Aubers: A Free 18th Century Cartography Brush Set for Fantasy Maps

Aubers: A Free 18th Century Cartography Brush Set for Fantasy Maps

I’ve always been fascinated by the early maps of North America; the history of the continent is clear in the signs and symbols. You can see the colonizers march slowly across a wild continent and read their fear of both the indigenous population and the unknown landscape. The colonized and the colonizer and the ramifications therein is a common story throughout history, and it’s a story that’s been told many times in fantasy literature. It’d make sense there would be a desire for maps that can help tell those stories.

With that in mind, I’d like to introduce my newest free brush set: Aubers. The set comes from Carte d’une partie de l’Amerique Septentrionale which shows 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 in 1767. The map was engraved by J.B.L. Aubers under the direction of Robert Bernard in 1782. It’s particularly interesting because it details the settlements of the indigenous peoples of Mexico and the American Southwest. You can also see the reach of Catholic missionaries during the late 18th-century. It’s a momentary glimpse of Nueva España frozen in time.

A small example of the brushes included in Aubers
A small example of the brushes included in Aubers

Stylistically it’s unique. Aubers has an interesting way of rendering flora and his landforms have a style that sets his work apart from other engravers. Within this set, you can also observe a transition happening in cartography. Aubers blends the detailed pictographic style common in early 18th-century work with newer and cleaner icons that would dominate the 1800s. Instead of rendering small pictograms we see a transition to cleaner and simpler signs used for larger settlements (circle with the dot) and forts (simple squares.) It’s an interesting blend and a harbinger of something that would eventually standardize over the next century.

Inside Aubers you’ll find over four hundred brushes, including:

  • 15 Major Cities
  • 15 Large Towns
  • 10 Small Towns
  • 50 Habitations (These normally used to mark farms or tiny villages)
  • 4 Archdioceses
  • 2 Dioceses
  • 20 Forts
  • 10 Missions
  • 25 Native Villages
  • 3 Native Villages with Missionaries
  • 4 Port Indicators
  • 100 Scrub Trees
  • 75 Scrub Land
  • 50 Mountains
  • 40 Mountain Ranges
  • 3 Volcanos!
  • 2 Map Cartouches
  • 10 Numbers (0-9)
  • 2 Odd Brushes that I couldn’t really categorize

The button below links to a ZIP file that contains a Photoshop brush set (works in GIMP as well) and a transparent PNG in case you’re using a program that doesn’t support ABR brush files. You can see the transparent PNG here. (They’ll come up black if viewed in Chrome, but they’re all there.)


As with all of my brush sets, Aubers is free for any use and is distributed with a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License that means you can freely use it in commercial work and distribute adaptations. All I did was convert it to brushes, Aubers, Bernard and François Pagès did all the heavy lifting—so giving them credit would be fantastic, but it’s absolutely not necessary.

💸 Supporting This Work

If you like the Aubers brush set (or any of my free brushes, really) and would like to support my work, instead of a donation, consider buying one of my urban fantasy novels for yourself or a friend. (The first book—The Stars Were Right—is only $2.99 on eBook.)

You can find them in stores and online, learn more about the series at

And what’s a pulpy urban fantasy novel without a map? When my 2nd book in the series launched I made a map detailing the world, you can check it out here.

🗺 More Map Brushes

Aubers isn’t the only brush set I’ve released. Below are links to other free brush sets with a wide variety of styles all free and all open for personal or commercial use, you should be able to find something that works for your project.

  • L’Isle

    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 to map out the combat scenarios in your fantasy stories.

  • Widman

    A 17th Century brush set pulled from the 1680 Alta Lombardia map of Northern Italy, engraved by Georgio Widman for Giovanni Giacomo de Rossi’s atlas published in 1692. If you like mountains and mountain ranges this is the set for you.

  • Walser

    A 18th Century brush set based on the work of Gabriel Walser with a focus on small farms and ruins and a solid set of mountain and hills. You can see how far Vignola’s style persisted as well.

  • Lumbia

    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.

  • Lehmann

    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 captures the hand-drawn style unique 19th Century hachure style mountains.

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Friday Link Pack 10-23-2015

Friday Link Pack 10/23/2015

Friday is here! That means it’s time for the Friday Link Pack. My weekly post covering topics such as writing, art, current events, and random weirdness. Some of these links I mentioned on Twitter, if you’re not already following me there, please do! Do you have a link I should feature in the upcoming link pack? Click here to email me and let me know! (Include a website so I can link to you as well.) Let’s get to it…


Win A Copy Of Red Litten World
The Northwest Horror Podcast is giving away signed copies of my latest novel, Red Litten World. To enter just Tweet, Instagram, or Facebook them and let them know your favorite Lovecraft adaptation. That’s it! (You have until midnight, tonight.) Good luck!

Advice From The Creator Of Calvin And Hobbes
It’s no secret that Bill Watterson is incredible. This comic, based on a graduation speech Watterson gave at his alma mater, does a fantastic job in forcing us to reflect on what matters in our lives. [Thanks to Sky for sharing this with me.]

