Symbols will get some love...



An essential but often overlooked part of mapping are symbols, the little bits of art that are put on maps to convey all sorts of information. The symbols I use on my Greyhawk maps are over two decades old now it was one of the first things I did when I set out to map the Greyhawk setting.

More detailed maps would need way more symbols and also more variation, to indicate various aspects of the feature the symbol indicated. My design was based on the symbols of the Darlene map, with a lot of additions and a few tweaks. I shill like them and thing they work, for the most part, but my design skills and the tools I used back then where not much to brag about, so an update is needed.

The Atlas will mark the end of a generation of maps made using Illustration tools like Corel Draw and then the last ten years Adobe Illustrator. Future maps will be made using GIS, various 3D software and still some Illustrator, so a solid set of symbols is needed. Several sets in fact, my intention is to give my existing set of symbols a work over making sure they are less scruffy and look well even in large sizes.

Two new symbol sets, at least, will be needed. Larger scale maps that will move in closer and showing much more detail will need and new set of symbols for things like urban areas, city walls and more. All the symbols I've used so far have been very useful for reference maps mainly used by the DM to who what the world actually looks like. Traditional RPG maps are more of the type of map the characters would use to navigate the world, handout maps. These maps need a whole new set of symbols to depict things like towns and cities, of a more illustrative tradition found on fantasy maps.

Getting all this done is a long term project that will take a year or two to get done, but the first step is to the existing symbols ready for a round of edits to get improve them. I did most of the symbols on an early version of Corel Draw back in the 90's and then imported them into Illustrator and added some more. There a number of inconsistencies that become painfully visible when you enlarge them, but its a necessary step to see what can be kept and what needs to be redone from scratch.

So I have enlarged all my exiting symbols and saved them as PNG's with a transparent background to make it easier to use them as a reference image. They are all available here:

Future symbols sets will be available here as well when they are ready.