Mapping Mirkwood; Cartography of The Hobbit

Posted: January 27, 2012 in Uncategorized
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I’ve been fascinated by fantasy maps for a long time.  As a voracious reader of many novels both science fiction and fantasy, you get used to see maps at the beginning of the novel in your hands.  Often these are big, elaborate affairs, where mountain ranges sprawl for hundreds of miles and towns with strange unpronounceable names dot the landscape.  Finding the locations mentioned in the novel is fun, but it can be even more exciting to read the names of locales that aren’t mentioned, and wonder what’s to be found in that particular town or strange forest.  “Normal” fiction often doesn’t have these maps, and understandably so – it’s less necessary for the reader to have a map of Los Angeles than it is to include a map of Westeros.  Most people are well aware of where Los Angeles can be found in relation to the rest of the United States.  King’s Landing or Hobbiton might be a bit harder to relate to.

The past few days I’ve been working on the map from The Hobbit.   I loved it when I first discovered the book in middle school, and I still love it today.  It’s full of little details, and tells you exactly where Bilbo and Co. traveled in their adventure to the Lonely Mountain.  I’m working on transcribing the map from the paperback novel I’m borrowing from a friend onto a big piece of Bristol paper, measuring 9 inches by 12.  Doing so is giving me a chance to work on regular terrain features like forests and mountains, which are generally pretty abundant on fantasy worlds.  I’ve finished inking the forest of Mirkwood, and the next step is to do the Misty Mountains.  In today’s blog post, I’d like to share a progression of my work, starting with the Lonely Mountain and ending with the finished forest.


The finished forest.


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