10 Scary Books That Will Seriously Keep You Up At Night
Huffington Post compiles a list of the scariest books and just in time for Halloween. For whatever reason, Old Broken Road isn’t on this list, but it should be. (In my humble opinion it’s probably the scariest of the series so far.)

Fear Never Leaves
If you missed yesterday’s post, I got all emo and reflected on the emotions that build up over the launch of a book, and talk about working through my fears as I continue to fight towards my successes.


Reimagined Disney Animals With Human Personalities
What if the talking animals from animated Disney films were reimagined and humanized? What would Simba look like? How about Baloo? Well, artist and illustrator Alaina Bastian has answered those questions and more in her series Humanized. There’s a lot of fun work here. [Thanks to Dave for sharing this with me.]

Mark Zug’s Art For The Dune Card Game
I’ve been on a Dune kick this year ever since I reread it this spring. This week I stumbled across these illustrations of characters for the Dune card game. (Which is sadly out of print.) Some amazing work here, but my favorite is easily the Jessica Atreides piece. (Which is also the image featured above.)

There is some disturbing and otherworldly about this cotton installation from Jennifer Strunge and Jonathan Latiano. It’s like a bizarre cuddly monstrosity is pushing in from some other reality.


Better Reasons To Boycott Star Wars
So, some internet trolls started the #BoycottStarWars hashtag for some stupid trolly reason, and it went viral, and the typical people freaked out. In response, the Washington Post wrote up this article to offer some funny (and not racist) reasons to boycott J.J. Abrams newest film.

Dropping Water Levels Reveal Hidden Church
It’s like something out of Lovecraft, Mexico’s record drought has revealed a creepy waterlogged church that dates back to the 1600s.

A Treasury of Rare And Weird Star Wars Posters From Around The World
A collection of amazing (and often strange) Star Wars movie posters from around the world. No idea what is happening in Russia. [Thanks to my buddy Bartek for sharing this.]


Smiley Face Murder Theory
The Smiley face murder theory (variations include Smiley face murders, Smiley face killings, Smiley face gang, and others) is a theory advanced by two retired New York City detectives, Kevin Gannon and Anthony Duarte, that a number of young men found dead in bodies of water across several Midwestern American states over the last decade did not accidentally drown, as concluded by law enforcement agencies, but were victims of a serial killer or killers. The term smiley face became connected to the alleged murders when it was made public that the police had discovered graffiti depicting a smiley face near locations where they think the killer dumped the bodies in at least a dozen of the cases. The response of law enforcement investigators and other experts to Gannon and Duarte’s theory has been largely skeptical.


Herbert West—Reanimator
The tale of Professor West includes creepy zombies and the first mention of ol’ Miskatonic University. This story was also the basis for the 1985 cult classic, Re-Animator.


the majesty

Friday Link Pack 05/30/14

The 2013 Winners Of The Nature Conservancy’s Annual Photo Contest

It’s time to share a few interesting links I have found throughout the week. Some of these I mention on Twitter, if you’re not already following me there, please do! Have a link I should feature in the upcoming link pack? Let me know!


Bring Reading Rainbow Back for Every Child, Everywhere
Reading Rainbow—the single most influential show in my young life—ended in 2009. Levar Burton, with the help of Kickstarter, is bringing it back! Donate, even a buck helps and goes a long way.

Eisler & Konrath Vs. Hachette
Indie publishing powerhouses Barry Eisler and J. A. Konrath teardown the Hachette memo in their typical snarky style. Regardless of where you stand on the debate, in my opinion the real loser in the Hachette/Amazon fight is the authors and their readers, not the giant publishing company or the giant tech company.

95k Words Later… Red Litten World is finished!
I finished a manuscript! I am excited about it. Now back to work.


Letter To A Young Artist # 1
Fantastic and candid letter from a talented older artist to young artists everywhere. Very much worth a read for any creative. Thanks to Kari-Lise for sending this my way.

The 2013 Winners Of The Nature Conservancy’s Annual Photo Contest
Stunning nature photography, my favorite is the bear on page 2. Beautiful.


Arcade Font Writer
This is way too much fun, write… well, whatever you want in the font/style from your favorite 8-bit video game. Thanks to Steve for the tip.

Meet the Ragtag Vigilantes at War With Mexico’s Cartels
A side to the fight in Mexico we don’t usually see. Fascinating and terrifying stuff, someone should write a book about these guys.

U.S. Measles Cases at 20-Year High
Yay. Thanks vaccine deniers. This is just what we always wanted: more preventable disease. Nothing beats putting a society in risk. Thumbs up.

Lovecraft Story of the Week:

Winged Death
One of Lovecraft’s ghost written works. I honestly haven’t read this one, and this is a note to myself to rectify that over the weekend.

Farewell Gif of the Week:

Nature is Crazy