Are victory selfies still a thing? Because I finished a thing.

“The Game Board” original found texture fantasy map that I began designing in earnest circa summer 2019 (but had home-brewed, developed, sketched, and drawn in the years and decades prior) is all labeled and done! Will my D&D players visit all these places? Probably not, but there are ample adventures waiting for them in the places they choose to go.

Back in January I’d made a final mockup of the in-progress “Game Board” map, with almost-finished labels (and many stories behind them)—a big leap from where it started in summer 2019. Even then it was only the latest iteration of something I’d been plugging away at for decades, and that needed to change.

While I have lots of free time for personal projects at the moment, if I’m optimistic there’s no guarantee that’ll last all year, so for 2022 I’ve resolved to be more methodical about “finishing” stuff—one project at a time, as if it were paying work—starting with this one. Finishing it feels like a big step in the right direction, because the whole “Keirtography” idea launched soon after I rejiggered this map into “found texture” style, on my own time, while the pandemic first set in.

Before posterizing this map, I revisited two recent posts that helped me shape it. One was “Here at the End of All Things” by Adrian Daub for Longreads, and another one was “Fantasy Maps Don’t Belong in the Hands of Fantasy Characters” by Jonathan Crowe for Tor. I don’t agree with everything they cover—I’m trying to not become a cartographic Ryan Gosling screaming about Papyrus—but they were good places to start, and helped me end up here.

It was important to be proactive, making my own maps in my own style as a positive response to other fantasy maps I don’t care for. Kinda like homebrewing my own D&D campaign instead of griping when certain big scifi/fantasy franchises didn’t end well in 2019.

I should also say this was all done with Adobe software. I already use Adobe for work (it’s what I know) so I don’t use programs like Inkarnate or Wonderdraft because I’m not interested in making the very popular/common style of fantasy maps these programs seemed designed to create. Unlike other map artists, I don’t have a Ko-Fi, Kickstarter, Discord, TikTok, or Twitch. My Tumblr is long gone. My Patreon is moribund. I don’t do giveaways. I don’t make process videos or reels of any kind.

They’re not bad, but they’re not my thing. So instead of being gripey about the styles I don’t care for, I like to say “I’m your guy if you want a unique map style,” because that’s both positive and true. I’ll also quote one of the best bits of wisdom someone’s ever said to me:

“I just want to make maps and vibe.”Carl Churchill

In that spirit: coming later in 2022, a found-texture fantasy gazetteer!