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Learn How to Make a Next-level World Map!


So if you haven’t heard, the world-building in Jessica Khoury’s Aladdin retelling The Forbidden Wish is pretty epic. Maybe that’s because she’s also a cartography enthusiast – in fact, she makes her own maps! We asked Jessica if she’d share her secrets with us, so read on for her step-by-step process in creating the glorious map for The Forbidden Wish:


Jess: When writing a story set in a fantasy world, I usually start like this:

  1. Get an idea for a story
  2. Make a map

Visualizing the world of the story is incredibly crucial to my writing process. In fact, seeing the map usually inspires elements of the story itself, so I always draw the world before I write about it. Working on The Forbidden Wish was no different. Back when the story was just a tiny seed of inspiration, I sketched out the world.



I like starting my maps by hand, before digitizing them. I let the map inform the story, not vice versa, because then I can get new ideas by seeing the world take shape. I start with a coastline, then add mountains and rivers. Then I add cities in places where trade/resource mining would make sense.



This is the map I used for reference while writing the book. Sometimes, the turns the story took required changes, and I’d go in and alter the positions or names of the cities or the locations of certain islands.

I knew if I was going to make this a “real” map––the kind I’d want hanging on my wall––I would have to either pay someone to make the map for me––or learn the skills I’d need to do it myself. So I hit up YouTube and various blogs for tutorials, and figured I’d give it a try.



I cleaned up the previous image, simplified it, and added colors, textures, and a border. This took about three days to do. I was very happy with the result! This was the first time I’d taken one of my maps to the next level, and all the time I spent learning new techniques paid off. It was so rewarding to see the world I’d envisioned brought to life, and I’m excited to share that world with you!






Get your copy of The Forbidden Wish!

















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