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ravells
10-21-2007, 02:07 PM
In another post (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=992), we were bemoaning the fact that the quality of maps that you generally get in fantasy books is pretty dire. So I decided to start writing a story and illustrating it with a map at the same time. The idea here is that there are going to be a lot of text labels which I will fill in as the story continues. I would like the reader to to be able to find the location of every significant place mentioned in the story.

In terms of style I went for something quite simple, but I hope effective. I'm still debating whether to keep the blue of the sea or to make it white. I've been wanting to use the Caledra font (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=743) for ages, so here it is. It's not the clearest and only does capital letters (which means one less means of distinguishing places by type - (e.g. using all caps for say, regions and upper and lower case for cities) but in this case I actually quite like the fact that the reader has to actively search out locations in the map. I've only used Caledra for the place names. The title and the legend, symbols on the right are in a font called Flat Earth Scribe which is also on Blambot.

In terms of the map itself, I used Fractal Terrains to generate a coastline I liked (although I wish now I had used RobA's threshold technique (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=875) which would have given me more control over the shape of the coastlines) and then after some touching up in PSP imported the basic coastline into Serif Drawplus using the autotrace function so the coastline was a vector shape. In my usual lazy way, rather than drawing the areas of woods individually, I filled the entire coastline shape with the wood fill and used a seamless tiling transparency mask which gave quite pleasing organic type shapes. Same with the mountains where I made a seamlessly tiling mountain pattern using the woodcut tutorial (http://www.io.com/%7Esjohn/uresia-maps.htm)Don posted a link to. That tutorial is serious gold dust.

I've attached the beginning of the (hackneyed, badly written) story, so you can see how I intend it to come together.

C&Cs most gratefully received!

Ravs

Torq
10-21-2007, 04:05 PM
No crits. Just want to say what a great map that is. Love the understated palette. Havn't read the story yet, but I'm about to.

Torq

ravells
10-21-2007, 05:05 PM
Thanks Torq! I've coloured it, but think it's better as it was before. Three different schemes. I think I prefer the second one.

pyrandon
10-21-2007, 07:11 PM
Excellent map, Ravs! I'll read that story ASAP, but just wanted to chime in that I like the map a lot. I think the vividly colored version (if desaturated just a tad) is my favorite.

The "squareness" of the forest edges is a bit distracting; they look like giant pixelations, which contrasts with the organic feel of the coasts. Also, the forest fill itself is a bit to much like static for my tastes. The font choice is a good one, though, and adds a lot--as do the dual compass roses. Very nice! Also, I have no idea what "annual windages" are, but I love that aspect of the map! Intriguing.

Great job (as always), Ravs! Nice post.

ravells
10-21-2007, 07:23 PM
Thanks Don! When seen up close the forest edges look horrible, I'll repair that with the clone tool in PSP after the map is done otherwise I'd have to pretty much start over - pixellation seems to be an occupational hazard with vector drawing programmes. I might use the woodcut tutorial to make a handmade forest fill to see what that looks like - that tutorial is sooooo handy. The 'annual windages' was just an idea I had to add lots of little symbols, charts and tables down the right hand side of the map, that one shows wind direction prevalence for each month of the year.

Cheers!

Ravs

Midgardsormr
10-21-2007, 09:04 PM
I like the month icons. Are those original?

And since this map uses those navigation lines, I am prompted to ask: is there somewhere I can go to learn what those mean? I have not much knowledge of nautical lore, unfortunately.

Gamerprinter
10-22-2007, 01:07 AM
I often use the "Autotrace" feature in Xara, which like Serif will create ugly pixelized edging sometimes. If a portion of the outline is extremely "pixelated", I view all the points created in the polyline shape and search for ones that need deleted or moved to an improved shape. Sometimes I use a combination of hand-drawn shapes within the vector application as well as relying on "Autotrace".

Just a suggestion.

Nice maps Ravs! 8)

Valarian
10-22-2007, 05:57 AM
Thanks Torq! I've coloured it, but think it's better as it was before. Three different schemes. I think I prefer the second one.
I agree with you. I like the second one best. The muted colours work with the style of map. I don't necessarily agree about the maps drawn by authors being all bad. Janny Wurts draws all her own maps and illustrations for her books. This is an online example of the Paravia map (http://www.paravia.com/JannyWurts/website/InteractiveMap/AtheraMap.html) for her Wars of Light and Shadow series, which I can heartily recommend. Personally, I think it has elegance in it's simplicity.

ravells
10-22-2007, 06:47 AM
Midgard: No, the symbols actually come from a font, but as I'm at the office I can't look it up here. I'll tell you the name when I get home although I can't remember where I got the font from. I find that symbol fonts are a real underused resource in maps. As they are vector based you can expand them all you like. The navigaion lines are called Rhumb Lines. If you wiki them, you 'll get more info on them.

