Website re-design

Earlier this year I gave my website a new, less cluttered theme, and now I’ve decided to restructure the menu. I’ve removed The World and Characters and put those links on the Home page instead. True, they’re less easy to find there, but it makes more sense.

What annoyed me was the way you clicked on The World and ended up on an article about Askamar, which is only one part of my conworld (I’m even more conscious of that since I’ve been working almost exclusively on Udaris for the last year!)

I could have created a new page with an introduction to the conworld and paragraphs about its geography, races and history, but since I’ve already got an introduction on the Home page I’d just end up repeating myself. What I’ve done feels like a more elegant solution.

Another benefit is that the new menu places more emphasis on the Gallery and the Library, which ought to be the most interesting parts of the website – if only I’d get around to publishing more art and stories! There’s also more focus on the Reference, which could be a really cool section if I put more time into it.

Anyway, maybe now that I’ve removed The World from the main menu, the incomplete, inconsistent, out-of-date state of my conworld articles will be less apparent!

Take the article about Udaris, for example. It is surely one of the most important pages on the website – it’s about the mundane world! However, it still features an out-of-date world map (and it also claims, incorrectly, that only humans live there).

To see what Udaris really looks like, I have to scroll back to a blog post from September. I’m going to fix this as soon as I’ve published this post. True, I’ve only got a rough draft of the new world map, but at least it’s better than the old, inaccurate version!



Fashions of Udaris: Yanbuka

This week I’ve been revising my map of the Yanbukan empire, and writing more about Yanbukan culture, government and society. I’ve also  gotten around to something I’ve been meaning to do for years: I’ve started illustrating the fashions of Udaris!

The first in the series is, of course, a group of 15th century Yan nobles:

Yanbukan court fashions of the 15th century, drawn by Louisa Watson using CA3

Making maps again

Before I do more work on Yanbuka, I thought it was time I revised the map of Oborsurea – the continent upon which Yanbuka is situated. Unlike other Udarissan continents, its shape hasn’t changed much, but my mapping skills have certainly improved over the years.

A map of Oborsurea created with CC3

A map of Oborosurea created with CC3 and Adobe Photosop 13.

Here’s an older version:

A map of Oborsurea created with CC3

A map of Oborsurea created with CC3 and Adobe Photoshop 13.

I’m still experimenting with new styles (as I was with my Tanurea map). This time, I’ve used Annual DeRust for the terrain and Campaign Cartographer’s standard black and white symbol set, while the coastlines and rivers are (as usual) hand-drawn using a tablet.

More character portraits created with Character Artist 3

I haven’t updated my blog for a while because I’ve been busy creating a set of portraits for my Kaniyari characters. Out of the whole huge Askamar / Udaris cast, they’re probably my favorites, but until now they haven’t even appeared on the website (as I’ve said, I’ve been stuck in the era of Shekrvuaris for the last few years…)

All of my formal character portraits are created with the help of Profantasy’s Character Artist 3 (CA3). It’s true that I can draw myself, but a glance through the gallery will show you that I struggle with faces, and every piece of artwork takes days. What’s more, I have what sometimes feels like a cast of thousands…

With a combination of Character Artist and Adobe Photoshop, I can create a great-looking portrait in about 2 hours! The portraits don’t always exactly match how I see the characters, but they are far better than anything I could have created by myself.

Anyway, while I was working on the Kaniyari, I did briefly consider adding a background, as you can see in these portraits of Mendaran and Danira:

A portrait of Mendaran

A portrait of Mendaran created by Louisa Watson using Profantasy’s Character Artist 3 (CC3) and Adobe Photoshop Elements 13.

A portrait of Danira

A portrait of Danira created by Louisa Watson using Profantasy’s Character Artist 3 (CC3) and Adobe Photoshop Elements 13.

However, I knew that some of my characters would rather stay indoors than be seen wandering through meadows or posing dramatically against stormy skies, and I hate drawing interiors! Also, since the purpose of the ‘formal portrait’ is to show the character, the background seemed a distraction. Finally, the thought of re-doing all the portraits I’ve painted so far felt overwhelming. So, I’ve kept the original style of portrait.

I think I might finally get back to mapping Yanbuka now…

Aspirations for 2018

I did not make much progress with last year’s aspirations, but never mind! Here are some aspirations for 2018:

  1. Publish (and maintain) an historical timeline, so that I can keep track of events in my conworld.
  2. Create finished maps of all the Udarissan continents
  3. Create profile pages for the main Kaniyari characters
  4. Write and publish some more short stories

The first should be easy to achieve, as I plan to start today!

Looking back on 2017

From an ‘indie author’ perspective, this has been a year of failed goals, idleness and time-wasting. From a creative perspective, it’s been a great year, full of fun challenges and periods of relaxation. I’m so glad that I’ve given up on wanting to be an author and recognized that I am, in fact, a conworlder at heart.


One of my ambitions this year was to get the first draft of The Ruler of Ruins finished – a highly achievable goal, it seemed. After all, I was already halfway through the book. But then I began to ask questions like: Am I really enjoying this? Is an enormous multi-stranded novel the best way to present this story?

I began to consider alternatives to self-publishing on Amazon. I could self-publish online and be able to edit my work whenever I wanted. Instead of one huge and confusing book, I could write several novellas showing the story from different points-of-view. Or I could divide the novel into dozens interweaving short stories.

