Since embarking on my cartography brush project, I’ve gotten several emails from creators asking about city maps. I get the appeal. I love a good city map. While city cartography is as old as ocean charts and landmass-focuses atlases, the reality is that creating them is nowhere near as forgiving as riffing on the physiography of natural landscapes. Unlike the natural world, cities are both rigidly planned (sometimes poorly) and yet still vibrantly organic. That duality comes across in their cartography. No city is the same. Few buildings are the same. For that reason, I was hesitant to adapt some of the early city maps into a brush set—that is until today.
Meet Gomboust, my eleventh free maps set and my eighth of 2019! Unlike the previous sets, this one is entirely focused on urban cartography. Buildings! Hospitals! City blocks! Churches! Cathedrals! Gardens! Palaces! Windmills! Fields! Pillories! Houses! Barns! Wells! Towers! Guard Posts! Even bridges! There is so much in this set, and with it, you can quickly create engaging and vibrant cities—I think you’ll discover it was worth the wait.
The elements within were extracted from Jacques Gomboust’s 1652 map of Paris. Rendered in an off-kilter isometric perspective that often shifts into… honestly, I don’t even know what you’d call it, it just occasionally gets weird. I mean the map is 367 years old, it’s allowed to get weird. But it’s a good weird. Feels authentic. The map features significant points of interest for the discerning Parisian of the mid-17th century. It’s beautiful—if not a bit strange—with a heavy focus on the religious presence within Paris, its gardens, and palaces.
Wielding these brushes is tougher than landmass focused sets. To capture your vision, you’ll want to plan or at least have a decent knowledge of your tools. Spend some time with the brushes, learn what’s available. Be willing to edit and adjust them, it’ll allow you to make critical decisions and help fully realize your vision. It doesn’t hurt to study the original just so you can understand how each element was used.
I realize the odd shifts in perspective makes things harder—but if utilized properly, it can make for a compelling piece. It works in Gomboust’s original map, and I believe it’ll work in yours. For this reason, I’ve also included textures along with my more traditional “stamp” style brushes. Combined together I think you can get real close to recreating a faux 17th-century urban map and keeping Gomboust’s style alive for years to come.
Gomboust is a large set, maybe my most extensive ever. It sits in at just over 600 brushes total, including (and this list will get long):
- 70 City Blocks (Multiple buildings)
- 10 Unique Blocks
- 15 Barns
- 50 Houses
- 10 Farms
- 5 Mansions (Bigger Houses)
- 5 Hospitals
- 10 Towers
- 10 Gatehouses
- 5 Palaces (Bigger Mansions)
- 40 Generic Buildings (Individual buildings, well… kinda)
- 15 Unique Buildings
- 10 Chapels
- 15 Churches
- 5 Cathedrals
- 5 Monasteries
- 5 Unique Religious Buildings
- 20 Horizontal Walls
- 10 Vertical Walls
- 10 Unique Walls
- 10 Fences
- 10 Hedges
- 20 Small Gardens
- 20 Large Gardens
- 5 Vertical Rows of Trees
- 10 Horizontal Rows of Trees
- 10 Orchards
- 5 Groves
- 20 Fields
- 5 Unique Flora Brushes
- 10 Bridges
- 15 Windmills
- 10 Fountains
- 10 Wells
- 10 Crosses
- 5 Cemeteries
- 10 Guard Posts
- 10 Unique Points-of-Interests
- 10 Ground Texture
- 10 Untilled Land Textures
- 10 Water Textures
- 10 People
- 10 Horseback Riders
- 10 Boats
- 5 Carriages
- 10 Map Elements
- 10 Unique Cartouches
The button below links to a ZIP file that contains a Photoshop brush set (it’ll also work in GIMP) 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 City Blocks, Buildings (1), Buildings (2), Natural Elements, and Points-of-Interest & Cartouches. They’re black, and they’ll look broken if viewed in Chrome, but trust me, they’re all there.
As with all of my previous brush sets, Gomboust is free for any use. As of July 2019, I now 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 Gomboust? 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!
🌏 Gomboust In Use
Want to see this brush set in use? I put together a sample map using Gomboust. 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.
💸 Supporting This Work
If you like the Gomboust brush set (or any of my free brushes, really) and want to support this work instead of a donation, consider buying one of the novels from my Bell Forging Cycle series. The first book—The Stars Were Right—is only $2.99 on eBook. You can find all three in stores and online, and the fourth is due soon. Visit bellforgingcycle.com to learn more about the series. Leave reviews and tell your friends!
And what’s a pulpy urban-fantasy novel without a map? When Old Broken Road, the second book in the series, launched I shared a map detailing the expanded world of the Territories, you can check it out here.
🗺 More Map Brushes
Gomboust 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.
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 maps 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 mountain 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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