Gameprinter: I should go through the map and deal with the pixellations, but I was too lazy! Interestingly, the forest pixellation didn't come from the auto-trace, but the bitmap mask I used which was 512 x 512 - I guess I should have used more resolution. I tend to draw my maps over an A4 size document which I think is a mistake, as although this doesn't affect the vector part of Drawplus, the bitmaps look pixellated over large shapes.

Valarian: Sorry I didn't mean to imply that all maps drawn by authors are awful. The Hilderbrant brothers (although they were more artists than authors) produced beauties and I've seen a few that I really like - that Paravia map is beauty, very evocative. That said there are a lot which are really pretty bad.

I think one of the restrictions one has to work within is that the map will be printed in black and white on at best two facing pages of a paperback. This map is already looking like it has too many colours in it to be printed in a mass produced cheap paperback. I believe (maybe gameprinter can help here) that putting in one monochromatic colour would still be possible without pushing the cost of the book unduly high. This was why initially I started by just using a pallette of black and green, but more an more colours snuck in.

Ravs

Valarian
10-22-2007, 07:07 AM
I think one of the restrictions one has to work within is that the map will be printed in black and white on at best two facing pages of a paperback. This map is already looking like it has too many colours in it to be printed in a mass produced cheap paperback. I believe (maybe gameprinter can help here) that putting in one monochromatic colour would still be possible without pushing the cost of the book unduly high. This was why initially I started by just using a pallette of black and green, but more an more colours snuck in.
I've just done a quick greyscale conversion of the second image and it looked fine. I wouldn't have thought there'd be a problem with printing a colour inset for the map. The colours would probably have to be on the Pantone palette to print well.

landorl
10-22-2007, 10:27 AM
I love the map, but I too have to say that the "squareness" of the forest edges are a bit distracting. Still, I like the subdued colors and the style that you have chosen. I think that it works well.

ravells
10-22-2007, 04:36 PM
Here is the next iteration. I've changed the forest fill to a more 'tree top' type rather than static. and I hope I've got rid of the pixellations in the fill. I've also changed the mountain fill to a different seamless tile....but I don't think it really works (I've kept all the old fill styles on Kesh for comparison).

Dunno...what do you lot think? I seem to spend the majority (at least 80%) of my time making and trying different styles rather than drawing the dang map.

edit: added a second one with borders.

pyrandon
10-22-2007, 10:10 PM
I think this is much, much better! The trees are far more pleasing to the eye.

The mountains work, I think, except the fading, which is more distracting than anything else, IMO.

Nice work!

Midgardsormr
10-22-2007, 10:25 PM
Dunno...what do you lot think? I seem to spend the majority (at least 80%) of my time making and trying different styles rather than drawing the dang map.

Well, the map itself is the easy part, right?

The forests appear to have some depth, but the mountains don't. Partly due, I think, to the drop shadow on the forest borders.

This map is looking very attractive. Keep it up!

edit: oh yes, and I like the forests very much. Precisely the style I was looking for a few weeks ago.

Valarian
10-23-2007, 03:48 AM
I'm afraid I still prefer the second map of the last set. I don't think either of the newer ones improves on that one. The mountains on these ones don't work for me at all, the just don't say "mountain" to me at all. The forests also look higher than the mountain terrain where they meet. I also like the variegated ground cover on the map 2 of the previous set.

ravells
10-23-2007, 08:59 AM
I'm inclined to agree with you Ian, although the tree fill I think is a slight improvement. I had a think about the variegated ground cover and although it looked prettier than just having one level of variegation, I thought it didn't really give any information about the land. I'm going to play with a variegation which involves farmers' fields and hedgerows and other types of ground use elements, so at least the texture has a meaning.

I'm going to ditch those mountains. In fact, I'm going to ditch the idea of using a seamless fill for mountains (they never seem to look right) and build up a series of hand drawn Erwin Raisz type mountain symbols. I think that even if I lose the feathering on the current seamless fill and put in a drop shadow, they'll still look manky. Using hand drawin individiaul symbols will also solve the problem about what to do where forest and mountain meet. As you say, Ian, the forest appears to float over the mountains using individual symbols I can have the mountain tops peeking out of the forest. In a way I wonder whether having one obvious hand drawn element in the map (like the mountains) will make the others seem more hand drawn? Worth a try.

Brian: I'll post up the seamless tile fill for the forest in in the mapping elements section of the site a little later.

