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Get lost in this wonderful collection of fantasy maps

Every fantasy world needs a good map

Arlin Ortiz

We love fantastic maps, and recently, we recently came across an artist named Arlin Ortiz. He has been working on a project called Any Which Way: An Adventurer’s Atlas, a collection of wonderful fantasy maps.

Photo by Arlin Ortiz

These maps are distinctive, brightly colored works of art, featuring castles, islands, forests, and more. Ortiz told The Verge that he’s been drawing for as long as he can remember. “There were always art supplies around the house and my parents were very supportive (they still are).” After attending Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute, he ended up in Burbank, California, where he works as a freelance illustrator.

Even as a child, he explained, he had been creating maps, aided by a book titled How to Draw Maps and Charts by Pam Beasant and Alastair Smith. More recently, he said, he’s been looking at maps from medieval times. “They are illustrations as much as they are maps. I love how there is no solid sense of scale, and features are often abstracted in size and detail to indicate importance.”

Photo by Arlin Ortiz

After getting interested in tabletop role-playing games, he found himself creating his own fantasy maps. After developing a certain style, he began posting them online alongside his Monster Pamphlet project, illustrated prints that were inspired by tabletop RPG bestiaries, which he began offering in his Patreon page.

Ortiz explained that each map began with a pencil sketch, using interesting locations as a starting point. “I like to create maps that feel like they were created by a traveler on the ground and not by a modern-day cartographer.” Once the initial sketch is complete, he scans it into photoshop, adding on layers to provide texture and color, mimicking printmaking techniques.

Photo by Arlin Ortiz

He noted that as he continues to add to the collection, he’s hoping to “focus more on world building,” by developing a much larger world, with stories told through a series of individual maps, and that he wants the collection to encompass not just maps, but “items, characters, monster, and more.”