Where do publishers get maps? And more map questions!

Beyond Dyson Logos' awesome (and very generous) free commercial maps archive, where do publishers get maps?

Is there a central place to find commercial cartographers?

What's the process of hiring one? What are the going rates?

What kind of information do cartographers need when drawing a map?

Ideally, does someone come to them with a near-complete idea of what an area looks like, or do they come in with something more minimal, so that the cartographer can flesh it out with their creativity?
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Most publishers hire the cartographer to do specific maps for their product. They typical give the cartographer what is called a map turnover, which is usually some sort of map sketch for the cartographer to work from, and a document providing visual and/or context details for the locations on the map.

Sometimes a publisher will let the cartographer have more free reign to come up with something on their own, without much in the way of guidance from the publisher, particularly if the publisher doesn’t have clear idea what they want and plan on designing to the map that is created.

Top professional RPG cartographers are not cheap, but as with most things, you absolutely get what you pay for.
 

aia_2

Custom title
Afaik there are either freelance cartographers or hired ones... Needless to say a publisher has to be large enough to have an in-house cartographer (i am not sure whether or not wotc has an in-house one).

All the other questions have not a single reply as they change from case to case! The best proxy you can have to get a rough idea is to consider cartographers like rpg artists... You have more info on this aspect of the rpg development and i think these roles are not too far to compare them.
 


aia_2

Custom title
Where do the cartographers hang out? Is there a subreddit? A Facebook group? Do I have to start trolling DeviantArt?

In places like these:



...i know little about this and these are the two places i found (pls consider that i an not on fb or any other social...)
 

aia_2

Custom title
Btw if you're actively searching a "mapper", i can introduce a very kind and professional guy i recently met!
 

Teo Twawki

Coffee ruminator
Where do the cartographers hang out?
X Marks the Spot. That's really where they're at.

It's a lively, witty pub round the way--but does have its peaks and valleys--where the coffee and tea are off the charts. Everyone's witty and shows a good moral compass. Except the folk at that table over in the corner who might as well be mythical creatures with their latitude; they still haven't gotten their table cleared after sitting down... Seems the barback is oblivious and couldn't find his way around the place if you drew him a map.
 


thullgrim

Adventurer
Check the credits page of the Roy’s with maps on them that you like. Many of them have their own website with contact information. For instance Maps of Wonder is cartographer Chris Wests site.

Finding maps you like in published Marietta’s and the. Looking up the artist is one way to go about it.

Over at the cartographers guild forums there is a looking for a cartographer sub forum where you can post what your looking for and get responses.
 


Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
After paying $200 to commission a map, which the cartographer then turned around and sold commercially as a $5 download, I decided to buy some mapmaking software and learn to use it myself.

Are my maps as good as those made by Dyson Logos or any of the fulltime professional cartographers? Not even remotely. Are they good enough to make it a better use of my money? Absolutely.
 
Last edited:

RivetGeekWil

Lead developer Tribes in the Dark
After paying $200 to commission a map, which the cartographer then turned around and sold commercially as a $5 download, I decided to buy some mapmaking software and learn to use it myself.

Arr my maps as good as those made by Dyson Logos or any of the fulltime professional cartographers? Not even remotely. Are they good enough to make it a better use of my money? Absolutely.
Were the conditions for your exclusive use? The artist should have specified this when you contracted them. In other words if they were a professional, this shouldn't have been a surprise.
 

gamerprinter

Mapper/Publisher
First, I'm not available for commissions at the moment, as I have my own publishing gig I'm working on. Unlike most publishers, I began in the industry as a cartographer, and have since become a publisher - most publishers begin as author/game designers, not artists, so I defied that standard. Which means as a publisher, I'm not on the hunt for a cartographer, nor even most of my art needs (I do that myself).

But if I were a publisher and I wasn't me, I'd visit the Cartographersguild.com as my first choice. Then I'd go to Facebook and visit the cartography groups (there are many), and request a commission from there. As mentioned above, it helps to have a rough draft, or at least a detailed textual explanation of your exact needs. Discuss any budgets and pay in private - most cartographers don't speak their rates freely online.
 

Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
Were the conditions for your exclusive use? The artist should have specified this when you contracted them. In other words if they were a professional, this shouldn't have been a surprise.
No. I couldn't afford it as an exclusive, and it wasn't a surprise. I knew the terms when I commissioned the map.

But the fact that it wasn't a surprise made me no happier that I paid $200 for a map that would cost you $5 if you bought it.
 


J.Quondam

CR 1/8
I kind of want to run an adventure where the PCs have to go to the seediest parts of town to where the cartographers hang out in order to find one.
Gotta watch out for those cartographer's guild thugs. They get sneak attack damage with their pointy compasses.
 

Dioltach

Legend
I once read a series of comic books (originally French, I believe) about a guild of cartographers. If I recall correctly, the entire continent was covered by a single city, which made mapping both vital and very dangerous. The guild cartographers were Indiana Jones-type adventurers.

(I borrowed the comics from my BIL, who is a professional cartographer - real-world maps, not fantasy.)
 

gamerprinter

Mapper/Publisher
No. I couldn't afford it as an exclusive, and it wasn't a surprise. I knew the terms when I commissioned the map.

But the fact that it wasn't a surprise made me no happier that I paid $200 for a map that would cost you $5 if you bought it.
I wouldn't do that to a client. I recently created a custom Spelljammer deck plan as a private commission for a regular client, who suggested I publish a book of my own Spelljammer deck plans. I decided to do that, and asked his permission to use his recent commission in the book I'm creating, as giving him credit for his permission on the credits page. He said, he'd be proud to do that. So if I intend to publish something I created on a commission for someone else, I at least them know what I'm doing and get their permission.
 
Last edited:

Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
I wouldn't do that to a client. I recently created a custom Spelljammer deck plan as a private commission for a regular client, who suggested I publish a book of my own Spelljammer deck plans. I decided to do that, and asked his permission to use his recent commission in the book I'm creating, as giving him credit for his permission on the credits page. He said, he'd be proud to do that. So if I intend to publish something I created on a commission for someone else, I at let them know what I'm doing and at least get their permission.
Again, I understood the terms when I commissioned the map. $200 if the cartographer could sell it themselves (non-exclusive), and much more - I can't remember exactly but I think it was over $500 - for an exclusive version. I didn't have $500 or whatever, so I took the less expensive option - I needed a very specific map for the product.

The situation sucked, but I had no real choice for what I needed. Luckily, my product sold pretty well, but even now, years later, I don't think it would have justified paying for the exclusive version.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I just do my own maps, tedious though it may be; but then I'm not trying to sell anything either.

I'm half-tempted to suggest just asking around among your own gaming group and see if anyone's keen on doing this for you for a fee - sometimes it can be surprising what talent is already sitting at your table. :)
 

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top