View Full Version : Continuous WIP

Pablo Diablo
10-30-2007, 05:09 PM
So my gaming group is starting a new campaign, and being the graphics/carto- geek of the group, I volunteer to make the world map...

The great thing about this group is that we create a game-world collaboratively, taking the GM's initial ideas and talking about what makes sense in the game-world and expanding on them - which is awesome, because we all become invested in the world that we make and know a lot about its details!

I thought I would post my progress as it happens, and open up the door to feedback, critiques and suggestions!

WARNING: This may turn out to be a long process... I do this around my freelance lifestyle which has a flood/draught duality.
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So the GM and I started off by talking about the world - he wanted a partial world map that incorporated a lot of ocean and either small continents or island nations.... There were going to be 5 or 6 civilizations, most of which were inspired by real-world nations(Greeks, Romans, Viking, Aztec, etc). I sketched some very quick and dirty ideas in pencil, scanned them in, manipulated them a bit and sent them off. He responded with thoughts and suggestions, some of which I incorporated, and then got approval to go ahead.

At this point, I took my rough .jpg into Illustrator and started tracing coast lines, adding detail and small islands. This is basically where I am now. You can see in the closeup that I've added some details to the lower end of the "Ilium" (Greek city-states) area - because we were already in our first session and needed to flesh out the game area!

My next steps:
1> PUT A SCALE ON THE MAP! I know, this is blasphemous not to have done already (especially since I make part of my living as a draftsman)!
2> Define major geographic features: mountain ranges, inland bodies of water, major rivers, etc.
3> Take the land-mass outlines into Photoshop and create the map coloration base - water/vegetation/mountains, etc
4> Add coloration detail
5> Add symbols and text.
6> Border, Compass Rose, and other mapping details

Attachments so far:
1> Map Sketch 2: One of the initial scanned pencil sketches. I liked some of the shapes I had come up with, but not necessarily the arrangement....
2> Viking Lines Map WIP: The next step, having moved some of the land masses around, and sketched out where fault lines, etc lay.
3> Land Mass AI WIP: Having traced the outlines in Illustrator and added plenty of detail... Still need to adjust the coastlines on a few areas that don't match the overall style. [THIS IS A BIG, BIG FILE!]
4> Illium Close-UP WIP: A closeup of Ilium, where you can see that I've started to place cities, mountain ranges, the absent Mt. Olympus, etc. I normally wouldn't do the cities until much later, but we needed a basis to start gaming with...


10-30-2007, 08:37 PM
I like your methodical process and how your group collaborates on the world development. Its a great way to make PCs feel invested in their campaign setting. I can definitely see the benefit of mapping out fault lines when determining geography and working backwards from that point. Look forward to seeing more as you get to it.

10-30-2007, 09:42 PM
Yeah, buddy! This is going to be a fun thread! I love seeing worlds come together from start to finish! Keep it up.

10-31-2007, 08:54 AM
Wow! Lots of detailed area covered there. You will certainly have many opportunities to fill in the holes as you need to, which is a great way to approach a map.

I like your process too, but caution that the political boundaries might have been premature, not having the land features in place. An alternative way at this time is to define zones of influence for each of the civilizations and see how they approach each other across the physical terrain (once defined). The relationships between them will help decide the borders, as well.

For example two groups constantly at war will have to have defensible borders tightly coupled with terrain, possibly with a large no-man's land of disputed territory between them, where-as two groups that have a relatively harmonious peace and trade relationship may have borders based on negotiation and may be a nice straight line across a region.

-Rob A>

Pablo Diablo
10-31-2007, 02:14 PM

Good points. I think most of my political borders (as they appear on the sketch) follow your guidelines. Its just not so apparent, because mountain ranges, etc are still in my head!

The Keltoi / Ilium (Celtic and Greek) border actually cants clockwise a few more degrees to follow the mountain range that occurs along the fault line... The Keltoi / Skagen (Celtic / Viking) border is a point of conflict, with the Keltoi being nomadic and the Skagen starting to establish coastal settlements - there will be a narrow "no-man's land" as you call it (I've been thinking of it as a DMZ! =) along the northeast coast there. The only other political border within a geographical mass is in the southwest, where the two pre-Mayan-inspired civilizations share mostly peaceful borders on bodies of water.

The thought on the Imperrium Toranum (Roman-inspired) is that it thins out as it progresses into the shattered lands - there may be a technical "border", but it is not a Hadrian's Wall sort of situation, rather a "more civilized" (safe) and "less civilized" (not safe) one.


