View Full Version : Superhero City Map

07-21-2010, 09:54 AM
And now for something completely different! (well, for me)... I've been a bit quiet as of late on the site, there's lots of complicated things going on, some of you know my situation, some don't - suffice it to say I have a lot less coherent free time these days :) Anyhow, we'll see how fast i can pump this map out.

I've been commissioned to do a map for a campaign set in a superheroes gaming system that is currently under development.

While I wait for a copy of the initial layout of the city, I figured I would start off with bashing my head against the desk repeatedly while trying to learn Illustrator. My prediction was correct - based on past experiences, I figured I would have a rough time overcoming the learning curve - and Adobe is not known for making things completely intuitive. Now that I have sacrificed enough pain to the Adobe Gods, Illustrator is now providing me with workable results.

This is a **very** rough test piece, just to get a few ideas in the works and see if it's feasible to continue. The next version will have much better street layout, this one was to test the street colours and strokes more than anything - and considering a single line in Illustrator can only be one colour unless you start to mess things around (calling it a Stroke implies to me that it should be a colour around the edges of the coloured line - but no, in this case it's the colour of the line itself.. wording!! it's all about the definitions and differences in percieved definition between tools.. the problem with adapting from photoshop to this which is 100% paths. ahwell, enough whinging for now).

I'm considering taking notes on this one to track what I do, maybe even turn it into a tutorial - there aren't many modern day city maps like this that I recall having seen on the site, maybe someone else will be able to benefit from my pain :)

07-21-2010, 10:42 AM
Hey there,

Yes it is for me :)

An to update his post, this will not be for BASH any longer but for my very own Super RPG that I am in the process of developing.

This is gonna be fun :)

07-21-2010, 11:07 AM
the map doesn't load :.(

07-21-2010, 12:48 PM
That's peculiar. It's loading from here ok..
I've got the main streets and land shape done for the real map now though, I'll upload that and see what happens.

I'm planning on working in the onramps as well, that should be fun :) Once I have them in i'll start working on the surface streets.

07-21-2010, 01:12 PM
Hi Coyote, I'm in the middle of doing a city map commission as well - there has been a lot of pain and headbashing at my end (I'm trying to keep everything in vector). There are two ways to get an outline to your roads. First is to have an identical layer below the 'coloured' roads but this time the stroke in black with a slightly larger width. Second is to convert your road lines to a polyline (I'm using Serif Drawplus so I don't know what the equivalent is in illustrator) so the road becomes an editable shape. There is a third way in drawplus which is to add a stroke 'effect' to the line, but that rasterises the line so you're no longer working in vector.

If you want to know more just holler!


07-21-2010, 01:37 PM
Yeah, i've been doing the first method. I'm sure there's a way to do that poly-line thingy in Illustrator, but I've been getting excellent results now that I'm over the learning curve. I was concerned about editing, but I realized if I group all the paths together, i can still edit points as needed and catch all the relevant layers while they're lined up perfectly (outline and roads themselves). There's also a way to take the resulting outline and apply it as a style, but when i do that it doesn't handle intersections very well, so i stayed with the multilayer approach.

Sorry to hear about the headbashing on your end, though it's nice to know I'm not alone :P

07-21-2010, 01:45 PM
It makes me feel better too. :)

07-21-2010, 04:07 PM
I gave up on the whole vector genre about 7 years ago because I got tired of bashing my head in. Someday maybe I'll try again but I doubt it.

07-21-2010, 04:15 PM
LOL! Wimp! ;)

One more method on roads (don't laugh) do it all using paths and then when you're ready, convert the paths into a bitmap and autotrace them. This has been a huge time saver for me on many occasions.

Only reason I'm here right now is that I'm waiting for drawplus to complete some bloody huge computational task in melding a load of hedges together....it can take up to half an hour to complete (there are about 33,000 objects)....why do I do this to myself?

Steel General
07-21-2010, 04:47 PM
I'm with Ascension on giving up on the vector genre - so I guess I'm a wimp too ;)

@CMax - Still early to say much, but it looks like it's coming along.

@AslanC - I haven't forgot about your map, works been crazy the past couple of months, but it finally looks like it's starting to return to "normal"

07-21-2010, 06:59 PM
Ascension: I'm with you. I keep fighting with myself to not take this into photoshop - though now Ravells has me thinking I could get away with it to get the layout done then trace :P

Hrmmmm *ponder*

Nah. I'm too far in, and I'm actually learning to use the program in the manner in which it was intended. Really, I was having trouble with inspiration. I must have started 2 dozen maps over the last week, and never got past the land-mass building stage. I don't have any paid commissions going on right now, or unpaid for that matter (well except this one now) and it felt lik all the creative juices were gone. That's when I remembered the email from AslanC in query about doing a modern city map - and I was all "maybe someday" while cringing at the thought of fighting with Illustrator.

It helps to be doing something new - and while I started with a simple online tutorial, I quickly realized I was going to have to completely change the method if I was going to get it to look anywhere near professional quality.

I've started the on/off ramps for the highways, I'll post an update to them later (i'm drifting between naps right now). I've actually been using Google maps as an inspiration for the colour scheme (though not *too* closely) but there's certain aspects to the look i'm just not sure how to get just right :)

Thanks to everyone for the support!

07-22-2010, 02:57 AM
Well back to the headbashing. The intersections are causing me grief. I have a few ideas though, I've been reading up on a few things and I may have a solution soon.

Incidentally Ravells, I found the equivalent of your Polyline - it's referred to as a compound object. I put it to good use in this case with the water, so i could cut holes where the islands should be :) I may mess around with it a bit more later.

meanwhile, I have the landmark style buildings placed and the parks, now to decide what to do about the intersections before I start on the street grid. I also have a layer (hidden here) with notes on what districts will have twisty streets vs grids, etc. woot!

07-22-2010, 11:30 PM
I adjusted a few buildings now that the streets are being placed. I rearranged the large intersections a tad, and while they look better I'm likely going to leave anything smaller out of the picture.

The surface streets are coming along nicely! Now the hardest thing to contend with is the tedium of placing everything.

07-23-2010, 03:38 AM
That's looking really good, Coyote! The Road network looks really plausible (I find that one of the hardest bits).

07-23-2010, 05:37 AM
Thanks! I'm trying for a balance of planned, organic, requests to "make this district all mazelike" while still keeping it realistic, and keeping in mind some areas are old while some are new, and so on.

Google Maps is a great help in this regard, i can look for neighbourhoods in cities I've lived in that match the descriptions of the neighbourhoods for the map and get a good feel for how they should map out (living in them years ago means i may remember the feel, but not always the exact layout, heh).

I also have to say, forcing myself to use Illustrator has really paid off, especially since it's in a commission context - I'm being a lot more adamant about overcoming my learning curves than if this was a personal project. I wouldn't say we're friends yet but we're making progress with the relationship :)

12-18-2011, 03:23 PM
Sorry to cast "raise thread" on this one, but I wanted to get your attention CM :)

We need to talk about this is a BIG and PROFITABLE way sir.

Contact me ASAP :)

01-02-2012, 10:17 AM
I'm a newb ... just wanted to say that I enjoy seeing the work in progress. :)

01-02-2012, 11:57 PM
Just spoke with CM on Skype, we are moving forward with this. :)

01-03-2012, 02:17 AM
Planned changes:

Increased map size
laying out rail first
writing up a brief city history in stages so the final layout will be more natural
possible addition of elevation contours
more landmark buildings for downtown
new name

Increased size shouldn't be a problem as it's vector. Right now the city is basically a big rectangle - let's see what's outside the border of the paper! I'm going to go through a brief writeup of the history so i can lay it out like I did the Cruzamento map and build it up by stages. And being this city will have been around for awhile, makes sense to have more history for the downtown.

Now to find the backup files!!!

02-18-2012, 03:26 AM
been working on and off and finally got the water laid out. And I was able to make Bryce useful ;)

Having the shaded relief underlaying things will make for a more natural layour I think. I don't know if it will stay in the final version but it will certainly be part of the working background.

I am thinking about sprinkling some small islands throughout the river and lake systems.

I'm also thinking now that I have this laid out that the lake/river system in the top left (the one with the rivers that join up coming in from the left) would be a more reasonable place to put the dam than the large lake along the top.. Fill in the valley there and booyah.

02-19-2012, 03:20 PM
looking good CM, but i gotta disagree with you on the dam location. As it is, my first thought was that the outlet of the top lake was the outflow from a dam....and the lake the result of flooding.....

also kinda curious about where the city is located on the regional map....

looking forward to seeing more :)

02-19-2012, 03:44 PM
awesome, thanks for the feedback - i was waffling a bit, i wasn't sure if that came across well with the top lake.

02-19-2012, 09:02 PM
This is interesting to watch. I have only barely touched bryce myself. I have ideas of what I want to do with it but I will have to put in some man hours on it before I can do anything "useful".

Btw, you mentioned looking up maze like cities you have been to and it made me think of some of the crazier places I have been. You might want to look up "Quito, Ecuador" as it is very squirrely due to being wrapped around volcanoes and so on. Might not matter at this point but you can stick that in your cap :)

Keep up the good work!