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August 15, 2012
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"Scars can come in handy. I have one myself above my left knee that is a perfect map of the London Underground."—Prof. Albus Dumbledore


Early life becomes an exploration of invisible parameters, circles beyond circles, as one pushes out to test the boundaries of safety. There is one’s bedroom, one’s home, neighborhood, school and town, state and nation. Early on, maps become important documents – declarations of being and rights and privileges. In the art world, throughout history, maps have been a constant measure of human progress, from the Phoenecians recording their trade routes over 2000 years ago, or pre-Columbian times in which maps pictured the world as a flat chessboard balanced atop huge elephants or whales, the oceans spilling over the edges as waterfalls in infinite space – to the latest details of the surface of Mars, courtesy of the Curiosity probe. There’s something beyond the purely practical in always knowing where you’re at, look no further the mania of checking in with digital GPS devices. Somehow, just knowing you have a map in your pocket to guide you, maybe even one that speaks to you is a kind of a liberating power over the common frustrations of life.







The opening credits of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” features a massive raised relief map of the series’ warring kingdoms. In genre fiction, maps of the mythic lands in which the stories take place have always been a special enjoyment. From finding the Garden of Eden, to elaborate maps guiding Indy on his quest for the Holy Grail, or the map of “Hyborian Times” sketched out by Robert E. Howard to better immerse you in the wanderings of his barbarian hero Conan, storytellers have always known that there’s something about the “authentification” of seeing a map that can make even the most dubious quest seem real.



Mythical Maps are currently enjoying a resurgence in our favorite videogames, detailed 3D virtual "maps" upon which the mayhem of Call of Duty, Skyrim, and Gears of War are played out, are things of wonder in and of themselves. The DLC cry of “new maps” has become the call that new magical killing fields are at the ready to be tested for their vicarious thrill-potential. Where once explorers sought out maps to the Fountain of Youth or the gold-paved streets of El Dorado, today’s adventurers seek out the perfect multiplayer map.







Let us celebrate the imagination of our mythic mapmakers on deviantART.


From our shared common knowledge of the islands and coves within Peter's Neverland, to the navigation of the Dothraki Sea, to the celestial cartography of hidden maps to unknown worlds within the stars above us, mythical maps have carved out a space for themselves right along side, and just as important as, the maps based on a “knowable” earth. The importance of a map to any fantasy story reader is the key, the literal base anchoring the fantasy, to be referred to over and over again as a story unfolds. So much background information, and so much added story texture, can be conveyed to a reader through the art of a carefully thought out and executed map.


A small part in each of us is the sense of where we are not only physically but psychically and spiritually. Whether real or not, a great map tells a great story. One could argue that a masterful cartographer must be a skilled storyteller as well. As we create our mental maps of the fantasy realms we prefer to inhabit as part of our existence in the sometimes mundane world, let us celebrate the imagination of our mythic mapmakers on deviantART.


















QuestionsFor the Reader


  1. What’s your favorite map of a fictional land?
  2. Do you think the increasing similarity of “cosmic” maps as created for videogames and superhero movies is dulling our collective sense for adventure?
  3. Which videogame maps do the best job of totally immersing you in another world?
  4. Is there an actual map hanging anywhere in your home, and what is it of?









One's geographical sense of place within the world is one of childhood's important components of that inner puzzle that contributes to ones sense of identity.Early life becomes an exploration of invisible parameters, circles beyond circles, as one pushes out to test the boundaries of safety. There is one's bedroom, one's home, neighborhood, school and town, state and nation. Early on, maps become important documents – declarations of being and rights and privileges. In the art world, throughout history, maps have been a constant measure of human progress, from the Phoenecians recording their trade routes over 2000 years ago, or pre-Columbian times in which maps pictured the world as a flat chessboard balanced atop huge elephants or whales, the oceans spilling over the edges as waterfalls in infinite space – to the latest details of the surface of Mars, courtesy of the Curiosity probe.

Writers: techgnotic
Designers: marioluevanos

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:iconcirias:
Cirias Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Love this article.
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:iconhensen007:
hensen007 Featured By Owner Apr 9, 2014
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:iconrealmwright:
Realmwright Featured By Owner Nov 30, 2013  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
1. Asking my favorite map is like asking a favorite food. There are too many flavors of other lands to pick just one. However, Middle Earth will always spring to mind since the Hobbit was my intro to fantasy.

2. I don't see how new maps, especially those of the unknown vastness of space, could ever dull our sense of adventure. Even when every inch of every possible parsec has been filled in, I'm sure we'll still continue to make fictional maps.

3. I'm not much of a gamer, but the 3 worlds I loved wandering were Tamriel, Hyrule, and the sweeping west of Red Dead Redemption.

4. I have a whole Nerdatorium devoted to fiction worlds. The walls are adorned with everything from Pathfinder to Middle Earth and less well known maps from cartographersguild.com. The only drawback is that I have way more maps than wallspace!
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:icongoblynoid:
Goblynoid Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
1. What’s your favorite map of a fictional land?
Don't think I could pick just one. Martin's "Song of Ice and Fire" world map is a current favorite though.

2. Do you think the increasing similarity of “cosmic” maps as created for videogames and superhero movies is dulling our collective sense for adventure?
Hadn't really thought of it like that, so I suppose my answer is, no. Although it does bother me a bit whenever I see a star map in a movie or some such that has obviously no bearing on even the basic structure of the cosmos. IE: Star system to galaxy to galactic cluster to universe.

3. Which videogame maps do the best job of totally immersing you in another world?
Actually the map screen in "Dawn of War" and its' expansions was pretty immersive in that it was presented as a tactical auspex of the WH40K universe.

4. Is there an actual map hanging anywhere in your home, and what is it of?
Not at the moment, but somewhere around here is the map of my home brewed game world for my GURPS Fantasy campaign that I put up on the cork board for gaming sessions.
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:icondevaujany:
DeVaujany Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Here is the last version of the Map of Tryskellia for the first chapter of my novel, made with a real parchment. Sorry for the french comments ! [link]
In another way, I really love The Game Of Thrones open show with the Evolutionary Map and the music.
[link]
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:icondevaujany:
DeVaujany Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Here is the last version of the Map of Tryskellia for the first chapter of my novel, made with a real parchment. Sorry for the french comments ! [link]
In another way, I really love The Game Of Thrones open show with the Evolutionary Map and the music.
[link]
Reply
:iconseberin:
seberin Featured By Owner Sep 8, 2012
1. Middle-earth. In particular, there was an impressive map that Iron Crown Enterprises made a long time ago that extrapolated what all of Arda might look like, outside the well-known northwestern region drawn by Tolkien.
2. I guess it would be better if more maps looked unique... but I'd rather have similar attractive maps than unique ugly ones.
3. The Ultima games' cloth Britannia maps were great; I spent hours studying them. More recently, I was really impressed by the in-game maps for Dragon Age, especially the antique Orzammar map. Also, the Grand Theft Auto series has a surprisingly strong tradition of really good maps.
4. Not currently, but in the past I've had maps of Middle-earth, San Francisco, and Yosemite hung in my bedroom.
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:iconlulybartolomy:
LulyBartolomy Featured By Owner Sep 6, 2012
1. The Old Kingdom/ Ancelstierre map
2. Maps only enhance our sense of adventure and anticipation of adventure. :)
3. I don't play many games, but I always appreciate those that offer maps.
4. Yes, of earth.
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