IF YOU’VE SEEN ANY of my illustrated books about the Bible, you’ll probably see some maps in there that you’ll not see in anyone else’s books.
At least you shouldn’t see them there. I’ve had some of my photos stolen and published in competing books. But as far as I can tell, my maps haven’t been pirated yet.
I never planned to create my own maps. I’m a writer. Not a cartographer or an art designer.
My plan was to help designers create the maps for my books. All I wanted to do was to give the designers the terrain photos to use, along with the site locations. They would put the pieces together in a artfully informative manner.
My mistake was to open the photos in Photoshop, and put the dots on the maps to show designers the correct locations of the cities and other sites.
Here’s the problem. When you go that far, overworked designers and fiscally conservative publishers want you to finish what you started.
They say they don’t have the time or the money to invest in creating maps. For the most part, they’re right. Christian publishers overwork their people, to survive. Why should writers be exempt?
So, I bought some hyper-geeky cartography software. It lets me do pretty much what Google Earth does: zoom in on any place in the world and then turn the image into a 3D-style map.
I have to get the elevation data from NASA. Then I piece the files together to create the terrain for the part of the world I want to show. Next, I lay georeferenced photos of the earth on top of the elevation data. “Georeferenced” means the picture lays on the correct bumps and holes in the ground.
I generally create several maps of the same location – each map using a different picture. Then I blend the pictures together to create what amounts to a digital painting of the location.
I can spend a couple of days creating one rotten map, only to delete it after a good night’s sleep, when I wake up to realize – with fresh eyes – that the map really is rotten.
I wish I had more of a designer’s eye. I could create wonderful maps if I were mainly a designer instead of a writer. As is, I’m mainly a writer, and only a part-time designer.
I’ll keep practicing.
I spent most of today creating a map of Joseph’s trip from Hebron to Dothan, where his brothers sold him to slave-traders headed for Egypt.
I’m wondering now what it’s going to look like in the morning.