Now here's something not really paleoart-related but I'm guessing some of you may enjoy.
I've always loved maps, and lately I've been trying my hand at making them. I have some cool projects in the works involving a few of Earth's periods (If you follow me on Patreon you may have seen a sneak peak of that) but as a starting point I wanted to experiment with a freestyle fantasy map.
The shape of this imaginary subcontinent was made by manipulating a photograph of some clouds, which I found to be a really fun and superficially realistic way of getting cool landmass shapes. Most of the names for the locations were taken from random name generators, and a few were just brainstormed by me. I'm definitely not an expert in geography (any criticisms are welcome) but to me it looks quite nice. It was such a fun experiment to make, and I learned a lot about map making. So you can definitely expect some paleontology-related cartography in the near future!
Here are some quick pieces of lore that I've written.
Scailia is a temperate subcontinent composed by a main mountain range in its center and another to the north, several areas of forested highlands and a drier, shrubland region to the far south. Several regions are inhabited by people, with the largest settlements being at the coastal city of Syissa and the expansive Realm of Alo.
Syissa was one of the first major settlements to be founded, at a strategic point overlooking the rich Sea of Veamn and the entrance to the inland Sea of Oysters. With its western side guarded by the difficult terrain of Mount Hawk and otherwise surrounded by the ocean, the city began as a resting and trading point for sailors and soon transformed into the biggest maritime power on Scailia, taking control of the Path of Esmer and the trading routes around the area.
The Realm of Alo on the other hand is a very ancient community of farmers that took advantage of the rich soils around the plains of Cythtoja and the abundant freshwater provided by the rivers born out of the Silver Mountains, especially River Mother. In the past centuries, the individual villages began to coalesce into a more structured city-state that rose in influence due to its agricultural significance. Traders can use the several roads coming to and fro the city to distribute food along the entire subcontinent. It was these traders coming from Syissa that, through miscommunication, gave the name to the highlands that border the plains of Cythtoja to the south: the "Land of Sleeping Lions" was wrongly translated from the local dialect, its original meaning being "the land from which lions disappeared", referring to the great maned cats that seemingly became extinct in the region - being dead, or in "eternal sleep".
The Land of the Cobrae is the southernmost region of Scailia, being a bit drier and hotter than the surrounding temperate zones. The region is infamous for the abundance of venomous snakes, discouraging travelers to visit. The snakes are such a strong part of the local culture that its two main rivers were named after them, with Syissan explorers translating their original names to "Poison River" and "Slithering River". It's by the mouth of the latter that the largest city in the region is located, Boledo, significant for its thriving markets where one can found hundreds of types of fish taken from the Bay of Fishes as well as goods brought from other lands down south, across the Laughing Sea.
At the polar opposite of Boledo is Burald, the largest city in the north of Scailia. This bustling town was founded at the joint of its two life-giving rivers, the Northern Brother and the Southern Brother. It's a multicultural place where the sciences and history of the subcontinent are greatly valued, and knownledge is treated as a second currency. The city is an important connecting point between Morori to the West, Sreshago to the North, the City of Mau to the South and Sereen to the Southeast, with roads from there extending until Syissa.
North of Burald is the Whitelands, a mostly uninhanbited and uncharted region of cold and ice. History tells of a time when the Whitelands were much greener, and several people lived and thrived. But when a mythical, god-like gigantic eagle descended from the heavens and landed on the shore of the peninsula now known as the Land of Birds, the people were scared instead of respectful and united to slay the bird, seeking to collect its colossal feathers and feast on its abundant flesh. They built a massive weapon, a lance made of wood and stone, and catapulted it at the bird who flew towards the sea. It was then that the Creator, disgusted at the behavior of men, stopped the bird from being hit by transforming it into a series of islands full of riches and surrounded by calm waters, while the lance became a barren land unfit for human life. The cold descended upon the Whitelands, representing men's greed and evil, engulfed the lance and touched the northern wing of the eagle to remind humanity of its folly. Most of the people living at the Whitelands either perished or fled through the Gate of Winter to the southern portion of Scailia, with the last permanent settlement being Sreshago. Today, the Land of Birds is a sacred place to the people of Sreshago, left in peace for the numerous seabirds said to be descendants of the Eagle to breed and prosper.
In truth, the Eagle is a series of volcanic islands composed primarily by a landmass roughly shaped like a bird, and warmed by geological activity. Although there aren't any currently active volcanoes, and most of the peaks have long eroded, the soil is still warm and fertile with numerous hot springs giving its inhabitants a respite from the cold that would otherwise make life harder. All inhabitants of the Eagle are descendants of mainland sailors, mostly from Syissa, with its largest city being Swithisum.
Finally, the twin cities of Esméegate and Senegate are the most important settlements of the central mountainous region, serving as entrances to The Cross and the Valley of Breezes, respectively. The humble people of the twin cities are expert hikers and have their religion based around the power of the mountains. The beautiful, scenic towns now serve as important trading points between the north and south of Scailia, since the only other routes are through the Land of the Cobrae and the treacherous Red River to the East, and the dangerous wilderness between the River Mother and Morori to the West.