I have to make a map for two planets. For booth two I already have an idea about what they look like, but I don't know how to draw them. They don't need to be really clear, however they should make understand the environments and see the biggest mountains and hills. So: What is the best and/or the easiest way to make the maps, without softwares? What kind of projection is the best? How can I draw the map? Thank you very much for your answers.

  • $\begingroup$ So you want a map showing two planets and their location in comparision to another? Or two different maps, each one picturing one planet? $\endgroup$ – T3 H40 Oct 17 '15 at 13:26
  • $\begingroup$ Your question is too broad. Ask something specific, else we cannot help you. A good resource for maps: cartographersguild.com/content.php $\endgroup$ – Vincent Oct 17 '15 at 15:19
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    $\begingroup$ @T3H40: I think he wants the latter. Just as you explained in your answer. Good work btw. $\endgroup$ – Youstay Igo Oct 17 '15 at 15:25
  • $\begingroup$ I think so, too, as the first would be very difficult, considering Planeten movement and stuff. Thanks for the Rosen :) By the time I wrote my answer, you hadn't done your edit, so I thought I would provide some more Ideas from 'real life'. $\endgroup$ – T3 H40 Oct 17 '15 at 15:29

Have a look at how it is done with maps of earth: enter image description here The spherical planet is projected on a plane by slightly distorting the proportions. Displaying coordinates makes the effect more visible: enter image description here This way you can create a map with all major parts of your world, like bigger continents and oceans. By using different colors you can either show different political factions or countries (have a look at the first image again) or you can document different biomes (simply have a look at google maps for this one).

With your major parts of the world are mapped out, you can easily add rivers and bigger lakes to the map. Visualizing mountain ranges or forests can be done by using either shading, like in the first picture, or by placing little icons like trees or single mountains on your map: enter image description here Here are some basic ideas on what to show on your map:

  • Mountains and mountain ranges
  • forests
  • villages (just draw single houses or dots for the biggest cities)
  • Major landmarks like volcanos
  • names of countries and oceans etc.
  • borders

Generally, you should use lesser detail on your map, the further you "zoom out". There is no point in marking every little village on a world map as it would get confusing. Again, look at google maps, they show and hide routes, villages etc. when you change the zoom.


You will need to envision the planet from one direction and then from the other (180° horizontal) and draw two images of its continents. Then put these images together like a panorama and your map would be made. That's what they do for Earth mapping too. The whole process is like spreading out the spherical surface area of your planet out on a sheet so as to make it planar.

You would first need to determine what is the up direction in your map. On Earth it is north and I suggest you keep it that way for your planet too (so that you can use compass for navigation). Your north can also be your east (if your planet is tidally locked to its star and tilted at 90° so that north pole faces the star) but that's a far far fetched idea.


Basically a map is simply a small picture of the large world. Let's say you want to draw the map of your house. Your house is 15 meters long and 10 meters wide. You want to represent that area on a small piece of paper. So for reference, you say that 1 centimeter on paper/map represents 1 meter of your house. You begin by drawing the boundary of your house.

enter image description here

Next thing is to sketch the rooms in your house. Using the same standard (1 cm of map = 1 meter of real life) we go on and draw all the rooms boundaries on the map.

enter image description here

Now we have marked the basic plan of your house. The oops, where are the doors between the rooms? Let's leave empty spaces for doors in the map.

enter image description here

Next, we mark which room is which.

enter image description here

And now we are done.

This is exactly how you would make a planetary map.

1- Draw the boundaries of continents and islands.

2- Add geographical features on the map for example rivers, lakes, mountains, forests and deserts.

3- If there are different tribes or countries on the planet, draw boundaries for them and write their names in those boundaries (like writing room names).

4- You are done! That's all.

  • $\begingroup$ I keep not understanding how to draw it. If you know, can you write me please the way you would use to draw a map? I know almost nothing about it, that's why I asked this question. But thank you for your answer. $\endgroup$ – Eithne Oct 17 '15 at 12:54

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