View Full Version : June Entry: The Tower at Charm

Steel General
06-06-2010, 12:12 PM
In an effort to get my creative juices flowing again so I can finish my current consignment piece I figured I'd give this month's challenge a shot.

I'm a big fan of the Black Company series by Glen Cook and near the end of the first book the Black Company takes part in the defense of the Imperial Capital - The Tower of Charm. This is the largest battle in the history of the empire.

The Tower itself is described as an approximately 500' Cube of dark stone. Little other information is given on it other than there are 'battlements' at the top and that it was built around a smaller 'tower' that takes up approx one third of the space inside.

From the book...

At the time of the Tower's construction huge basalt billets had been imported. Shaped on site, they had been stacked and fused into this gigantic cube of stone. The waste, chips, blocks broken during shaping, billets found unsuitable, and overage, had been left scattered around the Tower in a vast jumble more effective than any moat. It extended a mile.

In the north, though, a depressed piece-of-pie section remained unlittered. This constituted the only approach to the Tower on the ground...

I'm mostly concentrating on the Imperial forces and defenses as the rebels are just way to numerous to try and include. Eventually I will add unit markers for the defenders and possibly the more notorious persona's.

Still a bunch to do on this. But the basics are more or less in place.

As always, C&C welcome and encouraged.

### Latest WIP ###

06-06-2010, 12:38 PM
havent read the books, so my only ref is your text. Looking good - for now I have to comments - the shadow is a bit heay in the far end - and if the ruble shall be the difficulty equivalent of a moat, perhaps there should be some more?

06-06-2010, 12:44 PM
By the description, I expected a denser litter of basalt, larger pieces and more angular/less organic.

The gunsight-looking formation around the tower... is that a wall or a walkway? Is it elevated over the ground around it? How high if so?

The shape of the shadow doesn't seem right if the sun is to the east-northeast and about 45 degrees (or any other angle). Is the shadow set to linear burn? You may want to try 75% back shadow (or less) and give it a 1-pixel gaussian blur when you're happy with it to make it look more diffused, and I'd try multiply to see if it eliminates that brown tinge. (Keep in mind that I'm colorblind, so I may be seing a brown tinge that doesn't exist!)

I think this is going to be very cool.

06-06-2010, 01:24 PM
I don't see a brown tinge, the shadow's color looks good to me. I'm horrible with shadows myself, so I won't comment on the shape ;) Like the others, I think more rubble is definitely in order, but it looks great so far. As usual, your textures rock.

Steel General
06-06-2010, 01:51 PM
Thanks for the comments...

The ' rubble moat' is no where near complete, I just had to take a break from working on the map for awhile. More than a few hours and I get 'burned out'. :?

I struggle with the shadows for large objects all of the time, especially directional ones. I've yet to find a easily repeatable process for doing them. So it'll probably get tweaked some before I call it finished.

@Immolate - I don't see the brown tinge you are referring to, so maybe your color-blindness is playing tricks :)

The 'bulls-eye' pattern around the Tower are slightly elevated roads (may need to reduce the bevel some). During the siege, the grassy areas around the tower are largely used for the grazing of various animals.

06-06-2010, 03:10 PM
Here's how I do the shadows: every unique shadow-casting object of identical height should be on a different layer. In this case, I put your tower, the walkway below and the crenelations on different laters. Next, I determine the ground rules for the shadows. I typically put my shadows at 45 degrees and coming from SE, SW, NE or NW. Anything else is more calculation-intensive.

If I were going to do the tower, I would create a new layer above everything else, then ctrl-click the tower's layer icon. I then fill that with black. This gives me a black copy of the tower. Then, I filter/offset this new layer. If my sun is coming from NW as it is in my example, and at 45 degrees, the shadow will be exactly the same length as the hieght of the building. In this case I chose 334'. So I offset by +334 and +334. Next, on the same layer, I connect the outside corners of the tower and the tower shadow at high resolution, basically filling in the "between" shadow. This leaves a big glob of shadow on top of the tower, so I ctrl-click the tower layer icon again and delete the shadow on top of it.

