I'm continuing to hash out the map of my world, using tutorials found on this site and elsewhere.

In some tutorials the starting elevation levels of a planet are treated pretty randomly, implying that while tectonic, volcanic, or eroding activity may be required for distinct features like mountains or gorges, larger scale elevation features (highlands, valleys, large plateaus) may be more up to the whim of the author, if rooted and justified by in the earliest shape of the planet.

Is this correct, or are there other constraining factors that I'm not aware of. As example, does this elevation map (with tectonic plates below it) included currently look realistic?

Elevation Map

Tectonic Plates

Finally, and in general, is there anything else I should consider when making an elevation map?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You seem to have some drops of 4km where the land hits the sea..... $\endgroup$
    – sdfgeoff
    Feb 26, 2018 at 21:53
  • $\begingroup$ @sdfgeoff fair, I’ll nudge the mountains in a little $\endgroup$
    – Random
    Feb 26, 2018 at 23:47
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Since you are using the Mercator projection the south continent needs to bulge and reach end to end at the very bottom. $\endgroup$
    – skout
    Feb 27, 2018 at 3:36
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @skout it's an eqirectangular grid, it's not based on mercator. as it stands, the map would only cover half of the world based on that grid. but you're right, if it would be the pole covered with land, the southern continent needs to be (visually) streched. $\endgroup$
    – t.ry
    Feb 27, 2018 at 19:32

1 Answer 1


Do you have an ocean? sea level as a starting point for elevation? If it seems pretty random, who would be checking to see whether your map is accurate or not? It's your world, afterall.

Try referring to contour/topographical maps. They do show elevation, but more detail than the 1st map you provided (which seems fine for a generalized/simplified world view. But assuming you will have more detailed maps of certain key locations, I would suggest using topographical maps showing contour lines (not necessarily only a contour map).

Examples (with links to images provided, also helpful information pertaining to reading maps, in any interest):

enter image description here

Shown to illustrate elevation with contour lines. image source

enter image description here

Another example. image source

enter image description here

More detail is provided. Note that elevation is marked along some lines. image source enter image description here

Even more detail and information is provided, but still simplified image source

enter image description here

A more aesthetically pleasing map, still provided with elevation markings, and much easier to read image source

  • $\begingroup$ Bumpy I think you missed the main question about starting elevation in your answer. I'd suggest you edit to avoid downvotes. $\endgroup$
    – James
    Feb 26, 2018 at 20:56
  • $\begingroup$ Note that the OP had incorrectly linked images in the question. These have been corrected. You may want to review your answer with respect to the changes. $\endgroup$
    – Frostfyre
    Feb 26, 2018 at 21:18
  • $\begingroup$ @Frostfyre I'm not sure I understand how that pertains to this answer. I clicked on the images, and it just shows a larger image. $\endgroup$
    – Carlo
    Feb 26, 2018 at 21:23
  • $\begingroup$ The OP was interested if the supplied depictions were reasonable. This analysis should have been part of any answer to the question. I didn't read your answer; I was only letting you know that the question had changed. $\endgroup$
    – Frostfyre
    Feb 26, 2018 at 21:25
  • $\begingroup$ @Frostfyre This is why I said "Try referring to contour/topographical maps." The OP only mentioned elevation. $\endgroup$
    – Carlo
    Feb 26, 2018 at 21:28

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .