Using 3D map viewers available online to study the game's actual level geometry, he was able to achieve a phenomenal level of granularity and faithfulness to the world you experience while playing Dark Souls.
This special edition of the Map of Lordran is large — 29 inches (width) x 25.5 inches (height) — and perfect for framing. It's printed on heavy (240gsm) premium Munken Pure Rough paper stock, and shipped in a secure poster tube to avoid unsightly fold lines.
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A Conversation with Judson Cowan, the Fantasy Cartographer Behind the Map of Lordran
T&F: Can you tell us about your process for making the map?
Judson Cowan: Absolutely! I was aiming to take the style of the Elden Ring map and bring that flare to Dark Souls. It was a long process of carefully surveying the game and using creative license to make it all fit nicely in a square.
I aimed for accuracy as much as possible, but there are a few bits that required shifting or rotating a bit to ensure visibility. I did some rough layouts in Illustrator, printed those out and tiled them at 2x scale, then used that to trace small sections in pencil and lay in detail in ink, then scanned and recombined everything in Photoshop and coloured it digitally in Procreate.
How did you go about leveraging the 3D map viewer online to increase the accuracy of the map geometry?
Oh, the map viewer was an absolute life-saver. I was previously just trying to survey in-game but it was a non-starter. Luckily NoClip.website came to the rescue with an easily navigable map of the whole game where you can turn sections on and off. It made it much easier to get a feel for distances and more accurately recreate the world.
Can you talk about the techniques you used to communicate the relative depth of different parts of the map?
It's all about the shading. Lower areas are generally darker but I'm also using edge darkening and hatching to emphasise cliffs, pits, etc.
What's your personal favourite region of Lordran?
Favourite to draw or favourite to play? For play: I actually love the hell out of Blighttown. The Valley of Defilement in Demon's Souls was one of the most insane experiences I had ever had in a game. So oppressive and terrifying. And Blighttown recaptured that feeling perfectly. Plus the design of it is just so fascinating, tucked up under the eaves of the kingdom, forgotten and cast out. It was, however, a giant pain in the ass to draw. Favourite to draw was definitely Anor Londo.
Anything most people might not notice about the map, but which you would like to highlight?
I think the biggest thing is the general accuracy. Aside from Catacombs/Tomb of the Giants/Ash Lake everything is very, very close to where it actually sits in the game and how it interconnects. All the above-ground stuff, specifically, is game-accurate. It really calls out how well-designed and tightly-knit the world FromSoft created is. There are so many little easter eggs hidden in there. A fun thing to do is see how many bonfires you can spot! Or try to find all the visible boss arenas!