How was the most detailed map of Lordran created for the Dark Souls Book of Knowledge

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The dark fantasy world of Lordran, created by FromSoftware for the beloved role-playing game Dark Souls, is known for its consistency and exciting character. Although it was once a prosperous kingdom ruled by the gods, the events of Dark Souls show a land that has become a mere shell of its former glory. The world of Lordran and its various interconnected regions have been transformed into a magnificent physical map of the world of Dark Souls by artist and fantasy cartographer Judson Cowan. However, creating this detailed map was potentially more difficult than Dark Souls itself.

The FromSoftware game world created for Dark Souls is known for its verticality and interconnected design. In the sequels of the role-playing game there are confusing and meaningless geometries, for example, the elevator in Dark Souls 2, which leads to the castle of the Iron Fortress, but in the first entry the areas are combined with each other in a plausible and amazing way. For example, players can see a hidden Ash Lake from a distant Tomb of Giants, and the Temple of Fire is somehow connected to almost all regions of Dark Souls. Although the size of the map in Elden Ring is many times larger than that of Lordran, the Dark Souls map compensates for its smaller size with atmosphere and consistency.

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Talented artist and experienced Dark Souls cartographer Judson Cowan recently took on the monumental task of mapping Lordran. An immaculate and detailed map, reminiscent of the in-game map of the Intermediate Lands in the Elden Ring, was created for inclusion in the upcoming Dark Souls folio called Abyssal Archive. The Tune & Fairweather collectible will serve as a comprehensive analysis of the myths of Dark Souls and will be released in early 2023 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the game in the genre of dark fantasy. Judson Cowan’s folding companion card completes a magnificent release, and its creation was no small feat.

Cowan’s Dark Souls Map is part of the Tune & Fairweather Abyssal Archive

I would like to tell you about how I made an extremely detailed map of Lordran (for the second time) for @tuneandfair #abyssalarchive.#darksouls #fanart pic.twitter.com/6shBNFvqPF

— Judson Cowan (@Tettix) July 14, 2022

Then I wanted to create a kind of “proof of concept” to show the T&F team the degree of detail and precision I can handle before I start creating it all. I started with Firelink, obviously. We work with a pen on paper, and then scan in color in Procreate. pic.twitter.com/8NvLPKkG9U

— Judson Cowan (@Tettix) July 14, 2022

Judson Cowan faced the “dark souls of game cartography”

To create the final map of the original Dark Souls universe, Judson Cowan used many different artistic and cartographic techniques. Initially, a dedicated cartographer explored Lordran just by playing the game, but it turned out to be incredibly time-consuming. Instead, Cowan took screenshots of each area in the game’s map viewer before piecing them together for accuracy and visual appeal. The process required Cowan to print out and combine the various sections into one large Dark Souls map before going back and adding an excruciating level of detail to each area. It took more than 150 hours to create the line drawing, and then the map was digitally colored using Procreate software. As a result of Judson Cowan’s work, a stunningly beautiful map of Lordran was created, and, apparently, this masterpiece is still under development. Fans can see the design process posted by Judson Cowan on Twitter, below:

You can see here, for comparison, how the world actually works compared to the artistic liberties I used to make it work in a compressed space. Note that the perspective throws off the scale of the areas in the map viewer (for example, the Duke archive is close to the camera, and not actually huge) pic.twitter.com/fHGrICDzks

— Judson Cowan (@Tettix) July 14, 2022

My solution was to convert to half resolution, do all the coloring, then return to the desktop, increase the resolution/add noise/slight blur, and then replace the dashed graphics with the original full resolution. And it worked very well. A clear dashed pattern masked any blurring of color. pic.twitter.com/PnXOLhfeH2

— Judson Cowan (@Tettix) July 14, 2022

But at the end of the day, I’m very proud of what I’ve achieved. Even if I called myself “the guy who draws Dark Souls cards”. pic.twitter.com/246141v9bZ

— Judson Cowan (@Tettix) July 14, 2022

FromSoftware’s Dark Souls knowledge is always fascinating, and Judson Cowan has captured the wonders of Lordran on his extremely detailed Abyssal Archive map. Mapping out the interconnected game world was not an easy task, but Cowan managed to perfectly match the tone and structure of each game area. The Abyssal Archive is already available for pre-order through Tune & Fairweather, and Judson Cowan’s dedication lends a special zest to the Dark Souls anniversary tribute.