View Full Version : Elemental Chaos - Fire Earth Mote

07-07-2010, 03:50 AM
I have a game coming up and I needed a floating Earth Mote with a fire theme

I made this as the background map image, and then I used Torstans excellent map components to build the fortress on top of it.

It can work with either the 100px or 50px grid size. I'm using the 100px size, but that makes the whole map area seem a little cramped.

Comments welcome.


07-07-2010, 04:11 AM
Simple, but simple can be good. I really like the colors and the texture of the mote!

My only critiques are that the angle of the clouds makes this look like an ISO map-- like the mote look like it is floating at a 45 degree angle to the off-camera ground, rather than parallel to it (the players would slide off and plummet to their doom!). I would think a fake "depth of field" blur on some generic scenery overlaid with a flatter layer of semi-transparent clouds would give a stronger impression of a flying island. It would also give a better impression of height (depending on the size of the scenery beneath) and induce a nice sense of vertigo!

07-07-2010, 04:21 AM
Strange, I don't see a fortress. Would that be a view of the mote from below (since you can see clouds and the sky?). With floating objects like these it might be better to use depth of field as an indicator of distance by using some gaussian blur on the background so it looks out of focus. Also with the drop shadow if the clouds are some distance away from the mote the shadow and your light source is going to be at about 45 degrees or so then the shadow will be offset by quite a bit. Don't know what you're using to make this with but here's a quick and dirty idea of what I mean.

07-07-2010, 04:21 AM
lol ninja'd by RE....GMTA!

PS I also agree with RE that the perspective of the clouds is 'off' . Attached is a tiling texture of clouds seen from directly above which you can use.

07-07-2010, 04:53 AM
I agree with the guys above, you'll get more depth with "earth" below ... and where is that fortress? :)

07-07-2010, 11:22 AM
I think the fortress is added on in the VTT using one of Torstan's object packs. I think this was just the underlying base but I put my vote in for seeing the whole thing altogether as well. I'm sure Torstan would love to see his stuff in action as well :)

edit: Not to imply that Torstan's "stuff" isn't in action. In retrospect I could have said that differently, lol

07-07-2010, 05:51 PM
Thanks everyone - I was at a loss to replicate that depth of field - I'm a total n00b when it comes to photoshop. I knew it wasn't right, but had no idea how to get it the way I wanted it. The biggest problem for me is that the mote is floating in the Elemental Chaos - which means no farmland below :D I originally wanted an island in a sea of lava, but thought I might make it more like an Earth mote, with many hundreds of feet to anything solid. (It's for an Epic party).

ravells - your quick mock up is better than my hours-long labour!
I'll try that technique- just need to find some appropriate photos for the "Ground" shot. Then Gaussian Blur on the ground + layer with semi-transparent clouds - should I use "overlay" for that layer? (using Photoshop CS 3 I think). Did you just use "Filter>Render>Clouds" to generate your sample ?

BTW.. Any quick tips on getting my earthmote looking more 3D? I noticed the shadows in your quick mockup are well defined, but I'm not sure how to achieve that in mine. I bet there's a tutorial on 3D effects in Photoshop - I'll dig around when I get some time.

And yes - to answer the criticism that there's no fortress - I was building that directly in Maptool. Using Torstans 100px toolset, I'm unfortunately finding my Earthmote is not as big as I had hoped! I may have to resize it larger (although lower resolution - file size is already too large), or change the grid to 50px instead.

Either way, the "fortress" became more like small tower - turns out Fire Giants need a fair bit of room :D I began making multiple levels - drilling into the mote and building on top, but it's not looking that great right now..

That's why I'm slapping a huge WIP sticker on this :)

Thanks again for all your comments. I'll keep you posted as it goes along.

07-08-2010, 03:28 AM
you can use overlay or hard light or.. try them all ;) .. .yes, it's render>clouds
you could try with a mountainous terrain under, and then play with the colors on that to make it more dark looking, perhaps with streaks of lava here and there :)

07-08-2010, 03:41 AM
I erazor, I guess the question is....what does elemental chaos look like for your 'ground shot'? Maybe something like a particle collision diagram? (attached below). Yes, it's gaussian blur the ground layer and then the cloud layer on the layer above that. I have the blend mode set to 'normal' and just lower the opacity to suit. You could use the render clouds filter in PS but I have a custom clouds filter which gives me a lot more control over clouds. To get the '3d' effect on the mote I just drew some random blobs and gave it a strong bevel and emboss layerstyle. Another way is to use Filter / Render / Lighting effects. Play with the settings until you have something that you like but where it says channels at the bottom of the menu, pick one of the channels in your drawing (red green or blue) rather than the default setting or better still, make a greyscale channel of your heightmap.

::: Edit Ooops, thanks Seretur attachment attached now:::

07-08-2010, 03:49 AM
I erazor, I guess the question is....what does elemental chaos look like for your 'ground shot'? Maybe something like a particle collision diagram? (attached below)

No attachment. Your description of how to make it makes it sound like it looks cool, though. :D

07-09-2010, 05:05 AM
Here's the latest version. I used Google Earth to find some sort of churning coastline. Then I played with the colours to make it slightly otherworldly. Gaussian Blur on the background.

The clouds were fun. Render > Clouds doesn't give a pleasing result at this image resolution. Too "granular".. tight little clouds all bunched up... So I made a separate file with smaller dimensions. Render > Clouds. Duplicated that layer and played with the overlay to get something decent, then merged the layers and resized to the big dimensions. Selected by colour and copy /pasted into a new layer in my original image.
I'm not 100% happy with it, but I thought I'd get another round of critique before beating the dead horse some more :D

Game has been postponed, so I have some more time to work on the actual tower.. I'll post that soon.

07-09-2010, 05:42 AM
much better :) ... a comment though - I like that the note casts a shadow on the clouds below - but it also have a small drop shadow, and that makes the picture look flatter and messes with the perspective

07-09-2010, 05:52 AM
Thanks - I put that drop shadow in to try to give a 3D effect because bevel and chisel and so on didn't work so well on the complex edge. Oh well, I'll muck around some more later. Sleep now.

07-09-2010, 06:11 AM
Looking much better, do you have to go for a top down view? A perspective view might be cool...like a Roger Dean painting (he was really into floating motes).

07-09-2010, 06:21 AM
yes.. I thought the same, that a side view would be cool - but the map has to fit in mapmaker afterwards, so he can't do that... but he could do it as a "prop" for the players - that would be nice :)

08-22-2010, 07:38 PM
I thought I'd update this thread with some screen captures from the game session.

Funnily enough, the fortress did not see any combat :(
They *negotiated* <gasp>


08-26-2010, 05:43 AM
that turned out really nice... and negotiate.. shouldn't that go something like this
Player: We wanna negotiate
Npc: huh.. ne-GOAT-hate?
Player: Peace... lets talk
Npc: TALK?!! (bad word in monstertalk) ... mgna nagallah tumba *draws weapon*
Player: puts up hands in friendly gesture (unfortunatly that is the gesture for challenge in monstertalk)