View Full Version : The Western Baronies
05-02-2010, 04:24 AM
Well it's been a couple of months since my first attempt at a map and I finally managed to carve out enough time to experiment with a second. This map of the Western Baronies is an experiment of sorts. To begin with, this is a scaled territorial section of the original larger regional map of Eriond, though how accurately I have managed to scale it is somewhat dubious. Secondly, I wanted to experiment with different techniques for doing (semi) photo-realistic maps. I tried several different methods for creating mountains and forests before I landed on the current look. Much of this map has been trial and error for me, and I don't know if I will keep the current look or play around with it some more, but anyway, here is what I've got so far. As always, advice, critiques and comments are much appreciated.
EDIT: Well looks like my attachments have gone missing, but I have managed to download the current WIP version of this map onto the third page.
05-02-2010, 08:26 AM
The mountains look pretty good, though the contrast between the light and shadow sides might be a bit steep. The forests also look nice, though it could use a drop shadow, especially in the sparse regions, to help it blend better with the ground.
Nice work! :D
05-02-2010, 08:51 AM
Daelin covered pretty much everything I was going to comment on, this is a good start.
05-02-2010, 09:46 AM
I personally like the alternative forest type to the sparser type, it just feels more "foresty". Great start.
05-02-2010, 12:20 PM
The right one seems to look more foresty in that it has some fluffiness to the canopy...tho the fluffs might be too large. It makes the forests itself seem out of scale with the mtns. I think it might be too dark, opinion, but the main thing killing that for me is the beveled edge on water. The mtns look great, tho.
05-02-2010, 02:55 PM
I like the look of the forests in the right-hand pic, but yeah, they seem to dominate the rest of the landscape too much and overwhelm the mountains. If I had to choose one or the other based on what you've got right now, I'd have to go with the pic on the left.
05-02-2010, 04:56 PM
Thanks for all the constructive feedback guys, many of you voiced the same thoughts that had been running through my head. OK, so here is a quick update. I have lightened the contrast on the mountains somewhat and have created smaller tree copses (along with their drop shadows) to replace the the larger monstrosities of the earlier map. I may tinker with the color some more, but this is the current state of the map. I will also likely attempt to tinker with the texture and color of the surrounding land as well.
05-02-2010, 05:01 PM
Now that's a freakin forest, wow. All I can suggest is a new layer of tan (or orange) and green clouds on top of the forest to give some variation to the color.
05-02-2010, 05:17 PM
This is looking great. You might want to smooth a few of the river turns as you have a couple that are close to 90 degrees and unless it's man made or a rock wall I don't think it's what you would find in nature. I'm looking forward to seeing more of this. It's very pretty so far....kind of serene, makes me want to take a nap..so peaceful. I can almost hear the breeze through the trees. :)
05-03-2010, 08:10 PM
I decided that the base landscape was altogether too flat, so I decided to try to give it the appearance of a bit more depth. Here's what I've come up with so far. By the way, I'm open to suggestions if anyone knows of a good way to simulate hills in GIMP. Ascension, I've tried to vary the look of the forests a few times and haven't been satisfied with the results yet, but I'll keep plugging away at it. Jax, you're probably right about the rivers, but I'm not sure how to fix them at this point without having to create a whole new set of forests (since I cut the shape of the river into the forests themselves). I might toy around with it though. Thanks both of you for your advice.
05-03-2010, 09:49 PM
I'm really digging on those forests. Great work. As for the river turns being tight, while it might not be a common thing in nature, it does happen. The North Fork of the Siuslaw River (Florence OR) has a couple of near hair-pin type turns as it makes its way out of the mountains to join up with the main river. If you're really concerned about it though, you could, if it's not too late, plop a couple of rocky spurs where the turns are fairly tight to give a "more visible" reason for the more drastic changes of direction.
Edit - For the sake of argument, here's a sample of the river I mentioned. The area circled in red equates to approximately 5 miles (as the fish swims, and as I used to try to catch them), and, as you can see, there are some extremely tight bends. Again, it might not be common, but it does happen.
05-06-2010, 01:01 AM
Hey thanks for pointing this out Greason Wolf, makes me feel a little more relieved that my rivers are perhaps not altogether absurd. OK, so I have been working on adjusting the color and texture of the base landscape, as well as the color of the trees (as per Ascension's advice). Also added a title. The next step will be to add villages and other geographical features.
05-06-2010, 01:57 AM
That's looking really great; good 'feeling' to the base landscape (if that makes senses :D). I like that title idea too - it's clean and simple and nice-looking. I might have to steal that, if you don't mind...
05-06-2010, 02:06 AM
Thanks Diamond, and by all means, be my guest. Although I must give credit to both Torstan and Carnifex for inspiration for the title layout (each of them did something similar with one of their maps, though I can't remember which ones now).
