Designing landscapes is difficult, because we often don't take into account the geological processes that formed them in the first place. You wouldn't have a ten-mile-high mountain on Earth, because the tectonic plates never produced enough force in their interactions to create such a large mass of rock. Neither would you really have a river with massive waterfalls every mile until it reaches the sea, because the likelihood is that the land would flatten long before it reached the sea and more waterfalls would just take it underground.

So, taking into account the geology of landscapes, how can I go about designing a realistic landscape? I'm looking for things like

  • dimensions
  • relative locations
  • features

along with reasoning of why these things would be the way they are.

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    $\begingroup$ This sounds like a job for the Cartography Guild. I've poked around their forums on rare occasion, so I'm pretty sure they've got some tutorials in this regard, but it has been a while since I was last there. They do monthly contests as well, which are always neat to look at. Different folks have different methods. $\endgroup$ – Draco18s no longer trusts SE Feb 3 '16 at 17:01
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    $\begingroup$ This is very planet-specific (Olympus Mons on Mars is over 10 miles high.) You did mention Earth in your second sentence but I'm just clarifying since that affects the answer. $\endgroup$ – The Anathema Feb 3 '16 at 17:18
  • $\begingroup$ As The Anathama pointed out, it is very possible to get very high mountains without plate tectonics. Olympus Mons is of course an extinct volcano, so you're going to have different forces at work there. In that case, one of the contributing factors was the lower gravity of Mars allowed it to grow higher than would have been possible on Earth. $\endgroup$ – AndyD273 Feb 3 '16 at 17:40
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    $\begingroup$ Is your question already covered by the similar questions in this series? $\endgroup$ – Samuel Feb 3 '16 at 17:40
  • $\begingroup$ @Samuel To some extend the landmass formation works for it, but it doesn't go into enough specifics for me. I'm looking at typical and reasoned detail, rather than the broad scope. $\endgroup$ – ArtOfCode Feb 3 '16 at 17:50

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