How to Draw Mountains – Part 1: Fantasy Map Making Tutorial for DnD

hello everyone and welcome back to questing beast it’s been a little while since I’ve done a map video so today I thought I would specialize in drawing one particular part of a map and that’s drawing mountains so there’s lots of different ways to draw mountains I’ve seen lots of different varieties lots of different techniques from different map makers from cartographers on the cartographers guild on places like the reddit forums and I’ve tried out lots of different ones recently and I’m going to show you how to draw some of the different ones I’ve I’ve discovered that I particularly enjoy so I’ll start with some simple ones this is the one that I tend to normally default to it’s one of the simplest ways to draw mountains you simply got your triangles it’s a very quick way of doing it does it take a whole lot of effort does it take a whole lot of time you want them to overlap makes a little bit more three-dimensional this is pretty typical it’s a way to draw mountains now drawing mountains in a style like this you definitely want to vary their height it tends to be taller toward the center of the mountain range with wise and then you want to sort of slope down into foothills near the edges like so this gives a little bit more of a naturalistic look and fill up a good deal of space with not ranges like this pretty quickly and it easily reads as a mountain range one thing that I’m going to be talking about with all these mountain ranges is that it’s important to realize that mountain ranges aren’t just a string of mountains in a row we don’t really see that in real life very often mountain ranges tend to be a fairly thick they tend to be a region of mountains spread across a large area now they do tend to form in ranges they do tend to form in lines usually long tectonic faults or other natural phenomena usually where tectonic faults mean or tectonic plates collide with each other but they tend to be large mountainous regions you’re not going to find mountain ranges in the real world it’s just one mountain after another and I think a lot of us when we started drawing maps that was how we kind of instinctively drew them but when you look at actual maps look at the Rocky Mountains for example they’re very long they’re thousands of miles long but they’re also very wide they sweep through a big swath of the u.s. they’re almost a whole state wide in some places they can be quite wide so it’s really a region and drawing that in your maps will really give it more veracity because it’ll look it’ll feel more true to life basically so continued in a matter like this but just going down okay because you want in your in your map do you want to have areas that are mountainous you want to have foothills larger hills rising up into mountains and perhaps plateaus and then going back down again it has more variety so that’s our simple way of doing that there are some basic varieties for different variants on doing this simple mountain range one simple way to add a little bit more flavor do the same same basic idea but we can add shadows to them this is quite common thing to do you kind of draw a line or little Ridge going down one side let me feed one side of that this of course gives the impression that the mountains are being struck by Sun coming from one direction it also gives the the texture of the mountains a little bit more interest you can see that there is since the light isn’t catching in a straight line you tell there must be ridges and varieties of elevation within the mountain so this is a simple solution if you want them to look a little bit more interesting the course takes a little bit more time now most of the ways I’ll be showing to draw mountains are going to be ways that are that look pretty good I think and are fairly quick to draw you’ll see on a lot

of professional maps or on just some excellent amateur maps mountains that are very realistic that seem like each amount has been individually designed by the map maker and those are beautiful but of course they take a lot of time and a lot of time they resent they depend upon color in order to produce their effect which is great but I’m going to focus on ones that are fairly easy and simple to draw you can get store it on right away you might notice right off the bat that this looks a bit more cartoony than that but that can be look that you go for anyway okay so other little tips and tricks that little things that you can add you can for example you’re just drawing your basic triangular shapes and snow good way to do that is just to create these kind of jagged lines coming down from the top to form a snow cap and snow force doesn’t form a perfect cap it runs along ridges along crests on the sides of the mountains so that can be a good technique as well with more snow-capped your land will look more cold I suppose you’re giving a good sense of what the weather in the area looks like otherwise mountains will just be bald and people have to kind of guess what the temperature looks like it’s also a little bit more photorealistic of course it’s not actually photorealistic but if you actually show the snowcaps that’s a level of detail that really communicates what the mountains might look like people read it as more realistic okay now another thing that you can do when you’re doing shading and snow on the top a simple solution to do both at once you have sort of large mountains like this this works better with larger shaped mountains is the actual size around is going to pend on the scale that you want to come across but then what you can do is you can just sort of designee the top areas being snowy and then just kind of shade the bottoms like this just with lines emanating away from the top more darkness to the ball number 2 to know that there may be trees or darker rocks down there the top remains fairly white that gives a nice effect of snow-capped peaks as well another way that you can draw this draw mountains is by taking even more detailed route go for not as straight asides on our little cones here adds more detail or the mountains sometimes at more than one peak layer them so you can add the little ridges running down the sides of the mountains like this once you have that to your satisfaction need a little bit of shading usually on one side of these ridges show that the sunlight striking it from a particular angle a lot of these Mountain techniques I haven’t actually used in my own Maps very often a lot of these I discovered while I was researching this video and I’m excited to try some of these techniques in the next video that I make so drawing the mountains like this makes them look much more realistic so we’re sort of going increasing realism add a

