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10 Fantasy Cartographers That You Need to Follow, Right Now

Major nerd alert time. I’m a huge fan of awesome cartography. I’ve even dabbled a little in it myself. But there are folks out there who wake up, grab a coffee, and spend each and every day dreaming up cool, new maps for fantasy roleplaying adventures. I’m totally jealous of their work ethic and just love their creations.

Yesterday I turned to Instagram to ask the community who the best map-makers around were. And the response was overwhelming. As of this writing, I have over 70 comments all pointing me towards some awesome cartographers.

Long-story-short, I thought I’d share these folks work and get them a little more love. Check out their stuff and be sure to follow them on their Instagram accounts.

Here they are in no particular order.

 

the-forsaken-peak

Justin David Russell

As some of you probably know, JD Russell and I have been hard at work on The Secret of Forsaken Peak, a 30+ map Megadungeon set in his campaign world. I first noticed JD on Facebook. He posts nearly a new map every day, all in the old school style that y’all know I love. He’s even got a book coming out on Kickstarter early 2019. Plus, his maps are often 100% architecturally correct; I often find myself messaging him on Facebook asking, “Dude… what’s a barbican?” Definitely one of my faves working today.

You can follow him on Facebook or on his Patreon.

 

danielsmaps-aenarath

Daniel Hasenbos

Just look at that gorgeous map! Daniel is a freelance cartographer and illustrator specializing in hand-drawn fantasy maps. Drawing has been a part of Daniel’s life for as long as he can remember. When Daniel was 15 years old he started drawing my first fantasy maps. From there he continued to draw and improve. He’s chosen to share his passion for cartography with the world and become a freelance cartographer and has since worked with many authors, publishers and private clients to bring life to their worlds.

You can follow Daniel on Instagram or on his own webpage.

 

deven-rue

Deven Rue

Holy shit. This is another one that I got a chance to discover with this quick survey and I gotta say I’m blown away. Not only are the inks themselves solid, but the presentation is off the freakin’ chain. Like many modern cartographers, Deven got into map-making after seeing the infamous Dyson Logos do his thing and she’s been going at it ever since. She even did a map for the Critical Role folks that is off-the-fuckin’-chain.

You can follow Deven on her Instagram or via her website.

 

bewarethewizard-map

Beware the Wizard

Beware the Wizard (real name a mystery!) is an artist I’ve been following for a while on Instagram. It’s one thing to be an amazing cartographer, but something entirely different to give the images flair and cool calligraphy on top of it. Each map is a work of art. I’d almost feel bad running some sloppy PCs through it!

You can follow Beware the Wizard on Instagram or on his Patreon.

 

gugbones.jpg

Gug Bones

Gug Bones is a bit of an enigma. When Gug first contacted me, I asked him if he had a site. His response, “No. Why?” Then I asked him if I had something that he could promote to which he replied, “Nah I’m just a dude that makes dungeons in my spare time.” 😂 And what dungeons, too! They’re all old-school hand-drawn maps with pen and ink and look sharp as hell. It’s also refreshing to see hatching styles that aren’t common such as the one he uses. Definitely check him out.

You can follow Gug Bones on Instagram.

 

maps-by-owen

Maps by Owen

Owen calls himself a beginner. Pffft. While, yeah, you can see some of the obvious inspiration in his designs, Owen’s one hell of a talent to “just be starting out.” His designs really capture that old-school flavor (that you all know I love). Each new map he puts out is exponentially better than the last. And that stippling shadow style? Damn, that’s lit.

You can follow Maps by Owen on Instagram.

 

miskas-maps

Miska Fredman

Here’s another eye-opener that I discovered in the comments. Miska’s maps are super clean and gorgeous. He adopts a bit of the modern, digital style, but what’s wild is that if you check out his Instagram you can see that he can do that style by hand, too! His Patreon is bumping, already with over 200 patrons, which tells me this guy delivers.

You can follow Miska on his Instagram or his Patreon.

 

skullfungus

Skull Fungus (Karl Stjenberg)

Skull Fungus. What a name. And what creative, original artwork, too. If you ever wanted to run a dungeon that looks like the cover of a GWAR album (Dave Brockie RIP), then Skull Fungus (real name Karl Stjenberg) is your hookup. Heavy, chunky inks mixed with a cartoonish style reminiscent of mid-’90s MTV cartoons, I promise you that you won’t find maps that look like his anywhere else.

You can follow Skull Fungus on Instagram or check out his one-shot adventure on DriveThruRPG.

