View Full Version : July Entry: the Menhir Dance of the Ui'iliad
07-08-2010, 01:35 AM
The Menhir Dance of the Ui'iliad is a stone circle of immense upright stones numbering 27, surrounding a "U" shaped dance of menhir stones facing the south southwest, and a white granite omphalos stone lies at the center. It stands at the center of a rising of land over the surrounding plain, just southeast of Lake Fuath, a bottomless pit of turbulent water with no visible rivers emptying it to the sea. The site was built by an extinct culture, though it is currently managed by a council of druids from each of the four kingdoms of Hybrini. They have placed 27 immense runestones surrounding the circle. (Stone Dance is an old term for a menhir stone circle.)
Trinity has power in Celtic numerology, it is their most mystical number. 27 being a trinity of threes (3x3x3) is the second most mystical number (9 has power as well). The trinity of power at this locus is the sun, the moon and the earth - source of arcane power, the providence of the runemaster druids. A precise alignment of lunar and solar movements correspond to geomantic relationship with this precise location on the island manifesting as arcane power.
The attached map below is a larger regional map that will be used as an inset showing the location of the Menhir Dance on the Hybrini Isle and the regions of the four kingdoms, labeled with Celtic shield heraldric devices and names below. The main map will be developed when I complete this inset map. Still contriving ideas to doing this right.
See the lake roughly at the center of the map, southeast of the central mountain range? Just southeast of the lake escarpment is the location of the Menhir Dance of Ui'iliad.
I am using my hand-drawn style (still haven't mastered my Bamboo Fun, so I'm doing it old school with a pen) finished in Xara Xtreme. I'm actually making this map for my intended setting, so it convenient that I can place the Locus here, for use as a challenge entry. I'll get to the main entry map this weekend, and early next week.
Hybrini is my Ireland analog of a Western Europe analog I'm creating called the Lands of Keld setting, I'm developing for publication next year (Pathfinder RPG compatable.)
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07-08-2010, 01:19 PM
Created a few more hills, put in the forests and the moors. Larger labels are Kingdoms, the smaller labels are tribes, added the water, changed the name to Hybreni. Need to place the heraldric shields and a border and the inset map will be complete.
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07-08-2010, 07:43 PM
Hmm, I dont really like the green and yellow label. maybe change the yellow to a colour close to that of the land.
07-08-2010, 08:03 PM
I have to second Rythal, maybe something more light greenish yellow than bright yellow.
07-08-2010, 09:49 PM
Can't update until tomorrow, got things to do - I can change those label colors, just experimenting so far. Here's some more labels, the heraldric shield symbols for the four kingdoms, and one for the compass rose. Moving right along. I want to start working on the main Locus map. I'm thinking of doing a hand-drawn isometric style like my Iwaizumi map - it better shows the Menhir Circle as 3/4 views rather than top downs.
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07-09-2010, 02:15 AM
Looks good as usual, GP.
07-09-2010, 03:45 AM
@ Ascension and Rythal - thanks for pointing out the color issue on the map title label!
Inset map is completed. I placed the location of the Locus, as the Menhir Dance, just next to the Shield symbol for the Kingdom of Ui'iliad. Changed the gold in the in the map title label to match the green of the landscape, did that to the compass rose parts, and the scale bar. Chose to go with white lettering on the terrain features.
I will begin to work on the Locus site this weekend.
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damn.. one looks away for a minute and you've made about a trillion updates... :) ... that just look really good - and really love the stone and also the shields :)
07-10-2010, 01:06 AM
Love that you are embracing the insanely colorful... umm color palette of the Celts and Gaels. Can't wait to see the area detail
07-10-2010, 01:49 AM
Thanks, Tilt. Thanks, Mmmmmpig!
Now for something completely experimental. I created the Menhir circle and the hill in 3D (Nendo and Raydream), then I printed a super-contrasted version in grayscale on my laser printer. I used that to trace and hand-draw detail with a pen on tracing paper. Then I scanned that into the PC, overlayed the hand-drawing directly onto the 3D image. Then I painted the grassy coloring in Xara on the top surfaces of the hill. So this image is a combination of 3D imagery, hand-drawing and vector coloring in Xara - a true composite multi-media illustration. (It turned out well, I think.)