05-06-2010, 02:08 AM
Oh, that's right; I remember Carnifex did one like that. Well, thanks for the idea to everyone involved. :D
05-06-2010, 02:22 AM
The rivers are one thickness all the way through...try making some fatter parts and skinnier parts. Just my 2 cents there. As for the forests, what I do is to make a new layer of green and orange clouds (or green and tan), ctrl-click on the forest layer, invert the selection, delete and then pick a nice blend mode...I usually go with color or hue. This way I get some variation in color other than light green and dark green...I get some browns.
05-06-2010, 10:37 AM
That's starting to look really nice now. The adjustments to the base landscape give it a little more depth and let the rolling nature of the terrain show up just a little better than before. All in all, I'd say it's coming along quite nicely.
05-06-2010, 02:01 PM
This is looking really nice so far Arsheesh :) I think Ascension's suggestion about a coloured cloud layer to the forests could really help, they're still looking just a smidge blocky, and the clouds should really help break that up.
05-06-2010, 02:39 PM
I appreciate the advice on the forests guys. Unfortunately however, I'm not sure if the method that I've used to create these forests is compatible with what Ascension has suggested. Here is how I created the forests (this is similar to the method described in this (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?10009-Making-Photo-realistic-Trees-in-GIMP-A-Mini-Tut)tutorial). First I generated a set of turbulent solid noise clouds (which I then turned into a tiled pattern so that the clouds would be even smaller). Then, after several steps which involved getting the basic shapes of the forests that I wanted, I deleted the rest of the clouds layer that wasn't going to be used. I then filled the remaining clouds with HSV noise. Then I created a solid gray layer which I "bump mapped" from the clouds layer, thus creating the bumpy forest texture. The tree bumps layer is what I have been using as the base layer on which all of the subsequent colors have been layered. If I were to add an additional clouds layer on top of this (unless I'm simply missing something here), it would obscure the tree bumps layer below it. I actually did try to duplicate the existing tree bumps layer, cut out some individual clumps and create individual layers of color for those, but was not pleased with the results (the result was not a well blended forest, but rather a patchy brown and green forest).
So at this point I'm not sure what to do, other than to simply work on blending the color layers rather than messing with the base clouds layers. However, if I am missing something important here, I'm open for correction. Thanks again Ascension and Moutarde for pointing out the need for improvement here.
I got a bit lost in the description but heres my 2 cent - I do believe you should be able to put in an adjustment layer and by switching to hue changing the color - you can then with the use of a mask first mask out anything not forrest and then selecting the mask - make a cloud filter within. Otherwise feel free to mail me the file and I'll check it for you :)
05-06-2010, 04:34 PM
Well one way I've found once I've added so many layers of color and other stuff, just grab all those layers (that involved my forests etc) copied it to another image, flattened them together and pasted it back in, there might be a bit of a difference depending on the transparency levels and blend modes, but in general I can usually get the entire group of layers to match up in the one, so then I can do as Ascension purposed, making that cloud layer and putting it over the top.... I haven't read through your tutorial, but just a thought, and maybe you've already done this but hey thought I'd pass it along...
oh and always keep the originals of those layers, as you probably already know about =P
05-06-2010, 04:44 PM
I can't believe I didn't think of that... Thanks Yander I'll give it a try and see how it works.
05-06-2010, 06:06 PM
Just remember if you do that, that if you ever want to adjust the forests (size, shape etc) you have to go back to the originals and redo it there... its a pain but thats the only way I've gotten past what your going through
05-06-2010, 07:31 PM
Well, following Yander's suggestion, I went back and tried to tamper with the forests again, creating multiple layers of color set to Hue. I'm still unsure as to whether I've done this correctly, but here are the results of my efforts. The first pic is what the forests looked like before, and the second pic shows what they look like now. To be honest though, I actually prefer the former "greener" look, but perhaps that's just me. I also enlarged the main river a bit as well.
Edit: oh, and I should also mention that I ended up still needing to set the layer mode of the "Tree Bumps" layer to normal, instead of overlay since otherwise there wasn't much texture at all to the forests.
05-06-2010, 08:03 PM
Well the effect worked, one thing I did also, is once I got the effect in, I went back through with an eraser (I used Grundge Brush) and to low opacity and just went at it, I mostly reverted back to the "greener" but had its spots of more brown/red/dark green forests still their as well. Also another time I used a texture, with similar colors as my map/forests and put it on a lower opacity and messed with the blending layer, so it gave a slight difference in the forest coloring... Just trying to give you ideas, hopefully something will help you out.
looking good - nice work :)
05-07-2010, 05:51 PM
Well Yander, my wife liked the browner forests that I made using your advice (though I have yet to grunge brush it), so I think they are here to stay. I also removed the snow caps layer from the mountains. They looked less like snow, and more like glare. I may toy with them a bit to see if I can get them to look right. For now however, I've added the Baronies and some villages, Inns, logging camps and ruins (as well as the roads connecting them). I have also added a compass. Still need give names to features of the terrain.
