I posted before about a kind of roleplaying product I'd love to have: maps of locations-- especially villages and towns-- rendered in isometric (or axonometric, something I learned from blogging!) projection.
Well, I have the perfect example, and you are probably familiar with it. When I was a child I was fascinated by the books of David Macaulay. I was probably more fascinated by these books because I never owned any of them; I either encountered them at the library or school.
His book Castle, published in 1977, tells the story of an imaginary but realistic castle being built from scratch. Paying attention to details and research, but not getting hung up with a specific historical site, this book really strikes a chord with me and probably holds a lesson for world/setting design.
I tried merging two halves of the castle picture itself, but it didn't come out well because of the binding. So here is one half of the two page spread showing the finished castle in all its glory:
I love that. This is what I want. I'd like a book with 10, or 20 of these. I suppose I'll have to try and create them myself, but I'm not an artist so it will be hard work.
I'm not sure why this is what I want, something about these images evokes a place in a way a map never does for me. A map is an abstraction that lends itself to tactics, which is fine, but an illustration like this can do that and breathe a little life into a fantasy setting.
If you find this interesting at all, you should check out Macaulay's other books. He had several in this style: Cathedral, Pyramid, Mosque, Mill, Underground, and City, which I have big plans for.