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Words of Radiance Philadelphia signing ()
#1 Copy

Questioner

One of the things I love so much about your books are the illustrations and the maps, even though I'm really bad with maps. So I guess I was wondering, do you have a really clear vision in your head for what you want them to be or...?

Brandon Sanderson

It depends on the book. In some cases I do. In some cases I'm more vague and I work with my illustrator through several iterations then decide what we want.

Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
#2 Copy

Liago

How do you come up with and create the maps for your novels? Is it a process of thought while creating the story itself or does it come later once you've written the story as a means to depict the places you've written about? Also do you scetch [sic] them yourself before having them drawn or is the process usually entirely done by a separate artist?

Brandon Sanderson

I usually sketch myself out something vague to use as reference, then make it more and more detailed as I work through the book. At that point, I approach and artist and have them help me come up with a good visual style for the book and the map. If it's an artist I know well, I can sometimes let them do more of the work—the Mistborn maps, for instance, were developed by Isaac with very little input from me beyond the text and some basic instructions.

DragonCon 2019 ()
#3 Copy

Questioner

Do you draw your own maps?

Brandon Sanderson

I used to and then have someone who know what they're doing redraw them. Now that I have... *other person interjecting* Yeah, like this Elantris map, I did a sketch of and then handed it to the artist and then the artist did a version. Now we have an Isaac version.

Questioner

Did you draw it before or after you designed what the city was made for?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, yeah, I designed all... I'm an outliner, so I kind of had all of that in mind.

Questioner

You knew beforehand?

Brandon Sanderson

Beforehand, yeah. Nowadays, I just write and then Isaac reads it and then says, "How's this look?" and gives me a map and I say, "That looks pretty good!"