I plan to maintain the isometric view and create thatched roundhouses with stone walls as residential and office areas for the druids that maintain the site, as well as a four point compass of roads going outward from the Menhir Dance. I plan to create large stones cut with runes surrounding the structure next - I'm not sure what else I am going to include beyond that, but I am sure I will think of something.
Just the Menhir circle on the terraced-eroded hill with color and shadowing. I will do this piecemeal, one element at a time, and eventually composite it all in Xara Xtreme Pro.
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07-10-2010, 02:01 AM
That's really really nice, GP! Looks like you've just hit on an awesome new technique.
that look really good - love that style ... however, some of the back shadows are a little long in comparison to the front ones :)
07-10-2010, 02:34 AM
Edit: I think I accidentally cut off that one shadow, strange - so that one is off, Tilt. I will "lengthen" that one shadow to partially cover the stone behind it (shadow direction behind), then that should fix it.
07-10-2010, 08:40 AM
Looking good so far GP...
07-10-2010, 09:10 AM
looking good, looking good!
07-10-2010, 10:35 AM
Wow, that looks fantastic! I really like it. Reminds me of those dorling kindersley type illustrations or something you'd see in a museum next to the exhibit showing an aritists impression of the object in it's place and time.
07-10-2010, 03:29 PM
Thanks, RecklessEnthusiasum, Ravs, SG! Yeah, this isometric style reminds me of those artists you see on History channel and some archaeological digs - which inspires to try these kinds of map. That's what I think of anyway, as I create them.
@Tilt, I double checked, the shadow is correct. Since the backside slope of the hill is fairly steep, the angle of the sun misses the backside completely. The seemingly taller back menhir stone shadows skip the backside of the hill entirely landing on the ground floor below and part of the shadow on the level surface top. So the front and back shadows are technically the same length, the expanse of the backside of the hill from the sun's angle creates the illusion of greater length. So there's nothing to fix, the shadow lengths are correct.
OK, here's a preliminary layout of the planned overall map. The space in the text in the lower right hand corner, for the time being I'm planning on creating a Celtic warrior to place there, but am thinking it might be better to place a druid there (perhaps both). There won't be much room for Celtic knotwork, as detail illustration is what the style seems to call for, so I will continue this as an isometric illustration.
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07-10-2010, 03:50 PM
the isometric stuff is a great style... seems a bit laborious, but well worth it. Well done
07-10-2010, 05:07 PM
I'd just go with the druid - it seems more fitting.
07-11-2010, 06:56 AM
As it is all those shadows look sharp. The far ends of them could enjoy a bit of blurring :)
07-11-2010, 02:44 PM
You're on to something here GP.
07-11-2010, 09:19 PM
I struggling to come up with more ideas. I think this might be it.
I don't want to place any vegetation, beyond the short grass that exists in order to minimize shadow casting objects for the purposes of "reading the stone circle" as in reading the shadows for the time of year.
I might place a compass rose at top center, that might be it.
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07-11-2010, 10:43 PM
I absolutely love this GP. Some of your best work yet.
07-11-2010, 11:00 PM
Agreed; this is fantastic.
07-12-2010, 02:09 AM
Looks great, GP! You gave the picture a great deal of live and dimension.
I hope I can somehow find the time to join this month's challenge.
looking really good GP, and I'm glad you checked the shadows ... but I think, the height diffence taking into account, perhaps the shadows hitting th low ground should perhaps be lighter/close to non-existence :) ... Sorry but I love shadows ;)
07-12-2010, 10:41 AM
there seems to be a pretty large amount of empty space on the map (it is not informationally dense) THe style of the map looks a bit like one would see at a historic park or some such place, just stylized. I think you have an opportunity to have some expository paragraphs about the points of interest labeled on the detailed portion of the map.
