This Query is part of the Worldbuilding Resources Article.

I want to draw a map of a fictional world, which consists of two regions (countries), separated by mountains.

Are there any tools which allow you to draw such maps with little effort?

  • $\begingroup$ Have you searched for fractal map generator or fractal terrain generator? Probably you can find also free creators where you put elements yourself. I don't know any to recommend, but maybe you'll menage to find a tool that fits you before you get a full answer. Unless you have already searched. Than say, what do the ones that are easy to find lack. Besides, note that actual old maps were not drawn with computer, so hand-drawn map can be realistic. $\endgroup$
    – BartekChom
    Jan 18, 2015 at 11:39
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    $\begingroup$ There's a lot of drawing software out there. What kind would be suitable depends on what you want the map to look like. Should it look hand-drawn? Or like a survey map? Or a schematic small-scale map? How much detail do you want to stuff in there? $\endgroup$ Jan 18, 2015 at 13:52
  • $\begingroup$ While I'd love to see answers to this, the question as currently phrased is both too broad and opinion based - There are plenty of dedicated map generation tools and plug-ins for paint software, and even more tricks to randomly generate maps from more general filters and capabilities. Right now there aren't enough details to judge which answer is better. I suggest you edit the question to describe the task you want to achieve as precisely as possible (detailed suggestion in following comment) $\endgroup$
    – G0BLiN
    Dec 10, 2017 at 15:32
  • $\begingroup$ Specifically: 1. How should the map look like? Anything from medieval maps or Lord of the Rings' style, through modern cartography and up to stylized / futuristic diagrams - some pictures to demonstrate this will be wonderful. 2. What should the tool do? Do you already have the layout and just want some nice brushes and effects, or do you need something randomly generated. Do you care about how scientifically feasible the map is? 3. What's the (rough) scale you need? A city map is different from a planetary map. 4. What's the target medium? A book / tactical RPG / PC game etc. $\endgroup$
    – G0BLiN
    Dec 10, 2017 at 15:41

3 Answers 3


All the possible software are available here: http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=1407

Not so fast but free and with almost unlimited possibilities: If you want to draw, I would recommend Inkscape (vector) and Gimp (raster) both can be good but work differently.

Fast but not free:

  • Campaign Cartographer 3 : You can add element sto you world like individual mountains, forests.
  • Fractal Terrains Pro : Is good to generate random world but it's not always really realistic. This software only generate the relief, climates, temperature, precipitations, biomes... but you can't place individual elements.

Fast and free:

  • Wilbur: it is made by the same author as Fractal terrain. I think it's made to be complementary but it can also be used separately. Sadly the link is dead right now, there is a problem with the hoster.

In addition, I've wrote a blog post on our unofficial blog here.

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    $\begingroup$ slow and free; pencil, paper and your own imagination $\endgroup$ Jan 20, 2015 at 10:29

Here is a different idea for making your fictional countries. Copy real ones.


This is from a map of the world. There are lots and lots of very realistic places in the world and you can have the maps for free. I have labeled the countries and your requested mountains. Rivers are there. Some nice islands to the east. If you want to drill down for more detail, or copy the cities too, you will need a different map of this area but that is fine. Copying real things is fast and free and if someone gripes that it is unrealistic, you can show them where you borrowed it from.

Someone clever enough to figure out where you borrowed your map from will smile if they recognize other features of that area which have come along into your story.

If anyone wants to guess where I took this map from, put your guesses in ROT13 code in the comments.

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    $\begingroup$ Another trick to make the "borrowed" area less recognizable is to rotate it by 90 degrees or more. $\endgroup$
    – G0BLiN
    Dec 10, 2017 at 15:46
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    $\begingroup$ "There are lots and lots of very realistic places in the world" - Is there a place in the world that isn't realistic?! Wow! $\endgroup$
    – Mermaker
    Dec 11, 2017 at 15:00
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    $\begingroup$ On a more serious note, now - you can also get more variety by rotating real maps into different positions. Nothing says that what we have as "North" on our planet must be north on yours. On my works, my main landmass was made by verically mirroring Eurasia, for example. $\endgroup$
    – Mermaker
    Dec 11, 2017 at 15:03
  • $\begingroup$ Fcnva, Senapr, and the Onyrnevp Vfynaqf. $\endgroup$ Dec 22, 2017 at 21:00
  • $\begingroup$ @Keith Morrison - yep $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Dec 24, 2017 at 14:53

I'm surprised that Azgaar's Fantasy Map Generator, which I know I came across because it appeared somewhere on WB, is not mentioned here. It is an excellent resource for drawing the sorts of maps that you might find at the start of a printed book, with the ability to draw your own terrain, add nations, trade routes, arbitrary markers, detailed notes... About its only limitation is level of detail (fine for large-scale maps, not so much if you need details of a small area) and that it is pretty heavily slanted to pre-industrial stuff.

It's amazing however if you need to make a new continent in a hurry and don't already have an idea what you want it to look like. (That's not to say you can't use your own shapes — you can, though it takes some work, which is likely true for most any program out there — but that you can get pretty good quality, brand new stuff literally in seconds.)


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