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Welcome! So, this guide is going to cover what map art is, how to make it, In both steps and cynical words.

So what is map art you may ask? Its simple, Its art, it is using the map items in the game to create custom paintings/posters/images anything you can dream of and more. This is done by manipulating the terrain the map covers to form an image. There are many ways to do this.

Oh here are some Examples of Map Art before we jump into it

STEP ONE : Finding a location

So, Longterm Ideally there would be a magical Map-World where the land is flat and your map is protected and the sky rains marshmallows! In fact a world may already exist like that ( Not including the Marshmallows ) But some one *cough Sirk Cough* hasnt finished it yet...
Anyway Until thats done you gotta take some risks and Evaluate on a case by case basis where you are going to make your maps.
Im going to list possible areas, pros-cons of those areas.
Maps are 128x128, thats 16,384 blocks, 8x8 chunks, 64 in total and they work on an invisible grid you cant find until you make a map or have maps already made nearby.

Mainworld- Bad Idea, Possibility of being greifed ,would have to be claimed which is 64 chunks per map.

Nether - NO NO NO maps do NOT work here.

End - Kinda Good, Empty, Low chance of anyone finding and greifing your map, But Skyplatforms are slow and The Void Is Merciless

Resourceworld - High risk of Being Greifed But Once world resets No Risk, can act as an insurance policy as long as you finish maps before world resets. Aside from that decent place to build maps

Map World- Not existent yet But It would be paradise for map making, Please Mail your local Government representative and tell them to finish it please

Now For Biomes.

Swamp- Good, flattest biome.
Desert - Good Easy to flatten
Plains - Good and easy to flatten
Anything with snow - BAD SNOW IS BAD, unless you wanna make a 16,384 string net in the sky above
Ocean - Wonderful if you have Frost Walker
Sky Platforms - Slow to build. Falling=Death
Forests - Bad unless you can get rid of all the trees. Jungle = Death

STEP TWO : Making the design

So, this is probably the hardest part, because it involves creativity and some people have imaginations like Graham crackers and cement bricks. So, I do a lot of my mapart freehand, I look at an image and make it, or i just come up with something. I think that this is the best way to start out, because i am only dependent on my imagination. I am always, reluctant to give people tools, because they become reliant on the tools, and let it stifle their own creativity, and instead of a tool to help, its a dependency.
And the tools I am going to Link, are not for everything, There are two of them, and they each work good for different things, and Terrible for most. You don't even need tools, the best mapart i've seen has been done Freehand, its easier to judge colors, make adjustments and it comes from the individual more.
So the first tool
This tool is, good for making things pixelated, and trying to find good proportions and sizes for certain images/elements of design. Often times I put an image in just to change the size and see how it looks pixelated. However this Does not take into account maps, So the blocks show the colors as you see them in-game not as they appear on maps. So if you make a map using this the colors wont look right. This program has a lot of Agility though and you can really use it to help you find good dimensions for a project.

The Next program This one is a downloadable Java program, Its kinda hard to use, but its customizable. It is fantastic at taking good, real life images and turning them into art, but the image needs to be exactly the right dimension. Its terrible at doing custom/creative art, Because it cant be edited as easily as the first tool.

Now, I don't always use either of these tools, and its not good to do so either, Its good to treat them as they are, tools.
The best way to ensure your map looks good, Is to do it by hand.

STEP THREE : Blocks and their colors

So, this is a survival server and mapart has to be economic to do. Best job to have is builder by far.
And The Key thing about choosing blocks is if its too expensive, its probably wrong.

Also For every color, there are 3

For example, Wool, Glass, Concrete and concrete powder can all be dyed various colors, and they all appear the same shades of those colors
So Red glass, shows up the same as red wool, and red concrete.
Also! there is no difference between powder and hardened concrete.
I Do not know how to do this effectively, so I am just going to list blocks and colors and similarities
Iron blocks = clay blocks, Same light grey color
Gold = Hay Blocks, Same gold Color
Redstone blocks = Lava A vibrant red color
Water is a unique blue.
Mycel makes a Purple
Prismarine bricks = Diamond, make a cyanish color
normal Prismarine makes a Darker color
Dark prismarine also makes a unique color.
Cobwebs = White wool= white concrete = white glass
Diorite = Birch logs, a Unique muddy white color, almost identical to normal white
Brewing stands = stone = stone bricks = all ores, a grey color no need to use ores/brewing stands they are the same colors

I will add onto this when I think of more, I just know this stuff, so i don't think about it a lot

Next thing is stepping, Its a technique used to unlock more colors by manipulating the shadow effect.

You do steps north to south or south to north to Draw out either a lighter or darker shade of a color
heres an example