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.
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!
💸 Supporting This Work
If you like the Zatta brush set (or any of my free brushes, really) and want to support my work, instead of a donation, consider buying one of my speculative fiction novels. Digital copies of the first book—The Stars Were Right—are only 99¢ right now. With 100% of the profits being donated to the World Coastal Kitchen. I think you’ll dig it, You can find all my books in stores and online. Visit bellforgingcycle.com to learn more about the series. Tell your friends!
Not interested in my books but still want a way to support me? Buy me a coffee.
🗺 More Map Brushes
Zatta isn’t the only brush set I’ve released. You can find other free brush sets with a wide variety of styles over on my Free Stuff 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.
A topographical brush set with a nautical focus based on Johannes Janssonius’ 1650 nautical chart of the Bay of Bengal. Along with the standard symbols of settlements, flora, and landforms, I’ve also made sure to incorporated a whole host of maritime signs—rocks, sounding marks, shallows, and a whole bunch more.
Based on the amazing Archiducatus Austriae inferioris, an incredibly detailed map of lower Austria created by Georg Matthäus Vischer in 1697, this is the largest set I’ve released. Loads of detail and a unique approach to rendering forests and landforms aids this set in standing apart. A perfect set for the right project.
The brushes within this urban-focused set are based on the incredible work of Georg Braun taken from his Civitates orbis terrarum—easily one of the most significant volumes of cartographic antiquity. The detail and density represented in these symbols give an extra layer of texture and is perfect for the right fantastical city map.
Taken from John Ogilby’s 1675 book Britannia, Volume the First, this set allows the creator to recreate road atlas from the 17th century in stunning detail, placing the traveler’s experience front and center. With over 800 brushes, this is my most extensive set to date and useful for a variety of projects. Several bonus downloads are also available, as well.
This regional map set is based on a map by Dutch cartographer and publisher, Pieter Van der Aa. It’s a beautifully rendered version of the Mingrelia region of northwest Georgia. While not as extensive as other sets, the size of the map allowed for larger brushes that helps highlight the uniqueness of each symbol. It also features a failed wall!
My first brush set to focus on creating realistic maps for fantastical urban environments! Gomboust is a huge set, and its symbols are extracted from Jacques Gomboust’s beautiful 1652 map of Paris, France. His style is detailed yet quirky, isometric yet off-kilter, packed with intricacies, and it brings a lot of personality to a project.
Based on Eugene Henry Fricx’s “Cartes des Paysbas et des Frontieres de France,” this set leans into its 1727 gothic styling and its focus on the developed rather than the natural. It’s hauntingly familiar yet strikingly different. If you’re looking for more natural elements, Harrewyn works well alongside other sets as well.
This set has quickly become a favorite, and it’s perfect for a wide variety of projects. The brushes are taken from 1746’s A Map of the British Empire in America by Henry Popple, and it has a fresh style that does a fantastic job capturing the wildness of a frontier. Plus, it has swamps! And we know swamps have become a necessity in fantasy cartography.
While not my most extensive set (a little over one hundred brushes), Donia boasts one of the more unique takes on settlements from the 17th century. If you’re looking for flora, I suggest checking out other sets, but if you want to pay attention to your map’s cities, towns, castles, churches, towers, forts, even fountains, then this is the right set for you.
Based on Joan Blaeu’s Terræ Sanctæ—a 17th-century tourist map of the Holy Land—this set includes a ton of unique and varied signs as well as a large portion of illustrative cartouches that can add a flair authenticity to any fantasy map. Elegant and nuanced, everything works within a system, but nearly every sign is unique.
An 18th Century brush set based on a map from 1767 detailing the journey of François Pagès, a French naval officer, who accompanied the Spanish Governor of Texas on a lengthy exploration through Louisiana, Texas, and Mexico. A unique southwestern set with a few interesting deviations—including three volcanos!
A departure from the norm, this set is based on the Plan Batalii map, which was included in a special edition of The First Atlas of Russia in 1745. A detailed view of a battle during the Russo-Turkish War of 1735–1739. Canon! Units! Battles! Perfect for mapping out the combat scenarios in your fantasy stories.
A 17th Century brush set based on the work of Georgio Widman for Giovanni Giacomo de Rossi’s atlas published in 1692. A fantastic example of Cantelli da Vignola’s influence and a solid set for any fantastic map. This is the workhorse of antique map brush sets—perfect for nearly any setting.
An 18th Century brush set based on the work of Gabriel Walser with a focus on small farms and ruins and a robust set of mountains and hills. This is a great brush set to see how Vignola’s influence persisted across generations. It was etched over 80 years after the Widman set, but you’ll find a few familiar symbols within.
A sketchy style brush set I drew myself that focuses on unique hills and mountains and personal customizability. My attempt at trying to channel the sort of map a barkeep would draw for a band of hearty adventurers. It includes extra-large brushes for extremely high-resolution maps.
Named after Austrian topographer Johann Georg Lehmann creator of the Lehmann hatching system in 1799, this is a path-focused brush set designed for Adobe Illustrator that attempts to captures the hand-drawn style unique 19th Century hachure-style mountains. This set works perfectly in conjunction with my other sets from the late 18th century.
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