Continued from Part 3

New to this project: Start with Part 1

Part 4: Tools of the Trade

Your table is cleared of clutter, your sleeves are rolled up, and it’s time to start.

Let’s look at some of the tools I recommend.

List of required* items


  • SMALL drawing tablet
    For making first sketches, thumbnails, and concepts.
  • LARGE drawing tablet
    Your initial hemisphere drawings need a lot of room.
  • Soft lead pencils
    Don’t even THINK of hard lead pencils or ink.  This is all primitive level work
  • Drawing gear (Rulers, Compass, Soft Eraser)
    While straight lines don’t occur in nature, you may well wish you had a ruler from time to time.
  • Digital Camera
    Whenever you’re out and about, especially in the hills, mountains, near lakes or other bodies of water, take as many snapshots as you can.  Many of them will prove valuable.
  • Good light
    (I like a goose-neck lamp with magnifier) It allows you to focus light without getting in the way
    This is really up to you, but for a while you’ll be bending over a workspace for long periods.  Doing what you can to make the process more comfortable pays.
  • Computer with database application or a big ol’ stack of 3×5 cards
    Don’t fool yourself.  That great idea you just had for a continent, a forest, or a mountain range will NOT stay in your head.  Make copious notes.  Trust me on this.

List of suggested**  items

  • Much caffeine
    Speaks for itself.
  • Music by Strauss and Wagner
    OK, so this is a bit of a joke, but I promise heavy, dramatic music just seems to fit while you design a world.
  • A sense of purpose
    This one is not a joke.  It is very easy to get caught up in the mechanics and lose touch with the purpose for your project.  Stay sharp!
  • A large amount of oven-bake modeling clay
    This may sound odd, but consider it.  Once you have designed your world, and have decided on the major section of it you wish to write about, model it in clay.
    It is easier and faster than you would imagine.  Place the land masses on…
  • An old bread board that nobody else wants
    This next part may make some of you nervous.  I loved it.  Once you’ve placed the mountains, oceans, hills, valleys and all for your special area, bake it in the oven.
    Talk about Cosmology.  Remember that heavy dramatic music I mentioned?  Be sure to be playing THAT when you pull the cooked landscape out of the oven.
  • Google Earth a very good way to visualize a planet and continents.  After all, you LIVE here.

We’ll get into some ideas about the process next, then we’ll talk about online resources, and tomorrow, we get our hands dirty.

* I feel these are necessary.

** I like to have these available, even if it sounds like a joke.

Continued in Part 5