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Archive for October, 2012

Maps In History: The Psalter Map

 :: Posted by admin on 10-24-2012

Modern interactive maps can be pretty boring – lines of blue and yellow, with street names, road names, and barely decipherable icons representing “Points of Interest” and tourist spots. However, maps haven’t always been that way. Throughout history, many cartographers have managed to turn their maps into works of art; sometimes of more artistic value than geographical value.
One such example is the Psalter Map – one of the few surviving examples of what is known as a medieval Mappa Mundi. This map is an illustrated map of the known world. It’s very small – barely 10cm across, and it was drawn on animal skin. The map, and the book that it was bound into, is now preserved in the British Library, and has managed to survive for many centuries whilst remaining in incredibly good condition.
The map shows the world as a round disc, with just three land masses on it. Those land masses are Asia, Europe, and “East”. Unlike the modern convention of placing Northern territories at the top of the map, the mapper placed “East” at the top, in keeping with the religious convention of the time.
Geography is a factor in this map, however the dominating factors are biblical belief, and myths and legends. Prominent features of the map include the Red Sea and Jerusalem. Christ stands above the disc, holding an orb in his hand. Some other features of this map are highlighted using gold-leaf paint.
It is not known who created this map. Some historians believe that the map is based on another map which was owned by Henry III, and was hung in his bedroom in Westminster Palace. Henry III’s map predates this one by 50 years, and it’s hard to confirm if someone saw that map and used it as inspiration to create another one.

Illustrated Maps of Imaginary Worlds – Star Wars

 :: Posted by admin on 10-01-2012

If you’re a Star Wars fan, you’re probably familiar with the work of Ralph McQuarrie. This amazing designer has produced a lot of art relating illustrations to the Star Wars universe. His works are now collected in “The Illustrated Star Wars Universe”, a combined effort between McQuarrie and author Kevin J. Anderson.
The book collects concept art from the Original Trilogy, and includes not just McQuarrie’s work but also concept art created by Michael Butkus, Joe Johnston, Norman Reynolds, and Michael Pangrazio. Eight of the most important planets from the original movies are covered, and readers can enjoy looking at costume art, home layouts, alien concepts, and high level illustrated maps. For a Star Wars fan, this is not just a collectible, it is an amazing look into the raw vision of the original designers.
The planets covered in the book are:
• Alderaan
• Bespin
• Coruscant
• Dagobah
• Endor
• Hoth
• Tatooine
• Yavin 4
This means that the book covers a huge range of environments, from snow-covered Hoth to the deserts of Tattooine, and the more built-up Coruscant. Every environment is explored.
The book is rather old now; it was first published in 1995, but it is still well worth a look. The art style is timeless (as you would imagine, for something that covers a science fiction theme), and the text that accompanies the images is fascinating to read. The images are elaborated upon by fictional characters form the Star Wars universe, including an Imperial Advisor to the Emperor’s court, a Councilman, a scientist, and a shape-changing Anthropologist.
If you’re a fan of exploring different worlds, as well as your own world, then this particular tome is most definitely one worthy of adding to your collection. Why limit yourself to exploring just one galaxy?