Articles, Blog

Create a Fantasy Map of Your Own Fictional World in Adobe Photoshop

September 7, 2019

everyone this is Chris from Spoon Graphics back with another video tutorial for Adobe
Photoshop. Today we’re going to have some fun creating
a map of our own fantasy world, just like the fictional story settings of Neverland,
Middle-Earth or Westoros. We’ll use Photoshop’s built in tools to establish
the landmass and sea, then construct hills, mountains and deserts with some simple filter
combinations, before finishing off the artwork with a vintage paper texture and place names
to simulate an old map. But first, a big thank you to Envato Elements
for sponsoring today’s video… So to construct your own fantasy world, begin
by creating a new document in Adobe Photoshop. I’m using a canvas size of 2000×1458, but
artwork can be created at any size. The larger you go, the more land you’ll have
to fill. Create a new layer, then go to Filter>Render
>Clouds. Add a Threshold Adjustment layer at the bottom
of the Layers Panel. Activate the clouds layer again. You can use the CMD+F, or CTRL+F shortcut
on Windows, to randomise the result until you see a basic layout of continents you could
work with. Add a new layer, then select the Brush tool. Set it up with zero hardness, then begin to
paint black around the edges of the canvas, and over any portions of land you want to
erase. Switch the colour over to white, then paint
within the landmass to fill in any gaps, or to join together pieces of land. When you’re done, shift and click all the
layers from the Threshold to the Clouds layers and merge them together. Switch over to the Channels panel and hold
the CMD key while clicking on any of the channel thumbnails to loads the selection of the white
portion. Back in the layers panel, add a new layer
and fill this landmass selection with a green of #92985d using the CMD+Backspace shortcut,
then deselect with CMD+D. Delete the original threshold version, which
is no longer needed, then fill the background with a beige paper colour of #e3e2c8 Add a new layer above the background and fill
it with a blue of #83aab1. Apply a Layer Mask to this sea layer, then
set up the brush tool with reduced opacity of around 30% in the top options bar. Begin painting around the edges of the canvas
to bring back some of the beige paper colour. If you erase the blue too close to the land,
switch the colour to white and paint within the mask to restore the blue around the coasts. Add a new layer above this blue layer, then
reset the foreground and background colours back to black and white. Head to Filter>Render>Clouds, followed
by Filter>Render>Difference Clouds. Change this layer’s blending mode to Soft
Light and reduce the opacity to 50%. Apply a layer mask, then paint around the
coatlines to erase the texturing, so it only appears in the deeper oceans. Add another new layer and render some clouds,
followed by difference clouds. Then go to Filter>Stylize>Emboss. Change the settings to 3px Height and 100%
amount. Set this layer’s blending mode to Soft Light. Double click the land layer to begin adding
some effects. Start with an Inner Glow layer style using
the settings black with the Soft Light blend mode, a size of around 20px and an opacity
of 25%. Add an Outer Glow next with a light blue of
#6ec5f2 and the Screen blend mode. Set the size to 40px and opacity to 45%. Add a new layer above the land layer and generate
some cloud and difference cloud textures. Press CMD+F a few times to randomise the layout. Set this layer to Soft Light at 40%, then
CMD+Click the layer thumbnail of the land layer to loads a selection of its outline. Go to Select Inverse, then delete the excess
texturing. Apply a layer mask to this texturing layer,
then use a soft brush to reduce its prominence in some areas to make the land look flatter. Add another new layer followed by the clouds
and difference clouds filters. This time go to Select>Color Range and choose
Shadows. Set the Fuzziness to 100% and Range to 0. Hit the backspace key to leave just the lighter
portions of the cloud texturing, then deselect with CMD+D. Load the selection of the land layer, inverse
the selection and remove the excess. Apply the Filter>Stylize>Emboss effect,
this time with 250% in the Amount field. Set this layer to Linear Light to produce
a series of mountain ranges across the world. Double click the layer and add a Color Overlay
effect with white and the Soft Light blend mode. Reduce the opacity to around 60% to simulate
snow-capped peaks. Add another new layer with difference clouds
again, then select Color Range and delete the shadows. Trim the layer to the outline of the land
layer, then apply an Emboss filter, but this time reduce the Amount back to 100%. Set this layer to Linear Light to generate
some subtle hills. Select the land layer and add a new layer
above it. Hold the ALT key while clicking between them
in the Layers Panel to apply a clipping mask. Grab the brush tool and set up the colour
to a sandy brown of #ccb991. Begin painting in some deserts and dry regions
on your fantasy map. You can also add an extra clipped layer to
paint the colder regions with snow. Bring the brush opacity back to 100% to paint
with pure white, then use a large eraser to make the ice caps softly recede. To finish off the map with and aged appearance,
download a vintage paper texture. This one from DeviantArt is linked in the
description area below. Open the image in Photoshop, Select All with
CMD+A, Copy with CMD+C, Paste with CMD+V, making sure it’s at the top of the layer stack,
then Transform with CMD+T to scale the texture to fit it to the canvas. Change the blending mode of the texture layer
to Multiply to allow the artwork to show through, then reduce the opacity to 50% so it’s not
too harsh. Use the CMD+U shortcut for Hue/Saturation
to bring down the saturation to around -60 to reduce some of the vibrant orange colouring. Add a simple Levels adjustment with CMD+L
to darken the shadows and lighten the highlights by dragging each respective slider inwards
slightly. That’s the main map effect complete, but you
might want to spend some time adding labels to your fictional places using the Type tool. Here I’m using a font on my system named Trattatello. Using a browny colour of #493f37 works well
for in-land places, while #d5f3e7 is a nice light blue that stands out against the oceans. Adding a subtle Arc text effect also helps
style up the text a little. The final result is a cool old map of your
own fantasy world. Ideal for story book art, table-top gaming,
treasure map party invitations, or just for fun! If you enjoyed this tutorial or learned any
new tricks, a Like on the video would be great to help spread the world. Subscribe to stick around for more, and head
over to my Spoon Graphics website to join my mailing list to get my free resources bundle. As always thank you very much for watching,
and I’ll see you in the next one!


