Ever since launching Lehmann in 2018, I’ve wanted to revisit the era of the hachure map. The middle-19th century is easily my favorite era of cartography—a transition from rough representation towards accuracy had begun. Representing physical geography with flat top-down perspectives meant that maps would require a new way to display relief and hachures filled the transient space between hill profiles and the modern topographical maps we use today.
All my Map Tools will always be free. Want to help support this work?
Click here to learn how.
With that in mind, I’m excited to announce the launch of Zatta, my latest free hachure-focused brush set for you to create your own fantastical map for your books, games, or whatever creative cartographical project you want to tackle.
Hachure maps didn’t really see popularity until the 19th century, so finding extensive use in a map from 1775 meant I was able to capture them in their early transitory stage. This set comes from L’Estremadura di Portogallo a 1775 map of southern Portugal created by Italian cartographer Antonio Zatta as part of his Atlante Novissimo. (Fun fact: large portions of the maps contained in this atlas still use hill-profiles.) It’s a beautiful map, and the set that emerged from it is perfect for flintlock fantasy, steampunk, or anything that sits on that edge between the 18th and 19th centuries.
I did my best to organize the hachures in a way that would make sense—in this case, I organized them in the cardinal and secondary-intercardinal directions they “pointed.” But! The best part is hachures don’t really care what direction they point, and you can easily rotate the brush to orientate your relief whatever direction you want. (Use the left and right arrow keys in Photoshop to turn them by a degree – or use shift-left and shift-right to rotate them by 15º increments.)
You still find plenty of profile-style signs intermixed with the hachures. It creates a fantastic interplay between the symbols. Symbols for forests, towns, and villages all have a familiar look where the larger fortified settlements have opted for the top-down orientation to better fit within the contours suggested by the hachures.
Those little fortified settlements are interesting, as well—sometimes they were labeled as cities, and other times they bore the label “castel” and sometimes “villa.” Like the hachures themselves, I see these working as a bridge between historical symbols and modern top-down approaches to settlement boundaries. The distinctiveness between each of these signs allows for their use variety of applications—they can easily transition into whatever role you need them to play.
Zatta is a decent sized set, with over 500 brushes I’m sure you’ll find plenty here. The full set includes the following:
- 25 ⬆️ North Facing Hatchures
- 25 ↗️ Northeast Facing Hatchures
- 35 ➡️ East Facing
- 50 ↘️ Southeast
- 60 ⬇️ South
- 25 ↙️ Southwest
- 30 ⬅️ West
- 15 ↖️ Northwest
- 10 ⏺ Crowns
- 20 Small Settlements
- 10 Towers
- 30 Small Towns
- 30 Towns
- 70 Fortified Settlements (Castles? Forts? Cities? I provide! You decide!)
- 50 Trees
- 20 Unique
- 2 Cartouches
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 set of transparent PNGs in case you’re using a program that doesn’t support Adobe brush files. I’ve separated them by type: Landforms and Settlements and Flora. They’re black, and on a transparent background, so they’ll look broken if viewed in Chrome, but trust me, they’re all there.
As with all of my previous brush sets, Zatta 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. (Details on this decision here.) No attribution is required. Easy peasy!
Enjoy Zarra? Feel free to show me what you created by sending me an email 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 see what you make!
🌏 Zatta In Use
Want to see this brush set in use? I put together a sample map, and you can see the results below. There are three versions, a black and white version, one colored, and a decorated sample. Click on any of the images below to view them larger. Perhaps this will inspire you as you get started on your own projects!
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.
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.
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.
If you want to continually support the #NoBadMaps project through a reoccurring monthly contribution, consider joining my Patreon and get sneak peeks into what’s coming.
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 →