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Fransie
06-02-2010, 08:35 AM
Four Oaks is a small village situated in a forest in my D&D campaign. A druid living nearby has convinced the inhabitants that clearing trees would be unwise, hence the small fields. The village was named after the four large oak trees in the middle of a clearing in the forest, one of which was destroyed in a recent lightning strike.

The map was made in Xara Xtreme, so it's all vector. I made the map mainly to experiment with rpgmapmaker's handdrawn buildings and trees. (see here (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?10041-Free-Hand-Drawn-Town-Buildings)) I traced his drawings and added a bump map to get the proper shading (this way I can change the direction of the lighting on the fly, and the shading automatically adapts when the buildings are rotated). I made four colour variants of each building and placed them by hand.

The trees gave me (or rather, Xtreme) some headaches. These were also traced, but the resulting vector shapes were rather complicated. As there are 4138 trees on the map, it made Xtreme somewhat sluggish (still workable though). If I had manually drawn the tree shapes, they would have had at most a quarter of the number of nodes they have now, thus giving much better performance. I didn't have the time to create bump maps for the trees, maybe some other day. Placing the trees was a matter of creating a brush consisting of 50 different trees (maximum Xtreme allows), with some randomizing in colour, scale, rotation and placement (more or less like the Big Lazy City method, see this thread (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?10400-Big-Lazy-City)). I then drew a few squiggly lines, applied the brush and converted these to seperate shapes. All that was left was a bit of cleaning up, removing trees overlapping fields, buildings and roads.

There is still enough work left on this map. I need to add more fences and walls, get some variation in the fields, and make a new label, among other things.

Comments are welcome!

jfrazierjr
06-02-2010, 09:19 AM
Very nice!!

One thing that jumped out at me (though, it's not horrible) is the ground texture style seems to clash a bit with the hand drawn look everything else.

One other suggestion (though I don't know how easy/hard/possible to do in Xara) is to add some more depth to your trees by adding some shading "inside" the tree shape. I suspect that this might just be very time consuming, but if it is not, it really will make the whole pop I think.
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/77426/Trees.png

Fransie
06-02-2010, 10:02 AM
Thanks for your comments, jfrazierjr.

The two textures I used for the ground are just two of Xtreme's standard textures. I didn't take the time to find anything better, as I focused on developing drawing techniques for the buildings and trees.

Adding shading to the trees is certainly possible, but would be a bit problematic. I could do it the same way as I did the buildings, but that would mean placing the trees by hand.
Another way is to create two brushes, one for the trees' shapes and colours, and one for the shading. The settings of the randomization of spacing, scaling, rotation and offset have to be exaclty the same in both brushes, which is problematic in Xtreme, as you cannot enter a seed number (just press the Randomize button), and most other settings are done with horribly inaccurate sliders. But it can be done. This would result in a much more complex cleaning-up phase, as I would have to move or delete twice the number of objects, and most of these will be difficult to select due to the fact that a lot of trees overlap.

I really hope Xtreme's developers will add support for shadows and live effects in brushes, so it could all be combined in one brush, but I doubt that is going to happen anytime soon.

jfrazierjr
06-02-2010, 10:24 AM
Yea, I kind of figured that would be the case. Check with GamePrinter as he is the resident Xara expert as he may have some tips that might get around this issue. Note that what I did here was screenshot, import to GIMP, and then used the dodge/burn tools to simulate the light/dark sides of the trees. To be clear, you have VERY excellent line work in those trees, and the look really good as it is...

Oh, one more thing... perhaps you can rough up the edges of the fields with a slight blur and perhaps a bit of irregular shape? Right now, they are all very straight edged with hard borders.

tilt
06-04-2010, 04:03 AM
looking good - the fields are a bit bland I think, but nice map - and fun idea with the town being spread in the forrest. And have some rep, you deserve it just for placing the forrest ;)

Fransie
06-04-2010, 10:48 AM
Here's my latest WIP. I changed the textures of the fields, and roughened up their edges a bit, though it's hard to see in this jpg.
I also addes some shading to the trees. I had to cheat a bit to keep my PC from collapsing, so now I can't move any trees anymore without redoing the shading for all trees.
Finally, I added some ruts in the roads, but they only start to show when I export the image at double the resolution I used here. So that was a bit of a wasted effort.

tilt
06-04-2010, 10:52 AM
THATS a village... the shadows and the new fields look really good - fantastic job, now give your computer a well deserved break (for at least several minutes) ;)

Ascension
06-04-2010, 05:58 PM
I've always wondered what a forest village would look like and this looks great. 4 oaks and a thousand elms :)

Steel General
06-04-2010, 06:03 PM
Nice update...steps above the original (which wasn't bad either) ;)

Fransie
06-05-2010, 09:48 AM
I've always wondered what a forest village would look like and this looks great. 4 oaks and a thousand elms :)

Make that three oaks and fourthousandonehundredandtwentynine others :-)