Pablo Diablo
11-03-2007, 03:41 PM
So I absolutely LOVED some of the coloration in these (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=1025)maps by TheRedEpic. I haven't quite pegged the water coloration, but I think I'm doing OK for my first shot (and that bit was done without my tablet, which was a bit of a pain in the you-know-what).

-Internal bodies of water (which I should have done already)
-Figuring out how I am going to do mountain ranges


Do I need to change the color on the scale? It seems to stick out to me, but I wanted to let it sit for a while, and see if it was OK when I got some warmer colors on the piece. (Right now its the whole red/green color contrast thing)

Edit: (forgot to mention) Also, I'm of changing the compass rose to something a little more cross-cultural than the vaguely roman-esque font. Perhaps a circular chiseled stone tablet...?

PS Forgive the compression artifacts on the attachment - first shot was almost 3 megs, which would have just been rude. =)

11-03-2007, 04:57 PM
I agree with you abour RedEpic's colorations--and I think you've done a quite respectable job emulating it! Did you achieve this through a bunch of cloud layers, each overlaying to differing degrees of intensity?

The red on the scale would be ok if desaturated a bit, and it's tough to tell if your compass is misplaced because there are too few elements on the map fro which to judge, IMO.

Overall, very nice!

Pablo Diablo
11-03-2007, 05:09 PM
Thanks, Pyrandon!

In terms of the water coloration... I used 5 different layers (I might have been able to get away with 4). I wish I had been able to use my Tablet!!! Oi!

From Top to Bottom:

1. Green/White clouds in Color Dodge - erased to various degrees from the "deeper" portions of the ocean.

2. Using a solid but soft brush is a slightly richer green with "wet edges" mode, I put down a "glaze" over some of the seabed to help pull it all together. My brush might have been in a special mode here... I don't recall - the idea was to lower contrast slightly and tone large portions of the water.

3. Using a medium scale brush with low/medium opacity on a layer in Color Burn blending mode, put down a lot more mottling. I /might/ have done some blurring using the Blur tool.

4. Using a large scale brush with limited opacity and a slightly darker color than the base (#5), I put down some general mottling away from the land masses, and then Gaussian Blurred it slightly.

5. Base Flat Water Color

In addition, the land masses (sitting above the water) have 2 different "Outer Glow"s on it - One is tighter and smooth, the other is wider, with some noise, but at a lower opacity.

And there you have it!

11-03-2007, 11:48 PM
You could also try to frame in the scale with a similar bevel as the rose and title..that might tie it together more

-Rob A>

Pablo Diablo
06-30-2008, 01:54 PM
OK, slow going - between working the freelance lifestyle, being forced to move (landlord sold the building), and plenty of other stuff....

I've moved ahead to detailing the continent on which gameplay has started...

(Yes, I admit that I was inspired by a few literary sources on a couple of the location names, i.e. the "GOLKI FALLS" w/ the upper, middle and lower plates, etc...)

Haven't finished naming everything, but the game is on a bit of a hiatus, and we're not sure it will pick up again, what with the shift to 4E and all.

You'll also notice that there are red dots (detailing points of interest) on one of the southern islands. Guess where the campaign is centered?


[Image issues] OK admins and power users... I try uploading the .jpg (at 3.4 megs, it's large, but well under the 4.7m cutoff) - the upload manager crunches away for a while, and then the pop-up screen goes blank white and doesn't proceed any further. This has happened across multiple attempts. Any idea what's wrong? Is there an alternate method that I should use?

I will edit this post once I get the image up.

A. Smith
06-30-2008, 04:23 PM
Maybe just use www.imageshack.us?

07-01-2008, 07:27 PM
[Image issues] OK admins and power users... I try uploading the .jpg (at 3.4 megs, it's large, but well under the 4.7m cutoff) - the upload manager crunches away for a while, and then the pop-up screen goes blank white and doesn't proceed any further. This has happened across multiple attempts. Any idea what's wrong? Is there an alternate method that I should use?

I will edit this post once I get the image up.

This this was already answered in another thread - there is an issue with the forum software thumbnailer and any image over about 30Mpx (i.e. actual size).

The only option right now is to host is at one of the free image hosting places, or at DA, or self host.

-Rob A>

Pablo Diablo
07-06-2008, 03:41 PM
Sorry about the double post - had called out my issue here first, and then later decided that it might be worth posting about it on a board where people in the know would see it...

