village, so we're going to locate the label into sea. Finally, we've got the ruin, and we're going to call that defendant position to label here because, well, as you can tell anywhere coverall other elements, this is really the most desirable they want. This case on placing here makes it far enough away from the capital. I can to make it clear that it belongs to the ruin, and that's really how we go about labeling my maps. So I'm now going to do the other regions on. I'm going to speed this up. So it's always you don't have to watch through the whole process. So I see you while everything is done. Yeah. Okay, so now we've got or labels on the in place Now we can remove deez nuts. We've used everything for our let navels. Now we need to place our ocean labels on. Let's do something like, um I didn't know crate over. See, like this to the south. Let's to I'm, uh, cracking cartons like this. And that's the labels for round up. Done. Now, as you can see, some of the labels off very hard to read, if at all. So the next steps would be to make sure that every label can be read properly. And that's something that we're going to do in the next lesson issue. There 6. Making Labels Readable: I am welcome this lesson. We're going to make sure that our labels are us Legolas. Possible on. We're going to use a couple of techniques were mostly going to be adding an outer glow or stroke to the labels to make them stand out more. And we're going to do a disparate group. So the ocean labels are going to get the same stroke on defects to them in the country labels and the region center cities, etcetera. So how we're going to do this is we're going to zoom into the map we're going to Let's start with the regional regions. So that's the forest. Sending mountains and these get lost in the in the line work very much so we don't want that on we're going to do first is we're going to select all the labels in there, and this is where it comes in very handy that they're all grouped together. Now we're going to make the labels white and I should can see this does a lot already. This is what they're surrounded by a lot of black line work, so making them white helps a lot with making them more likable. Now we go to the We click double click on the group, and this opens the layer style panel Ever go to add a black stroke to them SE two pixels at 75% up 50% and after global 10 pixels, really five range on 35% capacity. So, as you can see when we zoom out, it's a lot easier to read these labels already. And that's the regional labels are going to go across every label like this now for the capitals, cities and villages. We need something as well. So let's go to the Capital Group double click, open layer style panel and at a stroke. And because we're working with black late labels here, we want to add a white stroke. An outer glow increased capacity a bit to about 75. 40 Arctic globe 75 Swell also reduced its size to about seven. Did not copy that layer style. I'm based it with Village Group and a city group, and now we've got a lot of labels that are already easier to read. I understand a stand out a bit more, Um, for the country's and oceans are like to do things a bit different. I like to make them slightly transparent. Set aside 50% Um, perhaps even less ready. Five, in this case, money. I complete it to overlays that some of the underlying color shots fruit um and then I like to add a core over laid off Black said it to about 25%. So, Well, but as you can see, it doesn't work at all for Ranson. This one gets complete loss. And that's something to keep him like when in fact, that works for one region doesn't necessarily work. For another, it's less put this back to normal. Moved core overnight. That's what we're going to have to play around with this a bit. How I like to handle the country labels is by removing everything around them. Um, so how I go about this, I command click one that bring some new and then come on, shift click on the other nations. So I make a selection off the labels. Then I expand that selection with 53 souls, and I better it with do pixels. And I am first nous that selection. Come on shift. I and I go to my drain crew and I have a layer mosque, and as you can see, everything within that selection is now hidden so little. There's no line work attached to the labels off the nation's now what we can now do to make him a bit more transparent because very heavy on the eye, um, and set up to 50%. So the very softer Luca and are not so happy. But at the same time, they're not surrounded by loud line work and makes them unreadable on 40. Ocean should generally don't have to do a little because the oceans more empty. Most of the time, we're not surrounded by a lot of loan work unless you will wave pattern going on, then you could probably use the same technique that we just did for the nation a country labels For now, I'm just going to step up to 25% very soft, Um, not too busy on just keep the focus on the land because that's where everything is going on in this map on This is how we've gone, about making all labels readable so everyone can now clearly read on the label's alarm. Didn't know hidden boy like work around him and the easy to read. Stand out nice. Do not sit for this lesson. So she could see now are labels are nice and readable without it some out it close to them You We hid in some of the elements around them and also to techniques and this map life combined both techniques. I've added an outer glow to most of the labels of four regions and locations, but I've hidden the line work around the the country labels. You can also decide that you want to hide all the loan work around label. So used it last technique for every label on the nut, removing some of the line work. You can also choose to use the same technique that we used for the locations for countries , kingdoms and such. So you don't have to use one technique for one kind of label and another technique for another kind of labor. You can really makes to this around and see what works best for your personal map. So that's it for this lesson. 7. Final Thoughts: we've now learned some of the basic rules for labeling your map. We've created our own Aiken sets, and we've created the higher to use for leg in our maps. Finally, we combined all those elements, features and techniques on. We put them on our map to add the labels we found it. Often rules contradict each other. We have to make compromises to make sure our map is readable. I'm looking forward to seeing what you came up with on your naps in the class project. In the next class, we're going to color arm up as well as adding some finishing touches for now. Thank you for following along, and I hope to see you next time.