Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Getting the final tweaks to the plan map so that it still looks right on a globe is tricky. This is the result of experimenting with distorted proportions, projecting onto a globe and finding an image that doesn't look too strange. Luckily, those nice people at NASA Goddard have some great free software that does this in a few seconds, so it's really easy to do.

Here are some orthographic projections that seem to work well. Because the distortion increases at the edges, changing the viewpoint changes the shape of the continents. This is starting to work like real mapping now. We can assume that our global map is more or less complete and we can now give it measurements.


Seen on a globe, the continents of Titan look strange. Don't worry, this is normal.

 There's a big ocean out there. The Unknown Continent might be larger than supposed.

Allansia and the Old World are viewed from above the equator. The northern coastline will appear wider after the planet has been given an equatorial bulge. Khul is viewed from below the equator. The southern coastline will appear wider after the globe has been given an equatorial bulge.

Titan's North Pole. The ice cap shown here is probably a mountainous region buried under deep ice. As the seasons change, the polar seas will freeze and melt, creating a climate much like Earth's Arctic region.

Unlike Earth's Antarctic regions, the lands closest to Titan's South Pole are habitable. I imagine the Unknown Continent might have a landscape and climate similar to those of Iceland.

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Mapping Titan as a globe. Circular grids like this provide a simple way of projecting a plan onto a sphere. This particular grid is called a Wolffnet projection. The distortion increases with the distance from the centre of the grid. With this in mind I added the 3000 miles of ocean needed in order to complete the globe, which is now 6000 miles in diameter. 

Think of these as completely new maps. Earlier maps are incomplete or unreliable. Unlike the original maps these new maps are being designed to work as 3D models. The continents have been distorted to increase their landmass and reduce the amount of empty ocean. The new shapes may appear awkward at first, but we now have a map that fits onto a sphere. The next step is to plot the new map onto the globe.

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Friday, 5 October 2012

We now have a world map of Titan that appears to work quite well. However, what you see is not necessarily what you get and now we can start getting to the heart of this project, the creation of a 3D world.

I found and painted this 80mm diameter globe last year. Over the next few weeks I will be building up the mountainous regions and other geographical features so we can get a better idea of how things will look.

The land masses were plotted onto the globe from map data. It was immediately clear that the Titan map did not show the whole surface of the globe. After some discussion the continents were altered and the oceans widened. Similar alterations here will make a big improvement in plotting and mapping from the globe.

There are some surprises and useful information here which we didn't have before. I am sure we are going to have plenty of great ideas about how we can build 3D models of Titan and re-map from those.

The Ocean of Serpents separating The Old World from Khul is much narrower than before.

The Western Ocean is really big. The landmass at the bottom is the Unknown Continent. I imagine it has an Icelandic environment and is actively volcanic. Titan's south polar regions are noticeably warmer than the northern regions. It is plausible that much of the southern polar region is actively volcanic.

The northern pole of Titan. The permanent ice cap shown expands as the winter progresses and may reach as far as the north west coast of the Old World. Both polar regions appears to be mountainous with tall peaks.  

The climate maps can be used to determine the directions of winds and sea currents and surface temperatures, which add detail to the environment. The Springhope Isles are equatorial and more isolated than before.

Khul is shown too large here and should not extend so far south. 

Allansia obviously needs to be shown much larger. The continents of the northern hemisphere rise high above sea level, while much of the surface of the southern hemisphere is open seas.

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Thursday, 4 October 2012

This is an enlargement of the Titan draft map which we can use to start adding details on the continental maps. At some point the detail will be difficult to plot accurately and there will be problems with legibility, so regional maps may be required for some areas later on.

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This is the latest draft map from June 2011. It is still not quite right. It has been more than a year since I last worked on it and coming at it with fresh eyes may help define the problems. Trying to figure out why the southern hemisphere is warmer than the north leads back to the problem of where to place the equator. Related to that problem is that there is no axial tilt to the planet, which is needed to create seasonal climate changes.

I am currently playing with the idea that the compass rose on this map isn't aligned with the planetary axis. Tweaking the axial tilt by about 10 degrees should make everything a little more coherent, so that is the next experiment.

I am now working on a new map of Port Blacksand. Like the Titan map, I am taking things right back to basics and working it out from there. One thing I noticed is that the temples in PB are not aligned to the cardinal points of the compass, as many churches are. Linking that observation with the Titan map, the axial tilt starts to make more sense.

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