“You come to a Descent sprinkled with Woods, whence by Loudwater, a small Village, (a Brook accompanying your Road on the Left) at 32’3. You enter High Wickham, seated in a pleasant Vale, a large and Well-built Town, numbering near 200 Houses, with several good Inns, as the Cathern Wheel, etc. Is Govern’d by a Mayor, Recorder, etc. Sends Burgesses to Parliament, hath a well-frequented Market on Fridays, and two Fairs annually…”
Outside of some slight language differences, that description of 17th century High Wycombe could be taken from any modern travel guide. It comes from John Ogilby’s 1675 book Britannia, Volume the First. Or an Illustration of the Kingdom of England and Dominion of Wales: By a Geographical and Historical Description of the Principal Roads thereof (the full title goes on much longer, and I’ll spare us all.) Britannia is, in essence, part road atlas and part travel guide—it also serves as the source for my latest brush set named after the man himself: Ogilby.
While the depictions of British towns, inns, and valleys are charming, the actual maps themselves are a delight. They are unlike anything I’ve seen before. These maps place the traveler’s perspective front and center making for a much more intimate experience. Read bottom to top and left to right one can trace their route through the countryside. Windmills, wells, ponds, homes, and churches are lovingly depicted as well as are the small towns clustered around roads and random points of interest. Climbs and descents are documented as one would encounter them as they crossed the rolling countryside. The route will move, but barely, instead, significant turns are shown with subtle shifts indicated by the compass rose that rotates on subsequent “scrolls.” I thought this was an interesting solution to show more substantial variations in a road’s direction.
Fiction has long had a fascination with the road story, and fantasy isn’t an exception. So it’s a wonder this sort of map hasn’t been attempted before. (Prove me wrong, if you know a book with this style of road atlas, let me know!) It’s so useful and such an interesting presentation. After spending some time with the plates and Ogilby’s descriptions, I knew at once these etchings would make an excellent brush set. Whether one is attempting to recreate an Ogilby-style road atlas or just using his various signs and symbols on a more standard map.
As I worked, I realized that I would need to build this set off of multiple plates, and uh… the set sort of grew in the making. Ogilby is now my largest set ever. Inside you’ll find over 870 brushes (yes, seriously), including:
- 60 Homesteads
- 50 Manor Halls
- 10 Hamlets
- 60 Villages
- 10 Large Villages
- 20 Steepled Churches
- 70 Towered Churches
- 10 Priories
- 5 Unique Churches
- 20 Castles
- 20 Unique Settlements
- 10 Ponds
- 20 Rills/Streams
- 10 Rills/Streams w/ Bridges
- 20 Rivers w/ Bridges
- 20 Heath/Wetlands
- 20 Hills
- 20 Upslopes (Hills with space for roads to pass up them)
- 20 Downslopes (Inverted hills with space for roads to pass down them)
- 20 Unique Slopes
- 30 Scrub Lands
- 30 Leafy Trees
- 30 Evergreen Trees
- 30 Bushy Trees
- 10 Leafy Forests
- 10 Evergreen Forests
- 30 Bushy Forests
- 40 Windmills
- 10 Elevated Windmills
- 20 Beacons
- 20 Gallows
- 5 Wells
- 5 Springs
- 10 Quarries
- 10 Coal Pits
- 10 Lead Mines
- 10 Parks
- 10 Monuments
- 15 Unique Points-of-Interest
- 20 “Plain” Compasses
- 35 Standard Compasses
- 15 Complex Compasses
- 5 Combined Compasses
- 3 Boats
The button below links to a ZIP file that contains a Photoshop brush set (it’ll work in GIMP as well) 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, Settlements, Points of Interest, Flora, Cartouches, and Landforms. They’re black, and they’ll look broken if viewed in Chrome, but trust me, they’re all there.
[ ! ] Bonus #1 – I’ve also included the option to download a blank and layered PSD of the scroll background used in Ogilby’s original maps. To save on file size, this must be downloaded separately. It also includes a transparent png.
[ ! ] Bonus #2 – I found more success mimicking Ogibly’s road styles in Adobe Illustrator. This will allow one to recreate the various styles of roads Ogilby uses across his maps quickly and efficiently. Like the Scroll background, this must be downloaded separately and it requires Adobe Illustrator.
As with all of my previous brush sets, Ogilby 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 Ogilby. 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!
🌏 Ogilby In Use
Want to see this brush set in use? I put together a sample map using Ogilby, and you can see a few variants below. Just click on any of the images below to view them larger.
💸 Supporting This Work
If you like the Ogilby 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. The first book—The Stars Were Right—is only $2.99 on eBook. 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
Ogilby 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.
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.
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 →