Otherwise I feel that the balance of the piece is very left side heavy. The elements on the left definitely feel heavier than the detailed scene on the right. Of course you are probably not near complete and I am jumping the gun on the crit.
great style as usual. I love that you are capable of doing so many different styles
07-12-2010, 11:10 AM
I see this project as a trinity of illustrations - the overview map, the background story legend and the isometric map. While I agree the isometric map side is stark, I think it is proper. I don't want to unnecessarily decorate the map as I don't think it needs anything else. I placed in more titling and descriptive text in the isometric map. I added one tiny (too tiny) druid by the enclave.
I have a simplified compass rose on the right side of the isometric. Rather than place a scale bar, the descriptive text indicates that the circular path around the Menhir circle hill is 240 feet across - that's scale enough.
Last thing, there were 17 Celtic runestones, I cut that down to 15 to better match the mathematical consideration I made in the first post regarding the threes (trinity) which is so important to Celts. 3 is a magic number so any derivative of 3 is also mystical. 3 x 3 x 3 or 27 is very powerful Celtic number - there are 12 menhir stones, there are 15 runestones - totalling 27 stones in all.
I don't want to lessen the detail of the left, or increase the detail of the right. Leftside graphics heavy maybe, and balance is a part of most of my maps - call this assymetrical balance and call it done.
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07-12-2010, 12:13 PM
Most improvements to my mapping occurs in small steps, but every once in a while I get a epiphany for something more, and I think the new applied technique is once such epiphany.
@Tilt - I did try to tweak the shadows to be more faint/non-existent, perhaps not perfect, but I think its better.
Thanks for the comments everyone - I think this is indeed some better work of mine.
07-12-2010, 02:15 PM
Nice map, GP! Beautifully laid out. You're soooo close to the "golden ratio (http://www.astridfitzgerald.com/images/Golden-Mean-1.jpg)" proportions that I almost wish it were spot on. Other than that inexplicable criticism, I am really, really impressed with your map and this new style you've hit upon.
07-12-2010, 05:57 PM
Two things GP. First, the field of text has a misplaced feel to me. Perhaps I'm just imprinted on your prior map, but the new text looks busy.
Thing two: your druid looks about nine feet tall. Not that there's anything wrong with that mind you.
07-12-2010, 06:42 PM
I'm not sold on the field text either. I'm thinking of redoing a miniature druids, bards and dancers at appropriate height - which means shapes really, can't do facial detail, but it might bring some balance to the detail map without text. Perhaps a scale bar, and also perhaps combining some of the legend information with the field text for better use of text section.
I didn't scream, "Done!" yet - so, close, but not yet.
07-13-2010, 01:09 AM
Well, I'm calling this map entry complete (unless there are any glaring errors)...
I pulled the field text out, moved the information into the text legend in the lower left corner. But there was that empty spot at top center of map - so I placed a subtle animal figurine etched into the ground by some ancient people.
And just for fun and to fix the 9 foot tall druid, I decided to try the impossible. Draw a procession of druids, bards, a boy carrying a sheep for slaughter, an ox pulled cart of harvested goods with driver, and couple of dancers. There are three druids in each of three orders of the faith - white, gold and blue. If they look like scribbles, 5 foot tall was 1/4 inch, so I created figures mostly slightly bigger than 1/4 inch tall, the boy is about 5 foot tall... that was a challenge.
Sorry for the "golden ratio" fans, I like the stark look in the main map - its contrast to the left side is the point of its balance.
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07-13-2010, 04:20 AM
Looks like a good stopping point to me.
Admit it, GP: you just pushing to see how many golden compasses the site can fit under your name...
07-13-2010, 07:46 AM
Both the animal and procession are a net positive to the piece GP. I didn't think you could improve on it but you did.
07-13-2010, 08:18 AM
Just to be a nit-picky, it looks like the little procession you added don't have shadows. No big deal really.
07-13-2010, 10:32 AM
I did create shadows for them, for some reason it didn't show up. I'll resave, then reupload - but no changes, otherwise - sharp eye SG.
