My world is covered in these- My world is covered in these

How do I draw them on a map?

You can't draw them like a normal mountain, they're too different. Plus, these are my land- nobody lives anywhere except for on these mountains, and nobody knows what it looks like below (complicated reason that I can't explain here). How can I create a realistic map with these mountains that shows the land?

  • $\begingroup$ A map would not "show what they look like". Maps use conventional symbols and conventional representations, so that people who know how to read it can use the map for its intended purpose. For example, look at this [physical map of Europe: no, the mountains of Europe are not brown in reality; no, southern Germany is not yellow in reality; no, the coastline is not gray; no, the sea is not pale blue-gray; no, the boundaries between western European countries do not actually exist on the ground. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Dec 8, 2020 at 17:10
  • $\begingroup$ And, welcome to Worldbuilding! I hope that you will find this site useful. You may want to visit the help center and take the tour in oder to become better acquainted with the goal and rules or recommendations of this site. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Dec 8, 2020 at 17:13
  • $\begingroup$ You could search "topographic map symbols" for comparison, crevaces, ravines, canyon walls, escarpments, outliers, have symbols, like e.g. monument valley, but these towers don't exist in reality, so you will probably have to invent something more accentuated, also depending on the scale of your map. Btw. beautiful sight :-) $\endgroup$
    – user78828
    Dec 8, 2020 at 19:03
  • $\begingroup$ I'm pretty sure I've seen that image, or something very like it, before. If it's a real place here on Earth, you might be able to look at the actual map of the area and see how they drew it. If not, Willk's idea of treating them like islands could work well. $\endgroup$
    – Teak
    Dec 9, 2020 at 4:37

3 Answers 3


/nobody lives anywhere except for on these mountains, and nobody knows what it looks like below/

For all intents and purposes, they are islands.

Also for all intensive purposes if you have those. Draw the habitable surfaces of these columns like islands in a sea. It looks like the tops are not flat so you could depict them like a topographical map. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Topographic_map

enter image description here

Topography concerns the shape and character of the Earth's surface, and maps were among the first artifacts to record these observations.1 In modern mapping, a topographic map or topographic sheet is a type of map characterized by large-scale detail and quantitative representation of relief, usually using contour lines (connecting points of equal elevation)

On that map, look at Cady Hill on the right. I could imagine that one of your islands looks like Cady Hill when you draw it. You can see how it gets higher and higher with smaller and smaller circles. The lines are labeled with the elevations - for example 1000, and then 1122 which is the top of the hill. You could use that technique to map your sky islands and give an idea about the steepness etc on the top where people live.


user81101. Welcome to Worldbuilding!

From a certain point of view, this question can be answered "anything that works." For example, you could use the traditional triangle (upside-down "V") and fill it with polka-dots. It would work as well as any other symbol.

There are cartographic icons that identify different types of mountains. Here's a sample:

enter image description here

I found that on a Pinterest page and don't know its provenance. You'll note that it doesn't identify the specific type of mountains you're dealing with. This is probably because mountains like that are found in some Asian countries, for example, but are not found in the U.S. or western Europe, where that table was probably created.

Part of the problem is that you don't identify the context for your map. Do you need it to reflect actual catrographic icons? For quite a while now, geologic maps simply show regions of color and texture. Check out the map of China below (courtesy, and much bigger at, ikkrest.org).

enter image description here

See the colors and textures? Even at smaller levels, this is becoming popular. There are no more icons, just colors, textures, and involved keys. That would be the most efficient way to express your map, it's just not the most intuitive because what you're looking at doesn't look like a mountain.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Geologic maps do not tell anything about the terrain. They don't distinguish mountains from hills from plains etc. It's not their purpose. You could as well have shown a map of the administrative-territorial divisions of the People's Republic. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Dec 8, 2020 at 18:09
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexP You're correct, but it would still be an applicable solution to the OP's problem. He/She's looking for the ability to add detail. This is a way to do it. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Dec 8, 2020 at 18:43

Simple: Map their topography, and maybe place boundaries around the elevated regions that indicate a sharp cliff. Or, if you're precise enough, people will put two and two together.


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