Follow along with today’s Photoshop tutorial to create your own fantasy world, just like the fictional story settings of Neverland, Middle-Earth or Westeros. We’ll use Photoshop’s built-in tools to establish the landmass and sea, then construct hills, mountains and deserts with some simple filter combinations, before finishing off the artwork with a vintage paper texture and place names to simulate an old world map.

How to Create a Fantasy Map of Your Own Fictional World

This kind of fantasy world map is ideal for storybook art, tabletop gaming or children’s party invitations. The shape and geography of your landscape is mostly determined by random, so it is interesting to see how your fictional map turns out as you progress through the process. By following the same steps, you can create a unique world every time!

Begin by creating a new document in Adobe Photoshop. I’m using a canvas of 3000x3000px, but your map could be created at any size. Add a new layer and fill it with the Filter > Render > Clouds menu.

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  1. Thanks for this sublime tutorial Chris. One question: the mountainpeaks look like valleys because the peaks are dark,which mostly presume lower heights or rivers. Perhaps somewhere in the layers should some be inverted?

    • At the mountain creation step where you create the color overlay style, add a “Bevel & Emboss” style, making the highlight and shadow both a light color, and play with the “Contour” and “Texture” as well, trying different light effects (Linear Light, Pin Light, Hard Light, etc.) to get a raised effect.

      • Also, in the instructions I just mentioned, try reversing the direction of the light for just the contour &/or texture effects.

  2. I don’t know when I would ever use this, but it looks really really cool. Maybe someday I will make a world. Thanks for sharing this.

  3. I did the map tutorial…still boggles my mind how anyone figures out how to layer the steps to create these effects…turned out amazing and piqued my curiosity to try other masks, blends and push the envelope…thanks to Chris!!!

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