@ RecklessEnthusiasm - I like to experiment with maps, and the challenge actually compels me to finish, so I enjoy challenges for the exercise, not for wins. Really.
07-13-2010, 10:49 AM
adding the people helped greatly, I think. looks good! Damn you are fast
07-13-2010, 11:27 AM
Now I'm done, unless the shadows didn't show up again, because they are there as before??
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07-13-2010, 01:47 PM
that is a tight map. Well played GP. Well played indeed.
07-13-2010, 03:56 PM
Yup, them there peoples has shadows...
07-13-2010, 04:29 PM
I confess that I deliberately didn't look at other entrants here until I had decided on what I was going to do.
Now that I have I wonder if it was a wise decision for me to enter!
All this in, what, 5 or 6 days?? Crikey.
I have one very minor consideration for your erratum that doesn't quite gel with me - "Anwynn Loch". I think this would be better as "Loch Anwynn" which is the usual word order?
07-13-2010, 04:32 PM
It's not about the winning (seriously) it's about using the challenge to stretch yourself to create something good within a deadline.
07-13-2010, 04:34 PM
Don't let that keep you down Crayons. I have had the same feelings almost every time I have entered one of these. I'm cooking up an idea for this one as we speak, I'm just not sure if I have enough gas to get it done. Every time I have entered I have learned tons so it's worth it if you want to improve your work.
Also, NEVER judge your work vs. the speed GP can pump out a map. He's set himself up a system down that allows him to really pound them out fast. There are few if any here that I have seen who can keep up with him.
07-15-2010, 01:56 AM
One more small change to accomodate Crayon's mention of the Anwynn Loch being wrong in word order. What do I know I'm just a stupid American? So I made that change. Also noticed the druid enclave roundhouses were beneath, the land hand-drawing, so I moved them above it. That's it no more changes.
Was thinking that this would like good as half page art in a published setting handbook, and that I should make several more similar pieces, like a topdown stone roundhouse with courtyard map, with isometric view, and perhaps interior showing family activities.
Also one of the Clan chief's hall, with a topdown map view of a clan hall, then an iso-view of the hall's exterior, then an interior inset drawing of clansmen at leisure in the chief's hall, with dogs, guests, cooked fowl and mead, wine, ale...
Anyway, thanks for the comments, I felt inspired this month. And don't ever worry about how fast I map - I'm inhuman that way! Its about running my own graphic design studio - alone and having to work at an accelerated rate in order to get producton flow to handle many customer jobs simultaneously, I've been doing it for sixteen years, after having worked graphic art jobs in the industry. That production process carries over into my map making, its something I do.
Don't feel intimidated by that. Though I have four challenge golden compass awards, I have participated in over 20 challenges, so I've lost far more than have won. I do this to challenge myself, not so much as competition. And I do plan to use this as material for my own future publication, so I get a paid-for use for the map.
Oh to make this update more worthwhile, I saved at a lower compression so, less detail is lost in the export to JPG (its 100 ppi 75% compression, 1.21 MB)
07-19-2010, 02:34 AM
"it's center" should be "its center"
07-19-2010, 02:58 AM
Thanks RDH, there's actually all those 'Anwynn Lochs' that need to be 'Loch Anwynn', both on the map inset and the text description, so I've got several small errors to fix. I'll do it sometime next week as a 'bump' of the thread anyway. If I was smart I'd completely redo the text portion of the legend, give it correct information, yet more prose-like than it is. I kind of slapped it together anyway, so it should be redone, definately.
07-19-2010, 08:03 PM
Love the layout. I even think that the spelling and labeling inconsistencies give it that 12th century drudic feel.
I'd prefer a parchmenty texture, and a rougher feel overall, but that might not work so well for publication...
07-25-2010, 11:12 PM
OK, last update, those intended spelling corrections are made. Wanted to get this in before the deadline, but my work internet computer is on the fritz. So I just did this at home.
Good luck everyone.
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