  • Reply Farhan GMDC October 9, 2018 at 7:01 pm

    Very interesting

  • Reply Fanscape October 9, 2018 at 7:02 pm

    Oh my, my channel may be in love with yours.

  • Reply Nikhil Nevrekar October 9, 2018 at 7:05 pm

    Awesome .

  • Reply Ian Skrivarnik October 9, 2018 at 7:10 pm

    haven't even watched the video yet, but I already love it

  • Reply Craig Jones October 9, 2018 at 7:47 pm

    I've just gotten into D&D and I've been watching a few videos about this sort of thing, and hear you are, reading my mind and making this video 🙂

    Hope all is well Chris 🙂

  • Reply Daniela Downie October 9, 2018 at 7:56 pm

    Omg I needed this video! I play D&D and I love producing art for the campaigns I'm in

  • Reply Juliana Leal October 9, 2018 at 9:09 pm

    I've been struggling for so long trying to do a decent map for a story I'm writing and just when I've given up you upload this. THANK YOU! I'm turning my laptop on to try it right now. 💖

  • Reply Damien Graf October 9, 2018 at 11:01 pm

    Real nice for roleplayers !

    Any advice for making rivers ? 🙂

  • Reply Daniel Ortega October 9, 2018 at 11:08 pm


  • Reply 65 Drums October 10, 2018 at 1:28 am


  • Reply NOIR GRAPHICS October 10, 2018 at 4:32 am


  • Reply Анку Гасич October 10, 2018 at 5:12 am

    So simple. So amazing.

  • Reply Banyan Sevou October 10, 2018 at 5:20 am

    Great video, many hours of making maps now.

  • Reply Alex Leary October 10, 2018 at 5:32 am

    Awesome!! I’ve always wanted to make a map for stories I’m writing… these are all techniques that never even occurred to me to use this way. Thank you!!

  • Reply tomato soup October 10, 2018 at 5:54 am

    Wow that's awesome. Wow wow wow!

  • Reply Chris Sarantopoulos October 10, 2018 at 7:20 am

    These are effects I use almost all the time when I make something of my own, but it never occurred to me to use them for a map and in such a way! Thank you so much for this tutorial!

  • Reply Monjurul Alam October 10, 2018 at 7:56 am

    very nice

  • Reply Spoon Graphics October 10, 2018 at 10:10 am

    Join my mailing list at Spoon Graphics if you want to keep up with all my other content. Every subscriber gets a FREE design resources bundle! 📦

  • Reply Moxie Maine Coon Cat October 10, 2018 at 10:37 am

    Great tutorial! Thanks

  • Reply Serkan Yel October 10, 2018 at 12:10 pm

    Perfect. thanks.

  • Reply Marco Betti October 10, 2018 at 12:44 pm

    Thank you very much for your amazing tutorial. I like your accent too. Thanks for your time and sharing. Success for you!

  • Reply anoxonamoon October 10, 2018 at 5:09 pm

    what's wrong with that one disliker seriously ?!

  • Reply Yoyok Ferdianto October 10, 2018 at 6:06 pm


  • Reply shafledome October 10, 2018 at 7:25 pm

    This video is amazing. I've been looking for a tutorial like this for a long time. Thank you so much for it!

  • Reply Jason Patz October 10, 2018 at 11:08 pm

    I wish I could give this 3 thumbs up. Very well done!

  • Reply Design Shop October 11, 2018 at 8:40 am

    Super Awesome!!

