View Full Version : My Turn to Say Hello

10-16-2007, 01:08 PM
Hi everybody,

My name is Josh and I am a graphic design student at Niagara College in Ontario, Canada. Ever since first picking up a d20 in '97 I have been most interested in the cartography aspect of RPing. Every time my D&D group got together through high school I'd be the one with the gridpaper and ruler sketching out our dungeon crawls... constantly asking the DM: Does this look right? Are these rooms accurate?

I've been actively creating detailed maps for the better part of 7 months now to flesh out my D&D3e PBeM on Rondak's Portal (http://www.rondaksportal.com) called Epic of Aeons. I use mostly Adobe Photoshop and occasionally Adobe Illustrator to create my maps because I own a Mac (so no CC for me) and I am most comfortable with design proggy's because of school.

Right now I want to learn to create overland & worldmaps with some amount of convincing realism. I'm especially trying to get my mountains and forests to look right the way I want them.

At this point I am looking to refine and build on my self-taught skills as a cartographer so I'm looking for all the criticism I can get! Eventually I'd like to have a career in advertising media or work as a designer/cartographer for a company like WotC.

Here's a sample of my latest map, Elsir Vale. I'm about run "The Red Hand of Doom" module for my players, but I have to fit into a homebrew world so I'll have to modify many of the maps that came with this product.

10-16-2007, 01:22 PM
Ok, you ready for the criticisms? Hopefully they are as constructive as possible. I realize this is just a sample, but it is worth tossing a few things out there for when you do your first WIP post. ;)

Water - The water appears to be higher in the middle than the sides. It needs to be reversed.
Forests - The right side of the forests are "empty" due to the filter you are using. Either lower the intensity of the effect or do away with it entirely.
Mountains - The mountains appear to be floating over the land. They should be grounded more, no pun intended. Also they have a bit of a plateau look to them. Try "slicing" in to them more with many highs and lows. Particularly wherever there is a river or a pass through them. I would suggest a bit of a blend from the plains area into the mountains as well.
There you go. I hope that helps. Oh, and welcome to the forums!! :D

10-16-2007, 01:22 PM
Hi, Joshua! Welcome to that hall of wonders we call the Cartographers' Guild--and from that first map posting I can already predict you will very quickly find your own niche here as well. Glad to have another mapping fanatic on board! I'm sure you'll find plenty of help to improve your maps to the extent you desire.

10-16-2007, 01:53 PM
Welcome from a fellow Niagara resident, Josh!

You got a nice start on the map in terms of layout and composition (and I especially like the mountain texture).

RP's comments are all good ones (especially the rivers, you have a nice 3D-wire/tube effect happening there). In general keeping the layer effects subtle seems to work the best.

One small note, is the lighting direction on the mountain texture (NW)and all the other bevel/embosses (E) disagree. And lighting from the E is unique, as most people stick with the default NW:)

Thanks for including a map in your first post, too. Some seem shy to show their work, but it is a great way to jump into the community.

-Rob A>

10-16-2007, 02:01 PM
Hi Josh! Glad to see that you're doing a graphic design course...if I had my time over again, I wish I had done the same (sigh).

Photoshop and Illustrator are both great tools for making maps. Keith Curtis, one of the industry pros on the board uses that combo (with the emphasis on Illustrator) and his work is jaw-droppingly beautiful.

On with the crits! If you're after a stylised feel, then the map is a great start, but if you're after realism, then perhaps there's more work to do.

Try this (for realism).

Find some territory on Google Earth and use it as a reference. Observing the reference will really pay dividends even if you decide to go your own way and add your own particular style to the final product.

Also have a look at the 'Shaded Relief' website (google it), it will help you attain the sort of style you are looking for. The trick (I think, but I tend to prefer more arty and less realistic styles) is to see what to keep and what to leave out of the reference.

Welcome to the boards!

10-16-2007, 02:31 PM
Thanks folks, you're input so far is great...

I just discovered relief shading yesterday actually but haven't had a chance to experiment with it yet. The style I'm aiming for is "stylized realism"... something that doesn't look too cartoony but not like a real world map either.

10-16-2007, 10:40 PM
The style I'm aiming for is "stylized realism"... something that doesn't look too cartoony but not like a real world map either.

You have a soul mate in me, my friend! ;) I hope you figure that out real soon so I can rob you blind of it!