As for the image - I've shrunk it down to about 50% resolution and higher jpg compression (don't know why I didn't do this in the first place, maybe I was just being stubborn - or obtuse)...

Again, a WIP, and there are several places left untouched, but you will hopefully get a sense of the Greek and Celtic flavors from the place names. I'm undecided as to whether I will eventually finish this or not - I really enjoy this one, but the game is faltering, and I have a lot of other projections (professional and cartography) to juggle.

As always, open to comments or criticisms.
[Edit: I didn't take the "Imageshack" option because it wouldn't host my original file (too big), and I prefer to keep images on-site if possible (one of the many reasons we should all love the CG!)]

07-06-2008, 05:19 PM
Wow, i really like this latest map! Great work, PD! I would really like to have the high resolution file...is there no way to upload it here?

Anyway, i really hope you will keep this project alive...i want to see more of it :)

07-06-2008, 06:25 PM
Indeed! Truly magnificent!

07-06-2008, 09:59 PM
Again, a WIP, and there are several places left untouched, but you will hopefully get a sense of the Greek and Celtic flavors from the place names. I'm undecided as to whether I will eventually finish this or not - I really enjoy this one, but the game is faltering, and I have a lot of other projections (professional and cartography) to juggle.

Very nice Map.


07-07-2008, 11:43 PM
Been busy this past week-plus, and unable to check CG... but I come back at least just this evening and find this beautiful map! Very nice.

07-08-2008, 04:47 PM
Wow, this has come a long way since the original! I really dig the colors and the very organic feel of the land masses. That's very cool, too, the way you've done the labeling, particularly with the gold text -- some of the others are kind of hard to read, tho' :( The one thing I'm not real keen about is the bevel/emboss that style that leaves the land looking like plastic bubbles. Hm. Would 'plain' be ... too plain?

07-09-2008, 12:43 AM
The colors of the ocean really caught my eye on the world map. Then looking closer the texture is amazing, very cool method. I understand the JPEG really messes with it. I know theres alot more detail that I'm not seeing.

As for the continental map, really good as well. The water keeps the nice texture abit while becoming alot more plain to fit the style. The mountains and forests look really good as well. I can't see the plastic in them, but if you feel there is, I know a good way to fix it. Just change the highlights of the bevel from white, to a slight light yellow, and the shadows from black to a dark dark blue. If its not a bevel effect then maybe theres some highlight layer you could colorize to have the yellow tint.

I have a question. Is the detail for the continental map of Ilium, the same detail as the world map only enlarged? Cause if it's just the world map enlarged... wow, thats massive. How can your computer handle that? 8:o

07-09-2008, 06:20 AM
Fabulous map. What I really like about this is the way that it feels big. Lots of country sized maps have trees, and mountains which look like a different scale than the land is supposed to be. This map makes it look like a full country size. I also like the font rendering too. That thin metallic feel is good - as though its embossed on top. Really nice stuff.

07-11-2008, 04:08 PM
This latest map is beautiful! It is such a huge map, and I like the fact that you have started doing details on the smaller island in the south. It really begins to give you a sense of the scale here.

Pablo Diablo
07-30-2008, 03:59 PM
Thanks all for your kind comments!

A few replies: (nudge me if I didn't get to you)

This /is/ a blow-up of the original continent... But I cheated. Because I knew I would want to do details, I had originally done the continent outlines for the world map in illustrator. This let me select that single continent and the surrounding area and blow it up smoothly (so I am not in fact dealing with some unimaginably sized graphics file - although the .psd for the Labeled Illium is at 166 megs, which is pretty sizable as it is)...

Regarding the difficulty in reading text: Yes. The file I posted is the jpg of the original, but at 50% scale. The larger file is /slightly/ easier to read, but one thing I've been playing with is how to get the text clearer without being to stylistically different. Currently I have glows around most of the text, in order to provide a contrast between the text and the glow / glow and the background. Open to suggestions.

Re: Plasticity of the continents... Hmmmm.... I see it /slightly/ in the highlights. Perhaps I'll play with that a bit. (re: whoever suggested changing the highlight color - that's exactly my ploy, but I'll probably steer towards something in the world of the inner glow on the continet - a greenish color... Though yellow might work too)

Thanks again, everyone. I'm working on my canal city currently, between other projects, but I may get back to this one when I have a free minute or 30.


07-31-2008, 07:53 AM
great looking map. Like the beveled font nice touch. gives it an ancient Rome feel.