The World of Ice and Fire
Since the first episodes of the TV show “Game of Thrones” everyone has probably heard about George R.R. Martin’s literary masterpiece “A Song of Ice and Fire”, which the show is based upon. This fantasy saga takes place in a ficticious and medieval world where surely none of us would like to spend their next vacation. A major part of the plot unfolds itself on a continent called Westeros, which is similar to Great Britain at the time of the Wars of the Roses (1455 to 1485), but which is also much larger, more complex and … more uncomfortable. There are a lot of chivalrous noble houses who are all more or less trying to make their own favourites sit on the throne of Westeros. This throne is an iron seat, forged of hundreds of swords from defeated enemies – and many of the past rulers have already cut themselves on its blades while trying to rule.
Each chapter of the novel is told from the perspective of one of the main characters – and there are many. Unlike in Tolkien’s works there are no evil Orcs or benign Elves. Instead, the characters are being described utterly realistically and are moved by understandable human conflicts.
My own map
When I read the novels that had been published so far in 2013, I was fascinated by the depth and amount of detail of that ficticious world. On the first pages – as in many other fantasy books – the reader finds a few sketchy maps to help him not to get lost in Westeros geographically. As perfect as the novels are, those maps are only a superficial thing. Back then I wished I had a better map and got the idea of drawing my own. Two years later this idea had been put into practice – and now a beautiful map of Westeros is decorating the wall of my living-room – 1 meter tall and hand-drawn. I scanned the drawing and had some posters made for friends and anyone who liked to have one.
I’m awfully proud about the fact that George R.R. Martin himself signed one of those posters in February 2016.
Click on the images to enlarge them.
Making the map took about 40 days of work. I transfered the map from the books with the help of a grid onto the large paper format with a pencil. With the help of internet research I also looked up more details and places that appear in the books but can’t be found on the maps in the novels. There is a huge fan community who have their own wikipedia pages where you can get tons of information.
There are a lot of ornamental tidbits on the map, like ships or a compass rose. I played a few artist’s tricks here: I looked for reference images online and, using Photoshop, I scaled those elements to the needed size, mirrored and printed them. Then I traced the contours of the prints with a soft pencil onto parchment paper. After that, I turned the parchment around, placed it on the correct spot on the map and re-traced it again with a pointed pen. By doing it like that, particles from the soft pencil trace are transferred from the parchment onto the final map. As the trace had been inverted, the final objects had the correct orientation.
After the first pencil drawing was done, I again traced everything with a very thin Mikron-Fineliner (0,05 mm) and filled bigger black areas (especially the ornaments on the left and right) with a Faber Castell PITT Artist Pen. Then I erased all of the pencil drawing.
Of course, my goal was to have a colorized map. I used different media for achieving that. The sea and the larger green areas were done with colored graphite powder that was rubbed onto the paper with a paper wiper. Mountains, beaches and shadows were colored with pastel crayons. For the trees and smaller opaque areas I used PITT pens again and also (a new discovery) POSCA-Markers (which were used mostly for the white waves and rivers).
Believe it or not, but because the coloring process almost obliterated the fineliner traces, I had to redraw all the black lines on the map again for a third time.
I can imagine that every true fan of art and Westeros would like to have a poster like that on their living-room wall now.
What’s in the box (ermm… ZIP-file)?
The ZIP-File that you can purchase below doesn’t only include a colorful high-resolution map but much more:
Printing the black and white maps
For printing the black and white maps I recommend putting the files on a USB-stick and going to a print or copy shop.
The large black and white map should be printed in B1-format (1000 by 700 mm) on paper. Most copy shops have those large printers and a b/w print shouldn’t be too expensive. Try to use the thickest paper possible if you intent to color it in (at least 120 g/square meter).
Printing the color map
So far, I had some posters printed via an online printing company. I just uploaded the color map and had it printed in B1 (1000 by 700 mm), 4/0-color print (also referred to as CMYK), 135g paper. The printing firm also offered a high gloss varnish version which I accepted – with brilliant results. I had all my maps printed that way and they look very good. I can’t say anything about the prices though, because they might differ dramatically.
If you want to get it printed in a copy shop (again in B1 format), insist on photo quality. If you just have a regular print made, the colors could look dull after a while.
I’m thankful for feedback you might have on that topic as well.
For more information, watch the following video.