  • Reply Thirdofherne October 11, 2018 at 11:43 am

    Cool technique. I'd reverse the angle of the lighting on the 'mountains' layer as this way looks a little inverted.

  • Reply runningheadcom October 12, 2018 at 6:39 pm

    Shared on LinkedIn. I’m a member of The Cartographers Guild but this tutorial revealed some great new tricks! A lot of this works well when saved as a Photoshop action. Much appreciated.

  • Reply RFclipart October 14, 2018 at 6:44 pm

    amazing tutorial!

  • Reply Leandro Toledo October 15, 2018 at 5:16 am


  • Reply matizz October 16, 2018 at 10:37 am

    This was so cool, im trying it! Have you tried adding any roads, or villages etc?

  • Reply AeroByte Tech December 4, 2018 at 11:39 pm

    This went way too fast. I couldn't keep up with this even after pausing and rewinding.

  • Reply Ian Kamiya December 9, 2018 at 11:19 pm

    You have no ideia how you helped me. Thank you, sir, your content is a bless.

  • Reply chris Daviies December 18, 2018 at 6:39 pm

    really messed me up at inverse the selection, remove the excess….around 5:10, like how?

  • Reply Communist Cat December 23, 2018 at 8:32 pm

    This look like altis/lemnos on arma III

  • Reply Avish Shandar December 31, 2018 at 11:10 am

    Jesus man if this is a tutorial please slow down, everyone isn't a master at photoshop you know.

  • Reply Nanookextraplanar January 5, 2019 at 5:29 am

    I'm not a native English Speaker and my knowledge of PS is very short. It was hard to keep up with the instructions and your accent was a little hard to understand (I was like, omg what is "Sofly"? My PS is outdated it doesn't have "sofly"! Until I finally realized it was Soft Light). But the results speak for themselves, great video, keep up the good work!

  • Reply A Theist January 23, 2019 at 8:01 pm

    You are amazing my friend, thank you so much for this video.
    Secondly; Can anyone tell me how to delete the excess texturing at 4:30 Thank you
    Edit; Figured it out, )Edit – Clear( Thank you

  • Reply Epic Cam Guy Productions January 31, 2019 at 10:01 pm

    Huge thanks! Perfect tutorial

  • Reply Historianalist February 13, 2019 at 12:26 pm

    All went wrong with the mountains, the emboss effect didnt do anything

  • Reply mek quake February 13, 2019 at 1:47 pm

    this has been really helpful so far but… when i first select the colour range and choose shadows, it wont let me change the fuzziness. anyone know how to fix this..?

  • Reply Silvius February 15, 2019 at 8:31 pm

    Am I the only one when goes to Filter > Render and then there is no ''Clouds'' option, anyone know where it is?

  • Reply PatchesRips February 16, 2019 at 3:28 pm

    That was wholly amazing! Thank you. 🙂

  • Reply psammiad February 18, 2019 at 6:03 pm

    That stylise and emboss effect doesn't work for me at all. I get a very distinct embossed line around the area, and the mountains aren't so distinct 🙁

  • Reply Kronos the Black February 21, 2019 at 7:12 am

    awesome information but you give directions way to quickly.

  • Reply AKMemez February 27, 2019 at 1:33 pm

    Thank you so much for this! I’ve been trying to make a world like this for so long… but I never knew how

  • Reply AKMemez February 27, 2019 at 1:34 pm

    I’m writing a book and wanted a map to go along with it. I drew it at first and it looked pretty bad. After this tutorial I did it on photoshop and it’s looks so awesome. Thank you so much.

  • Reply Alejandro Aguila February 28, 2019 at 1:43 am

    cant use color range, in shadows mode fuzziness bar and the other one become unusable :(, did anyone else has this same issue????

  • Reply Aleksej Djurdjevic March 8, 2019 at 8:41 pm

    Hello I have a question, my clouds are way smaller and less compact then your. How do I adjust that?

  • Reply Evil Bedtime Stories March 22, 2019 at 8:30 am

    Thanks for this video! Even someone with little to no experience in Photoshop can do this and I made a great map for my WorldAnvil page and future YouTube Video's. Cheers my Friend!

  • Reply Fanscape March 22, 2019 at 3:20 pm

    Somehow when making the layer 2 blue with opacity 30 my screen remains the same,The layer doesn't seem to change color- not sure what I did wrong??? [I clicked new layer, went to the background icon entered the numbers and hit enter. Nothing, even did opacity to see if it would kick in the blue]

  • Reply Jeff Hemming March 23, 2019 at 4:24 am

    Great video. Great pace right to the point. Thanks.

  • Reply Secretstarz7 March 26, 2019 at 6:50 pm

    I'm not on a mac so I don't have the command button. How am I supposed to select all painted things on a layer?

