Step 1: Start with a basic icon
Start with the line art of a basic town or village icon. In this tutorial I’ll show you how to draw one. This will be the smallest icon in your set and will represent the hamlets or villages on your map. Make sure it isn’t too big.
Step 2: Expand the basic icon
In this step we are going to take the basic icon that we started with and make it gradually bigger to represent towns, cities and capitals. Start by making a duplicate. This will be the town icon. Simple add a building or two to the original to make the icon bigger. When the town icon is done, duplicate it again, to create a city icon. For this icon we’ll add taller buildings, like towers or churches. Finally, duplicate the city icon and add a large structure with a flag to it to create a capital icon.
Step 3: Flat colors
Time to get started with adding color. The first thing that we need to do is settle on the colors for the icons. Which colors work best depends a lot on what other colors you use in your map, so play around and see what looks best! For this icon set I settled on a grey (7f7c63), brown (735e49) and off-white (eae4cf) and finally a red (a43b43) for the capital.
Sometimes the black of the line art can look too stark on your map. In this case you may want to change the color of the line art. Take a very dark shade of the original colors and apply it to the line art.
Step 4: Shadows
Now let’s add shadows to the icon. I have my light source in the top left corner, so the right side of the icon will be covered in shadow and well as the areas under the overhanging pieces of the structure. Also think of how the structure might cast a shadow on other buildings. I use a darker shade of the used colors to draw the shadows on the icon.
Step 5: Highlights
In this step we’ll add the highlights. We’ll do this the same way that we did with the shadows, except we’ll be drawing with a lighter shade of the colors. Make sure the highlights are on the opposite sides of the shadows. I usually draw them as thin lines on the surfaces which catch the light.
If you want to learn more about how I draw my maps, visit my Skillshare page, where I have several classes dedicated to drawing fantasy maps!