 

gm-finch

Tyler Cross

Also known as gm.finch, Tyler’s another cartographer that can somehow duplicate digital artwork using only pens and markers. Crisp, clean, lines with a poppy feel, Tyler’s pens inject wonderment into each of his designs. Some of his town maps are truly astounding and leap right off the page–check out that one above!

You can follow Tyler on Instagram.

 

shing-cartography

Stephanie Ingmire

There was a comment on this map that I think shares how I felt when I first saw it, “Ughhhh these maps are so goooooddddd….” Yeah, no kidding. They’re freakin’ amazing. Stephanie says that they’re her “heart and soul.” We can tell! She hand draws her map and does the letter work, too. Perhaps it’s that jealous feeling I get when I see much raw talent in folks who can do maps by hand, but I just love, love, love this style.

You can follow Stephanie on her Instagram or her Patreon.

 

Thanks for reading!

It was tough narrowing it down to just 10 great cartographers. I ended up leaving off some of those who’ve been published in D&D books such as Dyson Logos, Tim Hartin, and Mike Schley, all of whom I love.

If you feel like there’s anyone that I missed, let me know down in the comments or over on Instagram @dungeonmasterdave.

And don’t forget to sign up to the mailing list. It’s over in the right sidebar or down in the footer. You get updates every time new content hits the site.

See you next time and enjoy those maps!

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The Secret of Forsaken Mountain | Collaboration with Justin David Russell

A pretty exciting announcement today! You’ve probably noticed that I’ve started work with some major talents around the D&D community. Well, today, I’m excited to announce that professional illustrator and cartographer, Justin David Russell and I will be teaming up to create a MegaDelve known as The Forsaken Peaks.

Already, JD has created the first level of the map. You can see his creation below:

the-forsaken-peak

Pretty fucking rad, right?

I’m going to be stocking this monster up soon while JD continues to create the lower levels. Our goal is to make this one of the craziest Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition experiences ever.

Who is Justin David Russell?

Justin David Russell is a freelance fantasy illustrator inspired by classic fantasy roleplaying game imagery. He does professional illustration work for tabletop roleplaying games and books. Drawing, painting, literation, and playing the Basic Edition and Advanced 2nd Edition of the world’s leading roleplaying game as his passions.

JD says that his favorite thing about playing tabletop roleplaying games is that he can blend his love of art with his love of literature. He gets to write and illustrate his own stories! The best way he can share that inspiration with you is to provide tokens, maps, and stories for use with your tabletop and online RPGs.

JD Russell on Patreon

I’ve been a subscriber of Justin’s work on Patreon for a few months now. His talent is insane. I remember seeing this amazing pen/ink skeleton on his page and asked him where he got it from. I assumed it was from some Shutterstock or Creative Commons old school D&D. Nope! It was his! And it was just flavor art.

Get this: dude draws a high-quality map EVERY. DAY. Literally, every day. His work ethic for map-making is right up there with my love for monster making.

So we’re a match made in RPG nerd heaven!

Check out JD Russell On Patreon

 

The Secret of Forsaken Mountain

A large, covert mining operation has been made in an effort to discover the secret of Forsaken Mountain. The King of Chaos has sent his agents to reveal the truth of the mysterious mountain so they can use it against the people of Lantern Falls and any other enemy that may present itself, namely the Southern Kingdoms. The castle’s main entrance is a collection of enclosed buildings topped with battlements that can be used in case of invasion. A garrison of soldiers is stationed at the inn just inside the main gates.


Castle of Chaos is the ambitious start to a huge megadungeon project Justin David Russell and I are collaborating on. There will be several other maps that can be linked to this one to create a single, sprawling complex. In all, there will be 6 levels comprised of various smaller maps. When Justin is done with each level, he will join the maps and send them to me to fill with monsters and adventure for your amusement! The entire project is titled, ‘The Secret of Forsaken Mountain.”

Keep your eyes out for more of this collaboration! And you can get a head start and start getting the high-resolution versions of the maps now on Justin David Russell’s Patreon:

‘The Secret of Forsaken Mountain’

 

Gleam contest coming soon!

Follow the success of The DM Lair’s Gleam contest, JD Russell and I will also be doing a contest. Prizes to be determined, but trust me: they’ll be good.

If you want to keep up with the blog, be sure to sign up to the daily updates newsletter over on the right sidebar or down in the footer. That is the best way to learn more about this incredible project as well as get the 411 on new monsters, subclasses, adventures, and more!

See you soon!

Maps by Justin David Russell and thumbnail art from Assassin’ Creed.