  • Reply Phoenix X7 March 30, 2019 at 3:05 pm

    Why the fuck is everyone complaining about the video being too fast? Can't you just thank him that he made a simple tutorial for you entitled pricks?

  • Reply Abdallah Shakure April 2, 2019 at 8:34 am

    that was so helpful <3

  • Reply jo bruck April 7, 2019 at 6:01 pm

    I dont understand what you do to get the clouds look like shapes?

  • Reply Alpha April 8, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    5:06 how?

  • Reply FreezingTheMind April 11, 2019 at 12:30 am

    I don't even know why I don't have the clouds options and when I checked the Adobe store I didn't see it either. I have to be honest, I have never used Adobe Photoshop and I don't know the interface as well as you do. I would've preferred the video be a little more catering to those like myself. Still a great video, I just don't have all the prior knowledge on how to properly use the program so sadly I have to find a different one who dumbs it down for me lol.

  • Reply battleofjericho April 12, 2019 at 3:40 am

    You should do more things like this.

  • Reply Jordan B April 17, 2019 at 5:41 pm

    The end result looks pretty nice. But it seems like this method is limited in how much creative control you actually have. If you want mountains to fill a specific place it looks like it would be difficult to do that.

  • Reply Maarten Lunenborg April 27, 2019 at 4:10 pm

    Incredibly helpful tutorial as I was strolling Google for some reference art. I absolutely love this effect. Thanks!

  • Reply GalaxyParrot April 28, 2019 at 12:24 pm

    Omg Thanks mate very nice

  • Reply [RS] Hori April 28, 2019 at 11:03 pm

    slow the fuck down a bit, not everyone has the shortcuts memorized

  • Reply Mors April 29, 2019 at 4:43 pm

    too fast 🙁

  • Reply DΛNIΛEZ HΛSH May 9, 2019 at 4:54 pm

    Very nice!

  • Reply Kelli Jae Baeli May 13, 2019 at 5:31 pm

    can't get past ctrl+F–it doesn't toggle through those cloud shapes, it goes to SEARCH function.

  • Reply Rasyidan Ilmansyah May 17, 2019 at 4:16 pm

    How do you make border lines?

  • Reply Rittik Battacharya May 28, 2019 at 2:53 am

    so whats the 'CMD + right click on thumbnail' shortcut for windows keyboard?

  • Reply theo hulls May 28, 2019 at 11:09 pm

    slow the vid down to 0.5 to make it easy to follow

  • Reply Channel 179 June 1, 2019 at 1:11 am

    I'm using this to create a battle Royale map

  • Reply Nguyễn NamAn June 2, 2019 at 1:57 am

    what is cmd+backspace shortcut 2:26

  • Reply Kuruyo June 5, 2019 at 11:02 pm

    thnks rlly , helps alot to create worlds to write about it =D

  • Reply Alyss June 7, 2019 at 10:28 am


  • Reply nenad vasiljevic June 7, 2019 at 12:56 pm

    I can't change the fuzziness and range

  • Reply Иван Морозко June 15, 2019 at 11:10 pm

    Thank you very much, man :3

  • Reply wyatt dhaliwal June 20, 2019 at 9:24 pm

    This is an amazing tutorial, thank you

  • Reply GoldenCraftMine July 2, 2019 at 11:08 pm

    How would one add forests?

  • Reply Caleb Crowden July 4, 2019 at 10:28 am

    how do you remove excess texturing? Help Please?

  • Reply White Kriminal July 6, 2019 at 1:44 am


  • Reply Leonardo Lopes July 15, 2019 at 3:02 pm

    The mode "screen" in Pt-Br is what?

  • Reply Paul DF July 16, 2019 at 6:50 pm

    Filter > Render > Clouds just gives me a black layer

  • Reply TheUFCVeteran July 18, 2019 at 8:18 pm

    Thank you so much!!! This was PERFECT for a little fantasy realm I'm creating, appreciate this video to no end.

  • Reply Tom Wheeler July 30, 2019 at 6:30 am

    No rivers.

  • Reply Jeremiah Hamm August 4, 2019 at 11:00 pm

    Nice map came out awesome. Next maybe talk a little faster and less understandable and explain how to do what you're doing less. But nice map

  • Reply johnthechef August 10, 2019 at 5:22 am

    Thank you, it was good but if could slow down a little that could had been awesome!

  • Reply Brad B August 18, 2019 at 8:05 am

    Any ideas for a way to make some areas look forested?

  • Reply Kraig Elliott August 28, 2019 at 7:25 pm

    I was going through the steps and when it came to turning the land masses the greenish color, I add the layer and type in the color just as you did Chris. However, mine does not change color. It stays white.

    I rewound your tutorial several times and tried to see if you did another step and nothing showed up. Am I missing a step?

    Great video so far, but I know this step is important.

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