Spotlight on Design 3 – Coastlines

Coastlines vary considerable in maps, as they can either provide an opportunity for great creativity and design, or become an afterthought, something to be filled in at the last minute. This week’s Spotlight on Design doesn’t need much explanation – just drink in the wonderful coastlines that NAT and Sulis have made. Take note of all the many details, and the way that the types of terrain have been blended together.

Don’t worry, this first example is not from a real map – it’s an example of what not to do! In this Not-a-Map, we have a basic keep on a cliff overlooking a sandy beach, a few trees scattered around unconvincingly.

Hmmm… the lord looks rather bored with his surroundings. Let’s find him a new place to live before he wanders any closer to the cliff and decides to take a leap. Perhaps in one of these…

Here is a great example from The Conquest VI by NAT. We still have sandy beaches and mid-level terrain, but NAT has created visual interest by altering the terrain heights, and by adding lots of details: rocks, dirt, vegetation, and even ruins.

These last three pictures are from two maps by Sulis, one of the best landscape designers.

Red Rock Point
a fortress is built on a promontory with jagged cliffs all around.

Castle and dock meet the sea in this part of Smugglers’ Cove.

Farms, beach and hills, nicely mixed in Smugglers’ Cove. It appears as if the farmers have cleared the farmland and used the stones to build a barricade against the sea, making this area look very realistic.

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