Spatial Poetry Remix²: Fantasy Mapmaking

Hello! I asked for the Spatial Poetry kit with my ambassador stipend this year and decided to host a remix of a remix: Fantasy Mapmaking. The program is designed for patrons aged 11-18 to create fantasy maps from scratch, although I definitely encourage mapping out worlds they already have knocking around in their heads. I am set to host it in July and I already have one super excited patron.

I wanted to use this thread to talk about it and exchange ideas (and be validated lol).

Materials I used:

  • art paper (I had some watercolor paper on hand)
  • 5 sets of polyhedral dice
  • mechanical pencil (Zebra M-301, in my case)
  • a good eraser (Staedler)
  • fine-tip black pen (Sharpie)
  • fine-tip colored pens (off-brand Staedlers)
  • rubber stamps and dye
  • carbon paper

Resources to have on hand:

  • example maps, both real world and fantasy
  • information on geographical features and biomes
  • information on how things are named
  • references for map icons (literally had to just google and pinterest this to find sets and it was very frustrating for me, so I may have to make a resource myself)
  • I don’t have access to computers or tablets for patrons during my programming, but the original Fantasy Maps remix refers to online map making software too

The beginning of this project was classic: I googled fantasy mapmaking. Crystal Lake Public Library has an easy entry take-and-make tutorial on YouTube which is similar to another tutorial I liked. Their concept is to spread an object on art paper and trace it for the outlines of your landmasses. I rolled dice a handful of times for this.


The original borders were round and intestine-y, so I started modifying them.

Then I added waves, which made the map look official suddenly!

Followed by a lot of googling of river maps, mountain maps, forest maps, etc., as I added those geographical features to my world. Not on purpose, I started thinking about the story of this land as I added those, like “this would be a good place for a large city” and “these two settlements would have a good trading relationship, since they’re near to each other across water”.

It was also here that I was hit with the paralyzing realization that I wanted to name things, and oh no what do I name the things? It’s reverse spatial poetry! It’s lore time! I decide whether there are colonizers or not!

Inking and adding biomes while stressing over whether they’re scientifically accurate and then realizing it doesn’t matter and learning stuff is fun:

And the map in its current state! (Big Tree was a stamp that was the wrong color, so I colored over it. I do wish I had a good black-and-white version of this).

I had a lot of fun doing this and am tallying up supplies I need to order and ideas for trial #2. Also on the hunt for some naming ideas! Right now the vibe is “I want to play a Zelda game right now.”

I also need to work on a playlist of “Music to Create a Fantasy World To” now.

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This is so fantastic! I love your map and the fact that you rolled dice to do it. Perfect way to make a map for a D&D campaign.

Music - I found these:
Finding your way
Songs to Get Lost To

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Love all of this! real inspiring!! agree a black+white version could feel ancient/mysterious too :heart: :world_map:

Heba! This is a lovely remix. I especially love the inclusion of the rubber stamps to make it easier to start. I find that a blank page can be very intimidating. I created a pattern sheet based on your illustration in case some learners find it easier to cut and glue instead of drawing.

I also adore the idea with using the dice for the landmasses. It can be fun to include local maps as a different starting point, or reimagine familiar places as a fantasy environment. Either way, I would love to hear how it works out! Thank you for sharing.

Song recommendation: Come Along by Cosmo Sheldrake (references heffalumps and more!)

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You’re my hero!! I will definitely use these in my next attempt and update the thread as I go!

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This is so fantastic. I really appreciate your documentation and how you shared your thinking! Very inspiring!

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The set up:




The results:





And mine!

I am obsessed with how everyone’s is so different even though we started with the same technique and had the same materials. Only 1 of the 6 participants came with a map they already had in mind (not pictured unfortunately).

There was one reference sheet for map icons at each station. No one actually consulted any of my sample maps or other icon materials, but I’m happy I put them up, lol. In the future I would like to curate a set of resources that I haven’t just borrowed from people online for this small group, and then put that at each station so they’re handy. They were big fans of the brush pens that came with the symmetry kit.

While working on the maps, there were moments of quiet mixed with prompts like, “What should I name this ocean?” or “This is an alternate universe where the water is red. Ohio and Australia are also here.” We discussed how, since these are fantasy maps, the story can take precedence over geological accuracy.

For music, I ended up using bardcore, since there were no words but it was still familiar to everyone.

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@heba This is so lovely! Thank you for sharing your thought process and how it went. I also love how they all turned out different. It really shows how you’ve embodied creative learning facilitation!

Your reflections remind me to continue to think about facilitation and preparation for different ages. It can be a tricky balance!

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