How To Design A World Map For Your Story

Calling all writers! Are you following in the footsteps of super cool creators like J.R.R. Tolkien and Ursula K. LeGuin, who have created whole fictional worlds to compliment their stories? Is your book set in a location besides earth? Do you want to have a super impressive front cover map like all the best fantasy stories do?

You may have sat down with a blank drawing notebook and pencil in hand, ready to give form to your imaginative world, but no matter how many times you put that pencil to the paper, it never looks as good as it should. How do the Great’s do it so well? How do they add in all that detail and all those unique land features? If only there was a randomized map generator out there.

Look no further! I am here today to take you through the process of creating a world map for your story. Not just in writing. A visual map. So you can see all your little towns and cities and landscapes laid out in awesome detail.

Ok, so obviously if you do a google search, you might be able to find a world builder; a website that will randomly generate a map or planet for you just like you can use a generator for names and plot ideas. But let’s take this another creative step forward. Let’s make your map uniquely yours.

But How?


Rust? Yes. Rust. Read on for my tips on how to create a world map for your story!

steps to making a world map

  1. Google any variant of rust. My favorite search terms include “peeling rust”, “peeling paint”, “rust”, “rust spots”. You will not be publishing these maps anywhere, so no reason to fear copyrights. They are just to serve for your personal use and general layout of your world.
  2. Download or save the images you want for your map. You can piece together several different structures or chunks of rust until you have something you like, or you can rotated different sections of the picture until you have something you like as well. I use photoshop for this, but any program that allows you to cut sections of the pictures away will work.
  3. Color in, with blue and green or whatever color you wish to use for the continents, your map. You will need to change the opacity of the colors so you can see the textured rust underneath.
  4. Add dots for where you want the cities and towns to be. You can choose to use numbers that correlate to a separate sheet with a list of the names, or you can type them into the map on another layer. You can do this in photoshop, or print out a copy and write directly on your new map.
  5. Pinpoint different landscapes such as mountain ranges, forests, and deserts.
  6. Religion is very important to my fantasy story, so I’ve also created another layer that separates different areas of the map depending on which god they worship.

This does not have to be the final draft of your map. If you get to the point where your book becomes published, you will most likely get an illustrator to finalize the map and make it all artsy and professional looking, but while you are drafting, this little map will save you loads of time trying to recall where everything is located, as well as trying to remember all your town names. Because let’s be real; we are writer’s, not Vulcan’s. Who can remember all of that?

I hope this was helpful in the creation of your fantasy world. Let me know if you have any additional questions! For copyright purposes, I did not include any example pictures of rust from google, but if you follow my keywords listed above, you will find a wide variety!

Talk to you later,

3 thoughts on “How To Design A World Map For Your Story

  1. “We are writers, not Vulcans” xDDD For real though. I’m constantly like okay so…wait, which tribe is from the North?…was there an ocean nearby? Oh its the…no…that’s the Eastern one…right?
    I need to start making a map! I have one that I drew as reference but I never have it with me so it would be nice to do a digital one to have on my flash drive. Thank you for this post, I love how witty you are 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading! I’m glad you liked this post. If you have any other suggestions, just let me know 🙂 And good luck with creating your rusty map! Let me know how it turns out!

      Liked by 1 person

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