I tried out some of these ideas. The result is that, although I’ve written a lot this year, I haven’t actually moved the story forward. Instead, I have about twenty highly polished chapters. I can no longer call the document a first draft; it’s just an unfinished book.

I’ve come to realize that, for me at least, writing a novel is a different experience every time.

I started The Web of War as a couple of stories, which I wove into a book, which I then re-wrote over the course of two years.

I raced through The Scepter of Ice, producing about three or four drafts, and published it after a year-and-a-half (it wasn’t fun working that hard!) During that time, I also gave The Web of War another re-write because I’d decided it was ‘rubbish’.

Now I’m endlessly re-writing the opening chapters of The Ruler of Ruins. This book is not going to have a first draft, second draft and so forth. I’ll probably just keep polishing it as I write it. I have no idea when it will be finished, as I’m tired of grappling with it for now.

As you can see, I am continuing my ‘journey of recovery’ from the stress of self-publishing, self-promotion and all the other misery that comes from trying to be a ‘successful author’.

One of my goals for 2018 might be: take a rest from writing novels altogether!


This has been a great year for world-building (just take a look at some of the maps I’ve done of Yanbuka and Tanurea).

While I haven’t done much work on the geography of Askamar (those Nayusuru territories remain unmappped),  I have re-designed the yuyarni, combining them with the bantagri to create just one ‘dragon’ race. Before, Zakrusepi was a lumbering herbivore.  Now he has wings, and is more fearsome than ever!

I’ve also redesigned Udaris, attempting to create a more believable mundane world. I’m especially pleased with the rotating globe and the maps of the poles.  My goal now is to turn the rough sketches of the new continents into finished maps, so I can combine them into a rotating globe worthy of the website’s Udaris article.


As part of my world-building, I’ve done some more character portraits and pictures of yuyarni this year. I’ve also started a new digital painting with Maggie’s help. She’s trying to get me to recover my confidence. As always, I want to paint more. Maybe next year I’ll actually make time to do that…


Every year, I feel happier and more confident about my blog. I have a clearer idea of its purpose, which is to chart the progress of my conworlding, display my art (when I actually get around to creating some), and possibly to display my short stories as well. Now that I’m focusing more on world-building, I’m sure that I can  find at least one thing to write about every month!

Artwork: A pine forest in Nezruthar

It’s December, and I haven’t fulfilled any of my goals for 2017… until today! I wanted to paint some new landscapes for my website’s header image; in particular, I wanted a wintry landscape for December, when snow starts falling on the website.

Naturally, I chose to paint Nezruthar!

Nezruthar, one of the places in my conworld

Edit: I’ve done some more work on the picture.
A landscape painting of Nezruthar

A new map of Tanurea

Here is my latest map of Tanurea, created with Campaign Cartographer 3 (yes, I’ve used the Annual DeRust style again!) and enhanced with Adobe Photoshop Elements 13:

A map of Tanurea created with CC3

A map of Tanurea created with CC3 and Adobe Photoshop Elements 13

I am very proud of it! I wanted it to be a ‘work of art’ map, and I feel that it’s turned out well.

And here are some old maps of Razurea and Tanathia, just to remind myself how they looked before they became merged into one continent:

A map of Razurea made with CC3 and Adobe Photoshop, created in November 16.

An even older map of Razurea drawn with CC3 and Corel Photopaint, back in 2014.

An old map of Tanathia

A map of Tanathia created in July 2015 using CC3 and Adobe Photoshop Elements 13 (I think)

As you can see, some elements have survived, some have been discarded and some have been adapted (and a lot of place names have been moved about!)

I did like the shape of the old Razurea, but I feel the new map is an improvement, especially when viewed as part of the world map.

10th century Tanurea

I’m still working on Tanurea.

Here’s a proper political map of Tanurea in the 10th century (as opposed to the scrappy map of 11th century Tanurea that I made yesterday). Notice how the place-names are still shifting around.

A map showing the kingdoms of Tanurea in the 10th century

A map showing the kingdoms of Tanurea in the 10th century, made using CC3 and Adobe Photoshop Elements 13

I’d really like to design some flags for these kingdoms!

It could be a fantasy world in its own right…

Since I’ve been writing The Ruler of Ruins for the last month, I’ve decided to do some world-building that’s actually relevant to the novel.

You may recall that during my last period of world-building Tanathia and Razurea became merged into one continent. I’ve decided to call this new land… Tanurea.

Here’s an early attempt at mapping Tanurea, featuring (for the first time ever!!) a scale, so we can actually see how many miles places like Wayaiqua are from the coast.

An early draft of the Tanurea map, showing the climates

An early draft of the Tanurea map

Tanurea is a continent that spreads from frozen tundra in the north to the equatorial mangrove swamps in the south. As I was looking at this early draft, considering where all the natural resources were and what crops grew where, it struck me that it had all the elements needed for a self-contained fantasy world. You could just stick it at the front of a book and label it ‘The World of Tanurea’.

There’s just so much of Udaris to work on…

Anyway, I did some more tweaking, and this is what Tanurea looks like right now. There are more lakes in the north, and the continent of Zasulia (down at the bottom) has been moved west slightly.

A map of Tanura showing some of the kingdoms

Tanurea in the 11th century?

I also put in some place names to remind myself where everything is. Since the Naoskaiun and Tuyaz-Oan empires are both there on the map, I reckon it must be the 11th century.