de Fer Settlement: A Free 18th Century Brush Set for Fantasy Maps

It’s been a while since I’ve share any new tools for fantasy cartographers. I released my last brush set way back in January. Since then I’ve been a little busy. I launched Gleam Upon the Waves, the fourth novel in my cosmic horror series (you should buy it!), expanded my “Old Haunts” project significantly, and since I was fully vaxxed I took some time after the launch to travel a bit. It was quite an eventful summer. But autumn has arrived in the Northern Hemisphere, and I want to get back into the swing of things and continue supporting the community of fantasy cartographers—I’m long overdue for a new brush set.

Nicolas de Fer in all of his wiggy glory

Let’s fix that! Today I’m releasing the first in a collection of sets all coming from the same cartographer. Nicolas de Fer was a famous eighteenth century French engraver who eventually becoming the official geographer to the Spanish and French court. His work is stunning, and his styles varies depending on what he was depicting and/or plagiarizing. He also wasn’t the most accurate of cartographers. These days most of his work is viewed for its artistic merit as opposed to its historical accuracy. Think of him as a quantity over quality guy. Lucky for us, when it comes to fantasy maps, historical accuracy isn’t something with which we concern ourselves. Instead, we’re looking at signs and symbols that are unique and can help our work stand out while still feeling period-authentic, and de Fer’s work serves us well in that regard.

de Fer Settlement is the first of three planned sets I’ll be releasing. Each will highlight a different aspect of cartography. As the name implies, this first set is focused on settlements. Taken from La Banlieue De Paris—translated “The Suburbs of Paris”—the map is an 18th-century map of the homes, towns, and villages that sprawled across the Parisian countryside in 1717. It’s a diverse set with a lot of little details. While there isn’t much in the way of landforms or flora, the set will work well with any other brush sets I’ve released, allowing for a bit of variety in your fantasy maps. Don’t be afraid to mix-and-match to get the look you want!

The de Fer Settlement set features 300 brushes, and includes the following:

  • 50 Homesteads
  • 13 Mansions
  • 25 Villages
  • 50 Towns
  • 9 Combinations of the Above
  • 7 Unique Settlements
  • 12 Chapels
  • 2 Abbeys
  • 7 Churches
  • 10 Ferry Landings
  • 10 Water Mills
  • 10 Tiny Windmills
  • 35 Windmills
  • 6 Gallows
  • 2 Gibbets
  • 20 Crosses (The French loved erecting random crosses along the roadside.)
  • 5 Fields
  • 3 Big Trees
  • 20 Forests
  • 3 Map Elements

The button below links to a ZIP file that contains a Photoshop brush set (it’ll also work with GIMP and Affinity Photo) as well as a transparent PNG in case you’re using a program that doesn’t support Adobe brush files. Remember, they’re black, so they’ll look broken viewed in some browsers, but trust me, they’re all there.



As with all of my previous brush sets, de Fer Settlement is free for any use. I distribute my sets with a Creative Common, No Rights Reserved License (CC0), which means you can freely use this and any of my brushes in commercial work and distribute adaptations. No attribution is required. Easy peasy!

Enjoy de Fer Settlement? Feel free to show me what you created by sending me an email or finding me on Twitter or heck, leave a comment below. I adore seeing how these brushes get used, and I’d be happy to share your work with my readers (let me know in your message.) Let us see what you make!


de Fer Settlements in Use

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Supporting this Work

If you like the de Fer Settlement brush set (or any of my free brushes, really) and want to support my work, instead of a donation, consider buying one of my cosmic-horror soaked dark urban fantasy novels. The first book—The Stars Were Right—is only $2.99 on eBook. I think you’ll dig it. You can find all my books in stores and online. Visit the Bell Forging Cycle hub to learn more about the series. Tell your friends!

The Bell Forging Cycle

Not interested in my books but still want a way to support me? Buy me a coffee.


More Map Brushes

Hyacinth just one of many brush sets I’ve released. You can find it and other free brushes covering a wide variety of historical styles on my Fantasy Map Brushes page. Every set is free, distributed under a CC0 license, and open for personal or commercial use. I’m sure you’ll be able to find something that works for your project. Click the button below to check them out!


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It Cannot Be Reversed

“Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot un-educate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore.”

Cesar Chavez

For those of you who live in the United States, may you have a happy Labor Day! For those who live elsewhere, have a happy Monday!

Introducing “Quiet Corners” an “Old Haunts” Deviation

For the last year, I’ve introduced my readers to my “Old Haunts.” Looping vignettes and visions from the City of Lovat. Sometimes they’re relaxing. Sometimes they’re creepy. Often they ooze atmosphere, and yeah, I consider them all in canon, part of the Bell Forging Cycle, and tied into the ARG. (Those who have read the books will find loads of fun little details.)