little bit more shading for us at the expense of time but your mountains will look more individual they look more unique when we on this end of the scale we have mountains that are much more abstract right we wouldn’t expect much to actually look like that or for these mounts to even actually be placed exactly as we’re drawing them we’re more just designating a zone of mountains where as we draw mountains more like this they more hint at the fact that the mountains might actually be there in the way that you’ve drawn them because you’ve taken a more realistic approach to drawing okay so let’s look at some other ways most of these have been from in a fake 3d and a fake 3d technique so we service you’ve seen them on the side force most maps are looking down straight down at the world directly from above so they wouldn’t you would actually see them in 3d like this but our I tends to read them better as mountains but there’s also several ways you can draw mountains looking straight down from above that I think I’m across pretty well so I’ll show you a couple of those one is a fairly simple way of doing this is just to show a height map or an elevation map that’s where you draw concentric circles or concentric shapes to show different levels of altitude now this is a technique that a lot of surveyors use UCL and a lot of or technically accurate maps because they just show elevation much more precisely each ring would represent a certain level of elevation off of the off of sea level I suppose now when drawing about mountains like this your Maps will look more technical they look more precise and when you do it like this your route you really are giving your viewers the information that that’s exactly where the mountains are right you’re giving them very precise information about elevation so this is for if you want a lot of precision and a lot of detail oftentimes drawing that mountains like this you’ll be the scale will be much larger it’ll be zoomed in a lot more if you’re going to see individual mountains um like that it’s very difficult to do terrain maps like this if you’re zoomed out really far from a comment okay let’s get a couple of words so another one we can just draw the main ridges on the top of the mountain range for example here with me here this is the main ridge that’s running through the mountain range now throughout the mountain range we add little ridges and slopes coming down off of some of the main mountains I saw this technique used on a map I believe is for Dungeons and Dragons professional map I was done to one of the source books I looked really good something like this you have little smaller ridges coming down branching off this is a more detailed straight down map it’s more visually appealing less technical than that one something like this and this is a technique that you could use to spread out across an area you could do several of these mountain ranges branching off a little bit and spreading out over a large area and you would have a region that looked very mountainous more detail add some little ridges on the bottom to show roughly where the bottom of these mountains are I think this is useful technique sort of to note where the terrain really starts rising you have technique like that and you’re pretty good to go it looks like an area of mountains this it does to me and it has more precision than ones like this

appear but also doesn’t take as long as some of the more detailed mountains like that or that you can always add more detail and add some shading and so on if it takes your fancy you can do little ridges in the same sort of way if you have areas where the land suddenly drops off or something Rises do ridges kind of like that as well which is a useful quick way of showing drop offs or Rises and land now this mountain technique works very well with the drawing hills in a similar fashion so Hills can be drawn just like that that’s a good straight straight down view of Hills now there’s other more three-dimensional ways of doing Hills so they do rolling hills like this that works just fine those are more akin to those kinds of mountains less detailed or cartoony almost more minimalist but they definitely read very easily as Hills you can also add Hills with a little bit more detail make them a little bit more rugged some shading on outside we have more detailed area of hills Hills of course can be by themselves or you can use them as foothills leading up to mountains like that those two would go well together the lands are building up into these taller peaks okay so we have other ways of doing this as well we can take this technique and then tilt it a little bit so we’re looking at it more from the side so the same basic idea where we have we draw these sort of mountainous Ridge but then we just simply work on creating little slopes going down from it this is a pretty quick technique that has a nice effect not being terribly precise with this that you can see how the effect would work it’s more sketchy but it gets an idea of these interconnected mountains kind of running together sloping up and down into one another similar effect to that one moment a little bit okay so what else do we have I would say those are my main techniques that I’ve been picking up there’s other things you can do for example you can kind of outline the area that you want to be mountainous they sort of create the main mountain ridge it’s going through it and then just draw from a sort of straight top-down angle how the mountains are connected or the slopes of the mountains it’s a pretty quick technique as well you know something like that it doesn’t look that great I prefer ones like that or that they’re a little bit more detailed a little bit more artistic it’s hard to make this one look as good so I don’t recommend that one as one as much of course the other technique is actually drawing in very detailed mountains or using a lot of color I’ve seen a lot of people just use

basically have a flat surface on their map and then just paint in a white and grayish areas and then use textures that look more rough like rubble or rock and just kind of paint them over and that reads is a mountain very nicely it doesn’t give a great sense of height unless you really put in white area but it reads well on a color map in a black and white map I really recommend a technique like this either one that looks 3d so it looks like you’re seeing mountains from the side or one that looks coming straight down possibly like that I think that one works really well of course you can also do this one on with some shading which is take a little bit more time but it can look very nice so for example it requires you being a little bit more loose with how your drawing perhaps leaving some white area near the top of these mountains sort of hint at snow it’s kind of spider reshaped what is a good idea to have the mountains connected in some way and that was tend to do they type they run together mountains don’t stand apart in real life or very rarely this is a rather rough sketch but you can kind of see what I’m doing here we have an area that looks very mountainous now now this takes it definitely takes a little longer but you can have a very nice effect quite a region that looks wrinkled and very rough from above so again it all depends on the technique that you’re going for but these are all differently different ways that you can try and do Madame’s I do mountains for maps oh this one did not turn out well at all ignore that one that’s no good the other ones are quite good though or pretty good representations of the sort of things I’m looking for when I draw my own maps depending on the field that I’m looking for all right if you found this useful let me know and thanks for watching