Thanks chaps!

ravells
10-23-2007, 04:22 PM
I'm really pleased with the ground textures now, I'm going to leave them. I made a seamless fill of some fields from google earth to mark the populated areas and desaturated the more wilderness areas. I also overlaid some noise over all the land areas. The mountains need changing next - not looking forward to it as I'm going to have to forgo my lazy filter ways and actually draw something.

ravells
10-25-2007, 06:56 PM
Here it is again, but with the mountains done using RobA's latest instant relief mapping trick...well not so instant, it took awhile and it's still rough around the edges but worth keeping at! I love the way the forest now traces the contours of the mountains rather than sitting flat on them.

Arcana
10-25-2007, 09:24 PM
I really like the way you applied t hat to the map...its an awesome technique, but I think it needs some tweaking...And after lookign at gamerprinters maps and this map, I think I figured out whats got me in an uncanny valley with these approaches...

Its the "shininess" of the bevels...In this particular map, the bumpiness is too shiny...or glossy if you will, and I think thats whats unsettling to me...the highlights should be a VERY VERY light effect, try using a different color as the highlight color (photoshop's bevel filter will let you specify the color and layer mode of both highlight and shadow, not sure about other programs) but play with that a bit...

I'm going to also add this to GP's thread...

RobA
10-25-2007, 11:15 PM
Here it is again, but with the mountains done using RobA's latest instant relief mapping trick...well not so instant, it took awhile and it's still rough around the edges but worth keeping at! I love the way the forest now traces the contours of the mountains rather than sitting flat on them.

ooh-

One thing I forgot to mention...lighting. For this to look "normal", the main source of light should be coming from behind your left shoulder...that would be like the sun at your back. Note that this will make shadows differently than the "light from the top-left" that is often used for representing 3-d.

For my maps, I put one light above and behind the viewer and a fill like straight overhead. That might help a bit. Also, they may be too high for the map...they seem to kind of hump up, rather than blending up (unless this is what you are trying to achieve...I tend to have preconceived ideas of a mountain...)

-Rob A>

Valarian
10-26-2007, 03:41 AM
Ravs, I like the new look of the mountains. The forests now ride the contours and look good also. One thing, I've lost where the settlements are. I think that the symbols representing settlements need to be raised above the terrain, and made bolder to stand out.

ravells
10-26-2007, 05:30 AM
Thanks everyone!

the specularity really got to me as well, I reduceed it to zero in Bryce, but I think you're right Arcana, It'll need more managing. Thanks Rob about the lighting direction...that makes sense as the shadows won't obscure the map too much, and a fill light sounds like a damn good idea too - and yep, the mountains are way too big and lumpy. Valarian: the settlement markers are not actually there (I forgot to paste them back in!).

A number of thoughts occured to me on the way to work this morning:

I could try using the default heightmap of the bryce terrain to make a brush in psp, so I could dot 'little mountains' around the place to get a vague Erwin Raisz effect.

Other thoughts: using an airbrush to paint in the mountain locations rather than the paintbrush / gaussian blur, the softness of the edge of the airbrush ought to determine the gradient of the slope.

Using different noise patterns to get different mountain effects, such as a 'brocolli' shaped flat plateau. By using a dark airbrush, you should be able to trace canyons for the rivers to go through.

So much potential! I'm going to continue to play with this all weekend I think! I'll post results up if anything interesting comes out of it. RobA - any chance of that noisefill you used?

Rob, one thing I did do (as suggested in the shaded relief site) was render the map at an angle and then used the perspective tool in psp to make the map square again. Is that what you did as well?

The thing I really LOVE about this approach is that I can import my existing map as a layer into PSP and use it as a visual reference so that I can put the mountains exaclty where I want and then as a mask to stop the mountains overspilling into the sea or over the border (as they have done in the map posted above as the mask idea hadn't occured to me).

Cheers!

Ravs

RobA
10-26-2007, 08:46 AM
I could try using the default heightmap of the bryce terrain to make a brush in psp, so I could dot 'little mountains' around the place to get a vague Erwin Raisz effect.


ooh - I like that idea. And with size and rotation jitter it could be fairly randomized! If you do this, please post the hf or the brush!



Other thoughts: using an airbrush to paint in the mountain locations rather than the paintbrush / gaussian blur, the softness of the edge of the airbrush ought to determine the gradient of the slope.


Just add noise and optionally displacement distortion afterwards to get rid of the smoothness. That works OK, but I know I never had the skill drawing by hand to get the results I wanted. :(



Rob, one thing I did do (as suggested in the shaded relief site) was render the map at an angle and then used the perspective tool in psp to make the map square again. Is that what you did as well?