Some of you may recognize one of the names of the Baronies: "Falcon's Hollow." This town is at the center of several modules written by Paizo. In fact, I am running one such model right now in my Tales of Darkmoon Vale (http://www.obsidianportal.com/campaigns/tales-of-darkmoon-vale) campaign. While Paizo came up with regional maps for the terrain surrounding Falcon's Hollow (Darkmoon Vale), these maps were set within the Pathfinder campaign world of Golarion. I on the other hand, am running the campaign within my own campaign world of Eriond, hence, I wanted a map of the region surrounding Falcon's Hollow that fit within my world. This map is thus a hybrid of Golarion's "Darkmoon Vale" and Eriond's "Western Baronies."
05-07-2010, 10:35 PM
Looks good arsheesh. I think all of the tweaks are looking good. Your latest round of forest got me thinking about a technique I learned to make text look like a rubber stamp. I think something like that might also help to punch random holes in the forest canopy. I'll try to put something together.
EDIT - Oops, I was replying to page 1. Still it looks good, I like the change to the mountains. It looks like you added some kind of pattern overlay.
looking really good - the roads are rding a lttle low, they look like they've been carved into the landscape. Now I don't know how you made them, but if you used emboss, try setting the emboss value to 0 or to reverse the direction up/down :)
05-08-2010, 02:15 PM
Oops, looks like my attachments have gotten lost in the shuffle. Well anyway here is the latest iteration of the Western Baronies. Thanks for all of the constructive criticism guys.
Hohum, the forests initially were created with clearings in them, I later covered these up with individual trees because they didn't quite look right. However, I think I might go back and erase some of these trees so that there are at least some forest clearings.
Tilt, you are correct, I did emboss the roads. The indentation was intentional, I wanted them to look somewhat inlaid. However perhaps it is too much. I'll tinker with the layer opacity to try to tone them down a bit. I was hopping to finish this map soon, but I am now facing allot of school work so I'm not sure when the next update will be. Thanks again for all of your help everyone, y'all have helped me to greatly improve my map.
05-09-2010, 02:24 AM
Well, I couldn't resist tinkering a bit more with the forests during study breaks. Hohum, I took your comment about the need for forest clearings under advisement and decided to get rid of the "individual trees" layer, and add a new, sparser layer of individual trees. Another reason that I did this is that the old layer was a solid green that seemed out of sink with the browner hues that I added in later. Oh, and names for the forests have been added.
05-09-2010, 08:35 AM
This has turned out quite nicely - well done!
05-09-2010, 03:23 PM
Thanks Steel General! Still have a bit more to add before it's complete though. Next up are the names of terrain, rivers and roads, and perhaps a bit more work on the land texture as well. But it's coming along. If anyone sees anything that might be improved upon I'm all ears. One suggestion I received, and will likely implement, was to add some more individual trees closer to the base of the mountains so that the treeline would not look so drastic.
05-10-2010, 06:19 PM
Well, I have given names to the terrain now, and am getting close to calling this one done (still need to name the rivers and roads). Any final observations, critiques etc before I wrap this up?
looking really good, still think that the road are to "low" in the map - they look like the are carved into the landscape, other than that - perfect :)
05-11-2010, 05:27 AM
Everything appeals to me. I see Tilt's point with the roads. Would be better if those roads were more subtle, but I'd grade this with a "High Distiction" either way.
05-11-2010, 06:53 AM
I really like the progress of the WIP and agree with tilt about the roads. Is there a specific reason that some villages are not connected?
05-11-2010, 07:50 AM
very nice looking map. crisp and clean. great!!
05-11-2010, 08:12 AM
The roads, oh yes I had forgotten about those! Thanks everyone for bringing this to my attention, I will definitely tone them down. To answer your question Katto, my thinking was that since building and maintaining roads is a somewhat expensive enterprise, only the most important settlements would be connected by roads. The river is another major trade route, so it is not as if those settlements are completely cut off from civilization. Thanks everyone for your comments.
Edit: taking another look at the map however, I seen now that I had added a couple new villages along the south-eastern side of the river. Having so many eastern settlements would probably warrant the Barony of Asdelor's building of a southern road. I'll add this to the map.
05-11-2010, 06:11 PM
Well, I worked on the roads a bit, and then tired to add in names for them and the rivers. However, the text got all pixelated and unreadable when I set it along a curved path. I have yet to work with vector programs such as Inkscape. In the future I may try to utilize such programs to add in the names of these rivers and roads. For the time being however I'm going to call this map done. You can find a link to the final version here (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?10339-Western-Baronies-Darkmoon-Vale&p=111430#post111430).
Thanks to everyone who provided me with helpful feedback.
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