Inspiration comes from disparate places, some unexpected. One might hear a new instrument, or see a picture of a unique landscape, and a new pathway for discovery opens. Below are a variety of sites and software that help make my fantasy worlds a reality.

Adobe Creative Cloud Apps There are many, many creative apps out there, but I’ve been using Adobe Photoshop for so long, using other programs seems odd. My first experience came when I received a copy of Photoshop with a printer I bought, and I’ve used it ever since. I sketch in Photoshop, use Illustrator to produce the line drawing, then back to Photoshop for coloring.

Aeon Timeline ‘Designed for writers from its very inception,’ this is a handy way to keep story events in order. Writers can upload their custom calendars, a bonus for fantasy world builders. I love how it displays the age of characters when they participate in events, especially since I have some creatures who are thousands of years old.

FlowScape FlowScape is a 3D painting game that allows the user to create wonderful little world settings in just a couple of minutes. It’s a great way to add atmosphere, giving readers an idea of what it might be like to visit or live in a particular place. Users can import their own 3D models if they so choose, and the creator has a Discord server where help can be found (they also run weekly contests. That’s a great way to explore FlowScape).

Gimp and Inkscape Gimp and Inkscape are free software that can be used in the place of Photoshop and Illustrator. I’ve found Inkscape especially great at creating flower patterns for backgrounds and clothing. Neither have all the features that paid software contains, but they are very fine programs for those with limited budgets.

Pixabay Any similar website would do, but I like Pixabay because the photography is better and you can use the images for free! Sometimes just looking through landscape photos, and wondering what my characters would do in such an environment, can overcome my writer’s block.

Vulgar: Fantasy Language Generator Vulgar is a great site if you are interested in creating languages for your worlds but are not experts on the subject. It generates a language based on how actual languages work. Users can apply things like what letters are used to denote plurals, or how a certain sound is spelled. Sounds are based on the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet), so becoming familiar with it is essential. The paid version gives the user a 4000 word vocab list and instructions on how the language is put together.

Wonderdraft Wonderdraft is a fantasy map creator for Windows, Linux and Mac. There’s a growing community that provides advice and assets. I love the world creator, where the software creates continents. You can then zoom in on a particular area you wish to work with. It’s a new addition to the map making world, so it doesn’t feel outdated and handles resolutions up to 4K.

World Anvil World Anvil caters to a wide variety of creative types; authors, gamemasters, etc. Write articles, place them in categories, and add calendars, maps, images, music to them. It is a great way to keep track of people, places and things, and you can send the curious to your pages for added info on your stories.

Video Games. I play a lot of video games, and they are very inspirational for me. The current incarnation of my drawing style was inspired by The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Playing a beautiful sandbox game with luscious landscapes can get me pondering about my own settings.

Shiobe with sword
Shiobe, created using Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator
Fort ruin
Fort ruin in Merren, created using FlowScape
Map of Seari
Seari, using Wonderdraft