I was doing some research on Switzerland and looking at old maps when I came across a 1763 map of Canton Lucern created by Gabriel Walser. I found myself inspired by all his details, especially those focusing on the cities, towns, and parishes. It’s still stunning 250 years later, and it’s an amazing time capsule. You can see the influence of more modern designs and the connections to older styles. As I was looking, I realized it’d make an excellent set of brushes for fantastical maps, especially for those artists (like me) who like to ground their work with a historical approach.

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So, I spent a Saturday converting all sorts of objects on the map into brushes. Today I am releasing it as Walser, an 18th Century Cartography Brush Set for Photoshop taken from Gabriel Walser’s original work. The set is enormous—over 250 brushes to help make your projects unique. Having different images for the same object helps make your map feel more hand-drawn. No artist can hand-render the same object identically—even printing presses aren’t perfect, no matter how hard they try. Adding subtle variants can help trick a reader’s eye, and it makes a map feel more authentic.

A tiny fraction of the brushes included in Walser
A tiny fraction of the brushes included in Walser

I like working with a lot of brushes, and Walser is big. The names of all of the settlement types were translated from the original German key (thanks to my friend Redd for helping translate)—Walser had a particular way of labeling ruins that I enjoy. Inside the set, you’ll find:

  • 5 Large Cities
  • 10 Castles
  • 10 Towns
  • 10 Catholic Parishes (They look like towns but with little crosses on top. Consider swapping those for a religious icon from your setting.)
  • 10 Monasteries
  • 10 Chapels
  • 20 Scattered Farms
  • 10 Ruins
  • 30 Individual Trees
  • 30 Blocks of Trees
  • 40 Hills
  • 30 Mountains
  • 15 Mountain Ranges (aka jagged hills)
  • 22 Unique/Combination Landforms

The button below links to a ZIP file that contains a Photoshop brush set (it’ll also work with GIMPAffinity Photo, and I’m told Procreate now) as well as a large transparent PNG in case you’re using a program that doesn’t support Adobe brush files. They’re black and on a transparent background, so they’ll look broken in some browsers, but trust me, they’re all there. Like this set? Click here to learn how you can support this project.

As with all of my previous brush sets, Walser 2.1 is now 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 personal or commercial work and distribute adaptations. No attribution is required. Easy peasy!

Enjoy Walser? Feel free to show me what you created by emailing me or finding me on Twitter. I love seeing how these brushes get used, and I’d be happy to share your work with my readers. Let me

Support this Work

Brushes and tools released through the #NoBadMaps project will always be free and released under a public domain CC0 license. If you’d like to support the project and help me cover the cost of hosting, research, and tool-set development, I’ve put together three ways you can help, and all are detailed below.

Buy My Books→

I’m not just a map enthusiast. I’m also a novelist! The easiest way to support me (and get something in return) is by purchasing one of my cosmic horror urban fantasy novels.

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A simple and quick way to support the #NoBadMaps project is through a one-time donation of any amount via ko-fi. Your support helps keep this project going and is appreciated.

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More Map Brushes

This is just one of many brush sets and map tools 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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