Next I do the crenelations. I've decided they are five feet high, so I create a new shadow layer next to the first one and ctrl-click the crenelation layer icon. This is trickier because we have to do two shadows. One is on top of the tower, and one on the ground below. For the one below, we fill the crenelations with black and then offset them by +339, +339. To back-fill the lower parts of those shadows, we simply ctrl-click the crenelation shadow layer (which we're on) and "walk it back". First I zoom in. If you don't, you may walk back too fast. With the blinking lines telling me where my selection is, I hit the up arrow and the left arrow, which walks back the selection one pixel closer to the origin. Then I fill and go again, and again, and again, until my selection is fully merged with the main shadow. This technique is very useful when you have a very complex object that you need a shadow for.

I do the same thing for the crenelation shadows on the tower top, only offsetting by 5, 5 this time. Stamp the shadow, then walk it back. In the process, you'll wind up with shadow atop your crenelations. No worries, just ctrl-click the crenelation layer icon and delete that part of the shadow.

For the walkways, I did a three-pixel walk-back. Now this is important. When I was done, I merged the shadow layers together. They are all solid black at 100% opacity at this point. next I give the merged shadow layer a 1.0 pixel Gaussian blur and then set the layer property to multiply, 75% opacity.

This is what it looks like...

Steel General
06-06-2010, 03:58 PM
I'll have to give that a try...thanks!

Steel General
06-20-2010, 06:37 PM
Finally was able to sit down and get some work done on this.

Changes for this version;

"Moat" re-done
Added border with Black Company Sigil in two of the corners
Add 'counters' for the Imperial Wizards
Added basic title
Tweaked shadow on tower a bit

What's left to do;

'Counters' for imperial troops
Scale bar

As always C&C welcome and encouraged...

### Latest WIP ###

06-21-2010, 09:53 AM
nice.. I feel perhaps the rubble could use some more jagged edges, so it looks more dangerous - and the counters could use a little depth, perhaps just a dropshadow :)

Steel General
06-21-2010, 04:34 PM
Tilt, good points.

I used broken glass brushes to do the "rubble moat" and the rubble has been there for a long time so I'm going under the assumption that some of the 'jaggedness' has been overgrown.

As for drop-shadows on the counters - I'll have to see how that looks, but you're right they could use some depth.

Steel General
06-24-2010, 08:04 PM
Thankfully I was able to finish this before the cut-off, things are really heating up at work and my free time is severely limited.

Damn these corporate spin-off/sales! :sad:

Anyway so here we are, I've included some quotes from the book so you can get an idea of what I was trying to accomplish. Wish I had more time I could do a lot more with this...oh well maybe someday I'll come back to it.

Here it is, my latest "masterpiece" ;)

### Latest WIP ###

06-25-2010, 02:31 AM
very nice... I like the counters ... they remind me how long its been since I played wargames... *sigh*
the texts are a good addition - and nice skulls :)

Steel General
06-25-2010, 10:40 AM
Thanks...I was just looking at it myself and discovered an error I'll need to correct once I get home from work today.

Yeah I was pretty happy how the skulls turned out.

06-25-2010, 10:54 AM
have you made them yourself?... nice!

06-25-2010, 02:55 PM
Dude, this turned out soo good. I totally reminds me of reading the books. Nice!!

Steel General
06-25-2010, 04:22 PM
Thanks folks...

Realized early this morning that I had some stuff backward on the third tier, so I have made those corrections.

The original is 5100x5100 @ 300ppi - this one is @200ppi and a PS .JPG quality setting of 9

### Latest WIP ###

06-25-2010, 05:12 PM
I was just reading the text and noticed what seem to be a couple errors you might want to double check:

(Both are in the second column of text)
....those abandoned to the Rebel. <-- I'm thinking should be "Rebels".

...commands from right, left to right <-- I think you have an extra right in there.

Steel General
06-26-2010, 03:41 PM
OK, so I thought I was done...then Jaxilon had to come along and shatter my delusions by finding some typo's. :D

Good thing to, because while checking the ones he found, I found a couple myself.

@Tilt - I did not create the actual skull, it's a download from the Dundjinni forums, but all of the modifications are mine - the glowing eyes, the flames, altering the size and shape of the skull itself. (Its the same one I used in my Shrine of the Sapphire Skull temple).

So here it is in all my imagined glory - the final version.

### Latest WIP ###