Those longer and larger videos take time to make (I did a whole live stream on what goes into their construction), and while I enjoy that process, I want to explore less rigid forms that don’t take so damn long to build and embrace some of the new video platforms that have emerged. Enter “Quiet Corners”—clips made for TikTok and Instagram’s Reels.

These will often be shorter and less rigid, and while they tie into the world of the Territories at large, they might not always “work” the way I intend for “Old Haunts.” Think of “Quiet Corners” as experiments. Ways to explore whatever is in my head, glimpses of Lovat and the Territories, where strange things happen unbeknownst to heroes and the machinations of Founders. They’re fun, weird, occasionally creepy, and a nice place to stretch me creatively. I’ve already got a bunch up, and you can check them out via the links below. Enjoy.


Watch via:

TikTok

Watch via:

Instagram Reels

Quick Note: While “Quiet Corners” can be viewed on your laptop or PC, a smartphone is recommended as these videos are made specifically for the vertical 9:16 phone resolution.


There is a lot more to come in the future. Who knows what you’ll see. Be sure to follow me on either platform so you can stay attuned to Lovat’s “Quiet Corners.” I’ll see you among the tangles of the scrape and the span, roaders.

A Return to the Indie Pub

Back in May I was lucky enough to be the first guest for J. Rushing’s indie-publishing focused podcast, The Indie Pub. Well here we are a few months later and in the waning days of summer and I’m excited to say I’ve returned to the pub for its tenth episode! Listen to it below.

This time around Jim and I discuss maps—how they’re used in fantasy books, how to go about creating them, and the toolsets I provide to empower creators to make their own authentic looking maps. We had a great discussion and I was happy to share another aspect of the writing process I’m passionate about. I think you’ll dig it.Tell your pals, drop Jim a review, and subscribe to the Indie Pub from any of the links below.



Enjoy the episode everyone!

Old Haunts — Vignettes and Visions from the City of Lovat

Old Haunts: Remain Calm

📍 Gardner Warren
🌃 Level Five
🕦 Late Night

“The monorail to West Lovat was closed, the Lovat Transit Authority had the platforms blocked.

—Waldo Bell, Gleam Upon the Waves


Visit Previous Haunts:

Lucky Star

📍 Denny Lake Warren
🏙 Level Four
🕙 Midmorning

Rhapsody

📍 King Station Warren
🌆 Level Four
🕖 Early Evening

Serenade on Two

📍 Martello Warren
🌃 Level Two
🕚 Late Night


Local Service

📍 Martello Warren
🏙 Level Four
🕐 Mid-Day

Licensed Dir. Agents

📍 Unknown Warren
🌃 Level Three
🕚 Late Night

Happy Auseil

📍 Hickman-Franklin Warren
🌃 Level Three
🕝 Early Morning


Title Card for "Social Climber" a Lovatine Vignette of a man riding a public lift

Social Climber

📍 Frink Park Warren
🏙 Between Level Four & Five
🕜 Early Afternoon

Title Card for "Order Up" a Lovatine Vignette of a neon sign flashing behind the espresso machine in a coffee shop

Order Up

📍 Shantak Coffee
🚢 Deck Three
🕘 Mid-Morning

All of Me

📍 Wilcox Warren
🌇 Level Four
🕢 Morning


Red-Light Nite

📍 West Lovat Warren
🌃 Level Three
🕦 Late Night

Services Suspended

📍 West Lovat Warren
🌃 Level Three
🕦 Late Night


Study Related Ephemera:


Explore Distant Margins:


Credits:

“Martha Overture” by Friedrich von Flotow
“Hong Kong Noir 1” by John Bartmann
Other audio from Freesounds, special thanks to: alienxxx, craigsmith, johnsonbrandedediting, juandamb, fillmat, lenguaverde, nahlin83, reznik-krkovicka, woldmaxter
Broll provided by Videezy


Want to stay in touch with me? Sign up for Dead Drop, my rare and elusive newsletter. Subscribers get news, previews, and notices on my books before anyone else delivered directly to their inbox. I work hard to make sure it’s not spammy and full of interesting and relevant information. Sign Up Today→

Wunderkammer

So, for a while now, along with being painters Kari-Lise and Redd have been running Moth & Myth, becoming purveyors of hyper-realistic paper moths and butterflies for artists to use on… well, whatever.

They’re incredible works of art, and it’s been amazing to see what people do with them over the last few years. All that said, I’m even more excited to share their latest foray—the Wunderkammer relics. They’re incredible paper recreations of delicate skeletons of snakes, frogs, and seahorses and you can buy ’em today. I love how how three-dimensional these look. It’s hard to believe they are paper. You can check out pictures of the specimens below.

These paper relics are available over at Moth & Myth’s webpage. Be sure to follow them on Instagram and Twitter to stay on top of their releases. They also have a newsletter, I recommend signing up.

I’ve been watching the development of these sets for months, and I’m excited they’re finally seeing the light of day. This has been a labor of love, and the quality and attention to detail really shows through in the final product.