I didn't want to loose detail by distorting it so I leveraged the camera options in POV, so no transform was required:

I set the camera really far away, with a really long zoom, right on the z-axis. This generated what looked like an orthagonal areal view. I then set the output resolution to a square and adjusted the camera's aspect ratio to distort the image to fill the square.

-Rob A>

RobA
10-26-2007, 09:20 AM
RobA - any chance of that noisefill you used?


It was the stock render clouds.

-Rob A>

ravells
10-26-2007, 09:36 AM
Cheers I'll try a variety of fill types including clouds. I was using 'HSB Jiggle'. If I get anything helpful, I'll post up the heightfield so we can start to build up some brushes.

POV seems ahead of Bryce, I don't think I can set the aspect ratio for the bryce camera to anything but a rectangle...but I'll check. Being able to to that will minimise distortion and save another step.

(note to self: try mesh fill in DP for mask)

ravells
10-26-2007, 03:56 PM
Bryce heightmap default loaded here. (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?p=8705#post8705)

It's a bugger to try to reproduce.

ravells
10-27-2007, 07:37 PM
I feel like Luke Skywalker in the bloody trench...'stay on target...stay on target'...I'm getting there with this, but still don't think I have the right underlying noise to make the mountains. The colours have all gone doo lally with this but the mountains are getting there.

pyrandon
10-28-2007, 02:17 PM
Wow, ravs--that last post upped the ante a lot! Excellent work!!

(Do I smell a tutorial arising from this....? I hope so!)

Valarian
10-28-2007, 06:54 PM
Oh yes ... that's good. That's very good. I like that ... a lot.

RobA
10-28-2007, 10:11 PM
I'm also liking the look of that! I think you are almost there...

-Rob A>

ravells
10-29-2007, 06:03 AM
Cheers,

I'm not sure if there is a need for a tutorial as I really just followed RobA's tutorial to get the mountains.

Ravs

RobA
10-29-2007, 09:55 AM
Could you post the HF for the whole map, separately?

I know one problem many people have with this type of technique is knowing what a hf should look like :)

Another thing to try is to run it through Bryce again, but use the initially rendered map (with mountains) as the image map, and the exact same lighting, etc. This will "reinforce" the lighting effect in the mountain area.

Also, any luck on changing the camera settings? I know Bryce is very powerful, so this should be possible.... And it is MUCH easier than POVRay to use, as everything in POV is based on text script files...no modeler/visual designer included.

-Rob A>

Joshua_101
10-29-2007, 10:29 AM
I think a tut is a great idea... because you used several different tutorials to achieve this map it would be good to see how they integrate and we could get an idea of your workflow.

Also, I'd love to know how you achieved that blocky texture for the farmer's fields and settled areas. I love it! It looks like real areal photography of farmland.

ravells
10-29-2007, 10:50 AM
Interesting idea, Rob, I'll try runing through Bryce again as you suggest. I can't change the camera settings so it renders as a trapezium (thus correcting the perspective) - at least I thought that's what you meant when you mentioned adjusting the aspect ratio in POVray.

I can adjust the size of resolution and the FOV of the camera in Bryce but it's always a square a or rectangle.

Making a tut shouldn't be so difficult, I'd like to go through it again to make sure that it's all clear in my head anyway so I'll work away on that. Joshua - the farmers' fields were exactly that, which I stitched together from google earth to make a seamless tile. If you go to the 'Mapping Elements' section and look at the sticky thread called 'Land and Sea Texture fills' (or similar), I have posted the fill pattern there so you can use it if you want.

cheers

ravs

RobA
10-29-2007, 11:26 AM
I can't change the camera settings so it renders as a trapezium (thus correcting the perspective)

I guess I meant two things, but messed them up in my description. The trapezoidal perspective distortion can be "fixed" (orthogonal, or close enough for all practical purposes) by moving the camera away from the scene and zooming in (decreasing the FOV).
Here is an image with a normal camera view:
1269

With the camera moved twice as far away, and the FOV cut in half:
1270

five times and 1/5:
1271

and 100 times (and 1/100 the FOV - sort of an uber-telephoto):
1272

The aspect ratio thing was to chance the x/y ratio to get a square out, rather than the rectangle shown in the last image.

-Rob A>

ravells
10-29-2007, 11:46 AM
Ah OK, I was already doing that - using a FOV setting of 1 degree which still meant having to use the perspective filter but there was far less distortion to correct.

ravells
10-30-2007, 06:09 AM
Here is the heightfield I used for the map

Ravs